After Lucian

Death in his boat
With sail and oar
Listen to my song upon the beach
Death who the poet
Sang to in his grief
With words to sooth the tiger and the boar.

Death with his tusk
Death with his tooth & claw.

Carry me over to the other shore

So sang the poet in his grief
A song to match the nightingale’s lament
Hence went his lover with one bite
From hidden adder on her fleeing foot
Bring me to her that travelled far
Over the deep and troubled main.

Seven pelican take flight across the sand
Silent beneath the sun
Over the ocean roar
Frigate birds encircle the invisible and

Death in his boat with sail and oar.


Without thought or project structure in response
To her devouring life I write where nothing
Can be said for consolation but for occupation
Of the senses perforated by a shock at how
Much weight a conversation can lay down
Upon your will or mind or soul. A hill imagine
On a hill let’s say and from it just as soon as we can think
a charging rider full assailant in inexorable pursuit
as soon as you can think an army with you as their charge
a motion set in motion an inevitable attack
one knows and can for moments look away
but there can never be the peace before one thought


Harlequin met Columbine
And danced away the fruit
Hulks against Carillion
Death’s shadow was the antiphone
To all our choruses.

Whether I of this high wall
Or of pure will ascend
And so my self—thus circumscribed
Might live my
Mind exactly there defined.

The wheel of Ixion stood still
& Tantalus ignored the waves
Tityus sat unmolested in his cloak
Sisyphus took leisure on his stone

Psyche sits beneath
Her tree adorned
With mourning flowers
And of the scent of
Love lining the air
Her bitter disavowal
Hyacinth and asphodel
Brooding braiding
In a veil it gathers
Knots and frays

What length of days an Ocean took to form
The measure of a particle of light
rock pool skins a hand therein
a decade of all memory


Blind (sayer) Tibullus
At Delia’s usurped
For all time
now shadows
how spell you silence
speak it thus

Hark a sound for Heav’n
Do you hear nothin’?


If Beauty were distinct
Held and discerned by faculties
But it is nothing but
Emotion floated into shape
This country lost its way
Its ecstasy repulsed by industry
And fact held ransom
Fear of loss born of possession
Now the carriage door
Jammed from both sides
If Beauty could it might.


Shades of colour markers
Stolen opening to highlight
Learnedness and humour
Plus the end of the humanities hence culture
What was taken for granted
Has been muscled out—gratefully rebuked
By the ignorancy dripping horses: wealth
Stealth bombing decency
Albeit a privilege of the privileged
The great fountain choked by coins
Of rubble well applied—a short crack
In the lead pipe—an oversight a craft forgotten
Or ignored—souls shall be grateful to sing
With dry bread and water—no Hippocrene or Montegnac
That will be stored to rot
With other lambs unslaugthered
What will a poet fight for
Not as a poet but for poetry
To bring the torches lit
Back to the festival
The bitter oranges and appetites
If there’s a life—was it


But a bitter love transports me to the desert
Depths of the shallow earth give up its bloom

All rank the terraced habitats—heights of prosperity
The view’s to die for—what’s to live?

Though Jove outweary his smith
This age requires a rage
A traditional revolutionary zealot
The image burned to part obscurity
But with enough hope we might heal it

What god or man or hero shall I pin a tin wreath on
What man or woman shall I pin a wreath upon

Who sings the whale on the beach
We all forgot how to breach its mass
Wait for the slick to spill

Byron with a white scarf stood next to the drowned
Phoenician sailor with his banker’s draught

What is the putative domain
Can else be elsed

Swollen-eyed Tiresias
Raised a goat-rattle cry

A prison was made of the rose’s bloom
A gilded key around the prisoner’s throat

And cry-a-mouth wrenching a smile
For the sun he cares not nor the rain

But the material shriek will want scrutiny
A new day must mean prior order

Fish scales paste your mouth
At a distance your scream sounds like laughter

As wideas yur Sol
No harbour

Martin Corless-Smith is from Worcestershire, England. His next book is Bitter Green forthcoming from Fence in Spring 2015.


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