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Look Out! The Bloody Bosun!

Malcolm Lowry

A ship long laid up is a filthy thing

Cabled with rust, debris of the shore gang,

Filters gangrened, only a homesick tang

Reminds us of our longed-for suffering:

The sea! The watches pass, the hours take wing

Like seagulls stuffed with bread. Tin-tin; pang-pang.

And this monotony is our Sturm und Drang

Of which few poets have the heart to sing.


I like to think we’re scaling the old world

Down for a dose of red lead, as hammers snap

And ever grindstones wait to whet their lust.

Splendid to think so, yet in dreaming whirled

To abstract hulls, one falls into the trap

Set by that two-faced pimp who sees mere rust.

From London Magazine, Vol. 1 No.9, December 1961