The leaves are simmering, Foaming at the lip, Boiling over. They froth like the wreckage of tide on sand, But are soft like flour through a sieve. My hand’s ear touches the soft outline Of bowl, made in flour on the table, The missed eclipse, the circle of drift.
My roof is cast afloat And my bed sent tumbling Into the sea. My dreams are of oars, sails pillowing like puff pastry Or the starched caps of sisters on the ward. Punched straight full of air, Stiff with nothing.
My duvet is a bright soufflé Of billow and blust and My breath is heavy and slow.
My hand’s ear hears the white eclipse Of spilt salt, An arc of superstition From shoulder to floor.
The great dental scurf of your molars trawls lichen and krill and moss. I am used to the dough smell, the tired yeast, the fragrant fart of seaweed fermenting, the Diaspora of scales flitting by my feet, trying the edges in tired waves, again and again and again. They make sounds like breath, And stir a memory of leaves.
I used to climb your teeth, Go rock pooling in their Rotten crevices, Tread carefully about the yellowing edges, Slip on green dredges of plaque. I have no time for that now.
Ha-noi Your name is for Junk ships and the plunk Of sinking pots Into water To out-pour The overflow.
In the monsoon cabbage leaves drift like petticoat flotsam against your knees. Rotten fish flow through the streets. The power cut Leaves roads Black and wet The drains Full of paper And pulp. We eat soft glass noodles Limp by the light of A halogen lamp, Haunted by the Call of the siren And the rasp Of the water-logged Engine Gargling through the water.
Ha-noi, Soft sound plugged, Garbled, Pitched high, Like the staccato rickets Of geese Honking At the moon Just as sensible And slow moving As Oriental porn.
An alphabet of fence posts, Tallies, Scores. An alphabet of Pick up sticks, Daft.
Ha-noi, Your name is for Whale guts, Goat’s blood And rice wine, The chew of the White intestinal Noodle, The hum of The cockroach Numbed by diazepam, Under feeble bulbs As dark as the Moon glow. Ha-noi.
I sit inside you At the heart of your lake At the arch of your neck In the dome of your throat Basilica cupped And ribbed in the High reach of your diaphragm That touches with gargantuan love The Delphic breach of your pelvis.
And I do not know what to do.
Ha-noi, I am prey to the curious lunar tug of your sleep patterns, have forgotten day and night. know only tides spelt out by the starry phosphoresce of shrimp and sea horses. And the tuba buzz of your snore.
In your sleep, Your are one big wheezing harmonica The great bulge of your B-flat stomach Burps Yiddish protuberances, Vov, Kof, Yud, Daled, Giml. A phlegm ridden alphabet Of whale parps. And I dream of organ grinders, Hot water bottles, Tough rubber And the London Underground. Captain Mannering’s marching band Red faced, ready for a nap.
Ha-noi I miss the earth, I cannot remember a time before motion.
Whales used to be land mammals (they, like the Modernists and the Vorticists before them decided to exchange “the one ELEMENT for the OTHER. The MORE against the LESS abstract.”) They wanted to be in the sea.
Their closest living relative is the Hippopotamus. Some whales still have four limbs, complete with digits, that they keep hidden within their bodies. Perhaps one day, when the seas begin to bubble and dry up they will peel back their skin and clamber back to land using these helpful, concealed arms and legs.
Whales are made of blubber, a four chambered heart and flukes. They are very poetic animals and hear sound through their throat. It has been known for a whale to behave suggestively, this generally concerns the blow hole. Just don’t tell the plankton.
A Poem by Hilaire Belloc
The Whale that wanders round the Pole Is not a table fish. You cannot bake or boil him whole Nor serve him in a dish;
But you may cut his blubber up And melt it down for oil. And so replace the colza bean (A product of the soil).
These facts should all be noted down And ruminated on, By every boy in Oxford town