Question & Answer 3 – Simon Barraclough

Question 3

I think I’m both sinking and waving,
not dying for help – just looking for the final
snapshot
of my last hurrah. [Fifteen thousand
seven hundred
fifty
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
daughters,
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

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Question & Answer 2 – Simon Barraclough

Question 2

I drowned in the river at birth –
Aaron 99, or ’89.
Left a gunnie years later
as a sign of the baptism
I never wanted,
Wesley preaching in the pit
so I could be full, be empty.

[black tin]
[wolframite]
[arsenic]

I played the role of Joe Roberts,
for my family.
They needed a scapegoat.
They needed the sacrifice.
Have you ever been the lamb?
205-fathom and still digging.

[March ’98]
[man turns his back on his family]
[well he just aint no good]

Hundred gaol, hundred
pound, hundred court.
Not a fisherman,
not a miner too,
all the fish and tin have gone,
what are my brothers to do?
[look the other way]

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

You cannot drown in the same river twice.
I dunked three babes in the River Styx,
the current took the first two, leaving this
swift runner with a ring of tenderness
about his ankle, his breast a target
for the arrows of desire trampled
underfoot. So fleet, so fucked-up,
such a super-sulker, I sometimes wonder
why did I bother? I’m thoroughgoing goddess,
could take any lover, am instantly over
those who betray me, who’ve ditched me,
and yet even immortals fear the grave,
fear the moment you choose to cease to believe.
I have an invulnerable hand to play,
dipped in the river, so I will just have to grieve
way longer than your Universe exists
and all the galaxies that remind you of rivers
are nixed.

– Simon Barraclough

Question & Answer 1 – Simon Barraclough


Question 1

There is a point just off the continental shelf
where you live in fear
of reaching crush depth. Whether
Pelagic, or Oceanic, Kursk
or Thresher – the fear weighs
as much as midnight

and freezing. But, surfaced,
all zero point one
seconds of bioluminescence
bring life to the lungs again. How do you
learn to breathe when the air
is sparse and weighted?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 1

What is the color when black is burned?
What is the color?—Neil Young

I wish I were lying,
telling fibs in the iron belly of il terribile Pesce-cane
to my dear frantic Babbo Geppetto
who will never let go of hoping to plumb me,
sift me, dragnet, land me, and fetch me.

I’ve been here before,
in the mouth of old stars sentenced to sip
gravity’s hemlock, crunching iron
at the core, dislocating their gears,
marring the void with a drifting nebula
of egg-blown hope.

Oxygen clings to the capsized iron life rafts
in my frantic blood.

Ah, Geppetto, loyal fellow, fetch another length of wood.
I’m down here for good, banging on the womb
of La Fata Turchina.

I cannot tell a lie.

– Simon Barraclough