POEM Isabel Rogers

NWR Issue 105

John’s Curious Machines

John Harrison (1693–1776) devoted his life to solving the ‘longitude problem’: to build a clock that can keep time in the humidity and motion at sea.


Adrift on dead reckoning, I hanged a sailor who warned me
the Scillies would rise in fog to drown two thousand men.
He swung for mutiny, gainsaying his Admiral, the day before I died.
I washed ashore wrung out with regret: not sucked down
by the black Atlantic with my fleet, but beached – killed
for my emerald ring – by a woman. She could have had my finger
but chose to leave no witness. John Harrison was then fifteen.


Isabel Rogers’ poetry has been published widely; she’s currently working on a first collection. She also writes flash fiction and drama, and has just completed her second novel. Her website can be found here and she is on Twitter.

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previous poem: The River Next Door
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