On April 10, 1963 the USS Thresher (SSN-593)
was lost at sea with all hands, including civilian
workers assigned to observe her sea trials.
they must have known
those last few moments
those last few heartbeats
those last few breaths
they must have known it was the end
did they count them?
did they count each one?
wondering how many before –
the boat tilted sharply, bow up
a desperate lunge for the surface
but science failed them
nature failed them
(failed them? not hardly
they were the ones who
spat in the face of reality
expecting physics to
magically bend to
petty wants and desires)
later, much much later,
men sitting safe and warm and
dry and miles away from the cold Atlantic
would harrumph and theorize and
decide there had been moisture in the emergency valves
and that freezing cold water and super compressed air allied
to form a perfect ice blockage that kept the crew from blowing the tanks
and resolutely dragged the doomed sub backwards backwards backwards
the crew must have known
they couldn’t have not known
this is one big goddamn clusterfuck
we are all going to die goddamnit
(don’t cuss, don’t cry, pray)
did their minds race ashore?
to family, to wives, to children?
did they ask what the fuck am I doing here?
oh, yeah, it’s good money, making subs for the navy
but did I have to take this job?
the car needs an oil job
shoulda told the wife
we were going to go shopping next week
metal groans, creaks
now thoughts are less organized, less focused
the captain and crew tried everything they could to restart the reactor
power the engines
blow the tanks
drive the boat
back to the surface
there’s nothing left now
one of them laughs hysterically
thinks: “When it’s inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.”
no one asks why he laughs
why would they?
how could he explain it if they did?
the metal groans more loudly
rising in pitch until it becomes
and the sub telescopes in on itself
as if God Himself had cupped
bow and stern in His mighty hands
the bulkheads collapse on themselves
two high speed freight trains colliding head on
their actual end is mercifully swift
a wall of ice cold water hits them
as gently as a sleet slick sidewalk
after stepping off a skyscraper
in-rushing ocean pulverizes soft, frail flesh
like a spider caught between a concrete floor
and a ball peen hammer
not even time for a blink
and they’re dead
just food for the sea
(c) Buzz Dixon