Ode to a "Snipe"

Now each of us from time to time has gazed upon the sea, And seen the warships pulling out, to keep our country free. And most of us have read a book, or heard a lusty tale, About the men who sail these ships, through lightning, wind, and hail. But there's a place, within each ship, that legend fails to reach, And to all but the strongest men, is well beyond their reach. It's down below the water line, it takes a daily toll, A red hot metal living hell that sailors call 'the hole'. It houses engines run by steam, that makes the shafts go round, A place of fire, noise and heat, that beats your spirits down. Where boilers like a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam, Are molded Gods without remorse, like nightmares in a dream. Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell, As ordered from, above somewhere, they answer every bell. The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engines run, Are strangers to the world to the world of light, and rarely see the sun. They have no time for play or fun, no tolerance for fear, But if a shipmate passes on, each will shed a tear, And there's not much that men can do, that these men haven't done, Beneath the decks, deep in the 'hole' to make these engines run.

And every hour, of every day, they keep the watch in hell, For if the fires ever fail, their ships a useless shell. When ships converse to fight a war, upon an angry sea, The men below just grimly smile, of what their fate may be. They're locked in like men foredoomed, who hear no battle cry, It's well assumed that if they're hit, the men below will die.

But every day's a war down there, when gages all read red, Twelve hundred pounds of heated steam can kill you just as dead, So, if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale, The very words would make you hear, a fired furnace wail.

But I can sing about this place, and try to make you see, The hardened life of those below, cause, one of them is me. I've seen those sweat soaked heroes fight, in super heated air, To keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they're there. And they will work for ages on, till warships sail no more, Amid the boilers hellish heat, and turbines mighty roar. So, when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe, Remember faintly, if you can, the men who sail below.


This article was released by  AFNEWS, and has been released for publication and is public domain.