“Praying for Rescue, I Think of You,” is a narrative poem about the sinking of the U.S.S. President Lincoln on May 31, 2018. My grandfather was one of the surviving crew members. I read as many eyewitness accounts as I could find about it, including the interview that my brother, Len Coombs, conducted with him in 1978. I immersed myself so deeply in these documents that I began to have nightmares about being on the ship. When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me that my grandfather lived with nightmares, too.
I’m grateful to Firestone Feinberg for publishing this poem in the July America-themed issue of Verse-Virtual. It amazes me to see my poem in a journal that regularly publishes poets I have long admired, including Tom Montag, Karla Huston, Marilyn L. Taylor, Ingrid Bruck, Evie Groch, Michael Minassian, Alan Walowitz, Fritz Hildebrand, Tricia Knoll, Neil Creighton, and many more.
I’ve been working on other poems about this event, trying to incorporate my grandfather’s distinctive Copper Country voice into them (he is not the narrator of “Praying for Rescue”). I will share them when they are ready.