Cargo vessel. (A new poem).

Cargo vessel
On a millpond sea inky black

Reflecting stars in all their celestial


The container vessel MSC Mercury Thora Hird,

Hulking, it’s behemoth hull

Silent as a ghost

Ploughing between continents with

Crates of tat,

Plastic merchandise, dodgy exports.
I creep past creaking metal boxes,


For it is a sultry night,

The hot metal deck throbbing,


Towering containers intersecting,

Stacked upwards all angular,

Forming skyscrapers and city blocks,

Grid iron walkways,

An imaginary city

With a population of one.
And the breeze

Which whistles through.
I find a private place,

A rectangular courtyard of my own

Near the bow, stark,

That I might lay here

Surrounded by right angles

And commune with the sighing wind.
Deep powerful engines

Throb through me

Pulsing their diesel propulsion

As I stretch out flat on the deck

Coated thick sigh non slip paint

The stars above unmoving

The universe

So soothing.
Where have you been?

– Right here.

What brought you back?

– Why not?

What is the mystery of your life?

– That I should exist at all.
Are you Marcel Proust?

– Yeeeeees.
The sea heaves like a breath exhaled.

Containers groan with obviousness.

Stars in all their beautiful magnificence,

-I bit the Madeleine.

And things were never the same.

I threw it all away
I think of you every day.
– I think of you

I think of us.

I think of the

Baron de Charlus.
What are you doing here?

– It might be that I stop clocks

Like that time

At the Shanghai Docks.
Didn’t I see you

By the light of the moon?

– Off the coast

Of Cameroon.
Down in the boiler room?

– My heart went boom.

Titty boom.

Titty boom.
Nights in lonely cabins.

My formative years at navel college

The whole time

Gazing at my belly button.

Then an apprenticeship

On a battleship

Learning the ropes

On the HMS Hindrance,

Lonely bunks and

Shirtless hunks

Dockside manners and

Gangplank dreams

A life surrounded

By seamen.
-Dance with me

To the music of movement

We all carry baggage

And various cargoes

Dance with me

To the memory

I’m serious


Dance with me

In the midnight burn

This may be the bow

Of the ship

But I’m really

Quite stern.


Do you love me?

-Do I not?

Is this the end?

-Mother used to read me bedtime stories.

Former glories.

-Big verdant palms.


– Shall we get this hot dance done?

You and me and the wind.


The tinny tap of workboot on the moving metal floor speckled damp by sea spray and hardened salt in this dank deck quick step so very much like falling through someone else’s dreamscape look at me now I got the rhythm baby I got the moves not like last week when I threw my back out oh how I have put everything into this ship, every emotion and every aspect of my being, oh, the hull is the sum of my parts.
I wind my way

Back through the darkened blocks.

The tall gleaming bridge,

The accommodation decks,

Letting myself back in to its

Industrial brightness.

Fluorescent lights and safety valves,

To the recreation room.

Sailors, deck hands,

Engineers and navigators in their

Jovial down time

Look up as I enter all

Camaraderie and brotherly love.
Heyyyy Robert,

Did you hear about the

Documentary I watched set at a

Corn Flakes factory?

It’s on again next week.

It’s a cereal.

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