A Poem By Frank Kozusko
In silent service beneath the waves,
we live in a steel cave in the darkness of the deep,
too deep to feel the seas.
Our mission: to be there and nowhere at the same time,
undetected, listening, always listening,
one way communication.
Ready for a message we pray will never come.
One tine on the trident of strategic deterrence.
in the compartment called Sherwood Forest,
Armageddon in a can.
Isolated. No day, no night, sun or moon.
Clock straight up and down,
eggs on my plate: morning.
Clock straight up and down,
beef on my plate: evening.
Sonar, mechanical ears,
to detect friend, foe or dolphin squeal.
Always listening - blind.
Only the periscope stand is connected to the surface,
when eerie red light in the control room
tells the sun has set above.
Night adapted eyes need be ready
for a sudden rise to shallow depths.
Night watch means a trip to periscope depth.
RIG FOR BLACK.
Only instrument lights illuminate
the intense faces anticipating my orders.
MAKE YOUR DEPTH SIX FIVE FEET… UP SCOPE.
Turning outstretched scope arms,
peering through the single ocular.
Dancing with the one-eyed fat lady.
SCOPE B R E A K I N G…, B R E A K I N G …, OUT!
I have inserted a probe into THE WORLD,
a sterile connection. Like sex with a condom.
I am a disembodied eye.
A quick rotation on the scope:
NO CLOSE CONTACTS.
It is safe, safe to complete my orders,
safe for my periscope liberty.
My main mission: copy positioning data
from a passing satellite,
our missiles must know where they are
to target Moscow or Kiev or...
Our target assignments are unknown to me;
it has never been a concern.
Some nights it is so dark, no moon or stars,
the horizon is not visible.
Tonight the sky is clear,
the moon is bright,
the seas reflecting its light.
I make a weather report.
10% overcast, seas 1 to 2 feet, wind speed 5 knots,
estimating the wind by the way the wave tips appear.
Secondary mission: Housekeeping, a euphemism.
We use high pressure air
to blow our shit tanks into the sea.
In big steel cans compressed garbage
is pooped from the ship, weighted
to guarantee its journey to the bottom.
A steel whale defecating.
With ordered evolutions in progress,
I can relax a little,
but I must keep looking and turning.
Keep the ship safe.
With just one foot of scope above the surface,
the horizon is a mile distant.
Turning. I see a ship just over the horizon;
a mile is close at sea.
I see by his lights that he is moving to my right,
he is of no concern. Sonar confirms
the contact is moving away.
Turning. Just some distant lights,
too far away to worry.
Turning. I take some time to look at the moon,
a passing cloud is now backlit.
Turning. I put the scope in high power
to examine my temporary neighbor,
no sign of activity on deck.
He will go his way never knowing of this scrutiny.
Turning. All evolutions complete.
I order the ship returned to the deep.
MAKE YOUR DEPTH ONE FOUR ZERO FEET.
I keep my eye on the scope as it is pulled beneath the waves,
My brief visit to THE WORLD by translated eye is over.
I enjoyed it, while lamenting the six more weeks
of submerged running still ahead.
My relief arrives to take over.
After six hours as Officer of the Deck,
I can now lay below and get my post watch meal.