from The Donkey's Ears, part 5, § XIX, opening
What's this I do? A diary or a poem?Or letters to you? Will you keep them by youAs a memento of my love, my blueSeafaring days, and when you're old, read themAll over again, in your favourite chairBy the window? By then much might have changedAnd how might Russia be rearrangedForty years on?...
Aurora's holed below her waterline--Imaginary, midnight Japanese!Our guns were real, but not our enemies...An empire, at its zenith, in decline!
-Part 1, § VIII, l. 1-4
Those Russians; paranoid much, eh?
Dunn set the poem aside for a while, though, only finishing it in 2000. The poem follows the fleet as it sails around Africa, holes up off Madagascar, still a French colony, then sets sail across the Indian Ocean.
Who can postpone or stop this mercilessNear-circumnavigation, this witless sprintOver the oceans to the Orient,To destiny?Madame, I crave your kiss!
Admiral Rozhestvensky survived the disaster, but Flag Engineer Politovsky did not. His last appearance:
I'll have to hurry. Our unarmed transportsWill leave us soon for Shanghai, and with mailIf I can finish this before they sailTo booze and safety and the sexual sportsFor which the city's famous. Not for me!My uniform's been pressed, so if I dieI'll be well dressed, gold cufflinks, black bow-tie,Wing collar, dressed to meet the horrid sea.