Cannibal Rats

Cash from Hibernia and Terra Nova cancelled what we once knew about shipwrecks, when green water ran on the slanted decks

Richard greene in front of a yellow backdrop

Blue steel rusted by the sea, it was worth
only its salvage, years of South and North
Poles eating at her, while the rats who had run
  aboard on mooring ropes were eating son
and daughter bred inside her belly—
generations of need in the galley
and the staterooms. No one wanted to own
her dereliction in this changed town,
so she sat there, the Lyubov Orlova.

Cash from Hibernia and Terra Nova
cancelled what we once knew about shipwrecks,
when green water ran on the slanted decks
of wood ships broached to and on their beam ends
remembered in folk songs where nothing mends.

Revenant myself, I may not cavil
about how art and memory unravel,
followed my chances on the mainland,
got tenure, found the taxpayers’ open hand,
and am now a Jonah where I was born,
confused by both the fog and the foghorn;
returning to my peculiar Nineveh,
I have no message: I’ve just been away.

A tugboat dragged that ghost ship out to sea,
lost it when a rope broke or they let it free
just outside this country’s jurisdiction.
The Irish papers loved the rodent fiction
and supposed it landing soon in Galway,
full of cannibal rats looking for new prey.
It joined all that history of drowned fleets,
without song or poem but a million tweets.

Richard Greene
Richard Greene won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His latest collection is Dante’s House.

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Jennifer Hollett I have been devouring The Walrus's Summer Reading issue and remarking on the quality of all of the contributions from our former and current Fellows. It reminds me that every issue of The Walrus is a culmination of the efforts (including lengthy fact-checking) of the editorial team, the emerging journalists they train, and the generous supporters who make all of this happen.

Through The Walrus Editorial Fellowship Program, we have the privilege of training the next generation of professionals who are passionate about the integrity of journalism. In the Summer Reading issue, 2021 Cannonbury Fellow Connor Garel wrote a piece on Frankie Perez and the art of breaking. Tajja Isen contributed an excerpt from her first book, Some of My Best Friends. Isen, who also began her career at The Walrus as a Cannonbury Fellow, is currently Editor-in-Chief at Catapult magazine.

Our 2022 Chawkers Fellow, Mashal Butt, was instrumental in making sure we got the facts straight in our Summer Reading issue, having fact-checked six features, including Sarah Totton’s short story “The Click.” And in our September/October issue, you can read a cover story on housing affordability by our 2022 Justice Fund Writer in Residence, Julia-Simone Rutgers. (Rutgers is now a climate reporter for The Narwhal.)

Donations of any amount (great or small) mean that we can keep on training future journalists in the rigorous practice of fact-checking and editing. With your support, we can continue to keep The Walrus available to readers everywhere as well as help build the next generation of reporters, copy-editors, fact-checkers, and editors.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Hollett
Executive Director, The Walrus