Sandy Shreve
Paintings, Photo Art, Poetry

Blog - Wednesday Poems

“One of the boys and I got out the guitar and mandolin and sat on #5 hatch outside focsle strumming away at them.  I made an awful noise but a picture Tim took of us looks as if I was actually playing!” – Jack Shreve, 1936

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought I’d post another poem from Waiting For the Albatross (Oolichan Books) – a collection of poems I crafted by quite liberally rearranging words, phrases and sentences I borrowed from a diary my dad wrote when he was 21 and working as a deck hand on a Canadian Steamships freighter during the Great Depression.  (For more about the book, see my May 1st Wednesday Poem at

In the photo here, dad is the one pretending to play the mandolin. And for those who might not know what a tin pan trappist is, here is how Jesse Selengut, of New York’s Tin Pan Band explained it to me in a 2011 email:  “In older music parlance, the drum set is oft referred to as the traps set. A trappist is probably a made up, clever word to describe a drummer. A tin pan trappist would mean someone who took out some pots and pans and made a make-shift drum kit for jamming on the boat.”

Today’s poem is a madrigal, a form invented by Chaucer in the 14th century, featuring among other things, three refrains (lines 1, 6 & 11; lines 2, 7 & 12; and lines 3 & 13, with which I’ve played fast and loose).