Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

This poem by Y.E. Allison is based on a short piece found in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson …

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest—
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
The mate was fixed by the bos'n's pike,
The bos'n brained with a marlin spike,
And Cookey's throat was marked belike

It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break-o'-day in a boozing-ken—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of the whole ship's list—
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!—
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore—
And the scullion he was stabbed times four.

And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped all day long in upstaring eyes—
In murk sunset and at foul sunrise—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark—
Ten of the crew had the Murder mark—
'Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead,
Or a yawing hole in a battered head—
And the scuppers glut with a rotting red

And there they lay—
Aye, damn my eyes—
All lookouts clapped On paradise—
All souls bound just contrariwise—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of 'em good and true—
Every man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew—
There was chest on chest full of Spanish gold,
With a ton of plate in the middle hold,
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,

And they lay there, that had took the plum,
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb,

While we shared all by the rule of thumb Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through the stern light screen—
Chartings no doubt where a woman had been!—
A flimsy shift on a bunker cot,
With a thin dirk slot through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot.

Oh was she wench or some shuddering maid…?
That dared the knife and took the blade!
By God! she was stuff for a plucky jade—
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest—
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight—

With a Yo-Heave-Ho!
And a fare-you-well!
And a sullen plunge in the sullen swell,
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell!
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

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