Poetry November 2009

The Burning Ship

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No room for regret or self-doubt in art,
doubt but not self-doubt. The ship hauls anchor,
the kerosene lantern flickers and goes out,
voices in the pitch black swell with anger

as shipmates mistake each other for enemies.
The lantern spills, the pilot drops a lit cigar.
Tragedy ensues and engenders more tragedy.
If only the moon could see, if only the stars

had been granted the power of speech.
But the blind remain blind, the voiceless mute.
The burning ship threads its way between reefs
in the darkness. Doubt, but not self-doubt.

Campbell McGrath’s most recent book is Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (2009). He teaches at Florida International University.
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