Jack Howard – Coming By Sea


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Studio 2:28 Jack Howard Songs For Longing – The Poems Of Dawson Hann EP. Moderately common. Available new in digital form.

 Recommended Version.






That’s it, I see it now, there’s the rub;
Not the plain truth of their plight,
The flight
From God Knows What,
God Knows Where;
It’s the boat, the leaky tub,
That’s what we fear –
(Less that they should be there –
Wherever that is-
Rather than here).
We’re disabled by the boat,
And are like the boat;
Atavism at work, it’s clear.
Noah’s hierarchical ark;
The Roman galleys,
(Misery kept those afloat);
The vexatious Vikings
(Progenitors of terror’s craft);
The shameful cargo of slave ships:
Distress binds both ships and sea.
The horror of Medusa’s raft*
Pared us back to the dark within.
So can we be sure
That these too have not succumbed
To the same unimaginable,
irredeemable sin?

Why can’t they do the acceptable thing?
Come by plane?
Alight from a train?
An orderly arrival, neat and clean.
But boats?
Too much flesh scorched
By sun, shrunk by rain.
A condition better not seen.
You might think they’d show
Some sensitivity; would know
That we too have reason to flee:
From all those ugly things
That once crawled, oh, way back,
From out of the sea.


October 2009.

* The survivors of the shipwrecked Medusa, the subject of Gericault’s great painting, allegedly ate human flesh.

[Dawson Hann]