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.
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.
She who is a composition in blue and orange.
She who is ice water tumbling on rocks.
She who is top of the tower.
She who is willow bending in the wind.
She who is Chopin Nocturne 72.
She who is meeting the devil at the crossroads.
She who is strawberry wine with a dash of cyanide.
She who is the white wolf hunting by moonlight.
She who is neon or xenon or argon or helium, balloons floating on a summer day.
She who has been crash tested in extreme situations.
She who has no centre of gravity.
She who will leave dirt tracks all over your fat face.
She who has small sharp white teeth.
She who has sensational performance.
She who has eye of the kestrel.
She who is splendid in solitude.
She who is the child of Kali.
She who is revolving door.
She who is the crack in the plaster.
She who is a razor’s edge.
She who is the smell of hot tarmac.
She who is cripple bitch.
She who is me.
The day the waves came,
she went out looking.
Rocks, boats slashed by winter,
White Rose half-painted on the quay.
The beach swirled diamonds,
wind down-turning creels.
The Café closed tight,
shuddering on the line
where elements collide.
The Orkney Ice Cream sign
askew by the door, keening
like a gull with a broken wing.
In the bothy he burned
a fire of peat, warming
fingers, interwoven. He breathed
the secrets of seashells into her ear.
The sky splintered beyond the window pane,
words drowning as oceans swelled a crescendo
of herring-bones and the lighthouse slowly crumbled.
Note 1:- a bothy is the term used for a small hut or refuge in the wilderness of Scotland.
Note 2:- Collision is an attempt at a concrete poem…the shape on the page is supposed to represent a lighthouse…well, more or less!
She held her breath and passed beneath the wishing trees. Their evergreen tips arched across the path to the beach. Kiss Me Quick, Squeeze Me Slow. The sea played out beyond the dunes. The world unraveled an orgy of blues as the red kite spiraled up into the heat. On the horizon, the mist spooled like the edge of dreams. She held her breath and waited for the wind to drop.
The kite shrank to a small dot, vanished. The sky grew dark and stormy like ruffled raven’s wings. Blue eyes and long black hair, her skin was delicate and fair. She began to run, over sharp stones, through thorns, back across the swamp until she tripped on a twisted tree root and fell, into quicksand. She held her breath.
During police interview her mother said, Aye, she was trouble alright. Born unlucky,