The Quay

Here we are 
in the tidy, polished space
that is the captain’s day cabin
And here he is
the Captain all stiff-white shirt
black tie, braid epaulets
And this, his First Officer
taller, slimmer
And here’s Danny, the union man
from Northern Ireland, heavy set
tidied up for this occasion
See the eight crew
shyly shuffling in, lining up
unused to such static situations
like the pause after an Amen
Captain about to speak
Even a laughing gull
wheels by the window
Merchant Navy Code of Conduct
disciplinary breach
hearing begins
absence at the time of sailing
wages deducted
Outside late August
The crew file off
Except the tallest, young, blue-eyed one
He’s been asked to stay
More silence
until the cabin door closes
The first officer, less formal now
Christopher, it’s my duty
to report that your father
died this morning
We see the young man
fold at the knees caught
held up under the arms
helped to the door
This is where the story really begins


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Fourteen Prompt: The opening scene to a film about your life.

CLP 14/04/2022


  1. vhosking says:

    I had the same dilemma – if a movie were made of my life, where would it begin. Your opening scene is pivotal and would definitely captivate the audience.

    1. I really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you. A tough prompt!

  2. Great prompt – intriguing scene 👍🖤

    1. Dastardly prompt imo! 😊

      1. Haha! You did brilliantly with it! 👍🖤

      2. Congratulations! That is quite an opening scene!

      3. You are welcome.

    2. Poignancy with a punchline.

      1. Thank you for reading and your comment, Graham.

  3. Alana says:

    Rereading now that you’ve been featured – even better the second time. I’m noticing how you shifted the stanza structure after the devastating turn. And love the straight-faced gull. Congrats!

    1. Thank you, Alana. I’m pleased it bore up to a re-reading! I wasn’t sure about the stanza length change at first, but felt it needed it to expand on the moment and provide the detail. Thanks again.

  4. Arti Jain says:

    Wow! Wow!

    1. Thank you, Arti. 🙏

  5. Ben Kohns says:

    Congrats on being recognized by for this poem. I’ve always loved your writing!

    1. Hi Ben, Thank you. I hope all is well with you. I am hoping to visit the USA this summer. Let me know if there is a poetry event near you in August, please!

      1. Ben Kohns says:

        Will do. Do you know where in the US you will be?

      2. I am going to do a bit of New England then wander down to west coast of Florida, with some diversions en route.

  6. That was cinematic. Hurrah for the feature. If there must be death, better to start with it.

    1. Manja, that’s a very good idea worthy of extensive discussion! Thank you for your continuing encouragement.

  7. Donna M Day says:

    Amazing. Congratulations on being featured!

    1. Thank you, Donna. It’s good enough to know people are reading and enjoying my poems, but it is an honour to be selected during April!

  8. What a wonderful first scene! I’m hooked–I want to know what happened next.

    1. Andrea, Thank you for letting me know! What happens next depends on whether the film runs chronologically, or not. There is a poem, about what happened immediately preceding the disciplinary hearing.

  9. Romana Iorga says:

    Oh Chris, this is heartbreaking… Incredibly moving opening scene. Congratulations on being featured–well-deserved!

    1. Thank you, Romana. On prompt, I think. I read it out on Friday evening at an open mic event…managed to finish it in one piece. 😊

      1. Romana Iorga says:

        That’s wonderful–congrats, Chris!💜🙌🍃

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