May Day

Judson Hamilton

And the baying of the submarines
Gathered along the quays and
Under the footbridges
Begging for scraps

People pour out of their apartments
Down their stairs and
Into the streets
With bags of day-old baguettes and duck liver
Old chicken thigh bones, marbled in fat and bedecked in rosemary
And cheap red wine bought from wicker baskets at corner shops

They crowd the streets and archways
Pushing at one another so as to see better
And to cast their scraps down in to the water
Where the idling engines grumble quietly with hunger

The submariners walk the length of their boats
Waving festively and with
Great fervor at the crowd
Amassing along the quays and pushed up against the rails
Jostling with one another to better see
The crispness of their naval whites and those deep blue neckerchiefs they wear

The submariners (not one over 19 — boys just boys) soak in the adoration
Of the flowers and knickers and garter belts thrown at them
Shining bright youthful smiles and waving
Before filing carefully (amid final farewells and casting of seaman’s caps)
Back down the hatch and below the sea with great spray
As the baying becomes more and more of a muffled gurgling
And they sail on to another port, in another country

And those that were lucky enough to catch a wink that night —
The old men dreaming of youth and freedom;
The young women with fire in their loins;
And sleeping soundest of all, the children — dreaming of a life of adventure,
A wonderous life,
Beneath the sea.

Judson Hamilton lives in Wrocław, Poland. In addition to several chapbooks, he is the author of a book of short stories (Gross in Feather, Loud in Voice) and a book of poems (The New Make-Believe) both available from Dostoyevsky Wannabe. Twitter: @judson_hamilton