Kendall Merriam: Remembering the men chopping the ice off the Boston College class trawlers

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 7:15pm

Just steps away from this house

giant men swung mauls

to rid lines and deck houses

of heavy salt ice

accumulated on The Banks

the dangerous weight

could turn  boat over

men, catch, boat all lost

rugged men working to save their lives

their livelihood

I know a man capable 

of lifting a household freezer, alone

who refused to do it

unwilling to wear out his body

Kendall Merriam was born and raised in Rockland. He has a history degree from Gordon College and pursued graduate studies in military and maritime history at the University of Maine at Orono and Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn. He received grants to study historical research at Colonial Williamsburg and the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Merriam has been widely published, including in Katyn W Literaturze (Katyn in Literature), a Polish anthology of literary works about the WWII Katyn Forest Massacre by 120 international authors, including Czeslaw Milosz. Most of Merriam’s work has a definite muse – family, friends, and strangers – with life’s larger themes of work, love, loss and death.

on a Rockland vessel

a number going out 

on the Boston College Class

Surf, Crest and many others

with the names of Neptune’s elements

who came to the shipyard

refitting, repainting, rest

men did the same

not for long

unemployment compensation

if any

demands from the captains, the hulls, nets 

the grinding of the salt ice


Kendall Merriam, Home, 5/21/2020 5:42 PM

Listening to house sounds after talking to my mariner brother who has had to chop ice on an oil barge.