June 13, 2007

The Boatman's Lament

by John Brady

Inspired by the story of a difficult day in the life of our beloved Jeff Barrow. Brady claims every bit is true while Barrow denies everything.

I am a boatman through and through
Though that is not my trade
I spend my time at many things
At how my living’s made

But only on the water
Is where my spirit soars
For life, to me, is not complete
Except behind the oars

I came to motor powered boats
When I was fully grown
For motor craft I had no use
I paddled on my own

Still, time and life soon took its due
And so I came to see
That cruising on a powered craft
Was now the life for me

I studied it with all my skill
Each tiller arm and knot
At drift and draft and piloting
A novice I was not

In boating lore and boatmanship
I felt I held my own
And took the helm with jaunty air,
With styling all my own

T’was with greatest confidence
I headed out that day
Full laden down with teachers
On an education day

A sturdy craft with power plus
A captain sure and wise
We made our way up through the drift
Then came the first surprise

An underwater object, where others had found none
Ensnared the new propeller blades and took them one by one
My formerly courageous craft was left a helpless raft
As I became then quite unsure of how to guide the craft

O The seas ran dark and newly dire
As we drifted helplessly
Raw shame became my Albatross
As others rescued me

I swallowed pride and reaching deep into my sailor’s skill
Replaced the prop and launched anew to get my second thrill
With sober resolution, I shifted to reverse
The motor roared, no power poured
I came to know the worst

We drifted out upon the waves as I shifted to and fro
No matter how I flogged the thing, It simply would not go
I cursed and railed and prayed to gods, Yet nothing would avail
My passengers grew fearful, as down the stream we sailed

Stay Calm, I wisely told them
For I’m your Captain true
And sure as I’m your Guiding Light
No harm shall come to you

My words were scarcely uttered
And the crew to lose their frowns
When suddenly a woman screamed
“My God, We’re going down!”

Oh how I hate to tell it, the seas were pouring in
The plug that serves to keep them out was Out instead of In
The panic rose then with the flood, the passengers a mob
I feared a deadly mutiny as I fumbled for the cob

The sobbing wet humanity
Grew sober as we sailed
The plug installed, we drifted on
As several of us bailed

The crisis done, I mustered strength
And calmed the savage beast
As once again, my comrades came
And pushed us to the beach

A saying old as sailors holds that great waves come in threes
It’s true that boatmen curry luck and often bend their knees
That after all the practicing and studying is done
It takes a bit of fortune, if nothing’s to spoil the fun

Let this, then, be a lesson for boatmen great and small
That pride of craft and confidence do oft precede a fall
That even if you’re careful and do the best you can
The River gods will play their tricks and the s**t will hit the fan


tomfool said...

But hark! Now through the ether fair
Comes further news from those that were there
There's yet another verse they say
To the tale of the boatman's darkest day
And when the facts can be discerned
We'll write anew of what we've learned

River Notes said...

The echoes of the river voice
leaves a feller no other choice
but to tell you for the next verse
you must click here then give a curse: