Poetry: The Book of my Enemy — Four Poems about Porpoises | clivejames.com
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Four Poems about Porpoises


Swallows in leotards
Burrowing holes
Submarine termites
Quicksilver moles

Dazzling galleries
Spiralling aisles
Daydreams in sunlight
Sinking for miles

Hurtling shuttles
Trip up and flee —
Porpoises, weaving
A shot-silk sea.


In Operation Silent Sails
For submarines at sea last night
The porpoises, on fire with fright
Blew every tube in Fylingdales.


I take one look and I know I’m dreaming —
Planing fins and the colour streaming
Boundary layers in the mind.

I take a breath and I’m sure I’m stalling —
Looping blades and the harvest falling:
Grain blown back like a bugle calling
Light brigades along the wind.

I take my ease and I’m scared I’m ageing —
Stunting jets and a war game raging;
Seas are riddled, undermined.

I take my leave and I know I’m crying
Tears I’ll be a lifetime drying,
The tree house down and the peach tree dying
Home behind.


Porpoises move
Through tunnels of love.

Note (from Collected Poems)

I wrote most of this suite of miniature poems in the Sunda Strait, on the ship to England. But the mention of ‘Fylingdales’ indicates that at least one of the poems was written after I got there. Situated in the North York Moors, Fylingdales, an American-designed Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station (BMEWS), came online in 1953, and was a key element of the NATO defence system throughout the Cold War.