Madhouse Promenade

By David Barber

One more time, boys, round the bark, the bark
Locked fast in an endlessness of ice, the ice
Still on the march where open sea should be, the sea
We last saw laid to rest beneath the ice, the ice
We’re sick of trekking on, so once more round the bark.

One and all now, round the deck, our beaten track
Through thick and thin in times like these that rack
Seamen’s souls, stopped cold in our dicey race
To be there first, fetched up so far from anyplace close
It’s anyone’s guess if we’re adrift or aground.

Time to work the kinks out, buckos, round and round
The half-cracked deck like a lark on the boardwalk
Back in your heyday, and this time let’s pick up the pace
With a skip in your step, your ship doc’s new trick
To bring the spirits of our skeleton crew around.

One by one, then arm and arm, the best advice
For the shellshock in the unmapped polar wake
When you’re in too deep and any mind’s bound
To come unwound, a brisk jaunt through the murk
For its own bracing sake, roundabout in a trice.

One step, two step, round and round, the wreck
Our rock, our walkabout, the route that must suffice
When it’s dusk round the clock on the unseen sea, the sea
Drowned out in the bedlam trample of ice, the pack-ice
Keeping us in our place, trooping round and round the bark.