To Ode to Gaurav Sharma

Bard Billot on Labour’s baffling deckboy


The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The good ship Cindy Celeste has been lost
for months on the wide Sargasso Sea.
We took sail and searched the oceans for her
and saw wonders of which I can describe scarce.
Lo, we sailed past the doomed fleet of Commodore Luxon,
sunk full fathom five on the Reef of Hubris,
nibbled by bottom feeders in the gloomy murk.
Lo, we sailed past the Green Non-binary Narwhals,
we sailed past Mad Bishop Ahab Tamaki,
we sailed past the wreck of the Leo Molloy.
But as we ventured further into the Lambton Triangle,
a cry came from the crow’s nest: SHIP AHOY!
There she drifted on the capricious currents!
On her mast fluttered the Yellow Jack, the plague flag.
I led the boarding party, with a sense of dread.
But no one answered my shouts of greeting;
the good ship Cindy Celeste was deserted, breakfast
set upon the table, yet all cloaked in a ghostly silence.
Some uncanny fate had attacked all who sailed on her,
the lifeboats gone, the ships log redacted and shredded.
Where is First Mate “Lasher” Webb,
with his fearsome cat o’nine tails?
Where is Bosun “Redbeard” McAnulty,
with his grimy fists tattooed KIND and NESS?
Where is the Ship’s Parrot, the Lorckaqueet?
Where are the Nautical Undersecretaries
and associated admiralty staff? Gone, all gone.
Then it came – a sinister bump from under the decks.
So I descended reluctant into the gloomy hold
to a sight terrible to behold:
two score barrels of gunpowder
and a match burning in the trembling hand
of Deck Boy Sharma.
“I’m going down with the ship, me hearties,”
he croaks, a crazed glint in his eyes,
and an albatross perched grimly on his shoulder.

Victor Billot has previously felt moved to compose Odes for such luminaries as Sam Uffindell, Bishop Brian, the Prime Minister, Louise Wallace, Mike Hosking, and Garrick Tremain.

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