Magellan – by Boltini

 

Accounts as they say may vary,
but Magellan I believe was only a toddler
when his father, a rude farmer said:

Hey, how many times do I have to tell you?
Keep away from the duck pond, son,
it’s fucking deep. If you fall in you’ll drown,
here, let this be a reminder

and he gave the lad the benefit of a meaty slap
to the side of the head.

Born a rebel, Magellan took against his old man,
against his vicious determination to wring a profit
from the land regardless of cost or decency.

Magellan aged sixteen, had he been aware of Greek drama,
would have had his father’s head boiled alive and eaten some,
just for the pleasure of hearing his work described by the chorus.

Instead, what he did was, he left home,
and to avenge his mother, who all her life
had to work like a slave milking goats
and sleeping always on the draughty side of the bed,
he set out to explore the vast uncharted oceans of the world.

And with what formidable success! Undreamed of feats
for a man who all his life harboured a fear of ducks.
Ducks erupting in his sleep, the ducks
he must confront and vanquish in a bloodbath nightly
of mangled beaks, webbed feet and feathers,
the hellish quacking.

Undreamed of feats for a man whose ardent member –
so rejected lovers would attest –
was no great towering main-mast
and of less than average girth.

Magellan, a man to command fleets.
Magellan, a man to kindle in our quailing hearts the spark
that might inspire us to wrestle down the demons,
the claws, the hooks, the thorns, the ducks
that would impede us.

 

 

 

I could not pin down Boltini for a bio, but he is a Yorkshire poet with a unique and beguiling voice. His collection Narrow Ruled Feint with Margin is available here from Half Moon Books.

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