Georgia Way

Ars Poetica: Fishing

The fish have exhausted me.

All day I’ve been in the sun,

catching nothing. See how

the mesh of this net

is too wide: whole shoals

swimming freestyle

escape me.

With such poor equipment

how will I ever reel in

the slippery djinn I am after?

This is their lake: the carp

are cast into shade

by their brilliance, the dace

forced into the sedge,

while night after night

I lose sleep

wishing for fresh water.

I dreamt last night

of a great fish with gold scales

harrying me through

weeds closing like curtains.

Time to cast the net again…

When I land my prize,

I’ll steam it in garlic,

ginger, and chilli:

it will burn my tongue,

and I’ll learn the real catch.

The Road to Aleppo

—After ‘Cé’ by Louis Aragon, 1943

On the road to Aleppo I heard

how a country’s song can change.

Long ago I heard the tune

telling of an emir’s wound,

of a rose dropped in the path

and a robe unfastened,

the palace of the mad sultan

and the lilies in his fountain,

of the forever fiancée

and her garden to dance in:

and I, I swallowed these stories

like iced sherbet, these sham glories.

The river bears my thoughts away

as dusty prayer,

with the guns not yet fired

and the tears not yet dried:

My abandoned Syria’s

broken voice.

The Road to Córdoba

—After ‘Canción de Jinete’

by Federico García Lorca, 1937

Distant Córdoba

bends the earth with its weight.

Moonlight makes these roads

strange to my horse’s hooves,

turning the track into a nation

of fallen mosquitos.

Shrouded in summer heat,

Andalucía is laid out

by the roadside.

The night wind sighs,

but I do not want its mourning.

Let it pick up its black skirts

and howl for the little horse,

and I will keep on to Córdoba,

knowing who watches me

like a lover, from the walls

time has made pillowy.

Apollo After a Bad Night

The sun-god, up before dawn, now regrets

the night’s whisky. Filling the kettle,

he kicks himself for going to bed so late,

annoyed at letting his routine disintegrate.

He eats a pastry, plus a capsule of flax seed

to stave off the sugar guilt, then stands

in front of the mirror, finding a pimple to squeeze.

He meditates, using his wellness app

to regain focus: sun salutations and mantras

such as I can fix the day again when it breaks,

although mindfulness cannot fix thousands

of years’ unemployment. He’s a failure,

(no-one believes in him anyway): he has nothing

to do but watch re-runs of A Place in the Sun.

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