Lightweight Thor, struggling to finish
his pint, outwrestled by the cat. Off fishing
with Hymir for flatties and sperm whales.
Hymir picking brandlings from the trickling filter.
Thor lopping an ox-head in the cow-pat field.
They lowered their rods in the abyssopelagic,
opposite peg 88. Hymir, bored, nowt biting.
Thor looks across, excited – feels like he’s got
summat on. Churning water, biceps straining,
rod bending like a paperclip – out comes
the grandad eel, spitting venom and ichthyotoxic
blood. World coming apart at its distant edges.
Thor dragging him up the bank. Seas falling
from the world-cliff into space. Thor raising
brutal Mjǫllnir. Bridge toppling into the river.
Thor bringing down the batterer – piss-taking
Hymir cuts the six-pound line. Jörmungandr
coils to his tumbling depths, and the earth stops
shaking: Hymir stroking his cat like Blofeld.
Thor jumping on his hat with bloody feet.
His day will come, when he’ll hoist out
the Earth-Girdler from the pond by Carr Side Farm,
and bray his head in with the hammer.
Middle-Earth quaking to wreckage around him.
Rivers boiling off to Hel. The walls of the borstals
tumbling down, releasing Wolfie, Spanner
and Puttoc, /ˈstiːvn ˌiːlʌɪ/, the bairns of Loki.

‘Jörmungandr’ is a rendering of the Old Norse poem Hymiskvida, in which Thor goes fishing with the giant Hymir and inadvertently almost destroys the world. This myth merges with memories of my teenage eel-fishing expeditions in the former Yorkshire Fen. Jörmungandr is the world serpent of Norse mythology, whose unravelling will precipitate Ragnarök. The poem is taken from my sequence /ˌiːlʌɪ/, which is rooted in my experiences with the European eel.

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