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Adrian Mitchell . The Castaways or Vote for Caliban

The Castaways or Vote for Caliban. By Adrian Mitchell

A Pacific Ocean —
A blue demi-globe.
Islands like punctuation marks.
A cruising airliner;
Passengers unwrapping pats of butter.
A hurricane arises,
Tosses the plane into the sea.
Five of them, flung onto an island beach,
Survived.

 

Tom the reporter.
Susan the botanist.
Jim the high jump champion.
Bill the carpenter.
Mary the eccentric widow.

 

Tom the reporter sniffed out a stream of drinkable water.
Susan the botanist identified the banana tree.
Jim the high-jump champion jumped up and down and gave them each a bunch.
Bill the carpenter knocked up a table for their banana supper.
Mary the eccentric widow buried the banana skins, but only after they had asked her twice.

 

They all gathered sticks and lit a fire.
There was an incredible sunset.
Next morning they held a committee meeting.
Tom, Susan, Jim and Bill
Voted to make the best of things.
Mary, the eccentric widow, abstained.

 

Tom the reporter killed several dozen wild pigs.
Tanned their skins into parchment
And printed the Island News with the ink of squids.
Susan the botanist developed the new strains of banana
Which tasted of chocolate, beefsteak, peanut butter,
Chicken and boot polish.

 

Jim the high jump champion organized organized games
Which he always won easily.
Bill the carpenter constructed a wooden water wheel
And converted the water’s energy into electricity
Using iron ore from the hills, he constructed lamppost.
They all worried about Mary, the eccentric widow,
Her lack of confidence and her-
But there was not time to coddle her.

 

The volcano erupted, but they dug a trench
And diverted the lava into the sea
Where it found a spectacular pier
They were attacked by the pirates but defeated them
With bamboo bazookas firing
Sea-urchins packed with home-made nitro-glycerin.

 

They gave the cannibals a dose of their own medicine
And survived an earthquake thanks to their skill in jumping.
Tom had been a court reporter
So he became a magistrate and solved disputes
Susan the Botanist established
A University which also served as a museum.
Jim the high-jump champion
Was put in charge of law enforcement-
Jumped on them when they were bad.
Bill the carpenter built himself a church,
Preached there every Sunday.

 

But Mary the eccentric widow …
Each evening she wandered down the island’s main street,
Past the Stock Exchange, the Houses of Parliament,
The prison and the arsenal.
Past the Prospero Souvenir Shop,
Past the Robert Louis Stevenson Movie Studios, past the Daniel Defoe Motel
She nervously wandered and sat on the end of the pier of lava,
Breathing heavily,
As if at a loss,
As if at a lover,
She opened her eyes wide
To the usual incredible sunset.