Archive for June, 2013


Photograph of the House of Refuge on Gilbert’s Bar, Hutchinson Island, Florida

Many people believe the pirate Don Pedro Gilbert stashed treasure on the beach here. Gilbert raided American merchant vessels off the coast of Stuart, FL in the 1830’s. Thus the sandbar off Stuart was named for him. This poem was inspired by visits to Gilbert’s Bar with my friend Cathy and I wondering “what if”!

Don Pedro Gilbert’s Ghost

Darkness held us
Against the dunes.
Our flashlight
Spread a faded beam
As we watched
For a momma sea turtle
To swim ashore
And lay her eggs.

In the distance
The House of refuge
Creaked in
The ocean’s wind.
Moon shadows
Crossed dark banks
Of sea weed,
Shells and
Sand capped dunes.

The wind whispered,
Salt sprayed us in
The echoed rhythms
Of the surf;
We shivered.
A dark cloud grew
Out of the sand.
Suddenly it appeared
To take the shape
Of an old, old man
Waking up
From a long, deep sleep.

Cathy grabbed me
And we swore
As our Flashlight
Blinked out.
Frozen in place
The surf twirled
Past our bare feet.

“Maybe it’s
Gilbert’s Ghost”
Cathy whispered.
“Don’t be silly,
We don’t believe in ghosts!!”
My words…
Were lost in
The crash
Of waves rolling in.

A voice, low and rasping,
Chocked, “Can’t kill me,
No they can’t…
I’ll never leave
The Treasure Coast.
I’ll always be Gilbert,
Never growing old,
Never grieving
The ships
I sunk for gold.

I’ll always be
Wearin’ this hangin’ rope
Roaming though
Me memories,
Haunting the Florida sea.
I’ll always be here
Countin’ my treasure,
Thinkin’ of rum and
All the women I’ve stole”.

“Run!” Cathy screamed.
Not looking behind us
We ran and ran
As if the devil had been
Don Pedro Gilbert, the man.
Echos of laughter
Followed us to the road.
We heard a rumble of thunder
Coming our way.

“HA! You do believe me
Tell everyone
I’m Gilbert the Pirate
I just proved it to you!”
“Cathy,” I yelled,
“Get in the car,
Some one is
Playing a joke…
A really sick joke!”

“I’m no joke,”
The salabracious voice
“Leave me now
Or I’ll not let ye’ go.”

The wind
Came like hands
Out of the sea
Reaching for us…
At the car
Cathy dropped her keys.
I said, “breathe,
Count to ten.
You’ll see
This is all a bad joke.
Cathy don’t you dare
Faint on me.”

The wind died,
The beach turned quiet,
The moon and her sky
Shades brighter.
The flash light
Rolled to the floor, on.
It’s yellow beam glowing,
Cathy started the car.

I watched the sea
And the beach
As it all slipped
Behind us.
What was out there,
What could we say?
In a mile we’d be
Seeing the Golden Arches,
Holding hot coffee
In stryofoam cups.

I sighed…
That’s what we needed.
A Big Mac with plastic cheese.
A dependable
Taste of the 21st Century
For the price of three bucks.

The lines were short.
Only two people
In front
Of Cathy and me.
No one saw the surprise
In my eyes
When I reached in my pocket
And found with my change
Three shinny
Gold coins and pieces of

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