This poem is taken from Stand 214, 15(2) August - October 2017.

John Whale Poem
The Troop Ship

After the banking Junkers glints in the sun
the captain’s mind turns to dragonflies.

His second in command is absorbed in
the lull – until three forty-three precisely.

And then the bombs are dropped.

Survivors claim they heard very clear voices
raised in song to the point of immersion.

A Brenn-gunner fires until the water-line
reaches above his aching shoulders.

Silhouetted crowds flicker inside the hulk,
and a woman with an Olympian stroke

is said to glide away in a very straight line.
Others flounder in the bunker oil.

Some swear they can still hear the noise of
nine thousand souls beneath the unmarked sea.
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