I've been posting a lot of fish-related poems in this journal, because .. well.. it's a fish forum!
Only one of them has been mine, and it was a raw draft I shouldn't have put up so early.. I'm a fussy poet! Anyway, I'm slowly getting together my last few years' worth of decent-ish poems for a little book. And thought I'd share some of the ones I'm done being critical about (for better or worse..) and may include in the book...maybe...
The Art of Un-knowing
Give your burden the mane of a lion. Of yourself,
make a kraal. Split your heart
and fashion its two halves into a pair of goats.
Tether one to a stake. Then pull all the shades
for darkness, barricade the door,
listen for a nervous bleat, a skitter of hooves
in the mind's dirt. Feel nothing when the animal
screams. Believe: it's only a goat.
And here, the art - a bloody thorn, a twist
of hair will show you how the lion gets in, where
to dig the trap. When it is dead
burn the carcass. When the winds have drunk
the last of its ash, you'll still have one good goat.
I make portraits, for which she never sits
while I dab with improbable brushes: headstones,
evening gowns. Best viewed from a distance,
the strokes are ambiguous: a dash of blue
suggests the shadow of a breast, a waterlily, proof
of some recent, terrible blow. Her eyes remain
constant in a face which shifts like sand
peeling back to stone, a sheet
of volcanic glass. Quite the host, these many
disparate facets of her - all frozen, soundless,
though some have open mouths as if caught
mid-scream or on the high end of a joke.
Best viewed singularly and out of sequence,
I dread the thought of them aligned
in chronological order from youth to its distant,
mad conclusion, each animated by the one before,
lending her a strange and second kind of life.
They are all I have, these dreams
I wake from, crying like a child for its mother.
(and not fish, really.. but sealife-related!)
I follow the shell's inward curl - not with my eyes, for the vertigo,
but half-imagining a path from here to... where? Its spiral
reaches vanishing point in the bowels of a long-extinct squid,
in sea-silt atoms which replaced its flesh, gaining perhaps one
degree of hardness every hundred thousand years.
In my hand, I cradle its mineral echo.
This squid reached its vanishing point while the first fish gawped
at the second fish and unhinged its bony jaw. Once these creatures
numbered in their billions, the Devonian master species, kings
of liquid displacement.
This stone is a testament to biological success.
I saw a man on the train this morning, one of a hundred thousand
commuters. He stood out for his lack of standing out. I don't know
why he drew my eye; he was everyone, and no-one, the way
things tend to appear identical when reckoned as a unit, en masse
The numbers, and the weight of us.
When did we want a world rightly
partitioned & corridor-elbowed -
all of our room
become roomed? Rectangle
rockets on long, black
oblongs stop at brick-stacks -
how did we learn
to so love blockwork?
Nature circles dogwise, strips
for Mobius, snail-shells
& brambles, goes curly on lambs,
vascular in fractal
leaf & limb. Fibonacci's nautilus
in loops, star matter spraying
clockways, widdershins -
why would anyone wish
to iron it out?
Decree the dome a pleasure
& measure its inches
in worms. Thumb your nose
at rule. Lamb
yourself. Dis-angle. Tree your mind.