Arctic Coast

to a web of strings
under a frozen ocean,
groaning as it
wrestles its own

in a pile of tin cans
with a few tin cans to live in;
they used to link them all
with lengths of dirty string
stretched  taut across the hemisphere
in some boyish bondish
dream of interception.

Here, listening in, were
polar bears and foxes
the line rubbing on blue ice
where the woolly mammoth fell
and the Siberian tiger, shot
between the ears
limped off into wilderness
trailing scarlet.

(Us next? they said)

Here, the over-vivid reds
were sent.
Their voices would echo
in frozen fields
of solid sperm,
unwelcome thoughts
detritus, concrete
execrable words
and muddy excreta in spring,
a grey prospect
in an unchosen place
of spindrift and chill warnings.

The bleak fifties
the tin can
so many had died
in their boots and ushankas
through lack of tinned food
was taught in all schools.
It was known in the west
they could cross straits
and lurk under beds
in apple pie towns
or jump into tincans
leaving the earth
to see it better
write a red letter

(Best do the same
they said.)

listening, always listening
except when the aurora
paraphrased the paranoia
and sang like saints around the sky
stinging mortals with reminders
that their tincan technology and
superpower psychosis
was scrambled by the
supercharged states
of darkness
and light
of all colours

no listening then
for a while,
God’s electricity
would silence
morse tappers
keep fingers off buttons
make nuclear heads
and ears sing with crisp life
in this cold fossilized war

when the singing faded
over that great shared pool
with the planet’s wildest edges
big men and big talkers
took sides again loudly,
tapped phones
ate meat
and drank bourbon or vodka
to forget they were
being listened to.























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