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Columns & Archives

Along with the daily feature articles from our columnists, read works from our past contributors in the categories of prose, poetry and visual art, alongside interviews and other musings.


The Day The SS Montgomery Goes Up by Leo Cookman

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Art by Emily Kray

Title: Annalea

The day the SS Montgomery goes up

I guess I'll see it before I hear it.

A flash and spout of water, three thousand

feet high, splashing the wings of airplanes

and gulls as the shockwave knocks them from the air

before the water arches towards shore.

Half the Hiroshima bomb sleeps on the sea bed

at the mouth of the river of London

with something of a temper when it wakes.

Fourteen hundred tonnes of explosives, gone,

forcing the water from the estuary,

an instant sun, vanished in a breath.

The day the SS Montgomery goes up

it will be raining shrapnel and fish,

the windows will shatter and the ground will shake

and we'll look to the sky for the blooming

cloud that casts its mercy to the wind

and showers us with seaweed, glass and silt.

And then the wave, the barrier sparing

London but its crest savaging our shore,

an ugly barb ripping open the beach,

the pier, the pub, with, undoubtedly, lives lost.

Devastation unseen since the last war

all caused by its collapsing memory.

You can see its masts jut from the water

but not from the cities or gentrified

coast, so it's allowed to just lie and rot

forgotten as the places it threatens.

But the coastguard says:

"The wreck remains

reasonably stable”, though "this prospect is

getting closer…”

Also read: The Broken Soldier by Christene Henrika

The SS Montgomery is a WWII American Liberty ship, wrecked

at the Thames Estuary that, to this day, contains 1400 tonnes of explosives.

Leo Cookman is a musician, poet and writer. His new book Time’s Lie: The Narrativisation of Life is just out this month with Zero Books. His poetry can be found in The Poetry Of Sex (Penguin) and other places.

Read other published work:


Edited by:

Suhana Simran


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