The Pirate With a Hook for a Heart

Image result for howard pyle pirates
by John MacBeath Watkins
copyright 2005
Twice Sold Tales, Seattle

There are pirates with a hook for a hand,
I'm a pirate with a hook for a heart.
A hook for a heart is hard, awkward and sharp
and it's shiny and cruel to caress.
It speaks of the cockpit, the blood and the sand,
the surgeon, the saw, the severed part.
A hook for a heart, a patch for an eye, a no for a yes,
a sigh, a sigh,
I see her look and I curse the hook
and the peg for a soul and the nay for an aye
a sigh, a sigh
for battles won at such a cost
for shattered hearts and souls we've lost,
a patch for an aye,
a sigh, a sigh.


  1. Seems like the poetry flows easily when it flows, but it can't be forced.

  2. You might, by the way, like to look at the third chapter of this:

    The problem with it is that having the character describe his own isolation would come across as whining, while having him project it on another has the reader deceived about the intent of the chapter until the end of it. I worry that it's a structural problem that could stop the reader.

  3. John, I read the first 3 chapters, and am into the 4th. I found 3 particularly mesmerizing—I didn’t find his description of isolation at all whiny. As for what you intended to achieve with that chapter—I can only give you my personal impression, which may or may not be of any help or interest to you.

  4. Thank you. I had hoped that by putting stuff on Scribd, I'd get some feedback, but surprisingly few people comment on what they read. Publishers tend to be deeply allergic to poetry, but I find it is sometimes the best way to portray the character's emotional state.

  5. That was actually the first time I read anything on Scribd; I didn’t realize there was a way to leave feedback. I guess it helps to know what an author’s expectations are regarding feedback—if there are specific issues or do they hope for the reader’s general impression?

    As far as poetry goes, I don’t read much of it, but I like yours. It wasn’t so obscure as to be distracting, but not so elementary as to be eye-rolling. I think it was well written and certainly fit the character, if not defined him.

    As far as using the ‘secretary lady’ as a device to show Silas’ isolation—I found that very effective—as opposed to going off on a monologue about it. There is, of course, an expectation that she will pop up somewhere along the plot line, but mostly because of her big red leather bag that looked ‘like a way to never be separated from her unabridged dictionary,’ and how you next mention ‘the Book.’

    I’m not sure if that’s what you were concerned about. Either way, it didn’t stop me from reading further. I’m more curious about how the first and second chapters tie in...
    ...and, I particularly like the way you describe your character’s physical attributes.

  6. This is poetry with a job to do, a way of telling a story. Most modern poetry is an object to be admired, and the arbiters of taste are academics. Shame, really, since readers prefer to be entertained and informed. My worry is that the state of modern poetry is a bar to the publication of the book.

    Here's one of the more jaundiced views of the problem:

  7. A patch for I,
    a sigh for thee.
    Henry Miller speaks to me.


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