Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dave's Cave

Down in a hidden valley
Where the dogwoods bloom in spring,
There flows a clear mountain creek
Over rocks its waters sing.

On the west side of the creek
Is the dry mouth of Old Dave.
Here long ago came a man
To explore this mountain cave.

He was from Illinois.
A well-learned man he had said.
All the great books of the world
He had studied, he had read.

Warned he was, about that hole.
But he bragged that he was brave.
Boldly he searched the mountains
For the ancient dry mouth cave.

He told no one his real name.
Why we never truly knew.
A young hillbilly he found
And said to him, “you will do.”

He paid Tony rather well
But thought he was quite a knave.
Yet, it was Tony who found
The concealed mouth of the cave.

Deep into it they traveled,
Seeing by the faint torchlight.
Here Tony could guide no more.
Here Tony was filled with fright.

He said, “Stranger, let’s go back.”
The stranger said, “Child, behave.
I am the guide underground.
I’ve explored many a cave.”

The legend that Desoto
In the cave had put treasure,
Is what drove the Northerner.
Wealth he’d find without measure.

Onward, onward they traveled.
Hunting the gold he did crave.
But the boy sensed something
Way back in the Ozark cave.

Something shiny, far ahead.
Could that be the treasure there?
High up on a rocky ledge,
With lust the stranger did stare.

I’m rich the man said aloud,
Stumbling as he did rave.
Like a mad man running there
Far back in the treasure cave.

But before he could reach it,
The hole started caving in.
The last words the stranger said
Was, “Dave, I regret my sin.”

Quickly Tony ran back out.
Only himself he could save
From the ancient old black hole
That was later named, ‘Dave’s Cave’.

A.L. Shipman, Jr.
August 17, 1984

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Trip to the Store


Happily a cow-poke drove
His Ford to the country store.
Spat tobacco on the ground
As he opened the truck’s door.

Asked for two dollars of gas
As out to the pump Dan came.
Dan asked ‘bout oil and water.
He questioned always the same.

As he entered the building,
He rang the little cowbell.
Walked slowly through the dry goods.
Then upon Sal his eyes fell.

The storekeeper then jumped up
And she quickly used her broom.
Sweeping the dust swiftly out,
Pulled the door shut with a boom.

“Staying busy today, Sal?”
He asked with a little smile.
As he picked out his ‘baccer,
He thought Sal had real style.

She said, “Hum,” and sat back down.
“I will with the like of you.
Knock your boots off good next time
Like a gent would do his shoe.”

But he saw her little smile.
Saw the spark in her brown eyes.
Then he asked in gentle words,
“Is that how you say your Hi’s?”

She answered nary a word
Just sat rocking back and forth.
He gathered what he needed.
Then said, “They’s clouds in the north.”

Now at this she had to grin.
No she could not help herself.
She kinda liked this old boy
Standing at the ammo shelf.

He paid with silver dollars
And she slowly made his change.
Then sacked up his groceries
He needed out on the range.

And then, so very quietly
Sal asked, “When will you be back?”
“I’ll be back soon as I can.”
He winked and picked up his sack.

Shutting the screen door gently,
He waved at her and said, “Bye.”
Walked across the old board porch
As his boots made the dust fly.

He wished he could stay longer
At the shaded country store
And visit with sweet Sal there.
Help her sweep her dusty floor.

Then he starts his old truck up
As he makes a little sigh.
She’s quite a woman, he thinks.
Though she is a little shy.

A good old tune he whistles
As he drives down the road.
And Sal sang that same old song
As back to her chair she strode.

By    A. L. Shipman Jr.     8-8-1984

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Red skies in the morning.  I see red skies at night.
But that don’t mean my evening is gonna turn out right.

Rain on the horizon.  Here it’s hot as fire.
Blues is played in the city.  In the country, I hear a choir.

Better days to come.  My best days have passed.
The moon is rising slowly.  I love the moons of my past.

Leaving Memphis for Miami. Farmington for the sea.
Searching for a good old storm to come back and comfort me.

On the road in Tennessee, on the road in Georgia too.
If I don’t make Miami I don’t know what I’m gonna do.

Never said she would wait for me.  Never said she would be true.
But I don’t care what she’s done.  Baby, I still love you.

Flew down through Florida.  Stayed on the Interstate.
My heart looking for happiness to help me lose all the hate.

