Drowning in Black Seas (Original Poetry)

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Lapping at the bow I groan,
catch meandering moans in the sky,
as something floats languid in the tide.

Its sullen thump against the hull,
reminds me of the sibilant lull
of the sirens caress,

and the creep of approaching death.
As water rises I shiver and shake
at the porthole's bloated face.

I splutter and choke on my final drink,
no sweet burn of rum in the rising
foam of blood and bile.

A tap-tap at the port hole reels me in,
nightmares take hold in the hold
as I drift off into dark water.

Then I rush unbidden from the abyss.
Mix with smoke blown in the night
past the pale swaying moon

pulling me high above a macabre scene,
played out on the ruffled gleam
of the black, black sea.

Boats circle a scooped out shell of wood
spilling its cargo, like greasy blood
to colour the surf.

Boats alive with hooded pariah,
that harvest a crop from the sea's loam;
wave smashed, wind blown.

Screams ring out as one by one,
weeds that would spoil
the crop are pulled.

Buoy-like bobbing at the surface -
fleshy charcoal pimples
n the dark ocean,

floundering naked d bound

in cins

fightinghting the drag seay.
yearning fmoment,

to againo again be free.

© Rowan Joyce, all rights reserved.

All pictures used are creative commons licence, credited beneath the image. If you have enjoyed this poem, you can check out my homepage @raj808 for similar content and the video poetry readings of my work included below. Thank you.

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Comments 10

@tipu curate

21.11.2019 16:13
21.11.2019 16:14

I am always poetically inspired by sea faring stories! The ocean must have been such a formidable.force against those wooden boats.. no GPS, no air rescue!!! Great poem as usual!

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21.11.2019 19:49

You've hit on the heart of the poem 100% @riverflows

Imagine back in the day, when the sea was just as cruel and unpredictable as it is now... but human beings only advantage was the technology of navigation by the stars.

No wonder we made gods out of nature, to try to make sense of what we can't control. Or maybe we had it right then, and all of the cycles of the earth are divine in what they can teach us. For ancient seafarers respect for the power of the waves and currents was a personal life journey, informed by knowledge passed down from ancestors. The fishermen (sorry for the patriarchy) made legend of their adventures, and the act of hunting was an exercise in endurance, and respect for the prey.

I feel this about the sea every time I plunge in to scuba dive, the balance between knowledge and wonder. Dividing my attention between slipping into the easy presence of the lull of the tides, or the ride of current, the abandon of a drift dive, flying over the reef, floating through another world without touching it. Knowing that at any point I could lose control! It's beautiful... that's the wonder. But then, if you don't check depth, air, control speed of decent, watch out for your buddy, signal people in the group, people can die! It's strange, it's like a perfect balance between thought and that ego-less understanding of nature. Like a reflection of soul, and some of best things that have come from human evolution toward conceptual thinking.

I've read so many stories from native, tribal cultures - even to this day - about that relationship between nature and wo/man, hunter and prey. That balance between the instinctual and the planning mind. It's part of what we've lost, a healthy outlet for our predatory nature.

I'm not sure this poem has anything to do with my rant above 😂 other than to express a historical fictitious depiction of the intelligent predator we have become. It's an incomplete poem really, but it tries to describe the drowning of someone, leaving their body and observing wreckers plundering a slave ship.

All of the research says that the legend of wreckers luring boats onto the rocks in Cornish waters wasn't true and was a construct of propaganda of the time as the crown were battling against a very organised network of smugglers. But I personally think that premeditated wrecking was something that did happen, but very occasionally and probably only in times of war. Or possibly by smugglers against targeted government ships. I did a load of research into it when I wrote the first draft of this poem for my university poetry portfolio, and there was no concrete evidence of any smugglers using lanterns to fool ships on to the rocks thinking there was a lighthouse/port in the 17th century, but there is many accounts of smugglers salvaging goods from ships wrecked in storms. In fact there is still a law to this day that allows British citizens the right to salvage wrecked ships in UK waters.

I don't know for sure that it happened, but I think that humans are capable of the greatest acts of cruelty/lunacy, but also the greatest acts of compassion. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Duality is our curse, but its what sets us aside from our animal brothers and sisters.

It's a harsh poem, it is taken from the poetry module I submitted for my dissertation in university. The theme was slavery, of all kinds. Some of those poem got published elsewhere, but I looked at them last week and realized that even the lesser of them were worthy of eyes, I hope. With a bit of editing. I've got a few more that are honestly, devastating... and I'm not sure I want to put them up on steem.

In this poem I explore the idea of malicious wrecking being true. I thought it contrasted well with the idea of slaves as commodities. Two extremes of human nature; humans as predators preying on our/themselves. Both people without choice (prey), and those who make the choice to act in that way (predatory). In the making of industry, and putting a value on others, or things, we created systems of slavery in gradations. It happened many years before the enslavement of Africans to the new world. In Roman times and before, but industry refined it. Colonialism, hand in hand with empire.

