Tuesday poem: Answered by reptile

March 26, 2012


Answered by reptile

So the knives are getting
too sharply attractive,
your interest in wrist as whetstone
perhaps a little too keen.
Not even puns will save you,
those tight little refuges of spin.
So you get on your bike and go,
two wheels set towards infinity.
You even try this new cycle of prayer
as you sit beside the muddy pond.
but asking for strength is too clichéd.
Christ, it seems, has heard too much,
and won’t suffer that sort of shit,
(at least from the middle classes).

You look up, and see a tortoise,
neck out, a hyphen joining shell to air.
He suns himself on log island,
quiet, content; most of him tucked away
like a whispered promise.
And you know, that for today,
you will no more think to
carve a manic smile in wrist
than shuck him from his shell
and leave him wriggling on ground,
a discarded lively gob of snot.
His grey oval is an iris, glancing
at you, from pond’s centre;
winking you back into light.

P.S. Cottier

This poem is dedicated to anyone who has ever felt suicidal. Not just down with a hangover, or upset when they split up with a lover, or lost a job, but really suicidal. (And no, that’s not me.) May you find your own tortoise!

Tuesday Poem If you click this feather, you will go to New Zealand, where they may or may not have tortoises, turtles or inferior snakes, but where poems can certainly be found. Start with the middle poem, and then check out the bits on the side. Or read it however you want, you anarchist you.

7 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Answered by reptile”

  1. I like the hyphen neck in here. And the shell-eye bringing you back to light.

  2. pscottier said

    Glad you enjoyed the mystical reptile, Michelle! Thanks for commenting, and welcome to Tuesday Poem.

  3. Wow Penelope this is a strong courageous poem! Very real …and if it is based on real event how wonderful that a toroise was someones saving grace.
    I too like the hyphen image and also the image tucked away like a whispered promise.

  4. A. J. said

    I totally agree. Very cool and “winking you back into light” is such an awesome last time.

  5. pscottier said

    Thanks Helen and Alicia. By coincidence, there has been an interesting debate happening here in Canberra today about whether suicide statistics should be released to the public. They have usually been suppressed on the basis that they might encourage suicide, which strikes me as bizarre. Many suicidal people feel like freaks, and knowledge of how common suicide is, might actually make people feel less singled out by fate, and more likely to seek help. This poem, while still containing heaps of irony as big as big heaps, also tries to show how a daggy notion like grace might still work in the modern world. Or at least a modern world with reptiles.

    By the way, are there snakes in New Zealand? I know you have a weird thing that looks like a reptile but is not a reptile, but do you have proper snakes? (Helen, I am recasting your blog as Googlewords, obviously being too lazy to look It up on Google itself. And dragging Alicia in too.)

  6. I agree with A.J. – a wonderful poem and a magnificent last line.

    The same debate over releasing information about suicides has taken place in NZ, on much the same terms – the outcome, as I understand it, is that reporting restrictions have been relaxed.

    NZ has no native snakes, except a few selected specimens who can be found around the Cabinet table.

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