The Ugly

I love you as I love the Hatchetfish,
the Allmouth, the Angler,
the Sawbelly and Wolf-eel,
the Stoplight Loosejaw, the Fangtooth;

all our sweet bathypelagic ones,
and especially those too terrible or sly
even for Latin names; who saddle
their menfolk to the vagina’s hide

like scorched purses, stiff with seed;
whom God built to trawl
endless cathedrals of darkness,
their bland eyes gaping like wounds;

who would choke down hunger itself,
had it pith and gristle enough;
who carry on their foreheads
the trembling light of the world.


What was his name again – that fisher lad
dragged under with his fankled nets –
that one the fishes hooked and filleted?
I often wonder if the irony of it all consoled him somewhat
as he left off from kicking against the dark, and drowned:
not (as his mother always feared) to be lost at sea, but found.

Tell me you’ve never seen a hangman hung;
nor laughed at the dying tenor, topped by his own song;
nor stumbled across a baker’s corpse, rising like dough;
nor wept with the weeping ferryman while Charon
gummed his coin. Friends, we’re all done for by the things we do.
If I were a farmer now, I’d shrink from the ripening grain.

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