Saturday, May 26, 2018

Troopship

April 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Poetry

Crowded below deck, like cattle in transit,
We sit on tables on long wooden benches,
Bent almost double avoiding the hammocks,
The air now foul from the sweat and smoke.
We take turns for short periods on deck;
Discomfort even before we sailed.

Travelling just as they did in Nelson’s day.
Ill timed jokes about plates of fat bacon,
Nervous laughter to avoid being the first
To rush to the sides, or heads, whichever is nearest.
Then the gentle swaying as we sail away.
Two hours out and soldiers turn green,
As their stomachs are emptied again and again.
This torture to continue throughout the voyage.

The decks awash with sick and bile,
Despite the hosing down at least every hour.
This blasted old tub, rising and wallowing.
Why does it not sink? It would be kinder.
And still the dreaded Bay of Biscay to come.
When will we be free to leave this hell?
Soon, at last, warm Mediterranean sunshine.

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