1820 c/o Emma Hammond


Popsicle Russians
sourced the ice, the old maid’s
shelf itself come fresh from
blackest seas and maps.

28 guns, this sloop of war:
old Vostock. The Motherland
Hears, The Motherland Knows
Baltic in outer space, the call sign

kedr, Siberian pine, the white
blister rust of orbit­ Antarctica.
Von Bellingshausen’s telescope
was God’s, one fried egg eye, what

spyed the Giant Ice. He twitched
his stiffened fingers, like mice
woke up from cryogenic sleep,
new Soviet man, discoverer.


Past Deception Island came
our Edward, top­of­the­morning
fresh from Lamprey, the
occasional Hagfish, her Majesty’s

frigate Slaney, that slipped like a hot
knife through the old sea ice. 3
days had passed, the peninsula lay
bare, woken by those Russian’s

probings. Quick as a flash,
Bransfield flipped his log book clean
open, shouting high mountains,
covered with snow
, writ hard in the

ink of firsts. Antarctica’s
cherry popped to bits, not frigid,
impressed by that old sobriquet:
the snake­staffed Emerald Isle.


Smasher of seals, those raggedyjackets,
selfish in their pelts
came next, a sloop named Hero,
third with hairy chests.

On look out for rookeries, to
reconstruct to Ugg­style boots
was Captain Nat, wettened on the
flipside of his ears-­ his vision knew

no bounds. From bludgeoning
Pinnipeds to death he climbed
the ranks real quick, embroidered
with the insignia of icebreaker,

Land King, maker of Clippers and
all round Connecticut Black Dog.
Best not mention the lack of stars,
the wonky shadows of an icy moon

though, whatever you don’t.