Poets' Corner

Welcome to Poets' Corner, a section of the ITF Seafarers website that we hope will feature contributions from our users in the coming months.

To start, the ITF Co-ordinator for the US West Coast, Jeff Engels, has kindly submitted a recent poem for reproduction here.


Ships of Shame

Jeff Engels


The Sea Lanes are flooded with the tears and blood of Seamen's lives,

Pumped over the side by greedy ship owners and their Lackeys.

Idling in their Staterooms furnished by Manipulation, Evasion and Greed.

Greek, German and American ship owners with the moral standing of eels play shell games with Flags, Ships, Regulations, lives.

Shuffling Ukraines, Filipinos, Indians till they get the right mix of subservient and submissive crews.

No More Brits, Danes, Canadians or Yanks and their Union Contracts and Skookum conditions.

No, this is the race to the Bottom of the Sea with the life ring of solidarity quickly rusting away.

Rust Buckets pass through Seattle, Yokohama, Portland and Singapore. Land-Lubbers stare at the Morphodite slabs of steel as if they are watching another new Reality TV Show: Globalization from hell.

Forgotten Seamen idle away their lives at Sea risking their lives for a dying wage,

Out of sight of nice folks uptown, Ya down there on the Waterfront the shame of man's inhumanity to man lays alongside the docks and piers, where life at Sea on a Flag Of Convenience ship is like being in jail with a chance of drowning.


Jeff Engels is the International Transport Workers' Federation Co-ordinator for the US West Coast