Brian Okabayashi: The Wreck of the HMS Prospect
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The Wreck of the HMS Prospect

21st Century

In January young
Of that fateful year 1792,
Was christened
His Majesty's ship,
The Prospect, savior
Of the isles he ruled,
Hopeful again another
Fruitful slave-ship
Commissioned his kingdom
Or empires as he fancied save.

To the Barbary Coasts
Of the North African shores
Soon this vessel would travel
Oblivious what the
Future held in store.

On the sunny morning
Of February fifth,1792
Did the Prospect take sail
Through the Strait Gibraltar
Around the French isle Corsica
And her sister fair Sardinia,
Jewel of Two Sicilies.
Past the port Algiers
And it's cruel master,
Pasha the exulted,
Constable of His Sultan's
Royal command.
Into the Barabary harbor
The feigned Tripoli!
Captured by their own
Kings in exchange for gold,
Morose helots in caravans
In did pour.
The inexorable man
Who held the scourge
In his hand
Under unkempt turban peered
More barbarous
Than the tribes
From which they came!
Slaves from the market east
To sell the White man
His gold for their lives!

Another calm day it seemed
In late April 1792,
After the work was done,
The slaves had been shackled,
Whipped, and cast into
The demon hull.
The captain rejoiced,
His journey near complete,
Service to His Majesty,
George III, Sovereign
Of Great Britain,
The Isle of Man,
Ireland the green,
The colonies He lost,
And His foreign homeland,
Germany was now fulfilled.
All for he and his crew was
As ought to be.

As the daylight hours
In early that month waned,
Off set the Prospect,
Ruby in the crown tyrannous,
Into the open, sedate sea.

Dark and dreary were
The days that followed,
The storm sent by some
Just force to thwart
The empire tyranny.
Under candlelight
The crew remained pacified,
Unyielding to moans
Of the forgotten below
Whose plight remained
A well-protected mystery.

The darkness and the drear
For several weeks remained
Until the crew's security
To the hellish tempest
Now was lost.

But powers above
And powers below
Convened to bring
To bring the ship
Onto its knees:
The squall did worsen,
Horrid voices upon
The evening air were heard,
Dark and somber
Of no mortal man
That whispered raspy
Dooms no living man
Ever dared before utter
Of fire and damnation,
Destruction and eternal sorrow,
Justice to those
Who enslave their own,
That man is man
Whether born here or there,
And everlasting ruin.
Through the soul they burned,
Yet the captain and his crew
Remained in complacent view!

On a wretched night
En route home,
Commandeered was the ship
By forces unkown:
The ship sailed into
Unknown ports,
The slave-ship HMS Doom
Commanded by the Reaper,
The Angel Death.

He and his demon crew
Boarded the ship
And gave order by
The grace of the sovereign
Now ruler of Hell.
Overcome by the
Reapers strength the
Captain was; he and
His crew bound, whipped,
And cast into the
Torturous hull:
He and his men had
Now become the cargo,
Worthless slaves,
Whose lives matter not,
And who were not human at all!

The captain cried behind
His chains strong
Along with its sullen cargo,
All had changed,
His crew now the merchandise
Who bore whip run
And fetter cut
To sell at foreign ports

Across the sea peril did
It eternally sail.
On the way some trouble came,
Too heavy the fair ship,
Ne'er on time to
Hell's port arrive;
Too heavy the load.

"Bring forth the dying and the dead"
So ordered the Reaper
"Why so?" asked a demon sailor
To the Reaper.
He replied: "Over the side
Shall the vermin now
Be cast, we need them not,
And their putrid malodor
Is more than I can bear.
Overboard with
The lubbers!
Of them the sharks
Shall make work short"
Did he snicker heinous.

From the depths
Came the surly and the sad,
Bodies wrapped in crudest garb:
For into bloody jaws they fell.

"What of the children ill?
No better than the dead they are,
Allow us stately gents,
Our cargo lucrative be pured."
Fettered dark and dull,
The children unwell
Forth drug out
Covered in cysts
And maggot muck,
For dread lepers they were!

Screaming in horror,
They made final plea
To the Reaper,
But no reply his jaw did make,
Only his empty gaze,
The lidless eye,
Stared merciless
Upon their dark fortune
Now them graced.
O'er the ravening brood,
The circling sharks,
Were the sick and ailing
Held by string
From the hands
Of his demon crew
Unto the wrath to come!

Vile shrieks and splash
Sounded death
As faces from their heads
Were torn.
The sharks in frenzy,
They beckoned more,
Waiting unsated
Beneath the sea.

The sharks now inclosing,
The ire, the cyclopean cyclone,
The waves terrible,
O the folly of the ill-fated!

Jaws gaping, eyes seeking,
Fin above the hellish torrent,
Voraciousness forever.
In the worms fell,
Insects in a river torment scream:
The horror, the clenching teeth!

The shrieking of shredding,
Blood, the water stained,
Jagged razors packed in rows,
In mouths now open wide,
Gleaming lightning strike.

The waters now crimson
Bore the blackness
Of the slaver trader's trade.

The requiem hideous:
Dismembered floated
Dead from the evil fishes' attack.
Pallas of flesh above
The reddened sea
Now did drift,
The shattered bodies
Of the dead
Properly interred!

Awoke the mad captain
From a frightful dream,
Darker than any dream
Any mortal had ever before dreamed.
His eyes weeping,
His legs quavering,
His mind in peril
Of the horror, evil
He had just endured.
Check the deck did he,
But no demon nor
Angel of death there
Was found.

"Gentlemen, this our voyage
Last shall be." The captain
To his men did declare.
"Cast not overboard any
Man; the Reaper death
Shall come for thee!"

All this the captain learned
From merely a nightmare
Of a dream.
Into the darkness his spirit
Did travel, in lands
Of death, darkness, and defeat,
To learn to his sorrow
No man shall own another.
The Reaper showed him
The error of his ways,
Until this must we always wait?

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