Ghost Ship by Tom Disch
I keep checking Tom's blog . . . read the poem to see why . . . and it's begun taking comments again. This time when I posted it held the comment for moderation, meaning it may not post. So I'll echo it here, wishing Tom was around to beat me up about its poor quality.
DEATH BY WATER
You have arrived too late, wedding guest;
no one here to fix you with glittering eye
a thousand thousand slimy things post on,
and so do I.
adhering to the ghost ship's hull
shrimps and crabs, whelks and prawns, trolls and phish,
without a thought they plant their spat
fifteen comments on the dead man's chest
yo ho ho and a bucket of blood
random strings of kelpy words snag on its keel
and no one's at the wheel; it spins wildly
turning with the wind, still the ghost ship persists.
Exists; course has been set and locked by anguished decision
the pilot has gone, and what is that nailed to the mast?
Surely not a human heart; it must be some bird or moth
the sea gods would not torment a man this way.
This was all foreseen, foretold
inherent in the last decision
the deck crusts with black blood, too salty to dry
gulls pass overhead mewing sadly
but the skeletons continue their game of cards:
"Fear death by water; this is your card:
the drowned american author."