(This is an excerpt from my long poem 'The Sea is Rising,' comprised of 5 parts. This is part 4.)
Stetson! You who were with me in the ships at Mylae
Yes we watched the ships sink,
But I, mein schwester,
Was busy burning the forests and blasting the soil with lime.
I was busy writing the book
-no don’t close the book, you know that should you close it, the final page will emerge in the twilight of a forest fire, telling of painted motorcyclists burning dust amid their hell-fated screeches!-
Aye, but the book, mon frère, mon semblabe,
The trees birthed the book,
And now, the trees are ash,
Or embers rake in cosy little homes
Or logs in cabins for lumberjacks
To head out and labour of a cold morning.
There will not even be a wasteland, just an empty space in the suns orbit.
I can see the diamonds tumbling out the window,
Oh dear, and the gold, too,
As the ice rumbles and groans,
As it awakens bleary eyed, desperate to know
Who had the audacity to commit such an atrocity
And who first saw the problem
And what did anyone do
Oh, the diamonds and gold tumbles into the cracks,
The jewellery box scatters across these floors,
Once such polished expensive wood, the finest, you know, imported,
The only other place to use it was the royal palace
But the ice has that now…it was of no use to the ice,
The ice cared nothing for the rambling gardens or ornate sculptures.
We skulk the surface rolling shit little cigs, what-we-doin,
Waitin’ fer the ice to crack? Fer our jobs back?
We leave what little coin we have tappin’ upon the table
Drag in the husks of filthy gulls for suppers
brawls fer the great bloated corpses of whales when they come
bobbing and bouncing under the ice. We’ve skinned the cats n’ dogs an’ all.
Money’s more of a werd than a thing nowadays eh
Up above the close shore, I see somethin’glitterin’ an’ glistenin’ outta window,
Something pretty, something deadly expensive, something exhaustively useless.
The floor boards are warped and sodden, soaking banknotes pasted to the floor…
The ice rises from its invasion of distant fjords, it breaks clean and free from its moorings in death-held harbours where fishermen try and murmur
The names of the yolde gohds, try and summon something somewhere somehow.
On the Sea Burial:
A sea burial, is nothing new.
I’m sure your Grandpas & Grandmas
Your Aunts & Uncles were all treated to the phenomenon;
But never like this, this unforeseeable, un-unseeable daymare.
Men haul bodies all day long into the shallow basin of ferry decks,
From 7 til 5, with a lunch break.
Just passing corpses, one to the other to the other to- Bam! The wooden deck.
Tacked up in one of the ship-container offices, a sign:
EMPLOYEES MUST WEAR FACE MASKS AND GLOVES AT ALL TIMES
The ground’s too sodden, or too arid, too full, too frozen; too many bodies;
We can’t make things grow let alone put the dead down in.
At the end of the day’s work, when the labourers, mostly prisoners and refugees, are lined up and filed into their buses,
I watch the boats roam out unto their final visit, to add to the forest of the dead
To allow their final baptism; hell,
The sea’s rising anyway, this is everyone’s destiny…
Still, I can’t help imagining
The wrapped bodies, bloated,
Inedible, and, besides, uneaten,
As sharks and whales alike are already dark, swollen carcasses themselves,
Tickled along by the current
To their final destination,
The shrinking shore.
Merely a dot viewed from the broken coast, but all know the power;
A great swarm, miles square, of plastic disintegrating into micro pieces in the sun;
Of fishing nets lost in ancient trawls, now catching terrified prey for no mans dinner;
Of black and rotting shards of wood, splintering and sodden;
Of corpses of all manner of life, gaseous and hideous, entwined and starved;
“like an isocline of death.”
Here the exiles wait out their last moments; on the surface,
A horizon of everlasting shite, of stinking, gull-walked, dead dead dead waste.
Underneath, like shattered and unattuned icebergs, the trash continues, into the dark,
frozen in the light-splattered waters. Their corpses add to the mass,
like a cloud; visible, effectual, but unsolid. We have made ourselves useless islands.
A boat returns from the dot, minutes before sundown, ice crystallized on the mens’ beards;
I cannot see their expressions, but after leaving a squealing exile amidst the “salt sepulchre,”
I doubt that they are beaming.
I detect a slight stench, and cannot decide if it’s imaginary,
from the vortex of waste over yonder,
or the grass and birds legs I have stewing over the fire.
Over here, they’ve found something!
Somethint aynshunt aynshunt aynshunt
Not like all the seabird skulls an’ smashed tellies we been avin’,
There’s not no switches or wires to this ‘un
Look at ‘im loom outta the ground,
The great funnel over there, the round orbic
Surface deeply and familiarly warm-
Has this machine been turned on?
With what switches and pulses
Could such an aynshunt device animate itself.
I hope it’s not fuels of crumbly black or drip-drip black or gushing choking black.
We all know how the world felt when
We did that before. When we did that
In the glory days, our mouth full of it all.
Not now there’s no birds an’ bees
Barely worms an’ trees… Just us, really, Somehow,
Loping about, bred, dumbfucked,
Twisted with all the old stupidities.
When I look up I see grey and
I need not taste the rain to know every day is another step-