Our aluminium row-boat full
of beer and ambitions,
we jump in, open a bottle and scull
toward the shallows.
Slugging back, longed-for swallows
me an apprentice and him,
Dumb men, reeling each other in
Taking regular glugs, our voices
as we watch for signs of struggle.
Woozily floating in the sliding tide
that laps at our lives,
we piss our boozy bliss
over the side.
Our dropped net is hope and the
popped tops of our brews, fizzing time.
We check the haul.
Hand over hand he pulls in as I row
slow oars, wet and steady.
Silver crescents of fish come twisting up.
Dizzy with agony, they gulp
dry-drowning gasps at us.
One by one he untangles their caught bodies
and coshes them with an empty.
In the calm pleasure of this moonlit swell and
clanking lager-brown, glass-rolling symphony,
their scales, hard as fingernails, glint like lenses.
Safely landed, the smell of it lingering on our fingers
and clothes, we drive an empty road home;
victims of the lure.
Clutching a bag of just-turned crusts, she steps onto
the shoreline. Before a crumb is cast, they come;
the gulls. Gluttony breaks from beaks as they stab
at the broken host; relentless, ravenous. Screeching,
the flock attacks stale scraps, frenzied peck, after
frenzied peck. She stands amidst this assault, calm
as a corpse; a priestess performing the Eucharist.
Then as now, the space between us, like wings in
air, seems not to exist. Female form, bread and birds
alike, sea, beach, sky, everything entwined. Minutes
later, they have flown, and on they go scouring the
coast for carcases, trash-heaps, other homes – their
mewing calls, a barrage of thought, possessing the
silence that, haunts the vaults of my echoless skull.
Crouched in drizzle, on loam
studded with flints, I plug the
earth with my obscene dibber.
Dropping sets, into these wet
orifices, is like burying pearls;
each one a treasured offering.
My bulb-bulging pockets make
me a muddy child, thieving
sticky handfuls of pick ‘n’ mix.
Their papery skins flutter away
like sweet wrappers, like moth
wings, like cigarette papers.
Looking skyward, through rain,
I speak a fertility prayer to Cepa,
purple-haired God of Alliums.
Let these seeds; swell with bruised
water, become taut as scrotums,
sweat-sharp and sweeter than lust.
Oh the tears I will cry, as I peel
away the layers and chop, dice,
sauté or fry their caramel hearts.
Richard Biddle won the Big Blake Project 2013 poetry prize for his poem ‘Transparency’
His work is published online, and has appeared in; Urthona, Brittle Star Magazine and Dream Catcher and in the anthologies ‘Transformations’ and ‘The Nine Realms’.
His long, illustrated poem for children, ‘Horizon’, is due to be published this year by Birds Nest Books.