She was expected to wash up a mermaid
with knives in her feet. They said I’ll bet
you anything she’s a damsel in distress of
the bottom of her foot at the bottom of the sea.
They neglected to notice she had read the
fine print, that ocean of tiny words that stream
in a champagne bead to the surface. They
forgot that light behaves like waves, too.
She had thanked them all in vast fish: you ought
to return thanks. In a neat speech wrapped about
in fins and slime she flopped her appreciation
out in stench. The whole world had a new smell.
Small and unadorned, a chamber maid slit
one open. Gasping still, the flapper heaved
out hot guts and gleaming metal in the middle there.
Opens up a field of infinite opportunities: one gold ring.
A footman, arrested about his death journey
on to the conquest of another snivelling hypocrite
found a string of seaweed hanging from a oak.
He stood a second, missed the crushing wheels.
One man saw her like a flying fish, escaped across
the sky. Stars flickered like salt crystals. He
said: It can’t be the moon, it’s going too fast
and wasn’t that a tail? Under one gaze, she won.
This isn’t the story? Not Disney or Andersen? I saw
that slick red-head Ariel, I know how it feels.
To have to begin speculating ominously about
a woman fish: it is to find her, warm about the rocks.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from eight people:
@JayJayCee1: "they forgot that light behaves like waves, too" (Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon)
@jellyjellyfish: "I'll bet you anything she's a damsel in distress" (Rodman Philbrick, Freak The Mighty)
@marklawrence: "in the middle there opens up a field of infinite opportunities" (Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium)
@spikelynch: "It can't be the moon. It's going too fast" (Alasdair Gray, Lanark)
@matchtrick: "You ought to return thanks in a neat speech" (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass)
@ernmalleyscat: "the whole world had a strange new smell" (A S Byatt, Possession)
@attentive: "On to the conquest of another snivelling hypocrite" (Stendhal, Le Rouge Et Le Noir)
@timsterne: "I know how it feels to have to begin speculating ominously" (Joseph Heller, Something Happened)
I'm not sure why this combination of phrases prompted a Little Mermaid poem. Maybe each sequence of poems I write demands a Little Mermaid poem somewhere.