Obsessive Inertia

Yesterday I published ‘Obsessive Inertia’ over at Medium, which, as they say about themselves, is

‘a place where everyone has a story to share and the best ones are delivered right to you. Every day, thousands of people turn to Medium to publish their ideas and perspectives. Leaders. Artists. Thinkers. And ordinary citizens who have a story to tell. Posts range from scrutinies of world affairs to deeply personal essays.’

I like reading stories at Medium with a browser at their website and also with their app on phones and tablets. I will probably post more of my own there too.


The Flying Season

The flying ant ascends the title page.
I gently show it where the flyleaf is
and watch, in what’s near rapture, it engage
the letters there. I watch its white wings fizz

across bold letters black as its fierce face.
I wonder as it wanders on a word
can words abstract a share of pride of place
in soft sonatas I have almost heard

and then, on waking, dream I only dreamed?
The flying ant seeks purchase on the spine.
I lift the book and watch this small ant gleam
in this, its night of future auld lang syne.

Like books, the ant exists, is here right now.
Like ants, I fly. We don’t know why or how.

Trolling a Trawler

A flat fish, lost and lonesome
asks, ‘Oh, which way lies the sea?’
of a trawler’s mate so handsome
she believes his ‘follow me.’

She does. They reach The Anchor.
He is buying. She has beer.
‘That’s a chaser,’ he says handing her
a shot. Makes her feel queer.

It’s a routine they keep repeating
from Cheers to the Rose and Crown.
‘I am starved. I fancy eating
something fried,’ he says. She frowns.

The plump plaice keeps smiling flatly
the way most flounders do.
She finds the mate beguiling
but she drinks and lets him stew.

His own smile turns to grinning
then to yearning then to drool
as he fantasises winning
while his mind fries up a school

of flat fish like the flirty one
who keeps saying ‘bottoms up’
so frequently he spends a ton
of his earnings for the cups

of the wine and beer and whiskey
they keep drinking matching shots.
He’s lethargic. She’s more frisky
telling him, ‘I like you lots.’

She reminds him of a floozy.
He reminds her of a shark.
He is seeing double, boozy,
when they totter to the park.

He has not forgot his hunger.
She has not forgot her quest.
Right before he could have hung her
on his grill she has finessed.

She finds him dear without his trawler
but his will remains a wish.
No runner-walker-crawler
ever can drink like a fish.

He last sees her neatly diving,
swimming strongly to the sea.
She waves fins, says, ‘Keep driving
us extinct, you’ll be killing me.’

The Gander and the Gooseherd

‘Now I lie, my down to keep,’
thinks the gander, feeling cheap
but knowing that his goose is cooked
should Eddie Bauer get him booked,
‘I’m worth more,’ he says aloud.
‘You’d best keep me (I’m not proud)
as a watchdog, on the hoof,
for my down’s not waterproof.’

The man before him, not his Maker
but perhaps his undertaker,
hasn’t known a goose to talk
though he shares the gander’s walk,
both being waddlers on their flat
no-arched waders that go splat
when they hear the lunch bell ringing
like their hearts do to girls’ singing.

‘If I pluck you,’ says the man
‘and your mates, I’ll get a grand
or so they told me at the store.
They promised they’d let me explore
their catalogue, and I could buy
toys, so it’s right you die.’
This talking gives Goose time to soar.
He flies off laughing, ‘Never more.’

Bug is the New Thanksgiving Turkey

The turkey that lurked in the lee of the lemonade stand
through the hum of the summer, and most of the autumn, till now,
appears on my plate, and surprised — existentially here.
I’ve had a lot on my plate, but a livid, live turkey’s absurd.
Should not slaughter, dissection, and plucking precede being served
like a badminton cock, or a locker-room sock that has swerved
through the air with a flare lit to guide it. I guess I digress.
I open my eyes. Tom Turkey stands still on my plate
and for his conviction that we should, like he does, eat bugs
to stay lean, and less mean, and friendlier to our friends the birds.
He flies off and leaves me with crickets, ants, mealworms and beans.

Red Horse Dancing

The red horse dances hours in the sun
rehearsing two steps left, a bow, a stretch.
Three wading birds make no tracks as they walk
across dried mud. It’s hot in the Camargue.
I take the heat and watch the dancing horse.
The horse nor I will try to ford the mud.

There’s no one here, forever, in this heat.

Flamingos wade the water, browsing gunk,
and muskrats gnaw the cane grass. I am home.
‘The Black Book’ — Durrell’s premier published work —
lies where I dropped it, Tarquin’s tortured ‘lorve’
no match for red-horse dancing. Egrets fly
around flamingos, muskrats, horse and me.

I think how Durrell’s ‘Quinx’ taught me the tales
that brought me to this flat and open space:
gypsies in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer.
That town’s now filled with tourists, but out here
the red horse dances. Alan has come home.

I saw this horse, free and loose (across the mud flat of the Mudflat Bat), dancing by himself for at least an hour. I’m couldn’t really stay there forever, although I was tempted. I don’t think you can be home in any one place when you are an Earth Tourist.

Mudflat Bat

The crescent moon hangs south, above the sea.
Out here in the Camargue the mud-flat bat
flies higher now. The atmosphere, you see,
has lightened. Insects lift, ensuring that
the mud-flat bat’s own mouth and mine won’t splat.
He flew so low on Wednesday that I feared
I’d swallow him in darkness, furry-eared
and sonaring the night. It scared him too.
Mosquitoes, the ones who Wednesday rudely jeered,
become his meal, malaria his stew.

Another ‘postcard’ — this one from the Camargue, a place of magic for me and part of the marshy delta where the Rhône river spreads out south of Avignon. In July the Camargue is hot and as dry as Arizona; in the winter two-thirds of it is underwater, sometimes only a few centimetres deep. I wrote this there one night, two miles north of the Mediterranean, standing out on a mudflat edge watching this particular bat inveigling me to write about him, or to open my mouth.

Hominy Creek Wandering

The wind brings back the barking of dead dogs.
I hear among them yips of childhood friends
And their snarls as they protected us from threats
In woods now cut and on country roads now paved.

I watch the wind’s work shaping grass and trees
Into silhouettes of dogs known: pointy ears
And cold noses. It is strange how one supposes
These fleeting vivid images are not real.

© Alan Reynolds, 2012