Verso Recto # 3
By Evelynn Black
Editor's Note: Due to the formatting of this poem, it is best enjoyed on desktop view.
Hrothgar’s consciousness hovers above the battered
corner of a star, crusts over with salt, so much
salt. I’m looking through synaptic history for his enemy
when the seabeast rises from its covering, remembers
how the light-bound current washes it back upward,
the long-fingered dawdler, dreary crusher,
moves away from its home, looking askance, back
to that deep squalor, that inaccessible memory
and begins to sing its wave song,
its history collapsed into a point—
coming low, long and lyric, older,
as a lingering wave perpetuates
across the worldline starcage, older
O than you and your plastic lyric
or this electric time incapable
of mimicry, and memory
becomes heraldic, minuscule set along
the seacove freezing and the sails cracked with rime.
the seabeast nears the surface,
where its outline and its shape
shifts in the waves, pinned in so many pixels
clotting the network of barren beach heads.
The kraken kindles fear among Hrothgar’s
most ferocious. Eater of ships. Eater of soldiers.
Something for the mouth. Something
for the sea. A longer wait is coming
than the wait for death.
Hrothgar hunts this thing relentlessly.
Scour me he says, that I might be clean
of all this salt & vinegar.
Caught in all this seasnow,
his stable mind explodes
shatters, scatters, leaving ink
& pages everywhere. Hrothgar only sees
so much, but everything’s connected:
orchid stems & crabgrass, regular
expressions, those gorgeous stark white shells
he sees upon the beach, he collects them
for himself to think on in the evening
sea shells are better than the aging stack
of books his scribe keeps close, passed
down through the brittle years
for those who read
& those who don’t. He’s hunched
over, freezing in firelight, looking
for legends, leaves, some scrap to say
how high the seaswells get, how many
legs it takes to crack his ship
along the stern. It’s eaten his men before.
Is there a way to kill it, close it off
from the heat of the variable world.
I need the ending rules of myth, or fissure.
Scribe says: though the kracken’s large,
& its red tentacles slink through
seacaves, caverns, cracks
in the deep cosmology of the unjust oceansky
in truth kracken’s junk, it’s detritus,
just tinder for temporality’s irredeemable pressure
each limb a twig yet unignited:
Hrothgar too, creaks trepidation,
temptation, cataclysm: I have been without
scriptorial answers. Nothing saves us. Our philosophy’s
nomadic at its best. & even in our sleep
no god is inexhaustible.
I love you. Fuck you. Amen.
Each utterance entropic.
The old god said each kracken
is the end condition for all
endurant spatial life
but it too falls incessant victim
to the crystalline waves of time.
Evelynn Black is a trans writer from Seattle. She received her MFA from Cornell University. Her writing has appeared in The Seattle Review, Requited, Peculiars Magazine, and other publications.
She can be found on Twitter.