Poem by Stephen Collis

Midway: A Requiem

after Chris Jordan’s photographs


Friend or flow               bird brain
Container carcass joy not joined the
Thrump of dead sea gyser       you?
Notepad limerick bean so

Nurdle up sea goo catastrophe yo
Strophed to death and damn proud of it
Like an oatmeal bowl the size of
Texas tea on the trolley and

Surplus in the bank so
Rank smelling soft tissues gone
Theatre of the synthetic core
Dreams torn open and they repealed that hmm?

They did        notaries and no publics voted
Mongst rockeries garden gnomes and
The humpback swallowing six parts
Plastic to one part plankton

The birds’ hollow bones —
What’s inside them? Ideas of
Flight and Amelia Earhart seas
See? All the way to midway y’all



They were container ships in their bodies
Throat singing Aleutians or cosmic
Volcano crops asking wherefore
Stoppst thou chain and fractionates

Even water enclosed bottles bad?
No bottles to cap all the surface of
Lids and lighters unhand me loon!
The beach bends and shines elastic
In forensic light follicles and fume

Giant flame we melt the earth
And vacuum form its goo into
Better planets yo

Ochery? No
More ochery still
The colour drained from
Our faces in space

Mirror mirror on the water wall
Who sank us sank a seed in sound



Doffed at port or spilt
From rivers’ foul mouths
Out of the sea he came!
Turtle shell waxed and honed

To hump another planet over
The ridge’s loud bassoon
No ingredients? No problem
We’ll mold something sport or

Cambrian pool nurdles crop
Genetic nurdles sowed for corn

He was tyrannous strong
Opened one bottle
After another

Tossed lids
To lightning realms

Scoffed at wastes
Found other plants to his taste



Then nightingale harvests the
Low trough between waves
Pacifics of rage to bear the costs
Of voyage for the goop we spilt

Milking time a space for
Something not solid not liquid
Drops his name in a hat and
Wins millions don’t want it?

Toss it

Flame can’t burn
Sun don’t degrade
Lips it off like
Hey albatross fuck you!

So it ate the food it ne’er had ate
cap / cap / lighter / pen / cap / lighter / cap

Came to our hollo for
Food or play
And paid the debts we’d
Raised our roofs for



It’d been nicer just to have shot them

Slow cough and choke gag leach
Chemical starve or gizzard burst

No sweet bird did follow hollow
Coracle or foam

The links that bind
The links that break

No sweet bird
Painted that sea
Found itself a nest
Of plastics bodied forth



There is no climate
Or element
Without one or more

Capsized and damn
Proud of it

Paint poured down the sink

It’s what their parents fed them
They didn’t know

Sweet bird diving
Into a sea that was no sea

Petroleum and a Texas
Twice the size of the Pacific



It just took off
Like witch’s oils

Burnt green sea

Was a war / then a dump

Some in dreams assuréd were

Come back to haunt to haunt it still

Landfill planet for lease what’s next?

Sea fill

Put it in a baggie yo

Zip-lock minds at full distraction

And every tongue      through utter drought
Was withered at its root



Sweet bird
Cargo hold
Seems we needed
Bodies to keep things in

Or hide them

Container ships to flight we flew
Out over denizen seas
Caprice? The colour was
What mattered

Micro or polymer
Clack of coin n’est pas?
Eureka from the
Tub of goo

Oil oil toil and trouble

A fountain of feathers
And coloured forms gathered
On sands 3,000 miles
From here

A region of forms
Going under
Dollar by dollar
Dense and desired



Sweet bird
Can’t train you
Can’t train ourselves

A speck
A mist
A shape

Same thing
We just bolt
What we find
Then pass it on
To our children

I see a sea at sunset sold
Fly fishing on TV
Gravol and hangovers
Pretends it’s estrogen funk

Strip flake flame
Keep ochre dawn bilge

Sweet bird
I see a sea of resins soft



Must it always be a lament?

Cawed on the gravel and was gone

Omnivorous or just a plastivore

I want to be happy too       malleable

Islanded and shored up on my own

No man an island who cares yo?

No bird neither

No woman no home

Sweet bird

Canary mines or corpuscular cave at sea



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