Andy Powell: Jazz Standards
The sharks keep after your ever heavier boat
and you spend your nights hammering away
at their amorphous heads – anything
to keep them out of sight. You haul your nets
during the calm and chuck back the wrong catch
– the sand eels, kitefins and Pacific barreleyes –
to winnow your heap of cod, which amasses slowly:
it looks like one huge, sharp and gaping jaw,
but you know this tired deception. The waves rush
at the edges of your vision; your quick whip
is really a sludging putter.
Or else you glimpsed me anxiously pacing the long cement docks
and pivoted your engines on a wet dime,
spun the cap to your final bottle of Scotch and made for Japan.
A Spanish Man Writes an Ode to Death
You’ve sat in the dregs of my coffee all day
holding your breath, but you have no breath.
Until I tip my mug back and spill you into me,
you’ll have no lungs. And I won’t do that, surely.
The black heat wraps the backs of your knees
which bead white bubbles of sweat – another
of your milky tricks, of density, of surface tension.
You shame me here, in front of men,
where I’ve come to waste my every pensioned day,
but my will grows stronger, blacker, free
and you look simple enough to me (dumb me).
I pay up for the both of us, an extra few
for Pedro to leave the evening’s glass of beer
by my cold body (I don’t stomach change so easily),
and swallow you in a single, pallid gulp.
I’m no longer worried about silly old me.
Man, quit asking so many questions, and listen.
He’s good, yeah, he’s good,
but good is like a wailing baby
without a fucking clue as to why it wails –
he’s ignorant, like you should be, of good or bad.
Like a hooker looking over her perfect body
his cheeks will burst before he thinks, yeah, that’s good.
Andy Powell is currently en route from Edinburgh to Boston, having just finished an MLitt at St. Andrews.