Blue Hanuman

The poems in “Blue Hanuman” have a lyric intensity and soul-clarity that move beyond Larkin’s previous books. The poet’s voice becomes the thing it speaks about, connecting the body to art and to the whole process of nature– the world’s body seen from the inside.

 

ARTEMISIA

In her third painting of Judith, a velvet knot

of arms, head, fists.  He’s

 

draped in carmine folds.  Her gown is gold.

She’s forced his sword into his dense neck.

 

Under him, the deep crease between mattresses:

a blood-soaked vagina.

 

 

She broke the first glass and kept…

She broke the first glass and kept

launching   Some flew ten feet

 

Each explosion wanted the next

and when she’d nothing left to throw

 

kitchen covered in shards   floor

shining   hands stinging   shard

 

sticking out of one cheek   she stood

in what she’d made   and was satisfied

 

Bill Hayward (Essays 3)

 

WEDDELL SEAL

I fell from sealmother’s

liquid womb onto fast-ice

and she suckled me with her thick

milk and kept me, fifty days.

We lived in the wind.

Under the ice in no-light

trills, buzzes, thumps

filled the water and rang in my body.

I scraped breathing holes with my teeth,

held my breath, slowed my blood,

sank deep, breathed out

bubbles to flush the icy fish;

devoured silverfish, squid, octopus,

giant toothfish, bald notothen.

A male bit my neck and gripped me.

A cub curled inside me.  I bore

many cubs and let them suck.  Left them

when the time came.  My teeth

worn to nubs, skua will make

quick food of me when I starve

above the ice.  Or if my carcass

drops to the sea floor, red

sea stars, worms, and flesh-eating

amphipods will slowly cover

me and devour my meat.

I’m standing in wind,

seal flesh still warm.

 

 

Singapore

Ice clouds rose in a glass.

A ghost mushroom floated

in clear broth. Eel-streaked

pillows of eggplant like our

 

flesh. The marina darkened

under its gemstone necklace.

A flash turned a child rising

from the pool, fungus-white.

 

Many-mouthed quiet. Malay.

Mandarin. Singlish. Tamil.

I hardly know where I am,

tasting green Cambodian fire,

 

opening a hinged valve

to its scar. Swallowing silk.

 

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