This remarkable collaboration had its origins when John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, two very different poets who had long admired and enjoyed each other's work, discovered by chance that the new poems they were working on shared a preoccupation with the sea. Marine brings together those poems and others written since, all dealing with the sea in its many moods and weathers, with people's relationship to and exploitation of their marine environment, from the Indian Ocean to the shores of the Atlantic. The two poets' highly distinctive voices, while drawing on a dazzling variety of forms and sources, complement each other in a powerful counterpoint.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Alan Jenkins is a poet whose works include Drunken Boats; Harm, which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection; Revenants; and A Shorter Life. He is deputy editor and poetry editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. John Kinsella is a poet whose works include Armour, Jam Tree Gully, and Sack. He is editor and author of anthologies and works of criticism, fiction, and poetry. He is an extraordinary fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University.
Read an Excerpt
By Alan Jenkins, John Kinsella
Enitharmon PressCopyright © 2015 Alan Jenkins & John Kinsella
All rights reserved.
RAZORSHELL WRECK ON BARLEYCOVE BEACH ON THE EVE OF ALL SAINTS' DAY
A small wreck is a large wreck when a species is in
undertow and wave-sets soothe and stress between
the rise & fall, the artwork re-inscribed in sand which
gradually wash away, the full weight of the Atlantic.
So attuned, so sensitive, so determined to pull
themselves down –
foot anchored hydraulic pull to start again down down
razorshell feedertube sucking low-tide sweet and sour
into the glasses-case body, enrapture, huddling
snug against a cut-throat world's predators, the larger
making small changes massive, prescribe low-tide
test hope as St Jude's Day swell ripped the world
apart, a mass
of brethren exposed to make detritus of selves, the
of origins and excrescence sharply in bands of shifting
dozens scattered on this earthquake beach, this
harbour wave jewel
where corpses cut bare feet to bone or sinew, ghouls
make sense of spring-water bottles and plastic ropes
'best kept secrets'. So many starved here, and
discrete sub-fences that will briefly hold the residue of
a history divined in shell, its dead reflections,
vaguely perfect faultlines, what fate saw from below
THE LITTLE CRUISER CHUGGED PAST FAVERSHAM
The little cruiser chugged past Faversham, upstream
on the Swale;
Diesel, bilge and backwash and a stink of adolescent
Filled the wheelhouse as I ran her shattered bows
into the shale.
'Hurrumph.' The tannoy screeched and rasped and
spluttered into life
And from it came a voice I knew: 'You boy! Get it cut!
Or – or –'
(His hand had gripped a hank of hair): 'Or give me that
That long-dead master-mariner! So hugely-eared
He could have gull-winged down the rope-hung
Who growled his orders through a nicotine-flecked
Who barked at us through yellow teeth clenched on
Now scowled at me and grunted, 'And how is our little
Of Babylon? I've got your measure, boy, I know your
Remember summer evenings with that stink at ebb
and flood –
Not of post-match changing rooms, stale jock-straps,
But rotting gulls and fish-heads on the bottle-littered
Where treasure-twitchers picked through tidal
leavings, pungent silt? –
The sewer-sump that was the Thames, the bilge of
The greenish wood at waterline, froth that factories
I've seen you hoist a tattered sail, jib and tack and navigate
Among the shoals and sheltered moles owned by the drinking
In the stews of Notting Dale, in Portobello's narrow strait;
I've seen you search midshipmen's souls while eyeing up their
I've seen you come about and heave to in the chill of early
As you used to do, a motley crew, at Wapping Stair when day
After shipping grog all night in Muldoon's with the bo'sun,
Mick, and Kydd, first mate; after trying tricks you learnt in
Down below with Moll or Kate. Remember all the knocks and
You took in bare-knuckle fights behind the boating sheds?
Remember when those big pressed men, your shipmates,
grabbed their cocks
And tossed themselves off, leering, to your cheering in the
The harbour at Rangoon! Indecision on the poop!
The sea roads not taken! And that ship of fools, your little
True north, Trafalgar, trade routes, polar circumnavigation –
Things that might have made a man of you! Your birthright
and your nation!
