No 167 - 2002
Two Poems about Rivers
2. River Rorts*
Holiest of Holies, in its killing mood,
the sacred river , quickening the rice fields,
floods to its sulky gulf, but keeps alive
victims enough to tempt next season’s floods.
Pope’s merchant Thames, once bearing its dead dogs,
rolls past the flashing windows of the waterside
penthouses: the rats are loving their new homes,
they nod to Security and gnaw at Heritage.
A fern-infested ditch of waterholes
some fifty metres wide glares accusingly
at the raucous, concrete sun - not cooper’s Creek
but Parma and a tributary of the Po.
The loneliest displacements: London Bridge
spanning a man-made lake in Arizona,
the Danube-Crossing high on Trajan’s column,
the toy piranha drying by the bath.
Rivers by other means: conduits of blood
beside the guillotine, the Milky Way's aspiring
nipples, a big vein in a rising penis,
lines of enticement on the face of Mars.
After Christmas Lunch, along the wet tow-path
by the lock, two marrieds watch their kids
forging ahead, kicking up the icy leaves:
overhead, trees on long and shorter straws.
There too, they trek the Stations of the Cross,
The Cardboard Castle, snow on Winter Hill,
bread for the duck flotilla on the weir,
the coaching Inn, enlightened by champagne.
The little boy is on the festive ferry
watching the eighteen-footers race ahead.
Was his father ever as young as he
and will he ever be old himself?
The paddle-steamer cruises round the bend
of the riverside Koala Sanctuary -
this is ridiculous, the Mississippi
is ten thousand miles north of here.
* Editor’s note: ‘Rorts’ is an Australian term for scam/scandal/corruption/cock-up...
Peter Porter is recovering from issuing a second edition of his Collected Poems (1999) and from being sacked by his publishers of 28 years, Oxford University Press. Picador have just published a new collection of his poetry, Max is Missing.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The