Thirteen Ways of Looking at Blackbeard

by Ed Higgins

                                   (with thanks to Wallace Stevens)


Across the placid sea

The only moving ship

Was eyed by Blackbeard



Blackbeard was of three minds,

Like a pursuing hammerhead shark

Which seemed as though three Blackbeards. 



Blackbeard's beard whirled by sea spray.

It is a small part of the terror.



Blackbeard and his buccaneers

One motherfucking terror.

Blackbeard and his buccaneers

Are a seafarer's fucking demon.



Blackbeard does not know which to prefer,

The beauty of eviscerations

Or the beauty of a rapier thrust to the liver.

Blackbeard's steaming blade 

Coming clean after.



Lit fuses sputter from his black tricorn hat

With barbaric gusto.

Visage of Satan's shadow, Blackbeard

Smoldering forward and aft on deck.

Tracing in fearsome shadow

His indecipherable rage.



O trembling men being boarded

Who could imagine more incited fear?

Do you not see how Blackbeard

Will stroll your blood slick decks

Eying the women trembling behind you?



The women know ignoble assents

Heed illicit, inescapable cheek.

But all the captives know, too,

That Blackbeard is roused

In bloodlust rhythms.



When Blackbeard's ship was out of sight

Over the horizon's edge

The target ship's crew danced on deck in circles.



At the sight of Blackbeard's ship

Flying Teach's skeleton-spearing-a-heart flag

Cries of terrible euphony

Rose up sharply.



Blackbeard strode across his deck 

Three brace of pistols hung in holsters.

Thick beard braided into pigtails

Tied with colored ribbons. 

Always, fear pierced a pursued ship

Equipage unprepared for Blackbeard's speed. 



Closing for a starboard broadside. 

Blackbeard's Adventure, horror flag flying.



By late afternoon miscalculating 

His boarding party floundered into defeat.

Blackbeard's corpse tossed into the sea.

Head suspended from Lt. Maynard's bowsprit

Proof to collect a never paid Admiralty reward.