Cataclysm Days: Captain John Pettit Continues to Cruise


 
Chuck Von Nordheim

Cataclysm Days: Captain John Pettit Continues to Cruise
 
Coral has brightened the gray concrete of submerged cities
Time must have flowed at a different rate in these waters
Can a mariner endure a sea without shore?
 
Among the crew, some strange war beats out all other theories
But combat that leaves no soil to seize defies commonsense
Coral has brightened the gray concrete of submerged cities
 
Incandescent pillars sprouted at the horizon’s edge
Scintillate thundering shafts thermonuclear intense
Can a mariner endure a sea without a shore?
 
Explanations for exile comfort strangers in strange worlds
I let them talk even though no weapon causes such absence
Coral has brightened the gray concrete of submerged cities
 
Engines sustained by sunshine maintain the ship’s momentum
Stalk-eyed fish roil the nets our logistics specialists set
Can a mariner endure a sea without a shore?
 
Celestial navigation puts the Himalayas here
Blue swells heave without hint of an Ararat for this ark
Coral has brightened the gray concrete of submerged cities
Can a mariner endure a sea without a shore?
 
Skies lack albatrosses to lead us from this eerie ocean
Against the water’s infinity we’re but a molecule
Do leviathans lurk unseen by instruments or eyes?
 
No weapon could collapse all continental foundations
Only new gods who reject old promises about floods
Skies lack albatrosses to lead us from this eerie ocean
 
Send a flock of angels then if you can’t send a bird
Return us to a world scaled to fit our puny spirits
Do leviathans lurk unseen by instruments or eyes?
 
Sailors will not lift crossbows to rescuers if they come
Nor drape their plumed bodies from their necks to display their sin
Skies lack albatrosses to lead us from this eerie ocean
 
Some crew desert each month at the height of the moon’s ripeness
Perhaps those sailors grew gills like movie werewolves grew fur
Do leviathans lurk unseen by instruments or eyes?
 
They talk but I don’t listen because captains must hold fast
But my ancient equal had hope of a kirk to buoy him
Skies lack albatrosses to lead us from this eerie ocean
Do leviathans lurk unseen by instruments or eyes?

_______________

Chuck Von Nordheim lives in Western Ohio, but grew up in Southern California. He’s kept in line by a wife, 30-year-old sons, and a cat. In the spring, he scores K-12 assessment tests. In the summer, he slings concessions at an outdoor concert venue. In the fall, he works as a substitute teacher. In the winter, he writes. More Cataclysm Day poems can be found online at Devilfish Review, Liquid Imagination, and in Issue 60 of Abyss and Apex.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: “Captain John Pettit” finds its genesis in the numerous iterations of the accursed ship and the lost legion, of which the most immediately recognizable precursor is probably Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Much of my work consists of similar riffs on the texts of prior purveyors of the fantastic. This work also expresses a desire to weave a military character into my apocalyptic tapestry in an effort to evoke as broad of a representation of humanity as this sequence can sustain. Overall, Cataclysm Days seeks to voice a communitarian creed rather than an idiosyncratic one.

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: Underwater city [by Christopher Balaskas/ wallpaperflare.com]

 

 

 

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