Today at fifty-five you feel your daemon has been
The time-wasting, skirt-chasing years when nothing
Everything you are and care for standing ready to be
Like Ark Royal and half the fleet. The sea-roads not
The shadows on the wave-ridged, gull-flecked,
The captains and the shipmates gone, the quiet
Now I see your flag flying at half-mast, and wonder
The burden of their memory, who "must not
Or of the knowledge, late-acquired, that you yourself
Or is it that you think of England, of her historic
And of her people fed on lies and lotteries and sex,
The shit-showers of stupidity that rain down on her
Now England loves, when brought low by defeat or
death or fright
Not quiet consolation in the watches of the night
But to make an exhibition of herself when she's tight;
She loves the march-past (rather than the past), the
And flowers on coffins, the weeping and the body-
The raw emotion and the chat-show cheer, the awful
Of slappers, slags; the rolling English drunkard and
English tongue. Who now expects that, as once at
Every man shall do ...? Who now can recall its fulgor?'
Then he faded, with the shore where he'd tarnished
at quiet anchor,
With the wharves and sheds, the rigs and derricks
and the tanker
He had captained, and my 'shipmates' shouting
ON ALFRED WALLIS'S BARQUE WITH A MAN AT THE WHEEL ON A STORMY SEA (1936–38)
This is what I dream, inland,
Perched on the hillside, leeward,
Bush volatile and the heat peeling
Away layers. A grey-blue world,
Ocean and a sky that is an ocean
As well. A three-masted barque
And a man on the verge of fifty
At the wheel: not struggling,
And too sure of himself, taking
For granted a lifetime of skill,
His crew all below deck, un-
Wanted. I have been compiling
Stories of the oceans. Waves
Are heavy and break the gunwales,
The sails well-sewn but ghostly.
This quasi-nightmare I cannot
Wake from I will steer through.
And, in truth, it's not grey-blue
Nor steely, and has no colour:
Salt and krill in the eyes,
Night and storm blindness.
I'll – we'll – get through,
But what landfall awaits me,
And who will be there to greet us?
NOW THE GREY-GREEN BRINY SLOPPED THROUGH MY HULL
Now the grey-green briny slopped through my hull
And sluiced my planking, stained with the blood
And rotgut I'd puked up; strafed by a single gull,
Like a hulk when high water creeps up the mud
To lap around it where it lies, I awoke
But the steering gear had gone, the starboard stays
Were rusted through, dark rot patched the varnished
Of my timbers, the log was missing several torn-off days ...
The louring sky, the sudden squalls dismayed me,
The jagged lee-shore off my starboard beam.
And that long-familiar, long-lost voice belayed me:
'Are you the same suburban boy whose dream
Was not to set sail in Gypsy Moth III
From Greenwich to Durban via Finisterre
With Sir Francis Chichester, to master the sea,
But to take wine with Byron, opium with Baudelaire?
Look at you now! Your verse bobs like a yacht
In heavy seas, it veers and bobs and weaves
As if the helmsman were unfit, a soak, a sot;
In its wake the wash an empty vessel leaves ...
"England expects" is the signal that one sends
But what you expect is somehow to stay afloat
And somehow not to have to make amends
For what can't be undone, for the little boat
You sailed on the municipal pond, and sank,
For the endless rounds that killed your friends,
For those who were abandoned on the bank –
For all who loved you, and met watery ends!' ...
TWO BLACK BOATS SAILING UP DARK GREY WAVES (AFTER ALFRED WALLIS)
Dark grey waves take you nowhere
fast and deep you're going, have gone
where you come from, a driving force
a weighty concern, never conducive
to arrival or departure for all their pace
and compulsion, record of signature lost,
signing-off your warrant your papers
as fingerprints rub off, rope burnt,
surging, tilting and hauling: expectation,
certainty; the stomach a crystal ball
of swell to slosh so persistently,
predictably at a pitch around the ball
of our planet: a coastal cliff or beckoning
mass of rock just surfaces to dash against,
keeping bow and sprit aligned to enter
to leave to confront be pursued but show
no better side to overhang, the ledge:
what's not dust is liquid is mud:
in all seas experience sails instinct,
learning, superstition, the tying-off
of knots and trimming of sails
(I've had my encounters) stretched
between boats too close in fate in fact,
black with shades and those shadows,
shadows of those bruising waves.
