The tell-tale swung from the beam in the ceiling.
The tale we must tell swung in our hearts
as days marched past weeks to the Azores,
Cape de Verdes, Rio de la Plata, St Helena.
The tale we must tell swung from the beam
where the ocean met the land and swung back
to Cape de Verdes. The tale untold sold us
our silver, took in our gold and goaded us on
to the Azores, there she blows to Cape de Verdes.
Captain tell us your tale as the tell-tale announces
the desire of moon and the stunsail spread.
Take the helm, climb the main-mast head
where the tell-tale hangs as the moon in heaven.
And around our necks the shuddering wind,
a wind that speaks to men in one language
and to whales in another, we each in our own way answer.
The whales reply with a silvery jet of bubbles.
The men with a shivering cry of shifting sails
longitudes and latitudes, and the moon back-lit night.
The tell-tale shifting as the sea-ravens perched
on our stays, and clung to our hemp the new crew
come to replace us the almost living.
Cape of Good Hope grant us aspiration
that we may pretend ourselves fish and swim
with the sea to seek consultation on a blue-black horizon.
As our captain meditates on the tell-tale compass,
and we ruminate on the unseen spirit-spout
spouting out our dreams and delusions;
Somewhere beyond Cape de Verdes, Rio de la Plata
Carrol Ground, St Helena the blue-black night.