Peninsular Poetry: “Against Gregariousness”

This is an occasion feature on Peninsular Thinking during April, which is National Poetry Month. I’ve been posting snippets and links to the complete text of poems that randomly strike my fancy, drawing mostly on the Poetry Foundation’s website. I realized today that we are rapidly running out of NPM (where did April go?), so I’d better get busy.

Here’s a poem by Clive James (1939 – ), an Australian writer, who “Like most writers who work hard at putting sentences together in proper paragraphs, I hate seeing bits and pieces being torn loose …” So, sorry about taking a snippet from your wonderfully descriptive poem about ocean life (and all it represents in our psyches), Mr. James, but I don’t want to violate any copyrights. I encourage readers to click on the link to read the whole poem … especially the end, which I totally relate to on many days, feeling rather lobsterish.

Against Gregariousness – By Clive James

The krill, as singletons almost not there
But en masse like a cloud of diamond dust
Against the sunlit flood of their ballroom ceiling,
Are scooped up by the basking shark’s dragline
Or sucked in through the whale’s drapes of baleen—
A galaxy absorbed into a boudoir …

Make your bones in a shark family if you can.
If not, be tricky to locate for sheer
Translucence, a slick blip that will become—
Beyond the daisycutter beaks and jaws—
A lobster fortified with jutting eaves
Of glazed tile, like the castle at Nagoya
Hoisted around by jacks and cranes, an awkward
Mouthful like a crushed car. That being done,
Crawl backwards down a hole and don’t come out.

From the March 2011 edition of Poetry Magazine

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