As I prepare myself for the up and coming Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, OR, February 24-26th, I turn to my favorite book for inspiration: The Ocean Almanac. Being a Copious Compendium on Sea Creatures, Nautical Lore & Legend, Master Mariners, Naval Disasters, and Myriad Mysteries of the Deep by Robert Hendrickson. If you are a fisherman or mariner, or like the ocean in any way, shape, or form and don’t own it, I insist you stop what you are doing right now and find yourself a copy. I think the best place this day and age is Amazon.com.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
It is 408 pages of nautical facts, tidbits, poems, and stories. You name it, if it has to do with the ocean, it is in here. You simply open the book up, anywhere you wish, and start reading. Here, I’ll give you an example: hypothermia, the myth of the unsinkable ship: the night the Titanic went down, pirates and mutineers, weather rhymes, horseshoe crabs, walruses, jellyfish, grog, marines, the persecution of captain Stanley Lord, seasickness, red tides, and how to hypnotize a lobster and, well, you get the idea. I could go on, but don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Ok, one more. These are epitaphs for those lost at sea:
HERE LIES A SAILOR’S BRIDE
WHO WIDOWED WAS
BECAUSE OF THE TIDE:
IT DROWNED HER HUSBAND:
SO SHE DIED
He went down with his ship, and where his bones
are rotting only seabirds know
The waters were his winding sheet,
the sea was made for his tomb.
Yet for his fame the ocean sea,
was not sufficient room.
HERE IN THIS URN
THE ASHES LIE
OF JONATHAN BARR:
HE SAUGHT A HIGHER LIFE
AND TRAVELLED HOMEWARD IN
There are fathoms of these, and other poems, rhymes, flotsam and jetsam, which are, by the way, referred to the goods that were found floating on the sea and belonged to the Crown and cargo purposely thrown overboard in order to lighten the ship in an emergence, respectively.
I’ll give you a sample of a poem I’m working on that was influenced from The Ocean Almanac:
One obese oafish octopus occupied on opium and oarlocks occasionally obediently oared oarsman, oarswomen objectifying, obscene oarsmanship and ogles opening oysters on outboards of obtuse oceanic odysseys.
The silliness continues a few more lines, but you get the idea. It’s still a work in progress but I’ll let you know when its ready.