In the Ear of the Beholder


Do poems wish to be the gender of many tropical fish

Protogynous hermaphrodites, born female but if the male dies

The largest female shrinks ovaries, grows testes, changes its hues

In days? I want my poems to be as colourful as the clown

Of a nudibranch, undulating like labia during lovemaking

I want the words to waltz like a feather star, be a venomous

Stonefish armed with thirteen barbs or a lionfish ballet dancer

Five-armed starfish think sibilance, proclaim their deep blue, span a hand

My encrusting sponge defoliates me like a Basho haiku

Will my poem prick or stab like a sea urchin or smooth as a sea hare?

The epitome of form as a sessile sea fan sestina

A villous villanelle, blue tang tankas, I’ve a moray eel’s smile

I want organ pipe coral’s music and brain coral’s intellect

I yearn for a bluebottles’ surface or angler fish profound depth

An angel-winged clam glides with glissando gelato to climax

Flax weaves a wrestling words wavelet in soaring thesaurus, goes lax

A blue-ringed octopus flashes with iambic pentameter

Sea cucumbers lay a thin thread of labile lyrical litre

A hungry humpback whale breaches with hubris, hunts for humble hints

Cognitive consonance as she ambles with ample ambergris



In the Ear of the Beholder (cont.)


A coconut crab contemplates milking Milton from couplet crease

Pink pygmy seahorses curl their tales around backbone of lilting

I hook a shark on a dropper bait of beef heart, the line contracts

With end stops and stretches with enjambment, with battle it wears thin

Though mouth adjacent protected by the trace of steel, the shark sinks

The hook threatens to open like an ode, her mouth bleeds

With grief as she sounds towards the reef, the shark now pants as Malay

Pantoums seek peace from taut tautologies of piscatorial

Fishermen fighting to the termination, the boat reverses

She hears ‘Look at those contrasting lines as distinct as a sonnet

It’s a tiger shark’, she’s towed by lassos of rope about tail and chest

She’s released for nature’s apex of a poetic predator

What is better? A poem where the coral reef is so pristine

Or following a cyclone where arms of spidery staghorn

Coral have been amputated. Does it rest on solid base

Or the plankton layers? A healthy creation needs both faces

You are shaped by keys, musical consonants and vowels

Hinting at hidden meanings under cover of cowls

The free verse reaching for arousing sun of hop’s bine

At the zoo we marvel at simian similes



In the Ear of the Beholder (cont.)


Then we listen to performances of small cymbals

You wonder whether trannies are masqued by frilly frocks

Ballads pirouette to Stravinsky across the page

While the rubber lips of a black bream suck on lake’s stage

On the roads squashed toads turn into steaked post-modern odes

A villanelle tolls in rural air, lyres mimic

While questions of God’s existence plaque the acrostic

You get your teeth into the horses’ mouths of Tartars

Leafy sea dragons incubate eggs under wet stars

You despatch terza rima and Petrarchan sonnets

Through the pastiche of pasta makers, observe limits

Deoxyribonucleic Acid molecules

Transcribe words into iambic pentameter stairs

Spiralling spirochaetes seeking penicillin’s rules

Chancres are taking chances for lyrical leanings

Peter Dawson’s baritone voice takes flight as he sings

His widow throws black opal into Sydney Harbour

And sells all her coloured diamond rings without ardour

You let the words wash around your mouth and coat your tongue

While rhyme is a discipline of soldiers’ march to slay



In the Ear of the Beholder (cont.)


The nouns and verbs of chords’ accord cross your vocal cords

While minke whales wear their firs in Norwegian fiords

A chilli-pregnant seafood Asian laksa soup bowl

Triggers the speed of ghazals and the clothes of pantoums

Tracing the geometry of their delicate forms

While would-be-god you seek Mozartian symmetry

You recite tuna lines past your ears, seek harmony

Land the lively, smooth the energy of the stony

Always the struggle to evoke poems’ complex worlds

As you seek formulae to describe the verb whorl













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