Lucy Vickery


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In Competition No. 2982 you were invited to recast John Masefield’s ‘Sea Fever’ in light of the news that the poet suffered from acute seasickness.

In his book Sea Fever, Sam Jefferson relates how as an apprentice seaman aboard the Gilcruix, the unfortunate Masefield was struck down by a brutal bout of mal de mer. A diary entry recorded the full horror: ‘I was faint, clammy, helpless, weakly wishing for death or dry land.’

Long lines, as per the original poem, mean that there is limited space for winners, which is a shame. This was a hugely popular comp and there were lots of skilful, witty and well-made entries (though with a fair, if not unsurprising, degree of repetition).

Those that nearly made the cut include Jerome Betts, Albert Black, A.H. Harker, Martin John, Walter Ancarrow, Neil Rowson, Iggy McGovern, William Casement, Jennifer Moore and Laurie Fitzpatrick. The winners, printed below, earn £35 each and the bonus fiver belongs to John Whitworth.

I would go down to the sea again but the waves

just make me sick.

If I go afloat in a rocking boat then I throw up

double quick.

So we might nip out for a glass of stout to the

pub around the corner,

But the salt-sea rave of the wildering wave and

its keening avifauna…?

No. I must bide by my own fireside in my flat in

Ponder’s End,

With a Chinese chicken takeaway to share with

a special friend,

With a pot of tea and a DVD and the radiators


What we like the most is we’re warm as toast

whatever weather’s coming.

A sailor’s life is all storm and strife, his ways are

wild and whacko,

The whores, the booze, the strange tattoos, the

stink of shag tobacco.

Give me the kiss of suburban bliss where the

pyrocanthas grow,

Where the children play at the close of day and

the cats stream to and fro.

John Whitworth

I must down to Boots again for some Oral Salts

and Kwells,

And maybe scopolamine patches, or packets of

Bonine gels,

And ephedrine highs and a Sea Band, hard on

the Nei Kuan point,

And Dramamine, and ginger root, and even a

big fat joint.

I must down to the quay again, to gaze at the

crash of surf,

Though my face is bluey-green, the hue of a

horribly mutant Smurf,

And all I ask is a millpond, while the mermaids


Or the cool of Phenergan Rectal on the ship’s

doc’s finger.

Must I down to the seas again where old wives

give three cheers

With their apple-and-cracker remedies, and

water behind the ears?

And all I ask is a steady bunk or a hammock

averse to swing,

Or a call from the coastguard, cancelling the

whole damn thing.

Bill Greenwell

I must throw up in the sea again, in the dark and

lurching sea,

And all I ask is for kindly death to end my misery,

With my wrenched guts and my loud moans and

my entrails churning

And a green tinge to my haggard face, and my

lunch returning.

I must throw up in the sea again, for the heads

are clogged with sick

And my stomach’s giving a clear call that must

be dealt with quick.

And all I ask is get out of my way, whoever you

bloody are,

As I do a fast and urgent rush to puke at the

taffrail bar.

I must throw up in the sea again, and empty my

suffering tummy

With a fraught look in my wild eyes, and a

desperate cry for mummy.

What I don’t want is a sarky quip from a laughing

fellow rover.

I’ll know the owner. He’ll sack you, mate, when

this damned trip’s over.

George Simmers

I must go up on deck again and stick my head

over the side

Since me on water is very bad news no matter

how calm the tide;

I’ve spewed ice-cream on the Serpentine in a

decorative cartouche,

Cornettos from many a gondola and bisque

from a bateau mouche.

I’ve puked my guts on body boards from Croyde

to Carbis Bay

I’ve vomited under Putney Bridge on every

Boat Race Day.

I’ve chundered almost instantly on the Broads in

a Norfolk wherry,

While there’s precious little I’ve not chucked up

on the Dartmouth/Kingswear ferry.

And the Second Mate has just walked past with

a greasy bacon butty,

So my innards are now a churning gloop and my

face the shade of putty.

Now all I need is a lessening wind and to find a

sheltered place

Where a man can lose his breakfast and it won’t

blow back in his face.

Martin Parker

No. 2985: trigger point

You are invited to provide a poetic preview of the day Article 50 is triggered. Please email entries, wherever possible, of up to 16 lines to by midday on 8 February.