I don't know when we'll stop?

I think it starts at home. Within every person on this planet. It can only happen with us/me/you dissolving social conditioning, recognizing our primal, predatory nature in a positive way. Beyond ego, beyond society, beyond government... and even beyond family.

In silence and presence, personally. To recognize how to make that thinking dichotomy no longer destructive. To evolve, in thought. To evolve beyond thought.

The wonderful becomes reality when the majority realizes that there is no separation, there is nothing, and there is only I AM.


Everyone is only an expression of the same consciousness, lived out in a timeless eternity.

Shit, sorry for the epic response comment... I've had a few drinks 🍻😂

22.11.2019 03:15

What an atmosphere you created @raj808! There's great material here for a dark ballad; somehow, your poetry makes me feel like reanimating my old guitar. I like the second half in particular and I readed it as a metaphor/allegory of all of us in these troubled times.

22.11.2019 16:20

Hi m8 👋... Long time no see. I hope you're well.

Yes, the second half of this poem could certainly be analogous for the human condition. Our preditory nature seems to work against us as a social animal, unless you prescribe to the theory that our tribal waring and slavish devotion to our egos is all part of our evolution. Personally I think that's hogwash. Just another one of our excuses for not evolving toward true balance between our primal nature and our capacity for conceptualising the world.

This poem was taken from my 3rd year university poetry portfolio which was written around the theme of slavery. The expression of that theme is subtle in this poem. The wreckers picking amoung the cargo of the ship are murdering the main human cargo while trying to find goods or gold. Using the 'out of body' perspective of one of those dying slaves, means it's all kind of surreal, like a painting or a reflection on the surface is a pool... this is what I imagine dying to be like.

Buoy-like bobbing at the surface -
fleshy charcoal pimples
on the dark ocean,
floundering naked and bound
in chains

I found the word document of this collection of poems a few weeks ago and have been working on reviewing, and rewriting them. I'm gonna put a selection of them up on steem over the next few weeks and save some for submission to journals.

Glad you enjoyed the creepy poem @f3nix 🙂

23.11.2019 12:30

Hi @raj808! I'm ok my friend, on one hand I feel guilty to be the ghost of myself in the old steemian times. On the other hand, life goes on for the good with family and I'm focusing on an important karate exam in u.k. this February (it would be awesome to meet! To be continued on discord). I think exactly the same about human nature! Yes we might have a predatory imprinting but what if that exists to allow us to master it through the gift of free will and evolve? Am I too naive or hopeful? Truth to be said, we mankind are doing a terrible job nowadays, where the lands of ethics, philosophy and humanism are similar to empty borderlands or extravagant utopias for elites.
Your 'out of body' perspective reaches the goal and suggests me a scene from Hyeronimus Bosch (one of my favorite painters). I also love how you can mold and play with matter, fleshy charchoal pimples in that context is so powerful that I can almost touch your vision. It's been great exchanging opinions with you as always, take care always matey!

25.11.2019 10:39

wowser another wowser!
You sure can write a story! Some images I get from this:

Ship wreck on the open seas, an oil spill maybe greasy blood
a "rescuing" boat concerned with the cargo but as little interested in the crew as the sea is interested in any of it.

I love the description of what I think is seaweed
Buoy-like bobbing at the surface -
fleshy charcoal pimples
on the dark ocean,

And how it is just as helpless as both boats and everything on it, even the tapper behind the bloated glass
floundering naked and bound
in chains together,
fighting the drag of the sea.

I see so much in this poem. Well done! yummy.

23.11.2019 18:17

Thanks owasco :)

Yes, this poem is real heavy with imagery and is ripe for many interpretations I think.

The poem was actually taken from my 3rd year university poetry portfolio which was written around the theme of slavery. The expression of that theme is subtle in this poem. The wreckers picking among the cargo of the ship are murdering the main human cargo while trying to find goods or gold.

It is kind of meant to be elusive in nailing down exactly what's going on due to the POV being from a dying man. Using the 'out of body' perspective of one of those dying slaves, means it's all kind of surreal, like a painting or a reflection on the surface of a pool... this is what I imagine dying to be like anyway.

Glad you enjoyed the rather creepy poem ;-) I'm probably at my best as a writer when writing unsettling poetry or horror fiction lol

24.11.2019 16:44

Oh! My first read through I thought it was pov of a man overboard, but second time (and subsequent) I thought it was the wave/sea speaking. So the greasy blood is really greasy blood, and the hooded pariahs are the looters. ick! even creepier than I had thought! Thanks for your thoughts. I should have known now that I think of it that the wooden hull meant an earlier time.

24.11.2019 21:16