John C. Mannone

In Issue 8 on November 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Dead Languages

All mankind is of one author… when one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated
into a better language… any man’s death diminishes me
… therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. (John Donne)

The deep blue swath of ocean
gulfs the cold green current
that courses south. Invades.

Clash at Hatteras stirs
the gale-glutted air.
The aftermath concealed below:

twenty fathoms, shifting,
even as the hourglass sand spill
on the Captain’s china. Its porcelain

glaze buffeted blue alongside
waterlogged planks
— the between decks —

now harsh with barnacles

anchored among pilfered pottery:
mosaic browns, greens, and blacks
embedded in white-washed graves

where silversides swarm
along edges. A myriad of glittering
vignette the sunken wood,

portholes scratched, filmed
algal green. The galley echoes
watery muffle of ghosts

still oarlocked to fulcrum of bone.
Prison bars rusted shut. There,
silenced with all the dead

languages, which once rang loud
as ship’s bronze bell, now cast-off
to port, lies tarnished, gong muted

by ivory corals, still crying out
her distant names:
Angola, Ghana, Bas-Sassandra

no longer silenced with all the dead.


John C. Mannone has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. Recent work appears in The Pedestal, Conclave, The Medulla Review, Rose & Thorn Journal, Hinchas de Poesía, Wordgathering, and Magnapoets. His work is anthologized in While the Morning Stars Sing (ResAliens), A Tapestry of Voices (Knoxville Writers Guild), and many others. He is the poetry editor for Silver Blade and teaches college physics in east Tennessee. Visit The Art of Poetry:

  1. Many wonderful images, here.

    Fine poetic formatting,
    making reader progress easily through the piece.

    Proem just right as intro.

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