Angstcination

B. R. Dionysius

 

for Nathan Shepherdson

 

(i)

 

from below

their white belly

merges with light,

falling electric snow.

penetration slowed

down; a fast bullet

enters & exits a pane

of glass falling with

honey’s spoon grace.

a snowflake melds

with its blizzard

until indivisible from

the surface it melts;

water’s countershade.

 

 

(ii)

 

all quiet under ocean.

sound trapped, insect

in amber. ears useless,

ground down tiny over

millennia, gills not slitting

into bones until a noise’s

speed no longer makes

distance in the blue world.

salt water is not ocean

as is tasted. a fluid

battery sends electrical

pulses. charges fish

until solar panel scales

spark with energy.

 

 

(iii)

 

they can detect auras.

smell the diffused signals

borne by water molecules

that spread, a tarot deck

of hunger sliding across

the sea’s dinner table;

conjure up a red future.

one drop of blood

in a million parts of

water, they will come

if the wet wind blows

in the right direction.

they can find a clear

contact lens on a glacier.

 

 

(iv)

 

their snouts are Franklin’s

perpetual kite experiment.

blows from a cobbler’s

hammer have dented

their heads, they hunt

by electricity, they detect

tiny ball lightning in

a fishes’ berry-sized

muscles. the ocean

a liquefied grid, a

field of nippy particles.

lorenzini’s ampullae;

an apex predator’s

lightning rod.

 

 

(v)

 

industrial strength

candle-coloured bags,

thin bakelite purses

that clutch to the sides

of reefs & shoals; amber

necklaces that decorate

a current’s sinewy neck.

membranous births,

embryonic fluid ruptures

spills into a greater sac.

longlines’ jagged teeth

hook young, a by-catch.

fin’s reverse fontanelle,

the flesh doesn’t heal.

 

 

(vi)

 

times past skin wore teeth

& dorsal fins radar shaped.

devolution; toothed frames

shrink to denticles that spray

on skin, rough plaster walls

disrupt borders between shark

& ocean. they grasp seawater

glove-fast & torpedo bodies

slip through tension breaks.

blademasters skills honed

by sticky shark grips & fine

cut leather boots.  ‘shagreen’

sandpaper from dog-fish

polished ships’ best wood.

 

 

(vii)

 

bicycle reflector jammed behind

retina boosts night vision. military

goggles worn by elite frogmen see

colour at depths where none exists.

ten times light collects on apertures;

pollen clings to a bee’s leg. ghosts

rise from midnight zone’s dusky

graveyard. sharks descend coffin

straight; spiracles pump salty water

direct injection into eyes & brain.

oxygen thins in reverse atmosphere.

black space weightlessness, bodies

equalised with gravity share joint

stuff. five gill slits blow curtains.

 

 

(viii)

 

lateral lines sweep seas;

mine detectors beep

when objects grow denser.

surfboard seal cut-outs

mimic flippers & fibreglass

duende. submerge, caudal fins

flex, a giant’s fist pump &

cartilage tuning forks vibrate

through shafts as taste buds

tricked. first bite for info.

next bite for keeps. jaws

realise mistakes, head bang

& tear at war music. third

eyelid shuts in mute defence.

 

 

(ix)

 

abundant blood, dining

room prey,  erratic finger

movement wags in their face

during pelagic mealtime.

they take it personally &

mouth opens in warning.

cave stalactites’ cusps, sharp,

pointed; muscles rise to

the threat & predators

face off, frenzied speech

no participant remembers.

brains overload on slight.

flesh liquefaction, then

whirlwind unwinds its passion.

 

 

(x)

 

the roof goes. convertible

fins sheared, corrugated sheds

in cyclone. farmer marked,

long queues slide into salty dip,

tails fall into bloody bucket.

a torp’s dead weight when

engines stall. steerage gone,

sleek fuselage dips, downed

sydney minisubs & pacific

planes sink into an abyss.

production lines hook a

dark future; their broods

human length; kursk sailors

clench rusted wrenches.

 

 

(xi)

 

forty somethings’ fear

spawned seventies celluloid

gore fantasies. knee-high,

parents don’t swim further,

their children human shields

for angstcination. in breakers,

still water, unlucky death roils.

spearfisher, snorkeler, sponge

-diver, pearl-grabber, surfer-dude,

bather. tire-tread scars run over

backs, sand depressions don’t

blow away. nets & baited hooks

map annually the kill count war.

one hundred million jaws close.

 

B. R. Dionysius was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. His poetry has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and online. His eighth poetry collection, Weranga was released in 2013. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland, where he runs, watches birds, teaches English and writes contemporary sonnets.

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