Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Excerpt from Toilers of the Sea
by Maggie Dubris



A Word Written on a White Page

The sea my wet nurse
The waves my lulla-row
      Too-ra-loo ra-loo ra-low
      Where did I come from?
      Where will I go?
Look! A flood. An ocean bed.
And the bed of a river, yellow river
Ochre mud. There's a new world
Under that new moon, there's a new life
Stirring in the brine. Mine.

The Bu de la Ru

Achtung, Fraulein. Say what's in your Mind!

            The yellow moon.
O Little dove
            The hollow haze.
O Dirty dove
            Twas like a sailor in a maze.

O Little dove. O Dirty dove. Count your feathers for the one you love.

            But when that maze began to twist
Ching-chang-china-man, how about a date?
            Twas like a blade against my wrist.
Ching-chang-china-man, how about a date?

Ching-chang-china-man, how about a date? Meet me on the corner at half past 8.

My tale told by all but me. Sit. Then.
And read my tale. Spit. Now.
From the belly of a whale.

For Your Wife: when you Marry

Your mother she told you to answer the door
            You answered the door, he fell on the floor
Your mother she told you to hang up his hat
            You hung up his hat, he ate up your cat
Your mother she told you to take off his boot
            You took off his boot, he cried 'rooty-toot'
Your mother she told you to feed him an egg
            You fed him an egg, he fell over dead
Your mother she told you to bury him deep
            You buried him deep, he stuck up his feet

I.        An Unpopular Man

His love was an angry noose. His face
Was scarred. She imagined the noose
Around her, soft and white
Like a scarf, wound a thousand times
Against the cold. He was a man
Who other men dreamed of killing.
No one looked at her.
Did she blind them?
In the bowl of his eyes, she smiled.
In the cradle of his thighs, she slept.

More suspicious Facts about Gilliat

If he eats more than three fireflies, he will die.
If he dies, the last image he sees will be burned forever onto his retina.

VI.  The Dutch Sloop

Look back at the harbour, its tired lights.
Don't forget to remember
This place as it is.
Stars reflected in the dark sea.
Still as a window. All the lost sailors
Drifting, lost ships drifting
A square of cloth, folded just so
A wanton's cradle
The sea his lulla-row.

And those stars those stars spit like sparks from a fire
And the sea rolling sea a serpent coiling

Weep not my wanton
One night, as you sleep
You'll be thrown overboard
To be drowned in the deep

VII. A fit Tenant for a Haunted House

A pearl, sailors say, will 'forget' the sea:
Become tired and dull. Rubies often call forth
A sensation of starlight in the tongue. To blind a serpent
Simply hold an emerald before its eyes. Malachite is useful
In discouraging cradle-wraiths, coral to stanch
The coiling of the waves. Chalcedony
Drives away the terrors of the deep.

VIII. The Gild-Holm-'Ur Seat

Therefore, it sometimes happens that a swaddling cloth, for instance,
will be stolen and pinned down beneath the waters on an oysterbed,
pins marking the name of the child. The belief being that as the cloth
washes away, so will the body of the child that had worn it.

One wave for sorrow
Two waves for joy
Three waves a sailor
Four waves a boy

Books by Maggie Dubris available at Amazon.com (click on title for reviews and ordering information):




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