March 2021

Back to Issue 9

Ticonderoga 1852

By Carl Walsh

for my great, great grandmother 


The knobble-spine ocean

vertebrae articulating

beast beneath, that hungers

for ships like this

to tear timbers

between submarine teeth

till it digests

keel, hold, deck, bulwarks

sodden sails, that fall 

from wind-strummed heights 


but keening dissonance

is not hungering sea

stench not briny depths

but below-deck humanity 

we might have preferred 

sea-death to this decay:

red-welted skin

malaise, fevered words

the hacking cough, that cuts 



takes life and jettisons

overboard in shrouds

as miles, like flotsam 

accumulate on a mottled sea

that springs 

and falls shoreward 

still among the dying

on tented beaches 

we the living are cleared

to sail and scatter from Hobsons Bay

alive in a new land.