Below are two poems from Lisa Kelly’s debut collecton A Map Towards Fluency, recently published by Carcanet.
Oysters shucked. Poor man’s beef discarded down guts and out again to sea. Shells salvaged. Here, concentrated behind wire mesh, hard stuffing for this upholstered seat placed for musing on the river Colne. Quantities shipped on circuitous routes to sate Elizabethan London. The centre sucking resources in greedy gulps. Local beds, and locals lay wasted in leaner times. What now? Lean back on shells, characteristically flat, the flesh enjoyed by Romans firm and salty, a wet dream of these parts. Orgiastic oysters, slipping down, coming up, their stockmarket fortunes, bivalve biology, always two sides to prize apart: rich & poor, insider & outsider. Pearly junkets or gritty chronicles? Filter feeders, take it all in and sift through for dignitaries at the annual Oyster Feast by invitation only since Saint Dennis held his fair. Left out in the cold, sit back, digest world wars and viruses, how oyster numbers could not atone: oistre, ostreum, ostreon. Osteon, so close to bone.
Let them Leave Language to their Lonely Betters
after W. H. Auden’s ‘Their Lonely Betters’
This is not a poem about a robin or a blackbird for although I love birdsong, I’ve never heard a song I can say for certain came from that bush having looked quick enough to identify a thrush. Their names are withheld from their songs which fly freely about an ear that no longer longs to sort out this chirrup from that trill so I can distinguish this beak from that bill. This muddle of medley is an anthem of all and no proper name can answer each call which remains unrecorded in its own shade, undetonated by a signifier’s semantic grenade. Let them leave language to this lonely better who has struggled too long with nomenclature; let me sing my own song, and hear what I can, it will sound how it is – of robin, or of man.