The Smuggler’s Reply

Been awhile between postings.  But I have some news back on a poetry competition that I entered.

I didn’t win :D. 

But as the poem I entered was peculiar to the theme of the competition and unlikely to fit into any of the poetry publications I am aware of, I offer it for your enjoyment.

The theme was Smuggler’s and Sinners, the competition the Kernewek Lowender Literary Prize.  It was an interesting experience, particularly researching the history of Cornwall for the poem.


The Smuggler's Reply

A wretch, Doc Johnson labels me

for making use of natural skill,

for buying goods with honest coin

and selling them to folk with same.


For lugging lace from fine Calais

through black of night and stormy seas,

for shipping leaves to smoke or drink

against the threat of Cutter's fast.


And some may say this life's a breeze

and I'll not deny it has its thrill,

and nettin’ pilchards pays its way

but hellish seas treat both the same.


A merchant man is what I am

and taxed to pay for wars long fought

by Crown and aristocracy

without consent, without a thought.


To build this life's a crime you say

but truth be told it seems to me,

a saint or sinner's lot is cast

dependent on his family's class


A smuggler's cloak you clothe me in,

a criminal by stroke of quill.

And yet my trade is free and fair

and not some Custom's revenue


But if I die a sailor's death

I'll count my blessin’s joyfully

my money made from painful toil

not stole from starving families.


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