Two Poems

Two Poems

I received the following from a shipmate who was once a Diesel Submarine sailor.  It was written by an unknown Bubblehead.  I present it here as well as my rewrite of the piece for those of us who sailed in the surface Navy.

When You Understand…

Author Unknown
When the hatch closes over your head, the
OOD says last man down and the COW says
green board, you understand the meaning of adventure.

When the only thing between you and millions
of gallons of seawater is a steel hull and some
closed valves, you understand the meaning of courage.

When sonar calls out to the conn “high speed
screws in the water” in hostile waters,
you understand the meaning of fear.

When the messenger passes out the only family
grams the satellite could catch and yours isn’t
one, you understand the meaning of loneliness.

When hissing water in the overhead turns from
a slight annoyance to a terrifying rushing
cascade bouncing off the hull and equipment,
you understand the meaning of survival.

When you hear the quick sound that a curtain
makes on your rack that indicates your watch is
about to begin, you understand the meaning of irritation.

When you see a brother stand at attention while
the Captain pins on the fish he worked so hard
to earn, you understand the meaning of pride.

When you retire and they pipe you over the side
for the very last time, you understand the meaning of great sadness.

When your eyes grow dim and your strength
ebbs with age, and you see a submarine getting
underway, you understand the meaning of envy.

When a shipmate from a time so long ago
passes on and people say so many things they
wish they had said before they departed,
you understand the meaning of regret.

My version follows:

When You Understand

By:  Garland Davis

 

When the Engineering and Deck crews gather,

When the Messenger passes to the OOD,

“All stations manned for getting underway,”

You understand the meaning of adventure.

 

When all that is between you and the Pacific Ocean

is a steel hull, some closed valves and the expertise

of your fellow sailors, you understand the meaning of courage.

 

When CIC passes to the bridge, “multiple airborne bogies

Inbound, ETA eleven minutes, weapons free.”

You understand the meaning of fear.

 

When the Postal Clerk passes out the mail,

And there is nothing with your name.

You understand loneliness.

 

When the ship rolls and pitches to the typhoon’s rage,

And the hull creaks and groans as the expansion joints flex,

You understand the meaning of survival.

 

When you hear the sliding sounds of your bunk curtain

As the messenger tells you it is time for your watch.

You understand the meaning of irritation.

 

When you see a shipmate stand at attention

While the Captain pins on the CPO Anchors

He worked so hard and long to earn.

You understand the meaning of pride

 

When the time comes for you to retire

And you are piped ashore for the final time

You understand the meaning of great sadness.

 

When you grow old, feeble and your vision grows dim,

and you see a sleek, gray destroyer putting to sea,

bound for WestPac and new adventures.

You understand the meaning of envy.

 

When a shipmate from a time long past

slips the bonds of this mortal plane and

you wish you had told him how much he meant to you.

You understand the meaning of sorrow and regret.

 

 

 

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