Bill Meilen
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Akbar Songs
Introduction - 0
View from above upon arrival - 1
First Akbar door - 2
Gear - 3
Meeting the Division - 4
First Communion at Akbar - 5
Shepherd - 6
Lights out - 7
Vultures - 8
Get h’on Parade! - 9
Bandy - 10
Wakey–wakey! - 11
Smartening rig - 12
Economy Star - 13
Poetry Club - 14
The Writer - 15
The Skipper - 16
Boating - 17
Seamanship - 18
The Skipper's Kippers - 19
Moot Court - 20
Dirty Mary - 21
Cross–country - 22
Sailorboy - 23
Church Parade - 24
Fellini fragment on Jildy - 25
Deckscrap - 26
Cinderella Days - 27
Long Tom for 'Dead Men' - 28
Waiting for Podmore - 29
Akbar - 30
The Path - 31
AKBAR
Beaten by wind's ballistics, trees bending inland
From the ire–laden Irish Sea
Edge the cold coastline.
At brinewater edge
gulls call and float
above a darkness in the tide.
Here on the gorse–ferned
ledge of Akbar's hill
A raw breeze chews around the tussocks
and the gorse scrub.
On the wavery drillhall roof a dark figure stands:
" William Henry Podmore,
you will be taken from here
to a place of lawful execution,
where you will be hanged by your neck
until you are dead.
May God
have mercy upon your soul."'
Bad ghost clad in khaki shorts
and woolly franklyn,
(Although the old shed
is long gone from here
and the only sounds this eve
are those of wildness
as Nature takes our Maindeck
back unto Her own
with Podmore and a thousand others,
those boys without charts
beached forever in Time in a million repetitions
of the shade of a shell of a stone ship
where bugles call umbilical
from many–vista'd seas
and metalled ghost–boots
crash out on the edge of dreams
out on the frontiers of the memory.)
There's Jildy, dear Leatherneck,
pausing under the lee shadows of Division Two,
long gone to dust.
The banter of a hundred growing boys
argue and mutter
filtering through calfdeep grass and fern.
On her port quarter,
HMS Moonshine clatters signals
to The Dep. in his quarterdeck window,
and on the gorsey halfdeck is that the creak
of Akbar's mythic lifeboat hanging in davits?
The way uphill lies past The Sickberth, still still,
Gazing eyeless over the sandbarred,
sargassoed estuary
To those dark hills of home
upon that distant shore.
You turn once more,
and for a moment there
you see old Akbar
through the dusking air
before she shimmers back into
the depths of mind.
A distant bugler calls
from other lands full many a mile away
beyond day's dying fire.