It was by the dock.
A sailer, moldering ash,
Split in two down the middle.
They’d sailed it out across the channel from Essex.
Hunting channel seals, it had snapped under
A willowy breeze.
The bottom of the boat had yet to break so
It sagged up and down in the licking waves
Like an obscene accordion,
Like a pair of cancerous lungs.
Two men, upside down isosceles, were
Paddling back and forth to bring tar in an attempt to right it.
On each lap their buckets filled halfway with seawater
And then they would dump them into the hungry belly of the ship
While the mast gogged something awful.
A crowd had gathered, watching the shipworms,
Spinning back and forth in the air, breathing through their skin,
Drowning in the salted black.
One man swam up to grab another bucket,
Stopped to smoke his pipe before the crowd
While his first mate held onto the side rail
Knuckles so white that the leathery
Bat-winged men up in palaces on the moon
Could see them without opera glasses.
Eventually it sunk before the waves,
Worms rising up from it, lying spooled and dead
On the waves
Like weevils in a cup of milk-gray coffee
After the hardtack’s been dunked.
The first mate resurfaced, doggypaddled up
And shook himself off, then his jacket,
His black hair shellacked to his head by the wind and water.
Each man asked for a gun,
Will tie our boats with vermin no longer,
Will tie ourselves with lead
To the pathetic, loathsome sea.
Out old Dugway,
Past the road Preserved by neglect
And into the two-current blackwater highway
His aviators— black,
The froth upon his shoulders,
In his beard as tar-hued soap,
6,000 sheep— paddling, front limbs afling,
Guts hemorrhaging Towards
A government center in the soft cavity
Of the earthtoothed–anthrax’d- seventh-canto-swampland:
On the plain –-
low-grassed, by the banks –-
it was heard
“For all eternity they’ll come to blows:
“It put a shock in all of us.”