It’s the same moon over Miami that’s over Memphis Tennessee.
Come on, Hialeah make me happy as can be.

     By A. L. Shipman Jr.

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Friday, October 7, 2011


Back in the mountains, down the valleys or high on the hills,
the things I used to hear, they still give me the chills.

I'd be out au huntin' with, Cefus the dog,
Then the cry of a Banshee would come out of the fog.

It would scream across the ridges, fill up every holler.
Make, Cefus run to me so I would hold on to his collar.

I never saw a thing but it still bothers my brain.
I know,Cefus heard it, that's what keeps me sane.

Oh the scream of a panther. A coyote's call.
The howl of a wolf can make a grown man crawl.
There's no explanation, for no creature at all,
sounds like that Banshees half blooded death call.

I told my grandpa about what I'd heard.
He said, "I've heard it too and it sure ain't no bird.

But you better be careful, about spreadin' the word,
Cause people will call you, crazy because of what you heard.

Legend has it son, it's the spirit of a man.
Half Irish and Cherokee, rejected by his clan.

He screams in the night, sometimes even in the day,
So both of his kinfolks will always have to pay.

Oh the scream of a panther. A coyote's call.
The howl of a wolf can make a grown man crawl.
There's no explanation, for no creature at all,
sounds like that Banshees half blooded death call.

My Mom, she said son, that's an old bear tale.
And your Grandpa can, share them so well.

But I said, Mom, I heard it, before he ever said a word.
By the sound of it, my emotions were stirred.

Old Cefus is gone.  Grandpa is gone too.
I go back to the mountains, to see what I can do.

To get to hear that sound, that makes me feel alive,
And remember the past. Into the legends I dive.

Oh the scream of a panther. A coyote's call.
The howl of a wolf can make a grown man crawl.
There's no explanation, for no creature at all,
sounds like that Banshees half blooded death call.

© 2011 A.L. Shipman, Jr. All Rights Reserved. Watermark template. Powered by Blogger.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bottles = The Third Blog of this short story. [ 3 ]

