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Paul Jeffcutt

Haunted Vessels *


Septimus Goring,

unlikely pioneer,

conjured a ghost-ship

that sailed over the horizon

nobody on board.


Rolls Royce and Mitsui’s

unmanned drone-ships,

sensor and satellite guided,

prowl the seven seas

echoing Marie Celeste.


Four-fingered Septimus

slaughtered the crew,

escaping in a lifeboat;

digitised Navi-tronics

terminates all hands.


* Septimus Goring is a character in the first publication of Arthur Conan Doyle, which dramatised the true story of the ship Maria Celeste, found abandoned in 1872.  Conan Doyle’s story (published anonymously) was often taken to be a first-hand account of the mystery, and the name he gave the ship is the one that has endured.





Slicked with oil of spikenard,

cased in alabaster,

entrusted to St John,

Charlemagne, Pope Leo III,

looted from Rome

by the Duke of Bourbon,

exposed at Antwerp,

Besançon, Charroux,

Hildesheim, Le Puy,

and eaten by St Birgitta:

but the foreskin was fake,

avowed Leo Allatius,

head of the Papal Library,

for it had ascended,

alongside the Redeemer,

and formed a Ring of Saturn.


Paul Jeffcutt © 2023

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