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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.


The Ship Pounding

by Donald Hall

Each morning I made my way  
among gangways, elevators,  
and nurses’ pods to Jane’s room  
to interrogate the grave helpers  
who tended her through the night  
while the ship’s massive engines  
kept its propellers turning. 
Week after week, I sat by her bed  
with black coffee and the Globe.  
The passengers on this voyage  
wore masks or cannulae 
or dangled devices that dripped  
chemicals into their wrists.  
I believed that the ship 
traveled to a harbor 
of breakfast, work, and love.  
I wrote: "When the infusions  
are infused entirely, bone 
marrow restored and lymphoblasts  
remitted, I will take my wife,  
bald as Michael Jordan, 
back to our dog and day." Today,  
months later at home, these  
words turned up on my desk  
as I listened in case Jane called  
for help, or spoke in delirium,  
ready to make the agitated 
drive to Emergency again 
for readmission to the huge 
vessel that heaves water month  
after month, without leaving  
port, without moving a knot,  
without arrival or destination,  
its great engines pounding. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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