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 OLD     SAILOR



His crumpled figure sat hugging the end of the pier
Looking such a mess made me think of litter bins
Choked with old cans and wet newspapers
That emits that certain odour

As I neared, the stench of his old coat made me squirm
Rotting fish with curled up skins and dry old scales
And he dozed in the mid-day sun
Oblivious to life around him

With a face ravaged by biting winds and leathery brown
He spoke of his fates at sea when he was a lad
Singing a verse of an old shanty and then grinning
A toothless gap between whiskery lips

From a boy of fourteen, life had been hard
Deserted by parents and family
To make his way in a shuddering world
When being alone was an icy place to be

All he had now were his treasures of memories
Which he sat gazing at every day at the edge of the sea
Wishing he were still that stripling of a lad          
Wishing his voyage was about to begin, not about to grind to its end






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