Question & Answer 3 – Simon Barraclough

Question 3

I think I’m both sinking and waving,
not dying for help – just looking for the final
of my last hurrah. [Fifteen thousand
seven hundred
psi]. I sailed on trident while scrawling

protests in the rear view mirror [remain
victorious] of a lost boat, [remain triomphant]
aim aft, aim aft, aim emm ess one.

I am only on the thunder road
because of the nuclear waste
in my veins.

Sometimes I remember being
fathoms deep, and I feel lost
between acceptance and rejection. Do you
still cling to former lives? Hold missiles
to the scars?

[Submariners, we’re promised
told it’s the way the life
affects us. I don’t know why I still cling to the notion
that I’m part of the club – one of the dolphins –
when I was rejected with such hate.]

– Aaron Kent

Answer 3

‘I ought to learn how to sail, the Hemulen thought. But I’ve never got enough time.’
Moominvalley in November, Tove Jansson

I’m competent of crew, deft of clove hitch
and nimblejack with a midnight bowline;
can read a tidal chart, know where to moor
and when to yank the fenders, flee the dock,
duck the beam and jury-rig a rudder.

Or was, before this dry-docking.
Now I gnaw my Sun-cracked lips,
tilt sockets scoured by stars and seagull beaks,
flense my flesh for my daily bread,
jab my shrunken, salt-cured biltongue
between the fraying shells of my teeth.

My words fall to the strand,
are carried off by hermit crabs
who skitter them this way and that
over the unread page of the shore;
little stories even they can’t read.

– Simon Barraclough