On Depression

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 

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Photographic image by the author

Tales of a Sea-Dog

In the old days I was Canis Marinus, Dog of the Sea.
I was born in a mangrove swamp of the Antipodes,
abandoned by Ma at first swim to the murky
mysteries of waves, death and capitalism.
I was crated frozen to the Land of the Free.
Now they call me Tiger, Blue, Hammerhead,
Great White, Art-wank. I prefer Sea-Dog
but they call me shock, ragged, monster, demon
or jaws (cue scary music and pearly sharps to die for)
the perfect engine and eating machine, soulless
beast, killer of slaves and pretty girls in bikinis.
I can morph into fin soup, a Chinese delicacy
or a shifty money lender. A role model for the aspiring
acolytes of Damien or a trophy tanked up on formalin
stinking behind the thin glass wall of privilege.
Predators queue and gawp
at the impossible.
I stare straight back
and what’s more
I never blink.

 

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Photographic image created by the author. The Heinz tomato soup can is a reference to Andy Warhol’s pop art featuring Campbell’s soup.

 

I was inspired to write this poem after seeing Damien Hirst’s so-called conceptual art entitled ‘The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’.  I found it disturbing to see a wild creature exploited and displayed in an art gallery.  My feelings of distaste and anger increased when I later learned that Hirst had several Tiger Sharks killed for his art work.  Even though the sharks are preserved in formaldehyde they start to decompose after a few years and need to be replaced.  Other animals have also been killed by Hirst for his art, including cows and calves for the piece titled ‘Mother and Child (Divided)’.   I find the morality of this indefensible.   It is one thing to kill for food or survival but not for art or entertainment.  Hirst’s pickled shark was sold for millions.

I also find it sad that humans have a tendency to demonise and label as ‘other’ anyone who is different from themselves, this includes other species, races, religions, sexual orientations, disability, etc.  Even sharks can respond positively to kindness and afffection.  They are not the vicious, mindless monsters portrayed by our culture but a beautiful creature trying to survive the best it can, just like the rest of us.  Please watch this amazing YouTube video showing a shark conservationist petting and playing with a shark.  Perhaps they are truly the dogs of the sea.

 

Musings of an Ordinary Sea Pebble

Me and my mates, we rub together
swell. We’ve been here forever, fretting.
Different shapes and colors,
we jigsaw, see-saw on the front line.

We rise and fall, small tectonic shifts,
comrades waiting for the ultimate surge.
You’ll find me in the fiftieth row from the left
by the turbulence of the harbor wall.

It’s a fine spot, plenty of action.
I pass unnoticed, I’m not the brightest.
Some call me dull. I call it French
Grey, camouflaged by elegant swirls.

Poor Fred and Ginger were striking
red, arty types with a sense of style.
They were snatched away to a suburban
rockery. It’s always better to blend in.

There’s a rumor drifting from below,
the Big One will sweep us to unknown fields.
Hear us mutter, hear us moan,
the rainbow legions of change.

 

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Artwork by the author

 

 

 

Something Fishy

DiCaprio’s Gap Year

He cruises Main Street every Friday come dreich or blue skies, sporting
mirror shades, white overalls and an Afro disguise; quite the showstopper.

His catchy tune tinkles in the wind before he appears round the hairpin
by the Ferry Inn; Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy, thou shall hev a fishy when…

Leonardo drives a converted ice cream van with a large plastic haddock
bolted to the roof, its flashing green eyes synchronise with the music.

The village cats wake up. The housewives apply lipstick. He delivers the flesh
of the sea direct from the Shetland trawlers and northern creel-boats.

His customers don’t know he survived Titanic and that since the heart
-wrenching moment he released Kate’s hand in the pool he’s been a wreck

with a strange empathy for inanimate fish.  His therapist blames
all those hours spent in the water trying to look love-sick

for Cameron’s perfect shot. His therapist claims
he has PTSD and toxins from the snow powder seeped into his blood stream.

He could sue but what’s the point?  It was the finality of letting go
that finished him, (though he’d promised he never would), the realization

that he was alone, dumped with no hope of rescue. After all his efforts to save
that spoiled brat, ruining his hair and getting chilblains in the process, she left him.

Just like those poor bastards neatly sliced and iced in his van;
the swordfish, monkfish, wolf-fish, langoustines, salmon, sea bass and lemon sole,

the delicate Orkney crabs, dressed and undressed for special occasions,
the peppered mackerel and smoked cod, the red snapper, prawns like babies’ penises

pickled in jars and lobsters with accusing eyes that make him turn away.
Jesus was a fisherman so every night Leo says a prayer

for the unwanted, those cast back into the harbor
and then he strolls to the end of the pier to practice walking on water.

 

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Artwork by the author