Writing by Peter Hilton

Holy Joe

A poem by C. Robert Hilton.

I’m sat out on deck, we’re alongside Park Quay,
Splicing eyes in a multiplait,
When this men comes on board and comes right up to me,
And asks to know what I am at.

But not so he means it. I see straight away
That seamanship’s not his ambition.
So I put in some tucks, wait to hear what he’ll say,
And he tells me he’s come from the Mission.

But he isn’t a padre, he’s not a trainee,
Or any of that Sailors’ Home squad,
But he pulls out some pamphlets and books, two or three,
And asks if I think about God.

Well yes, standing watches for hours on end
My thoughts run all over the show,
And you may be surprised to find seafarers tend
To see further and more than you know.

And I reckon the badness is mostly ashore,
And you’ll find it in every guise:
The con man, the mugger, the pimp and the whore,
The preacher with well polished lies.

And cleverer lies than the one you told me
When you mentioned the Mission in vain.
You have some kind of mission, with that I’ll agree,
But you’ve given it a Hell of a stain.

Since you knew Seamen’s Mission was what I’d understand
You have used a cheap salesman’s trick
In the name of your God. Is your God underhand?
And this holy Joe looks pretty sick.

“I’m not to be laughed at,” he says with a frown,
And he leaves without even a nod.
And I feel a bit sad for this self righteous clown,
But I really felt sorry for God.

©2008 C. R. Hilton