Mayflower Bastard

I saw the coast emerge despite the fog.
Arrhythmic and abrupt, the shrieks of gulls
sent our deckhands scurrying to lean
into salt-spray. They made a row of Cs,

the muscles in their necks taut as hog-
hide. Beneath my feet I felt the hull’s
strained planks groan. Dingy little sunbeams
mottled masts, my prayer book, these jaundiced

hands that split and bleed each night in greasy
pot-suds. For weeks I dreamt I threw my face
back at kerchiefs shooing us across the sea
and woke to molars wiggling loose. With haste

the mates struck up a song of London Town.
In all these dreams I knew that we would drown.


Adam Tavel is the author of Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry, and The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2016). His recent poems appear, or will soon appear, in: Poetry DailyCrazyhorseCopper NickelMeridianSouthwest ReviewEcotoneBeloit Poetry JournalThe Gettysburg Review, and Tar River Poetry, among others. He is a professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College and the reviews editor for Plume. You can find him online at: