The Vintage of Regret

Lore Graham


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

decisionthe gore and lymph and pound of flesh

from bodies, too many bodiestaint 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 stormespecially 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.