     The colors of the water and its many shades of colors, changed constantly as they maneuvered around, dropped off traps and maneuvered more.  Dennis was still good at that job.  He knew how to handle the Holly Lynne.  When you saw the color brown or white out here it meant run aground.  Green to light green was shallow and with every shade of darker hue it indicated deeper water.   Blue and you could sail on through.  Dark blue and it was very deep. Dennis knew the depth for his traps by the color tones.  His depth finder proved him right and true every time.
That night the waters were calm.  The moon was almost full and stars filled the great void all around it.  They were there for signs and seasons.  Junior thought, “If only I could read them perfectly as they are intended to be read and understood.”
     As the moon rose, its position in the sky became such that thousands of sparkles appeared on the water's surface.  This perfect angle making this spectacular display lasted for many minutes.  They all four sat in their chairs, sipped on their favorite beverage, and soaked in the sights sounds and feelings this first night out on the Holly Lynne was providing them. Finally as the night sky changed and the brilliant sparkles diminished they went to their jungle hammocks and slept restfully.
     Breakfast aboard the Holly Lynne was going to be good.  It was Bill's turn to cook and he did mighty fine.  Dennis was going to cook the dinner hopefully of lobster.  Junior was awake for sunrise and took pictures of it rising up over the far distant horizon.  He made a few notes then ask Bill if he could help.  He received the assignment of fixing the coffee.
     The ocean rolled gently and the water was a light green where they had anchored.  No boats were seen until they were well into checking their traps.  They soon had enough lobster to eat and take-home the limit.  The traps were taken up and they started fishing with rods and reels.  Dennis caught a few then went to prepare dinner.  Bill, Wesley and Junior caught some good-sized fish but Wesley clearly caught the biggest.  A cloud could be seen growing in the eastern sky.  No weather warnings had been issued yet.  It was 85°, a gentle breeze making for smooth sailing or boating and fishing.  Junior rigged up for a big fish and let it settle to the bottom, took a comfortable seat and started reading the book again. Dinner was almost ready.  The aroma floated on the air.  Junior's memory and imagination drifted back to when he had read Treasure Island.  What dreams he had enjoyed because of that book.  He was on a faraway island when Dennis asked, “What is your book about?”
     “Ah, about the Keys and legendary treasure that is supposed to be there. I guess I should say, supposed to be here.” Here!  It felt good to Junior to be able to say here.  He was actually here in the waters the book was talking about.
     “Which legendary treasure are you reading about now?”
     “You'll like this one Dennis.  It's about a Spanish sailor who dropped bottles onto an island. Later the ship he was on went down in a hurricane.  He had been scraping slivers of gold off of bars and doubloons, mixed it with sand, put it into bottles, corked them and dipped the corked ends in melted lead for a heavy seal.  He would go fishing on a regular schedule and on those fishing trips he would drop a couple bottles onto the top of a barely submerged Key he called Snow Top.  It doesn't say how many bottles he dropped off before the treasure ship set sail for Spain.”
     “How did this story get out if the ship sank,” Dennis asked?
     “The ship sank but a few survived by getting on an island.  They were marooned there by the storm for 40 years before a ship saw them.  All of them were very old then.  The Spaniard who had hid the bottles on Snow Top finally found a mate he thought he could trust.  The old man should never have trusted the young Frenchman.  They sailed out in a small sailing boat and the old Spaniard found one bottle and proved his story true.”  Unknown to the young man was the fact that this island top was where the old man had only put a few bottles, then the ship he was on had sailed to another port to await orders to sail on to Spain.  All the rest were on Snow Top.  Frenchy killed the old Spaniard and let the fish have him.  He found only a few more bottles.  It was enough gold to buy lots of supplies and a larger vessel though.  He did not hire a crew for fear of having to share the gold in the bottles.  He went out and searched alone.  He told all the people at the taverns and Inn, where he called homeport, that the old Spaniard chose to stay out on the island and the supplies he took out all the time were for him.  That he had lived almost alone for so many years that the port was too crowded with people for his liking.
     This went on for years.  The gold was all spent.  Frenchy took jobs so he could buy supplies and set sail and look for more treasure under the disguise of friendship with the Spaniard.  Frenchy became deathly ill after ten years and made a deathbed confession to a priest about what he had done.  The problem was a few other people heard it too.  Frenchy died and immediately the priest, the Inn owner, and a bar winch went to his room and went through Frenchy’s trunk and found the map he had been using and the empty bottles with sand scattered in the bottom of the trunk.
     They went through the Spaniard’s trunk he had gotten after being rescued from the island. He had lived in the harbor town for a year before being killed.  Maps were found of the Caribbean, Gulf and Straits of Florida. But look all they could, none of them ever found another map or writing that plainly said that the rest of the bottles were in a different place than where Frenchy had gotten the only ones he ever found.  The trunks were kept at the tavern for a long time.  The legend grew.  The chest and contents were finely sold.  Bought and sold many times down through the years.  No record has ever been found that proved anyone ever found the rest of it. But finally the Spaniard’s trunk lid was taken apart. There a letter was found which reviled that only a few bottles were on the first island he was going to show Frenchy. Many more were on the Key he called Snow Top. That letter was found about one hundred years too late for Frenchy.
     There were pictures in the book of crude maps the Spaniard had drawn or found. All had been found in the Spaniard chest.  Even a picture of the chest was there.  They looked at the book.  The maps in the book showed the chest and empty bottles. 
     “It's not exactly what you think of as a treasure chest.   Is it,” Jr. observed?
     “That's because it's not one.  It's just a chest he kept his things in.  See the inside of the lid even has a drawing on.”  Dennis pointed to the drawing.  It did not look like a map.  The word Spain could be made out and a few towns’ names such as Madrid and Leon.  Then there in the middle of the lid was a two-wheeled cart with farm animals in it.  A calf, goat, pig, chicken, sheep and the farmer driving the cart was taking the last swig out of a bottle he had turned up high.  A tall snow topped mountain was in the background.
     A timer went off. “Foods ready”, Dennis said.  “We'll look at this again after dinner.”
     Jr. put the book away.  Reeled in his line and went over to the table to eat.  He and Dennis were starting to eat before Wesley and Bill pulled their lines in out of the salty green water.
     “I'll find us a line of seaweed to fish around this evening”, Dennis said as they walked by toward the food.  “Hard to fish out deep while you're cooking.”
     “You think we better trust that engine enough to go out deep?”  Bill questioned.
     “ It hasn't missed a beat yet”, Dennis bragged on her. “ Besides, Wesley and I both know how to work on engines.  He showed us that as we were cleaning it up back on Big Pine Key.”
     “You know why they call it Big Pine Key”, Bill ask Wesley?
     “No.  Not really,” Wesley admitted.
     “The Spanish brought Slash Pine trees down here from Norfork and planted them on that particular Key so when they needed a new mast for one of their sailing ships they could just go to Pine Island and get one. They grow very tall. That’s why they called it Big Pine Key.”
     “Is that right?  Well I guess that makes a lot of sense”, Wesley responded.
     “I hadn't heard that about Big Pine Key but I have read about how buccaneers got their name.”  Junior started in, “The Spaniards put pigs on certain islands in the Caribbean and let them multiply there.  When they needed a pig for meat they just sailed to one of the pig Islands and killed some and or trapped some alive and put them on board for fresh meat later.  Some out of work French sailors found themselves marooned on one of these islands.  The island natives showed them how to cook with what they could get off the island like banana leaves, sticks and coals. They learned how to cook pig meat in long thin strips like jerky or slow cook it like our barbeque.  When the Spanish came for some pigs again they found the marooned French sailors had a large supply of pork cooked up already.  They decided to pay the French sailors with gold and other needed things for the jerky and barbecued pork instead of having to cook it for them selves.  Those French sailor cooks became known in the French tongue as the Buccaneers.  Buccaneers being French for barbecue.  I guess.”
     Dennis added, “Yea.  And they had other islands where they put horses, cows, goats, sheep and chickens.
     “I love BBQ”, Jr. stated.  “But right now I can't imagine anything tasting nearly as good as this meal of fresh seafood Dennis has whipped together for us.”
     “Amen to that,” Wesley loudly agreed.
     That evening they ventured out to about ten miles offshore.  Dennis spotted a long wide line of drifting seaweed and the big fish started being caught.  By time to start in, at least to shallow anchorable waters, their ice chests were full of fresh fish and lobster.
     “The ice will keep them until tomorrow late if you want to stay out another night,” Dennis told them.
     “I'm ready to go in tonight,” Bill said quickly.
     Wesley looked at Jr. They shrugged their shoulders at each other and said,        
     “Okay. Fine with us.  Whatever you say Dennis.”
     “Ah.  Sounds like Bill is missing Marcy,” Dennis joked at Bill.
     Big Pine Key finally came into view.  By the time the Holly Lenn was secured at her dock again her crew was much tireder than they had thought they would be, except Bill.  He knew he was going to be tired.  She was secured and locked down.  The ice would hold the food good and fresh until tomorrow.  They decided unanimously that their gear, grub, and catch could wait until tomorrow to be cleaned and packed away properly.

