8 April 2000

The Wreck of the Good Ship Lollipop
(after Temple, Lightfoot, and Carroll)

The balladeers drip of the crystalline ship
Of the big bay they call Lemonade
The bay (they will say of its sugary spray)
Is a monster that keeps them afraid
With a load of raw gumdrops of two thousand tons
The Lollipop made her last voyage
The good ship of candyland sunk to the sand
And the water tastes sweet to this day

When the grim ginger snaps and the bon-bons play taps
On the syrupy shores of the Lemonade Bay
And the crackerjack band (looking grand) takes the stand
And plays as a sad dirge as the sky turns to grey
The mourners all waltz: twisted, withered and pale
And during the song the preacher will pray
To offshore, in 3/4, where, according to lore
The poor Lollipop went astray

The ship was the joy of the bank who employed
The gingerbread captain who led it
To export the ore of the gumdrops offshore
And return with a hullfull of credit
It was, as a craft, little more than a raft
With a belly now full: they had fed it
With the same kind of sweet that snarks most love to eat
In the ravenous glee of a sugar frenzy

Her captain: a gingerbread man's stature crossed
With the nautical guile of an otter
When the sunset is done having fun and it runs
As red as fresh blood on the skin of the water
Then by the cliff in a skiff with a sniff
On the oarlocks leans Shirley the late captain's daughter
She rows out in the bay as the dusk fades away
Looking for something she lost

The stars shone like sugar that dusted the sky
On the night when the Lolly embarked
The moon floated near, oh so clear, in the mirror
Of the water: "stone still" (as the captain remarked)
Then quickly the breeze gathered into a gale
And then in the water he noticed a snark
As the rumble of grumbling thunder did sound
The captain then wondered if trouble was nigh

The thunderheads moved in in less than an hour
As the captain observed from the deck
It looks, he did think, like a sink full of ink
With us little more than a speck

A bleak premonition swept over him then
And he knew that the Lolly would wreck
Appearing quite clearly, he fearlessly gazed
At the storm as it gathered with fury and power

The red moon was rapidly smothered in black
As the water grew wrinkled, the poor captain had
A notion: as if poison potion in motion
The rain started pouring, the wind grew quite bad
The thunder it deafened, the heavens collapsed
And the Lolly, full throttle, was tossed back and forth
Hull straining, rain raining, hail painfully pounding
And with that thought a bullwhip of lightning did crack

Somehow the engine had come full abaze
And greasy flames licked at the night
The smoke made him choke as the fire then broke
Its waves undulating in flickering light
Like the rolling intestine of some slimy beast
The heat and cold and the darkness and fright
The crashing and smashing and splashing and flashing
Everything lost in a sulphurous haze

The lightning shone through the brave gingerbread man
As the Lollipop plunged and then rose
And then a deep swell straight from hell cracked the shell
And the captain, aflame, struck a dramatic pose
At midship and then the great craft came apart
In the water the blood came to bloom like a rose
Because the snark was sugar-buzzed
Rending the limbs from the gingerbread man

The gingerbread captain screamed bubbles and drowned
In the saltwater thick from the sucrose
The snark circled round and round, dragging him down
Rending his body to fructose
The smell of burnt sugar and flesh was so putrid
As the icy rain pummeled and washed it away
And the head of the dead captain gingerbread man
Was the only piece of the Lolly they found.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books