Kevin Clement was so inspired by his time circumnavigating the Black Sea, he put pen to paper and crafted a poem to remember.
The Discharge of the Trite Brigade
The verse that started it all (my contest entry):
The leeches, when we reached Batumi,
Found their glass insufficiently roomy.
They said, “We’re heading out.
“We’ll be crawling about,
“And if that makes you nervous, well, sue me.”
So, here’s the rest of it:
We flew into Constantinople
From all over, some ninety in total.
Not too well rested,
Our faith was then tested…
Would our bags arrive? We were hopeful.
We toured in old Istanbul;
Saw the Harem, and one or two jewels.
Big cruise ships were in—
The crowd wasn’t thin—
But we pitied those poor big-ship fools.
The pleasures of port can entice,
But our ship of the perfect small size
Was at the dock waiting,
So without hesitating,
We set sail, counterclockwise.
In Amasra, a chilling sea breeze
Whistled past walls Genoese.
Lia urged us to swim
We said, “Chances are slim…
“We’d rather go shopping than freeze.”
If you haven’t been to Amasya
You really should go there, because ya
Can see Pontic tombs
With their multiple rooms…
But the lunch there is what will amaze ya.
In the old monastery, Sumela,
The frescoes could dazzle a fella.
But switchbacking down
All the way into town
Was hard on the hips and patellas.
In Trabzon, the Aya Sofya
Is lovely, and there you can see a
Things to buy and to eat,
And from there some walked back to the pier.
Leaving behind things mechanical,
We walked through the Garden Botanical.
Later, while eating,
We watched dancers leaping
With an energy almost maniacal.
Though Sochi was really enthrallin’.
Joseph’s dacha was somewhat appallin’.
It was there that he felt
He could just be himself—
He’d go there when he was just stallin’.
With the thrill that discovery brings,
We hiked and we plunged in some springs.
With water so frigid
Our bodies went rigid—
That is, except for certain things.
The ship sailed across to deliver
Us to Yalta with hardly a quiver.
If you wanted more tossing
On this longest crossing,
Tough luck. Hey, Crimea river.
In Yalta, we set out to see a
Palace known as Livadia.
The Czar had it built,
But then he got killt,
Poor guy. It was just a Crime-ea.
In Balaklava our knowledge enlarged
Of the tale of the Light Brigade’s charge.
From their duty not shrinking
They rode without thinking,
And the Russkie boys kicked their butts hard.
My tour of charming Odessa
Involved—I fear I must confess it—
Two kinds of stairs:
The concrete ones there,
And the ones that I gave women’s dresses.
Up the Danube we went to see birds.
There were lots of them there, we had heard.
They served beer and brandy,
And the wine it flowed free,
And the birds all became a bit blurred.
We were now in the land of Romania
And an interesting bit of arcania
Is the fact that my leeches
Now feast on the beaches
In the state that includes Transylvania.
In the town of Constanta, Romania,
Ancient history is almost a mania.
When Ovid was sent there
We saw what he meant where
He wished for a climate less rainier.
Like some old Cold War aircraft carrier,
Our ship launched us out in Bulgaria.
With its mysteries old,
And its Thracian gold,
‘Twas another new country—more the merrier.
We’ve been on our own little Odyssey (the M/V Clipper, that is)
And the program’s been busier than busy.
We’ve come round so fast
On our circumnav,
That I think that I’m feeling quite dizzy.
We’ve traveled through six different nations,
On our Black Sea circum-navigation
And we think you’ll agree
When you get home you’ll need
A vacation from your vacation.