Stellar Sailors Shanty

A Pantoum by A.C. Moore

Out in the black the stars are a burning,

Power the heart of our great voyager,

Celestial wheels they are a turning,

We’re feeding the mouths of each pioneer.

Power the heart of our great voyager

On heavy metals and radiation.

We’re feeding the mouths of each pioneer

Adrift in the black on each lonely station.

On, heavy metals! On, radiation!

Endless needs of a Stellar Empire.

Adrift, in the black, on each lonely station:

Carefully handle, poison and power.

Endless, the needs of our Stellar Empire’s

Celestial wheels. They are ever turning.

Carefully, Handle poison and power

Out in the black, from the stars, a burning.

About this poem…

            I have never before written a pantoum. It is a new form to me, despite the age behind its heritage. At first it was difficult to grasp. I even considered writing a sonnet instead, as I have more experience with them. But it felt wrong to not explore the form just because it was less familiar. So, I forced myself to take on the task.

            I was not sure what to write. I read several other pantoums, and found that many authors wrote about things close to them, or that mattered to them. Yet I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to contain within the form. It has a singsong design to it. And while I like to sing, I was not sure what I could encapsulate in song from my own life. Eventually I settled on making one around the idea of a society not my own, nor in my own time. Perhaps peoples in the far future would also have such use of this poetry style and use it to explore their own experiences in the darkness of interstellar space. That is what drove this poem for me.

            I love space. Especially science fiction/speculative fictions which take place in space. Much of my fiction writing falls into these categories. So it felt right to dive into this with the pantoum. I am not particularly pleased with the poem. However, it has little stakes in it. I didn’t make it about anything important. I made it just to see if I could. The pantoum is one I will have to explore more to see if I can make it my own. However, I am not sure if I enjoyed the form enough to use it more. It could benefit me in some ways, to fill in such shanties as I wrote here in a novel or two, as background music in some far off future.

Published by AC Moore

My goal is to one day change the world in the same way Shakespeare did: by infusing the thoughts of the human race with such language and turn-of-phrase that they say them daily, and never even know it was I who wrote it.

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