This week's prompt is: one word
There is no glamour
one must pawn
to secure a dented dinghy
portage for miles
the lifeless thing
across rusty terrain finally
at a tired inlet
wrestle your way
double fisted kelp
soundlessly dip oars
you have fished
with your father’s nets
scramble up long ladders
of important ships
a far cry
from Anne Bonny
Fully advised of
too numerous to name
in their right mind
cold call for a front office job
or sulk in a dusty lot
waiting for the tomato truck
If you would like some background on what inspired this poem, please read the summary below.
You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without being inundated by stories of pirates.
Dinghies niggling the bows of behemoth craft? Random unprovoked attacks? It all seemed so illogical and incongruous. What would drive anyone to commit such desperate acts? I began looking for answers. The story is much more complicated than the news reports suggest.
This chapter of piracy began 18 years ago as a group of fishermen banded together to protect their livelihood and their habitat. They called themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia and they were acting in absence of a viable government that could intercede on their behalf. They were met with pots of boiling water and bullets. As we know, the conflict has escalated and now a vast armada of navies is converging off shore to fight what is being described as one of the great menaces of our times.
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed as a result of protracted civil war, drought and a proxy war waged by Ethiopia. Its nine million people have been teetering on the edge of starvation ever since.
With the destabilization of the region, mysterious ships started to materialize off the coast of Somalia, one of the richest fishing zones in the world. Illegal trawlers continue to trespass the 12 mile inshore artisanal fishing waters, encroaching on local fishing grounds. They come from the European Union, Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen where marine life has been depleted by overexploitation. They take over $450 million in fish value out of Somalia annually without compensating local fishermen, paying tax or respecting environmental statutes (established international standards for regulated fishing.)
These countries have also made deals with local war lords and the Italian mafia to dump barrels of industrial and nuclear waste into the waters. After the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of leaking barrels washed up on the shore. The local coastal population began to suffer strange rashes, nausea, birth defects and many have died of radiation related diseases.
Appeals to the UN to protect Somalia’s sovereignty have repeatedly been thwarted by well entrenched and powerful interests.
Piracy is defined as “a war-like act committed by a nonstate actor, especially robbery or criminal violence committed at sea, on a river, or sometimes on shore, either from a vessel flying no national flag, or one flying a national flag but without authorization from a national authority.”
So technically, the big boats are not committing piracy. But they are in clear violation of international law.
None of this makes hostage taking justifiable. But it does give context to recent events.