Good intentions matter not when it’s blood
that’s been spilled, not just secrets. First it
slides across the deck in an oily film, then seeps
into the wood, soaks the ship to its iron bones,
poisons all that it’s made of and all that it holds.
Trickling out into the water, the spoils of your
decision—the gore and lymph and pound of flesh
from bodies, too many bodies—taint your wake.
They’re puddles for your feet to sink in, a redpulp
trail for your handlers to follows, with almost
as much perseverance as your own doubts.
You thought yourself intellectual, urbane, rational,
and yet you drank deep of the same cursed rum
that sickened dozens before you.
Your punishment brings no relief; you’ve lived long
enough to know you’re no masochist. Pain is only
a haze that tints the agony of living when the
agony of dying fails to deliver.
Go now: clutch the railing, inhale the smell of blood.
The storm summoned by your demons is coming in fast.
You think of throwing yourself overboard, but that
would be cowardly. You’re a fearful fool, a terrible
spy and a worse cook, but even if you have so little left,
even if it ends with the storm—especially if—
you will not be a coward.
You will see this through.
Lore Graham is a queer author of speculative poetry and fiction who lives in Massachusetts. Their poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, and Mythic Delirium, among other venues.