Piracy is now endemic to the Somali coast, since
the West will do nothing to stop it.
—News item, 2008
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
Mermaids, sing me pirate tunes
Of ducats, deniers, and doubloons;
Of schooners on a Spanish Main
Alive with squall and hurricane;
Of ambuscadoes, feints, and raids,
Crisp musketry and cannonades—
Sing of cutlass, dirk, and dagger,
Buccaneers whose saucy swagger
Struts the deck in savage style
As Jolly Roger’s lethal smile
Oversees with bony grin
All the crimes of flush-faced sin.
Sing of lookouts who will scan
Horizons for a merchantman,
And avarice that flares in broils
About division of the spoils.
Sing of murder on the seas—
Grapeshot whistling through the breeze,
Grappling hooks and anchor chains,
Windlass, rigging, splattered brains,
Swordplay, duels, and torrid clenches
With slavegirls and mulatto wenches,
The knowing smirk of cabin boys
Who serve as sodomitic toys.
Sing, my mermaids, of an age
Of insolence and passion’s rage;
Sing of scuttled ships and wrecks,
Of whetted knives at helpless necks,
Flintlocks primed to maim and mangle,
Yardarms from which corpses dangle.
Sing of powder and its stink,
Stolen money’s lurid clink,
Outrage and unholy lust,
Perjured oaths and broken trust,
Hell’s supreme unchallenged sway—
Sing, sweet mermaids, of today.