“Old Rope” by William Logan

William Logan


Shape up or ship out!
—my father

There was always Navy in you,
ready obscenity or the weather eye,

your brilliantined hair in marcelled waves,
the Old West marshal’s swagger,

as if still stumping the deck of the U.S.S. Fogg.
The tales haunted our childhood,

icy missions to Iceland
escorting no more than V-mail,

the high-jumper’s lurch of depth charges,
all for nothing but one oil slick,

and that suspicious. How odd to learn,
a quarter-century after your death,

that she guarded tankers to Algiers,
troop ships to Northern Ireland,

shadowed a convoy through the English Channel
after D-Day, and was torpedoed

off the coast of Portugal—four men dead,
the stern sheared away, she struggled home,

her war over. Yours. Not a word.
What might you have said, Old Salt?

More than you chose to say.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019


William Logan: “I write poems for the only sensible reason, the big bucks. The muse is good company, but she doesn’t carry a wallet.”

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