THE JAGGED LEE-SHORE LOOMED
The jagged lee-shore loomed. Had I picked up a dose
Of trouble from that pick-up in the last port of call –
And was that Porto, Portobello or Porthcawl?
What did it matter? The two of us had not been
I'd hoped for so long to be, once more, under sail
And tacking into harbour, rich with smells of rope and
But I was not alone, the air I sniffed was stale
No-air, sweat-and-tobacco, drinkers' breath – a bar!
One in which I'd often had to navigate
The reef, the rock that should be off the stern
(The stews of Wapping, Portobello's narrow strait!)
And learned to expect the unexpected turn
Of events, of the tide. ... 'Those nights are gone;
You've been in the wind and rain of your inner
For so long, you've barely noticed what's been going
I'd say it was time you got your act together.
You never understood that it ain't no good ...'
This was a woman's voice, with words that flayed me:
'Whenever you go out, in your little craft of wood,
Your little craft of words, it will be me you hear
Reminding you of how you scorned your mother
And all the others who loved you – God knows why –
It will be me reminding you that you will die,
It will be me reminding you of everything you fear....'
ON ALFRED WALLIS'S BLACK STEAMSHIP (1934–38)
What blackness holds the white steam
In its black funnel; heavy, dense
Smoke out of the funnel, the sea taking
On the ironclad character, bearing its weight,
Its progress? I am reminded of the metal
Fire-fighter's tank my grandfather
Of the forests left to my father in his will.
Metal tank strapped to the back, webbed
To cotton and flesh, black rubber hose,
Brass nozzle, pressured by pumping
To spray a mist, or squirt a jet. Maybe
A language of boiler rooms and steam
Ships? To fight forest-fires, dozens
Of men formed a phalanx, each watching
The exposed side of their neighbour,
Watery shields melded. Futile as walls
Of flame bore down. Inside the furnace,
The charring, the black residue. Fire
On everyone's lips as the southern half
Of a country smoulders, burns. Newspapers
And amateurs record images. The steam-
Ship ploughs through contrary but willing
Waters. The terracotta of ancient fires
Spread around: a definitive presence.
THE RAVISHED HEART
My sad heart slobbers on the poop,
My heart all black-tobacco-blue;
They chuck at it their gobs of gloop,
My sad heart slobbering on the poop –
Under the piss-taking of this crew
Who laugh themselves to death it's true
My sad heart slobbers on the poop,
My heart all black-tobacco-blue.
Their pissy little jokes have fucked it.
In the wheelhouse, carved with a spike
They left the legend, squaddie-like:
Jenkins loves my cock, and sucked it.
Abracadabra! Waves, conduct it
To be washed (my heart, I mean); it's like,
Their pissy little jokes have fucked it.
When they have chewed their baccy dry
What shall we do, my heart, old shag?
There'll be Bacchic hiccups by and by
When they have chewed their baccy dry;
I'll heave up my guts, sky-high,
Me, if it doesn't make them gag.
When they have chewed their baccy dry,
What shall we do, my heart, old shag?
I thought I saw one being buffeted and tossed
In dark surf on a beach near Geraldton. Fifteen,
And skindiving with a mate under a full moon,
Where silt in the water was the only illumination
In seas choppy over reef; bands of ribbonweed
Crossing ankles above flippers filling my head
With seasnakes, I propelled myself back to shore,
Knocked about by mid-sized breakers carving
The beach, snorkel, mask and buoyant skin,
Leaden middle a fulcrum for surf. A lady lifted
Like Marianne out of the foam, but washed
Of tricolours and with a split that drew her
Eyes apart, her breasts ghostly and smooth
Against the wormy wood of her torso, splintering
Sand and phosphorescence. I reached out for her,
Trident in hand – an offering or parody – but
She flinched back into the sea and I stumbled,
James Bond pantomime, Fool of the Deep,
Mask sloshing behind the glass that fogs,
That you clear with spit, and Marianne's breasts
Out of reach, so treacherous free of their bondage
Below bowsprit, de-masted wreck flailing
On aquarium floor, bust carved out of air
And soil and forests of France, ship gone down
Unrecorded, haunting as violence and sex.
