Drowned in The Chesapeake, a poem by Wendy Markel at Spillwords.com
Clifford Warren Ashley (Lowering Boats)

Drowned in The Chesapeake

Drowned in The Chesapeake

written by: Wendy Markel


Of my country, and
of my family, I have little.
To say I’m lost would be no lie.
With no land to call home,
the heavy sea beckons me.
Foreign shores entice my weary eye.
Do they offer empty promises?
“Go down, you blood red roses.”

On big water, under
a blackening sky in darkness
split apart by lightning. Thus
our voyage sets its path.
Our common goal, a better life,
Under kinder skies.
We work our passage, singing shanties,
“Go down, you blood red roses.”

Two hundred lonely
miles we fight the raging torrents.
Spume and spindrift sweep the decks.
Our valued cargo, tied, below.
While we, unsung sailors, toiling,
seasick and ghastly white,
are forgotten and friendless.
“Go down, you blood red roses.”

Ships founder. Humans
flounder crying, ‘save our lost souls.’
We are but flotsam and jetsam,
grasping at empty air.
The convoy sails on, leaving us,
arms aloft, cries lost.
Knowing resistance is pointless.
“Go down, you blood red roses.”

Drowning in salt tears,
unseen by the longshoremen,
no longer loving, living, breathing.
Unbelonging to any country,
known to no one,
Past the blood red roses,
I slide, sightless.
Going down.



Blood Red Roses is a N. American sea shanty used in the film Moby Dick but is believed to be based on 18th C whaling vessels shanties.

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