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The Wrong Sailor Taken

A Poem From the Sea

Print on denim by Hannah Javens

O’ Hope–O’ frail thing made from feathers and sea wind–

What do you see when you gaze downward?

Our prize has been won with hard-earned blood and steel

Our ship has suffered every shock, every crash

Now it lies anchored in low tide, its purpose done and erased

And he, defeated, dying,

          looks to the Hope in the sky

Soldier! Rise up and hear the trumpets, the bells!

I beg of you! Pry open your shrunken lips!


I call to a world held in the throws of dusk,

Lit by Death’s one golden lamp

Earth of departed stars, sea of departed storm

          To you, my voice goes out

Soldier! This voyage is done!

Rise up, in search of home!


I can feel the warmth spilling from the deck,

Spilling from my side

          Those who surround me feel not for my pulse nor my hand

Soldier, please!

There are distant sounds of cheer and triumph and agony,

The hills are lit by more lamps.


The stars fall as Hope does

The sky lightens, the coming fires of morning cresting the mountaintops

          I beg and beg and beg,

Call forth your worst! Call forth your mistress in the sea!

Agonize the ghosts of curses laid long ago!


I wonder when I realised my friends would miss me,

Surrounded by their kerosene suns,

          Because I was unable to light the lamp with my shaking match.

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The Wrong Sailor Taken
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