Tuesday 21 May 2024

Five Poems by Philip Dodd

 



The Cockatrice


The cockatrice is yet to hatch from its egg.

It waits to wake, break the shell of its shelter.

Its cell cracked, left behind, it will pause, wonder what it is,

surmise that it is one alone, having no parent or kin.

The riddle of what laid the egg it grew in will leave its brain blank,

baffled, even nonplussed.

It will look most like a snake, might have lizard-like legs,

may even be winged, like a dragon, flew from a myth.

Like the basilisk, it will know what to do, why it exists,

it will work on its skill to kill.

It will kill with its hiss, its croak and its cry,

its venom, its hard stare, the ice and fire of its breath.

One thing it will bring to bird and beast, grass, tree and herb,

and that thing is death.

Long ago, it was told it would come.

It will be a sign of the end.

Though things are different now than they were then,

it will come. No one knows when.

 


Nothing Will Change


"Worse than the demon that lurks out on the fen,

worse than the dragon that sprawls on a bed

of bone and gold in his den

are the lands where the people allow themselves

to be ruled by not just bad but evil men,"

said an old man in an inn to any who would listen,

but such words spoken are often forgotten.

"That mystery has puzzled me, too," said a young man.

"Why do people allow it to happen?

Why is the fruit allowed to go rotten?"

"It is a mystery, as you say.

It is a pattern that will ever repeat,"

said the old man, leaning further back in his seat.

"It is sadder than it is strange.

No revolution will come. Nothing will change."



Isle of Perfectos


On the Isle of Perfectos

was no damage or dross,

no contest, therefore no loss,

no servant, therefore no boss,

no weapon, therefore no war,

equal wealth, therefore no poor,

common sense, the root of law,

welcome lamps guided ships to shore,

life was tuned to a heaven harp,

calm as a clear pond of carp,

a cloth spread with no crease,

saw how sensible was peace,

made sure it would never cease,

was its own protected zone,

no threat from a volcano cone,

a Utopia stood alone,

had no villain or sneak,

thought truth worthy to speak,

a pattern that needed no tweak.

The fair Isle of Perfectos

was green as cabbage and moss,

hid as eggs of the albatross.

As lemons are plucked from a tree,

pearls dived for in the sea,

it endures in its constancy.

No hunter to lay a trap,

seems a daydream in a nap,

not found on a mariner's map.



A Ticket For The Titanic


A ticket for the Titanic

was found in the pocket of a coat.

Whoever wore it never made it

down to the dockside to board that gigantic boat.


Why he did not go we will never know.

The tragedy he took no part in,

but he would have read the news of it in his newspaper,

and felt glad he never used his cabin key,

and was saved from being rescued by the Carpathia

or drowned in the icy sea.


A ticket for the Titanic

you have in the pocket of your coat.

The price seemed too high but you paid it,

to feel so small when you board that gigantic boat.


Why you had to go only you will know.

You feel secure, safe in your cabin

with your belongings and your key.

When the dark event begins,

will you be rescued by a lifeboat

or will you drown in the icy sea?


An iceberg hit the Titanic.

Waves flooded the decks built for pleasure.

Who would have thought it would sink

down to the seabed to rust

with all its treasure?



Leviathan


Huge, far more than large, leviathan needs oceans to bathe in,

hold its weight and girth, hard to believe such a beast exists on Earth.

Feeds on fish shoals, has more hunger than whale or shark,

on worlds of water has made its mark.

Broods in deep oceans basins, far below

the paths of submarine and diving bell, what tales it could tell.

Has become a myth, its root in biblical prose,

but that is not the fate it chose.

Remains alert to its own being, knows what its eyes are seeing.

From tangled tales of harpoon hunters

and the nets of fisher folk, it swims free.

It found the chest of aquatic treasures and hid the key.

Plunges deep, seldom surfaces, becomes a dark island

in the night, the sky clouded, no light of moon or star,

butts waves with its brow, disturbs the tides,

creates ripples that spread far.

Captains and crews of merchant ships and war ships

should not complain if wrecked by leviathan,

for they trespass on his ocean kingdom.





Philip Dodd was born in 1952, lives in Liverpool, England, has a degree in English literature from Newcastle University, and is the author of five books, Angel War, Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle, Still the Dawn: Poems and Ballads, Last Flocks of the Geese, and Harvey's Hutch. He has had poems published in The Dawntreader, and other poetry magazines and anthologies. 


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