THE SHIP IN THE CLOUDS, by James Hutchings:

I was walking alone on a wet stretch of stone
that the guidebook had claimed was a beach
and the sea was as gray as my spirits that day
and I sighed as if robbed of my speech.

And it seemed as I sighed that the world must have died
for the sea and the stones and the hills
had been wrapped in a shroud of the heaviest cloud
and lay cold, and unspeaking, and still.

Now it happened that I was observing the sky
when the fog of the firmament stirred
and a great shadow came that I struggled to name
as a planet, a star, or a bird.

But it wasn’t a bird, and I said not a word
only trembled with joy and with fear
overcome with the awe of the vision I saw:
a great ship of the old buccaneers!

I imagined she’d come bearing spices and rum
fresh from raiding in some other realm
fully laden with spoils sailing into Port Royal
Captain Rackham or Kidd at the helm.

She was joy to the eye as she soared through the sky
as if sailing a mist-ridden sea.
Most majestic and vast came this ghost of the past
who was far from her harbour as me.

And I heard as they passed that a voice called “Avast!”
and a figure leaned over the rail.
Then he swore with great force, and the ship slowed her course
till no wind filled the towering sails.

Now he peered from the deck as if down on a wreck
lying lost on the sea-bed below
and the rest of the crew came to stare at me too
like the crowd at a travelling show.

Then the captain appeared and his anger was clear
as he sternly commanded “Sail on!”
and the crew took their posts and in minutes at most
off she sailed through the clouds and was gone.

* * *

Now I follow a quest with no hope and no rest
and my body and spirit grow weak
as I wander forlorn, ever chasing the storm
never sighting the ship that I seek.

And my friends must presume that the sea is my tomb
that I swam out to drown far from home
and the weed in the waves is the grass on my grave
and the cliffs my memorial stone.

I would willingly burn if I only could learn
where that ship of my dreams has its port
if they come in to land by the forests of Pan
or the pit where the Devil holds court.

Home and family I lack and the gales lash my back
and I weep for my life long and loud
yet I smile when the rain seems to mutter my name
and I watch for the ship in the clouds.
James Hutchings lives in Melbourne, Australia. He fights crime as Poetic Justice, but his day job is acting. You might know him by his stage-name ‘Brad Pitt.’ His work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and New Myths among other markets. His ebook collection ‘The New Death and others’ is now available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and DriveThruFiction. James blogs regularly at

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