by Joe Bishop
When hailstones banged stained glass
When castrati trilled on spasmodic panes
When eunuchs cracked and branched out
When antlers flashed and cathedral collapsed
When timpani thundered undergrowth
When bleating tritones corralled oaks from earth
When airy mares rammed soppy rafters
When hurtling hooves kicked can-can crescendos
When spans of cloud came galloping past
When the storm crowned in surround sound
I strapped on my Strat and hammered-home phrases
From abandon all hope to each man kills the thing
Then discord segued to bridges and roofs reunited
And chainsaws slashed billets from fallen timber
And maniac neighbours mended flat fences O
But her keen over siren or angel picked my ossicles
There was no steep rock she was feckless at climbing
We bathed in live streams before Satan snuffed her
After Bishop’s “The Fish”
Drafted for battles he fought,
the fish won against men and,
now, hanging by lip corner
from her hook, half in water,
nearing half of her century,
he awaited award of rubber’s
bash against bloodied gills.
Awed by what light caught,
she, an orphan of the world,
stared noninvasively inside
averted saucers and decided.
She held her overdue veteran,
declared a vision of victory,
let her spangled trophy live.
Runic bone horn
Atop Thor calved
Out of Greenland
Adrift in the harbour
Or capstone breaching
By the thundering Jesus
Or Enki shedding scales
Or divided Viking eroding
Or Tiamat primed to founder
To shine with a wound in June
To hiss and growl abroad in bits
To drown like a whimper in brine
The Marquis penned notre monde.
God produced its pigment.
I tangoed with the tongue
of a young Parisienne hors-champ.
I drank Cocteau’s encre
avec adrénaline, butchered
poésie autographique pour moi.
I mouthed how an auteur reveals
the fourth wall with easter eggs.
I penciled in Artaud’s horrorshow,
chiaroscuro of craggy cheek,
albedo of temps profond
framed in the strata of a second.
I developed a watering palate,
gorging on vérité of La pelle,
on grainy sulfur of guerrilla docs
until that boom mic shadow
napalmed my mise-en-scène.
My cutting room floor mapped
our chromatophores of limbo.
My Sisyphean climb mimed
deviations from the Method.
My Brando hammed a glib klieg.
My fin de siècle faded to noir.
It doesn’t take Tiresias to tell my giant squid
Shall goad again. I’ve yet to span the graceful
Leap while tides splash brine over rock-face,
Never earned urchins or orbited coral wrecks.
O gulls I can’t forget / O inner Elijah gasping
O dry pen drowning in a chamber / O temple
Wrought for surrender / O king near rapture
O Osiris branching a new tentacle / O Jezebel
Unearthed from the lunar uterus / O driftwood
Beeching to find itself the globster / O flotsam
Pointing to a captain brought down by horns.
What bioluminescent saga hangs in suspense?
What mermaid merits sprawl from my tongue!
What beast has traced its birth back to this lip!
Cast away King amps natives, erects church,
Wires the woods, electrifies his English,
Raises rye, divines springs, ribs wolves, reels fish,
Stranded on land afar, allegedly searched.
Meantime the prince shocks, skull-fucks King’s wife,
Stuffs Mum’s nostrils with balls of bloody snot,
Whelms current heirs in line with little thought,
Conquers fiefdom and flock with fork and knife.
The shining moggy’s yet to use utensils.
The sharpest shark never reckoned to drown
His brother’s sucklings. Uncle earns the crown
And bows from masses lacking his credentials.
Joe Bishop’s work has appeared in Riddle Fence, Plenitude Magazine, In/Words Magazine & Press and The New Quarterly. He lives in Newfoundland.