Saturday, February 02, 2008


A grisly sonnet! Who knew there were such a thing. Skip this poem by Liston Pope if you are not ready for gore:

Sea Turtle

Long after his great carapace was wrenched
And torn with grapnels, slung on hooks and hung
Endwise above the pier; and sailors drenched
In slime and blood had carved and hacked among
His giant parts, had ripped his sea-green limbs
And cut his ancient head away; when all
His form was bleeding film, a crimson lens
Of gelatin upon the dock: withal
The great sea turtle’s massive heart beat full
Against the plastron, throbbing audibly
Its plea: this was no easy thing, to still
A century of roaming through the sea;
And beat long after sunset had dispersed
The blood wrung from the cursing sailors’ shirts.


A single sentence, too.

Is it true a sea turtle’s heart will beat on after the poor turtle’s head (&, it sounds like, virtually everything else) has been hacked away?

(My internet research neither conclusively confirms nor debunks the notion. The only explicit reference I can find is a quote from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, not exactly firsthand testimony.)

source: Anthology of Magazine Verse 1980

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