Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Under the Surface

in the ocean
a story squirmed on a hook.
I tried to reel it in
struggling to the surface,
but my calamari twisted
just out of reach -
not yet ready to loosen its hold to life.

I wanted to taste the sea,
smell the sweetness
of lemons on fried fish,
I wanted most things
a writer wants
when an idea plays with them,
dangling wantonly,
before diving into the depths of the ocean.

In aggravation
I tried to pin it down with words
and pull it in,
my monster.
Its slippery skin
refused the invitation,
wriggling in meters,
drumming its eight legs to the beat of the ocean.

Squid, octopus, monster of the deep
opened an enormous maw
and sucked me in
until there was nothing left
inky paper
and stories
deep in the ocean.

 A.J. Ponder - author page

It seems Lorraine is right - I often cannot seem to help but want my poems to tell a story.  And the sea is definitely a recurring theme.  Maybe it's because it's so close, breathing in and out like an old friend, but more likely it is the fear - the "Here be Dragons" marked on the borders of maps; the giant squid, the octopus my father caught that tugged him around several bays in the sounds; the sharks; the stingrays, so silent and dark, like barbed shadows in the water... or maybe it is simply an inability to see clearly through to the sands and stones below.  I'm leery of the "big-bath", have been since I was old enough to speak.  Now don't get me wrong, I do sometimes go swimming, rational fears and irrational fears not being the same thing.  But there is something enticing and frightening about the ocean, something almost alive, so that even if only the friendliest minnows lived inside, I think there would be the fear of not coming back. And still the catch fascinates us, we are happy to sit in boats all day with a line over the side, trying to catch the big one, the one that got away.  For writers it is much the same, the patience, the work, the hope, the one that got away, and the deep dark fears that we tease out from as deep a water as we can find.

Click here for more links to fairytale poetry, some mine, and some from other great authors.


  1. Love the last stanza, very strong.

  2. Cheers, I'm rather fond of the end myself, even if I've had other feedback that it's depressing - I don't find it that way. So anyway, thanks.

  3. I don't think that ending is depressing at all - I think it's wonderful!

    I almost drowned in the sea in 1989, though cephalopods were not involved, so I have at least as cautious an attitude to the sea as you do - though that might also be the result of having read John Wyndham's "The Kraken Wakes" at an impressionable age.

  4. Tim, I really appreciate your comment. While most of my poetry isn't cheery as such I don't like to think of it as depressing.

    To think that your life could have been cut short by the sea - that definitely would make anybody wary after all drowning is always a real danger -- although John Wyndham, Lovecraft, Tolkein, the guy who wrote jaws, and others probably have alot to answer for in terms of the less rational fears about creatures of the deep.