     The new crew of the Holly Lynne slept well in their land lover beds that night as the cakadas and frogs sang to the moon.  A corn snake ate a fat rat out of Bill and Marcy's yard that night but only a green gecko and gray iguana knew it happened under the blue roofed gazebo as the hanging orchids grew on without hesitation.  A coconut fell and hit the concrete walkway as the brown snake disappeared into the dense plant life cover.  A pipefish splashed water in the canal between the Two Nickels and the Tight Schedule.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Which Time?

I met you, on a Friday, afternoon.
It was in, the latter, days of June.
You were pretty as cherry pie,
Yea ya really caught my eye,
And it broke my heart, each time you said goodbye.

Which time, did you hear me say, that I love you?
Which time, did you hear me say, that I care?
Which time, did I convince you, that I need you?
Which time, made you believe, I’ll always be true?
Which time? Which time? Baby which time?

I keep my loving eyes, fixed on you.
Loved everything you’d say, and you’d do.
You were a treasure beyond compare,
with that long, flowing hair
And I longed to find the words that would win your heart.

Which time, did you hear me say, that I love you?
Which time, did you hear me say, that I care?
Which time, did I convince you, that I need you?
Which time, made you believe, I’ll always be true?
Which time? Which time? Baby which time?

You say that I’ve got your, eternal love.
It will last, long as the stars above.
I really need to know one thing,
so our love will always sing,
Just what it was I said, that opened your heart.

Which time, did you hear me say, that I love you?
Which time, did you hear me say, that I care?
Which time, did I convince you, that I need you?
Which time, made you believe, I’ll always be true?
Which time? Which time? Baby which time?

Baby. Oh Baby! Baby which time?

By A. L. Shipman Jr.

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