Merchant Marine

a poem by

James Strauss


Taconite moving atop the waves,
Lackawanna bound with iron ore pellets,
Marble-sphere strewn heaving decks.

Guantanamara plays lost revolution,

The woman’s gone leaving shipless wrecks.
Low tech shoveling over the side,
Huron, Eirie them all,
Bottoms strewn little orange balls.

The union quit,
The wages dipped,
Still bed and board.
Bum boat nuzzles,
Can’t leave the ship,
Nowhere to go.

Black Booster booze,
Three dollars a can,
Cheaper than ethyl.
The merchant marines,
A name sounding good,
A job at bottom faint blip.
Sparrows Point crossing,
One thousand feet,
Vibrating red-painted hulk.

The woman and stuff all gone,
All left on shores.
At sea,
Moving slow,
Living low,
On Booster and bunk.

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