Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 6- wrecked)

Huginn and Muninn: a digital gothic (part 6- wrecked)

Part 6: wrecked: [Playlist: Atha, Voices in the Stratosphere]


in deathsleep

      in skycavern

          a ship

unfolds from deepest black:

femur masts bear
ulna spars lashed crosswise by glistening coils
festooned in ragged dregs of cloth that
sleek and luff in silent draughts

she sails
illumined by a pale blue flame
that dyes the shrouds:

aurora borealis
a solar wind aglow in death collisions
of magnetic dust

or                     noctiluca scintillans
a host of tiny animals
whose lantern organs light a liquid night:

scouts, drawn to your
foundering  pings

in the crow’s nest the vampire squid
flash their photophores
ghost crabs go barber-poling deckwards
and all that was camouflaged as wreck                  inhales
a swim sac full of brine                                               a fleshy embrace

of cuttlefish and eels
disguised as slack tatters                                          fatten

into a living interlocked rigging
propelling this vessel on dissolved wind

         billows of squidink

boil to port and starboard                       swarms of ice-blue pinpoint animals
churn in a wake of unhinged stars:

a sorcerer stands behind the fiddlehead
on his shoulder
an anglerfish casts

her glowing yellow lure
into the blackness

hung to

reel you back from        wandering the
nowhere in your nothing

the sorcerer

         reaches with both hands to fold your wings against your chest
and gathers you into his coat
into a soft nest built amongst his empty ribs


            heed the yarn             he says
but mind the toothy maw
behind the watchlight                        

in answer

the mizzen topsail                      uncloaks:
a giant manta    kites in slow spirals downward through the forestays

to offer             a wide white ventral surface
onto which the anglerfish aims her lure:

5          4          3          2          1
projects                        and then

fade in through murk:
the sea floor      empty               featureless

a stirring in the foreground
clouds of sediment        rise into a bed of swollen pulp
mounding, shivering into                        deadfall backwarding

                    into half-digested hulk
right-angles drawn in pale, lifeless crusts

of brainworm and gooseneck                seafan skeletons
a graveyard of hard reminders adhering                         into ship shape

a scaffold on which now burgeons an undeathing:
decks unsplinter            cracked halves of hull
swing to like a closing clamshell             cohering into seamless ellipse

two horizontal lines appear in the debris
bulked degree by degree by aggregating matter

until masts abloom in algal furs
lever upward into perpendicular bonds

and spars condense from drifts of silt
javelining true                            to crosstrees and yards
decked out in a bunting of wilted jelly

that rallies into orange anemones, violet nudibranchs,
soft life hungered forth from bones

a palace of innocence
recomposed of her route reversing

filter-feeders vomiting gusts of gorge
great fish coughing chunks of fins and scales

which implode to live silvery streaks
and spasm off into the choke

of eel grasses full lush then battening down and reefing in
and       on        and on  and                                less and less

until a trapped whisper
a mayday cry

                  appears from above
a bubble descending toward the wreck
shrinking as it speeds

              to the empty throat of that
lost wax lodge of bones
the sorcerer emerging from his drowning

                               his barren hand casting
from the pocket of his seaworm-eaten coat
a sodden mess congealing into tightly creased papers
from which unknots a twine garland

that reeves itself through the cathead
and steeves the groaning timbers of the bowsprit

             and the wreck begins to lift
answering the pull of rumor

on an anchor line reeling upward

one trembling string
one spider silk
one sounding line
one thread of tale

the yarn that always dangles:

               (we are deep-shifted now
spun into the spiral of music

               gone gate crashing with ravens

                                          shuffled our coil
on a deathtrip
stripped to
a stray signal
picked up by ghost ship
by death itself

             who builds a nest
of an empty chest
and makes of us
a heart


together we mind the toothy maw
projected by the light of a lure
on a manta belly
the flick in which all present company
myself included

says death, our sorcerer

just as the last frame sticks and rips
and the projection on the manta’s belly  flips     flips      flips

with a sound like something being wound up:

a pocket watch                        a music box
a windlass                                 weighing-in the bower
a bird’s heart                            racing in a ribbed locker

with each click and beat a glossy black feather is plucked
from your body and sucked straight up his windpipe

erupting from his mouth             and promptly swallowed
by the waiting anglerfish                        who smiles smiles

it’s all above board                  death says
watching the thing                  yet trapped in the watch
you arrived                      my windfall

he unfolds one of those crisp papers clutched in his fist
holds it tight to his chest so you can read:

When lost or unsure of your position, ships shall release a caged crow.
The crow will fly straight towards the nearest land, thus giving the
vessel some sort of a navigational fix.


come, lend me your wings death says
and lets go his charts
casting himself                  overboard

the waveson treasures of his hold
spill up toward the light:

pearls worn down to grains of sand
gemstones roughing back to rocks

glass bottles burst to living dust
a great shudder wracks the strake                     treenails squeal free of the ship’s planks
and the hull distintegrates in spinning trunnels

among the dreck           his cap             his coat
his skull          and two femurs              form, briefly
a waving jolly roger

lost from view as the ribcage sinks                     with you inside
every last feather tornadoed loose

that damned anglerfish following behind
and gulping down everything

until with a harsh shake and a push
she grasps the cage itself
and cracks you loose
bites off each of your plucked wings
and glutted, sinks slowly:
a shrinking yellow glow in the undernight

            what’s left of the ship                             pitchpoles                           and breaks apart

leaving a wake

of fractured ribs

a wrecked raven

and a choice:

the dangling yarn

the sinking lure

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Sharks in the Rivers at Gently Read Literature

Sharks in the Rivers at Gently Read Literature

While reading Ada Limon’s Sharks in the Rivers, I shapeshifted into a bird, a fish, a river, a horse, a desert, and another woman.  I took on other forms but those are secrets. If you want to try on wings or fins yourself, you should check out the brand spanking new May issue of Gently Read Literature, and read my review.