What The Albino Catfish Had To Say About Love
(Barbels are the whiskery appendages around this animal’s mouth. ‘Skelf’ is the Scottish word for splinter)
Submerged under a million sheets of glass, you meet up in the botanic gardens edge past the Venus flytrap, stumble on the pipes of the watering system. Giant leaves hold quicksilver droplets. The humid air is bark infused and grips your faces. You seem to inhale skelfs. Swarms of Latin names hover on metal signs beside plants. A white shadow lopes from beneath the leaves, murk and pipework of the pond and softly oars the surface, with its moon gleam that pulls, with it’s downturned mouth not tripping it, with its barbels that taste, touch and smell in the dark, with its red tinted glasses. It’s been around a while. Experts lovingly construct and preserve taxonomies for every living thing. Years later she will remind you of the name you both gave this fish. Now, the air is bark infused and grips your faces. You inhale skelfs. One catches in your throat.
All The Teeth In The Sea
On the tip and sides of my tongue. Always there and I’m rarely aware of them, though in anxiety dreams they crumble like damp sand, pop out like ink cartridges. The front two, a pair of full sails, slice on like breezy ambassadors. Towards the back they are elephants feet, millstones built for the engine room. They are two half rings of standing stones crowding as they settle and lean. Jets of water forced through the gaps, pull on a seaweed of apple skin, sweet corn pericarp. The void where one was removed with a rocking motion beneath the moderate swell of gas and air. Three ground to flat stumps when the welding would no longer hold, then reefed with glue and porcelain. Some seem ready for scuttling, yellow as music from old piano keys, written on ancient scrolls.
The Mortuary Attendant Considers Change
Bored by his drab tuna mayonnaise sandwich, the body laid out on the slab. Heart attack or RTA or stab wound he won’t be saying a prayer for those in the long deep drawers. The runners squeal like slowing trains. Coffee from his flask washes down the last mouthful. He sees his hazy reflection against the ranks of metal doors, knows his cuboid capsule is booked in this death hotel where he is head receptionist. Add chilli and a few capers next time or why not crab or salami instead? Iced tea? Training is how to distract yourself from what is right in front of you. How you self mechanise. Flip, glib and distance are three of the stars he has pinned on his breast pocket. Tomorrow he’ll take his break. Eat and drink something similar with one hand scroll through Instagram with the other, trying to hitch somewhere, thumbing a heart.
Andy is an English teacher living in Brighton but originally from Oban. His poetry looks at the experience of living a long way from where he was brought up, and how this has shaped feelings and attitudes towards people and places, past and present.
His pamphlet, The Liquid Air, was published by Dreich in July 2021. He also has work published by Green Ink, Acid Bath, Nutmeg Magazine, The Common Breath Poetry Blog, The Poetry Map Of Scotland, and the Shoreham Wordfest Anthology and in two Dreich anthologies. He is currently editing his debut collection and writing poems about fish.