On black as tar steel cables all the derricks
Have hoisted up the night above sea and harbour.
The cries of the seagulls now a-slumber on
The water, have been replaced by the shrill shrieks of
Girls, who dart out to tig lads in the harbour
Laden with sea-salt and foreign tongues, the mild wind,
As dutifully as a bum-boat, sails down
Through the waterways of the port, along the quays,
Where the Houdinis of the merchant shipping
Are quick to toss off the chains of the long, long swell,
And, winding through dark lanes towards dead-end hearts,
Go off on the spree with the odours of leather,
Lavender, garlic, gasoline, tobacco.
The busy wharfs and the tired tail-end of summer,
The derricks and the bints fail to find eachother:
There’s a sailor, landlubber still, searching here. I.
I rove for hours through this labyrinth of docks,
Drinking in the sailor’s pubs: under the cover
Of the night and neon, rosy women are
Sailing in the bunks of the wreck, called The World
(With pimps on the leaking pumps that scoop away
The tears.) The hollowed-out boat of the moon sails out
So coolly between the southern continents,
Which have marked with crosses on the blue marine charts
Of my memory treasures with the sleeping
Names of harbours, with the throats of screeching sea-birds,
The grey-green eyes of a passed away mother.
Yes, I know. All ports are like other ports. And so
Are the silver-stealing women. Come, my dear,
One of them calls. They all say that, everywhere.
No, home is where I’d rather be, even for
Just one night and I search and wait for a taxi.