from the other side of the shark*

1 May 2014

for B.R. Dionysius

cut with postmodern wit
i can carry the million pound tag
that will not release me
back into the wild

draw your outline on the glass
as you decipher the self
(in formaldehyde)
to witness again
how your mother pulled the teeth
you never knew she had
until you found them in your chest

the animal
you chose not
to cut in half
is the animal
known to leave
half an animal
in your hands

did we float
in this publicly listed company
along with other shareholders
who invest in the potential
for our death

this animal ←
was born when a photograph
could only persuade us
in the negative

so step back in the water

lean forward in the polaroid

your trial bite is free
unusual for a killing
to be launched
immediately

a bite made
so gently the victim
is unaware

as a survivor
you came ashore to describe
how you were bumped
by something →

← taken aback
by the sight of blood
streaming from a dozen incisions
harp notes on the skin
demonstrating how a life
could have been
unbuttoned

so step out of the water

many attacks are nothing more

( ) than a →

catch/
hold & release/
exercise/

your childhood never knew
the colour in a polaroid
would not last

this is a notable exception to there

a moment we re/hearsed
that cannot take its big idea to the grave
until either the lungs or the laughter
subside

this line was thrown out
because it was not needed
because one nightmare is efficient enough
energy equal to the substantiation of itself
fuel in a vein
pumping liquid cinema
into a lonely tank
rivets scalded to pinched sleep
where images combust in a rib brazier
intent on self defence
against our own cold thought

drifting in our craft
you offer the assurance
that with fourteen lines
you can pull in sharks
by the metre

on the fourth day
the lines yielded a large tyger
which you towed ashore
and opened on the beach
belt-tight in an underglow of rutile glare
poorly shielded by wind-shook hessian
as you felt the bulging stomach
you went cold as i ran
as you ran your hands
ran my hands over a smooth dome
→ obviously
the head of the unfortunate

you have altered the head
by not noticing
it’s there

you have altered the head
by not noticing
its face

this great blunt head
almost square edged
attacking a bait at speed
the teeth unmistakable
oblique blades deeply notched
rearward and cockscomb like
the flesh untethered from the bone
salted blue in a myth is deep fear
catapulted powerless to its red end

this great blunt head
almost square edged
abates its attack at speed
in its current life
unrolled over clean cartilage
is the physical prayer
is the swim in an uneven hunt
to bite off hands together in pairs
in communion in communion
incommunicado

your head was dismantled
by the fishbone
dreaming in your throat

every hour awash from every hour
the tide nothing but a broom
to sweep its infinite floor

items to recover
from the recovered animal
include

a lump of coal

a tattooed arm with rope around its wrist

a handbag containing a watch in perfect time

you have been sent here
to pay excise on lost memory

you are the only live bearer in this sentence

given the dubious honour
of evaluating every letter
to redecorate irrational probability
with the fresh stomach contents
from one suggestion

such an animal
is not easily brought
to the weighing station
much simpler to send it
to the auction house
to let an adman’s account
swallow gold value added as fillings
to a theoretic smile

white belly to white belly
position switched you stand above
lie below your uncut gnathic beast
held palm to sweated palm
its skin again the handle to an art
taut same-kawa on a Japanese sword
as sharp as sharper than mutual emulation
the price too to not cut it in half
to see ourselves in the same body
on this same line

we are hooks set back to back
only to have our animal escape
by straightening one hook
and breaking off the other

our kiss can only consist of teeth

we circle in the moment before
our spiracles ventilate cold steam
unthought through necessary instinct

our eyes will be reported as being
‘gleaming black’ protected by objective spirits
living inside transparent white eyelids
which will slam shut across our vision
when we launch the attack
on each other

this is the only known instance
where two lives were lost
in one shark

the physical death
of impossibility
in the mind
of someone living

in water
the shadows are too skilled
to pay their ransom

this broken ocean
will push these broken eyes
to the unfixed surface
of our last eye
in space

i was not said to myself
because you named me
without saying anything


*Or: remembering when B.R. Dionysius & Damien Hirst (both) wearing sharkskin suits met in the bar
of a luxury hotel – clinked glasses – but said nothing because they (both) knew Vic Hislop was still out
fishing.

Note: some passages, phrases and words were transcribed, copied or adapted from Fishes of Australia
by E.M. Grant (E.M. Grant Pty Ltd, Scarborough, 1987) and Guide to Fishes by E.M. Grant (Department
of Harbours and Marine, Brisbane, 1982).

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