Untangling Stickleback Stanzas

stickleback_2

Its noble claim:
this book contains
the best
contemporary English poems.
It had to be worth a look.

Clipped,
lyrical, precisely cryptic, cryptically vague,
scissor-clever; most impressive, and yet
beneath the gleam of spit
I sensed laboured hints of shifty contrivance;
a vexing, pretentious lilt,
like a mirror betraying a conjuring trick

or paint
patiently brushed over each

perceived weakness. until
what was 
conceived;
that which was described in the
first instance;
a unique vision, trapped in innocence as if
by a planned camera click, becomes
lost,
the picture perverted,
titian hair, simpering skin, gone,
bloom faded,
eyes which blurted blowsy secret
inadvertently conveyed,
are buried, flesh, spirit and intent veiled
beneath a fabrication
of neatly picked, broken bones…

or maybe she was born that way;
pickled by the juice of the womb.

and though it’s exultant,
something is strangled, something strained,
something writhes behind the swaggering frame;
Swallowing sod, the beast sighs, and none can say
which tale is more wild, which picture more tame.

Yet
their confidence-stripping,
pricked puffball trip
infected me,
ripping away my certainty.
Like a pip that aches to grow roots, I
ached to write red-razor lines,
so I imitated a contemporary English gait,
throwing metronomes at roller coasters,
watching them fly and sink,
cutting holes in each swing, creating
meaningful, senseless phrases and filling my pages with gaping spaces and juxtaposing tones and textures and experimenting and seeking and finding and keenly recycling incomprehensible disused words and musing and using and boldly misusing and cruising and crisscrossing mimsy and monster material concepts and minimising and absurdly seeking to decode the trends and wooing the trends and fighting the trends and clashing and buckling and trashing the trends and trying and to stew fresh new trends and describing in cunningly twisted code designed to leave the reader scratching his head failing to understand the message
that
the quickness of the hand deceives the eye.

I curled slick verse around my tongue
till it curdled, making me sick.

Lost in the picking
ticking
stickleback trap
of a mythical English mist
I lay down to rest
and as I slept my stanzas untangled.
I resolved to be free of my poked faux-poetry;
the land that raised me will not define me;
tonight I lay my freckled head
on the temperate, hybrid zone
between abstract abyss
and level reality.

To paraphrase:

I stretch my legs on an English lawn
as I sip my sweet  English tea,
but no English dawn will find me reborn
as an English contemporary;
this English rose grows alien thorns
so I’ll stick with writing like me

tiddly-pom.

©Jane Paterson Basil

8 thoughts on “Untangling Stickleback Stanzas

    1. I think it’s best to. I thought I might learn something from that book of modern English poetry, but I didn’t have a clue what half the poems were trying to say. Too clever by half, as my mum would say 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I admit that I edit my poems before posting them, but there is a limit. If I was making cheesecake, I might give it some fruity garnish, but I wouldn’t disguise it to look like steak au poivre. It’s often the most obscurely worded stuff that gets the most ‘likes’ on blogs? I wonder if folk genuinely like them, or if they want people to think they know what the poet is going on about… I’m probably a bad person for questioning their motives 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the exact same way! I’m like, either they’re all smarter than me… or they just like the way overblown, ponderous words sound and don’t really care about the MEANING. They’re probably a mixture of both, haha

        Liked by 1 person

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