Poetry Monday: “The Homesick Pirate” by Joshua Seigal
Ahoy, ye scurvy curs! Git yer keg o’ rum an’ run th’ Jolly Roger up th’ mast, on accoun’ o’ ’tis “gentleman o’ fortune” day here at Nay Water River. An’ not only that, thar be an international pirate walkin’ th’ plank today, all th’ way from his ship in London. Blimey!
Okay, that’s as far as I got with the pirate speak translator. Eyepatches for everyone! And without further ado, please give an argh-tastic yo-ho-ho to pirate poet Joshua Seigal and his cautionary tale, “The Homesick Pirate.”
The Homesick Pirate
There was a homesick pirate,
His name was Danny Dunn,
Last night in bed he made a wish –
He thought it would be fun
To hop aboard a pirate ship
Instead of going to school.
I don’t know why, I guess he thought
It would be kind of cool.
But now he’s going to and fro
Across the Irish Sea
When all he wants is to go home
And settle down to tea.
They hoist the Jolly Roger
And they drink their jugs of rum,
But it isn’t quite as Danny thought:
He’s crying for his mum.
He didn’t know they’re dirty
And he didn’t know they stank
And the pirates keep on threatening
To make him walk the plank.
There’s droppings in the porridge
And no mattress on the bunks;
There’s lice in Blackbeard’s beard
And there’s sand in Danny’s trunks.
Everyone has scurvy
And they scowl with snaggled teeth;
There’s beetles on the top deck
And the rats live underneath.
So next time that you make a wish
Heed what I say, it’s true:
Young Danny hates the pirate life
And so, I think, will you.
Guest Poet Snickerview™ ~ Joshua Seigal
Josh, who are you, where are you, and how long have you been a rhyming fool?
I am a person and I am sitting in my front room on a characteristically dull and rainy day in London. I have been a fool for twenty-five years, and a rhyming one for the last seven or eight. I started to write poetry after studying Philip Larkin as a teenager. The poems I wrote were high on angst and low on quality. (Hey…are we the same person?) My poems gradually became sillier, funnier, and more energetic, until I began to realize that smaller people would probably enjoy them just as much as, if not more than, fully grown ones. I never set out to write for children, but this is the way it has worked out. And I love it.
The scurvy-plagued boy in your poem sure does regret his wish! Did you have a similar wish gone sour when you were a boy…or perhaps even now?
When I was a boy I wanted to be a food critic. I enjoyed writing, and I enjoyed food even more! That plan fizzled out when it became apparent that I simply enjoyed food too much, and would probably end up giving absolutely every meal a five-star review! (Apart from the meals my mother cooked…)
I was inspired to write this poem after reading a pirate adventure story to my young cousins. The story made it sound all fun and games, and I wanted to present the other side of the argument.
This poem is part of a collection you wrote called We All Love Llamas! Are these pirate llamas spitting their way across the seven seas, perchance? What can you tell us about the collection?
It is a collection of poems about school, animals, family, and miscellanea – there is no single theme tying it all together. Most of the poems are humorous (well, I find them funny anyway, and my llama agrees with me), and many are actually jokes told in a poetic way – they end with a punchline or a twist.
Is it as difficult to get poetry published in the UK as it is in the US (which is triple-AARGH difficult!)? What has your publishing experience been like?
Once a threshold of competence has been reached, it isn’t especially difficult to get individual poems published in magazines or journals — one just needs to be persistent. It is incredibly difficult, however, to get a full collection published. I have had several (adult) poems published in magazines and journals, the most recent being one in a magazine called Inc. I have had various children’s poems published online, for example over on children’s author Brian Moses’ blog. My collection is currently under consideration with various agents and publishers, and I sure hope that, like Danny Dunn in the poem, it finds a happy home soon!
A little albatross told me you’re taking this show on the road to the Edinburgh Festival. Exciting! Give us the scoop!
I am doing a free daily poetry show for children. The show, like my collection, is called We All Love Llamas! I just cannot get enough of those little critters. I hope that the parents will stay and watch too, as I think they will enjoy it at least as much as the kids. I am very excited, but also terrified. I am going to be talking constantly for fifty minutes every day. Hopefully at least half of it will make sense.
What do you do when you’re not designing eyepatches?
I have just finished graduate school, where I specialized in the philosophy of religion. As a result of this, I don’t know any more facts about religion, but I have many more questions. I now run poetry workshops and do performances in schools. I also try to gig with spoken word performance as much as I can.
Can we come visit you? And if so, can you guarantee we won’t be forced to swab any decks? We just had our nails done.
You can visit me any time you want. I have a special cage just below deck that I reserve for guests…
Thanks for stopping by, Josh, and for adding “The Homesick Pirate” to No Water River’s growing video poetry library!
Extension Activities for ”The Homesick Pirate”
- National Geographic offers lesson plans on pirate maps and the pirate’s life, as well as an interactive Pirate’s! game that takes kids on a high seas adventure.
- ThinkQuest provides a comprehensive overview of pirates and piracy created by students, for students. The site contains a history of piracy, biographies of famous pirates, and info on maps, ships, weapons, treasures, and more.
- For younger students, Teaching Ideas has collected dozens of pirate resources, including activities across the curriculum, downloadables, display resources, videos, games, apps, and maps.
- There is no shortage of pirate crafts online, like this captain’s compass. Try some of these places: The Crafty Crow, alphamom, DLTK Kids, Busy Bee Kids’ Crafts, and Craft Jr.
- In the kitchen: Jack Sparrow tricorn hat cookies!
Video Location: Balmy London, England.See more poems in my poetry video library. “The Homesick Pirate” copyright © 2012 Joshua Seigal. All rights reserved.