Two Poems

Nicholas Messenger

They call them sunfish, but they are sadder than the moon.
They do not either glide flat through the water like a disk
or slice it side-on like a knife. They are marooned
in their geometry. Their angle is too awkward even to descend.
Instead they teeter to the surface like a plastic dish
and dabble at the sea, whose shallows they can never reach.
Their one big eye, on either face, sees no defence.
It slews this way and that out of a slab of hide.
They are like elephants, but lacking any of the interesting features,
save a queer small pout. But Nature, that made jellyfish
so purposelessly glamorous, and lost them in transparency, provided them
with this opaquely solid, ineffectual predator.
It hovers like a grey lop-sided asteroid, and seems to wish
no worse than to be also one of those lamp-bubble stars.
In Saitama by darkness, octopuses come on land
to pull up radishes, in local legend. Rubber hands
and goggling eyes expanding from the pressure of the sea,
they steal to where the daikons are already almost popping
from the soil, and drag away the pearly abductees,
back down into the breakers. Bubbly-snorkled frogmen
out of midget submarines, or midnight gentlemen clip-clopping
up the cobbled lanes; enormous shaggy bog-men
beaching boats like swans –