Poems

Bathey Pelagium

Having slid up and below the surface;
urged itself to reach out
and take the moon whole in its eye,
the giant squid goes to depth--
eight arms and two tentacles

swirl the slick, torpedo body
on an imagined course to the ocean floor.
Twin front finlets rudder its frame,
lining through a school of oarfish.
The deeping waters start to cool

its runneled core. The floor
is not subject to the moon's lug.
Tube worms and giant clams pulse,
but seem motionless in the mudded dark,
like organs under skin.

The sun is cold. There are no tides or years.
Giant squid rests its locomotor,
it's lurked arms scan the boundary
of its mantle length for food.
The ocean floor is an undulant blank,

with an outline so faint
this whole thing could be myth.
Slow-swimming along conveyor tides,
it takes the ocean with it and keeps the earth
in its spinning. The giant squid

spools along canyons cut from the ice age--
movements aggrandised over time,
its organ pipes roll the sea bed,
with solitary rills, hear its weight
unlying the sea.

 

 

Crossdress

Night is cover for a bowl of bruised apricots.
Outside this house I'd be clocked in two seconds flat--
the slicks, thicks and circé de cliques, they know all
there is to know about sorcery, rayons and filling
wild pores with green melon.

I can turn my face from white bread to taffeta
it's a bolster of skills beyond any magic-- nick yourself
shaving and the foundation will draw an itch,
but there'll always be a wary tint below the skin
as if a pin whale were about to surface.

Underwear is paramount-- fix the gaffs
and paddings to create or conceal bumps;
hoist the teal gown to my shoulder case
till it tugs, clumps and I am something of a design,
puffing with layers like the Arctic glaucos gull.

The curtain blows out and the sky is a keep of stars.
Is there enough of a dignity here to excuse the flaws?
Were some strange mutation of the age to fit me
in the finest brocade of patina gold lit with damask
(or dull green-gold, with river pearls sewn

into the liners and herringboned like the hind
of the mythic deer), then I'd peddle my secret
from behind the split stitch of a laidwork podea,
across ballroom floors of Petersburg, in the arms
of Anastasis, or St. Maxim the Confessor, their straps

lit with a cloister of baubled white stoles. It's quiet here
in the house-- there's always an open poise as I roll
up the pennyroyal stockings, the black wig, finish my lips
in carmine, and set things right. For between the skin
of an orange and its flesh is only a usual silence.

 

 

Pamplona

San Fermín 2007

Countdown to folly gala-- the green rocket
fires up as the first bulls exit the corral gate
it's an exodus of laurelled custom. The rocket
declares jutted clacks through the thin lanes

scrawned below high walls. A second rocket
signals the last bull has left the corral. They wait
in ferria costume of white shirt and red sash
and having gained their blessing from Saint Fermíne

(a sane Patron to guide them through the craze),
they clutch each other, listen as the gaining echo
of bullfoot swells their hearts. Then it's a pounding
as the beasts round the first corner, the cluster

of fretful and blessed runners push off each other
and stream down the narrow lane. The frontbulls
hurl at a rocking gait and lower their dirty white
horns. If you dared to turn around, you'd see

a head the size of a crouched man. The lane
pops open onto le Plaza de Mercaderes, with cars
lined up to guide the rush, behind them a plinth
of music, dancers and fairground curios. Brass

bands augment the mania, blowing trombones
as if inflating red balloons. The crowd calls out--
carerra, carrera! And they run, out of the square
take a corner, the cobblestones slick with sangria,

tomato and spit. A runner slips and slides (if you
go down, stay down - and cover your head!).
The horde slow and take the corner with 700kg
of muscled anvil and temper bearing up behind--

its swiny hoof skitters off the wet stones, its bulk
warps and pinballs off a small car. Into the narrows
of Estafeta Street that splits along under high walls
with only a slint of blue above (if you have reason

to look up). The shrewd hang from balconies
or drainpipes for an ariel view. A bull splits
the unity of runners like a shark into baitfish.
Carerra, carrera, carrera! It's hulked frame

clodhops the rolled cobblestones, the cautious
onlookers cling to the walls, but who among them
wish they were out there, to cavort their own fears?
They'll see the nuance of any folly, and quietly

commit themselves to take the run next year.
The remaining runners eye off spacious doorways
kindly left vacant for quick exits. The heavy corrida
gates are winged open, the stadium bloats a cheer

as the runners enter with rollicked bulls at their backs.
The gates close and the alley is again darked. The world
has been a strange place, though with fireworks at dawn
the day was always assured of a madness.

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