of the Damned 

is a film from the 1970s 

starring Faye Dunaway with her cat’s eyes 

and cheekbones. 



is the name of the ship 

the producers chartered 

to use as the set 


Many Rivers to Cross 

was your favourite song 

as requested we played it 

at your funeral 



is the name of the ship 

you board at Kingston Harbour 

where you had ‘a good job’ 

as a customs official 


Voyage of the Damned 

is a film set on a ship in 1939 

when a thousand Jewish refugees 

fled Germany for Cuba 



is a region south of Naples 

full of mountains and many rivers 

its name means wolf 

in the language of the ancient tribes. 


Voyage of the Damned 

is a true story 

where the wolf wears a uniform 

and spits out bones and teeth 


Dunns River 

is a brand of ackee 

a fruit that’s poisonous if picked unripe 

it only comes here tinned 



On the Irpinia 

you organise a committee 

of West Indian chefs 

to cook for those who find the food too ‘fresh’ 

a term that doesn’t mean the same thing 

as it does in England 


Rivers of… 

is misquoted 

and comes from the legend of Aeneas 

who said he saw the Tiber 

course through his city of wolves 

foaming with much blood 



is close to the hot mouth of Vesuvius 

a verdant passage from 

the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic 


Voyage of the Damned 

was transatlantic 

the liner set sail for the Caribbean 

full of hope 

and families looking for a way in 


Cassava River 

runs in-between Above Rocks 

and Glengoffe 

the village from which your mother Katharine Weir 

migrated to the capital 


On the Irpinia 

people are crowded into dorms 

like cattle stalls 

in the middle of the ocean 


Voyage of the Damned 

is a tale of propaganda and dodgy visas 

The Nazis knew 

Cuba never planned to take the refugees 

even as a stepping stone 

from Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet, 2017), © Karen McCarthy Woolf 2017, used by permission of the author and publisher.

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