by Peter Goldsworthy
You are the eighth
of the seven seas,
a shrivelled fragmented ocean
dispersed into bottles, kegs, casks,
warm puddles in lanes behind pubs:
a chain of ponds.
Also a kind of spa,
a very hot spring:
medicinal waters to be taken
before meals, with meals, after meals,
for gout, dropsy, phlegm,
bad humours, apoplexy, rheumatism
and chief cause of all the same.
At best you make lovely mischief:
wetter of cunts,
drooper of cocks.
At worst you never know when to stop:
wife-beater, mugger of innocents,
chief mitigating circumstance
for half the evil in the world.
All of which I know too well
but choose to ignore,
remembering each night only this advice:
never eat on an empty stomach;
for always you make me a child again ---
and for one happy hour very happy ---
sniffing out my true character like a dog:
my Sea of Tranquillity,
always exactly shallow enough to drown in.
Last updated February 21, 2023