Aged four, I was hypnotized by swirls
Of white foam in the waves, their film of slime;
By fronds of weed that swayed in rock-pools, girls'
Drifting hair ... What's he doing all this time? –
The words my mother called out, ten years on,
As I sat tugging at my raw, stiff, straining cock
(The bathwater going cold, the light already gone),
Remembering that strange girl leaning on a rock,
Pulling up her jeans – the sudden, startling blur
Against the pale skin of her narrow thighs,
A pointed dark isosceles of fur;
Still in store, the unrepeatable surprise,
All that lay out of sight, beyond, inside:
Slithery bivalve, quick-darting fishes, salt tide.
ON THE FIGUREHEAD OF THE OLD VICTRY (A PAINTING BY ALFRED WALLIS)
From memory, what will be will bee,
Effigy reaching out to the pale swell
Nursing the great three-master warship
Tethered below an empty sky. Description
Fills imagination of where figurehead
Reaches, portending layers of gundecks,
Bowsprit that would lift into heavens: nexus
Between eras of defence and conquest.
No seraphim and cherubim, but one
Fellow reaching down through surface.
But even a gently surging harbour sea
Close to shore holds the vast weight
Of world on shoulders, sea legs on land,
House swaying like a hammock.
Company? Flags stiff with the breeze.
And there's nothing naive about fate:
When the sails are packed away
The rigging plays the weight of vastness.
Figurehead reaching out with stick arms,
Its posture male, as if the loss of women
Is too hard to trawl from the deep,
Murmuring out of the escutcheon:
Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.
Excerpted from Marine by Alan Jenkins, John Kinsella. Copyright © 2015 Alan Jenkins & John Kinsella. Excerpted by permission of Enitharmon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsRazorshell Wreck on Barleycove Beach on the Eve of All Saints' Day,
The little cruiser chugged past Faversham,
On Alfred Wallis's Barque With a Man at the Wheel On a Stormy Sea (1936–38),
Now the grey-green briny slopped through my hull,
Two Black Boats Sailing Up Dark Grey Waves,
The jagged lee-shore loomed,
On Alfred Wallis's Black Steamship (1934–38),
The Ravished Heart,
On the Figurehead of The Old Victry (a painting by Alfred Wallis),
Looking Out to Sea, Prevelly Park, 1974,
Natural Bridge, Torndirrup, 1967,
The Drunken Boat,
Le Piton des Neiges,
Bats at Grand Fond,
Catamaran Works to Round Pointe des Aigrettes,
The sea is wild today and the no swim signs are up everywhere,
La Mer cassée,
I knew this path through cypresses, an olive-grove,
The Bourbon Baudelaire,
In my new life I am the skipper,
Passage Through Icebergs (painted as ITLVoyage to Labrador by Alfred Wallis, 1935–6),
Long After (Jean Genet),
Out of the Cottage's Big Feature Windows,
Ship of Fools,
Wrecked Spanish Galleon and Vestigial Property and Identity Anxieties,
Figurehead of the Clipper Samuel Plimsoll,
Long After (Euaristos Kalfas),
Anointed, sweat-streaked, reddened, raw,
Full Moon Over Long Island Bay,
I was in irons. The bulkheads groaned; and then a lull,
Selkies Lashing the Rocks,
I knew this path, the promenade, the lanes,
The Pragmatism of Inland Birds,
Mute Swans Over Carraiglea,
Mermaid (The Sailor's Memory),
I knew this path, a thin brown arm around the cliff,
Long After (Julien Gracq),