Let me in breathe deeply for the tale I’m about to tell,
sweeping sails ease into the sea, flourished in the swell.
You can hear the women crying by the pier, ill at-ease
while their husbands sail off to lands, carried by the breeze.
Now what do the women do left behind the boat?
As stranger ships sail to the port, Mother takes in her petticoat.
I know how hard looks can be taken at just a glance,
regardless of the scurvy face, Mother will unbutton their pants.
Her name is nameless, speaking with a salacious tongue,
her fiery mouth spits filth to sailors, barely young.
Only when the moon is ripe does Mother come out to shine,
needing to begin her descent to a place where she will need a spine.
She creeps out the door after she laid her last babe asleep,
and waits at the harbor as the midnight fog hovers over the deep.
At long last the hungry boat appears in a stench of wettend want,
Mother hikes up her dress, traveling to the ship where sailors eye her taunt.
Marauding, boorish mariners await their nocturne from the best,
Mother stands on a platform; heated, bruised but offers up her chest.
Gentlemen callers and kith alike are ravenous for their time,
salt and ****** sift through her hair, carrying the crime.
All the Captain’s minions violently pinion Mother to the deck,
her coat thrown off and broach tucked away as the Captain smothers her neck.
Imprints of his lewd fingers trail down her waist,
cheers roar back and forth as greedy eyes are fervent to taste.
But Captain has other plans for Mother, the well-positioned *****,
and he picks her up, takes her back to the cabin as her jaw begins to clench.
Sea salt flourish his seedy beard and tinged by reddish hue,
his uncouth presence disturbed her as she stares his foul view.
She bobs her head toward his *****, knowing she has to please,
familiar with this gambit, she dulls his excitement as she adjusts her knees.
Mother takes his britches beckoning what lowly clings,
he is sighing ever farther- by god she is a martyr, how her belly stings!
Her mouth is tainted with taste of vermin, who is posed to death,
and reminds her that she’s the ***** who has stolen his breath.
His scrupulous moans echo throughout the vessel and go on until he is satisfied,
prostrate, he finishes as she and soiled floorboards collide.
What could have been debonair if he had helped her to her feet;
he pushes her out the cabin, to the deck where more sailors ache for someone sweet.
One by one, down she goes until she feels that it's her end,
she breathes relief, slathering funds into her pocket’s mend.
Now she’s done and knows she’s won another day of feeding her kin,
barely *****, she slides on her coat, covering her skin.
She leaves the men wanting more before another ascend to sea,
clawing at their grave, she bid them well and off the ship did she flee.
At home, she tended her fingers, crooked with splinters, where I saw her rise,
she looked at me that fateful night with weary, hazel eyes.
Her raspy voice did not regale her deed, but calmly put me back to sleep,
everyone knows a mother always has salty secrets she needs to keep.
So when you lay there, in your bed, trying to reach a doze,
think about where your mother gets the money to buy you warm clothes.
There may be a reason for her sleeping patterns at the top of noon,
and before you bid her goodnight, try to mind the moon.
Maybe there is a reason for all her harrowing tones,
but no one but the sailors know of the ways to make her groan.
So let me speak from knowledge from a mother that I hold dear,
do not fight with her when all she wants is to keep you near.
Eat your cooked cabbage and swallow your biscuit bread,
The life she is living may not be one of class, but it keeps a roof over your head.
The first cohesive poem I wrote after I understood how dangerous abstractions are, around 2008. I do not particularly care for this piece, but all the same it won some silly award and I enjoy looking back at it to compare how far I've come creatively.