A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #8

Hi everyone,

Here’s #8 on the list of my favorite poems.

This is the opening poem in PIRATES, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2008. The title was chosen to represent Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C., 2013. It was a NCTE Notable Book of Poetry, on the Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List (2011-2012) as well as Kansas State Reading Circle List (2009) and Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List (2011-2012).


Times were hard for some men.
They slept in places
roaches would snub,
ate when they were able,
drank what they could.

The waterfront teamed
with men like that,
living life on the bottom rung,
neither giving
nor expecting mercy.

Tomorrow would be
like yesterday —
rotten teeth, rat bites,
odd jobs loading ships,
stealing a coin now and then.

Men like that nursed
their bruises with their beer,
brooded, plotted revenge on life,
decided that dying as a pirate
was better than living like this.

(c) 2008 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved