Tantaulus & Other Poems


I have turned when tired or tight to the twin who should be ghosting in on my blind side, disappearing like mist on a glass sensing his heavy breath like we've crossed a snowy field leaving no footprints, like a perfect crime when the house is quiet, I notice the train in the valley, a ticking somewhere specially, carefully making peace,

I was told once the tale of the baby boy who never was of the rush to the hospital and the roadside birth, shielded by a policeman's cape as a previous generation was uneasy about carnal secrets, then they built a wall,

the power cut came on a blustery night and I walked downstairs with arms stretched wide in the dark and was in a different house with no familiar banister no creak on the floorboard and another ambit, outside myself along the corridor I paused by the mahogany mirror that I reached behind as a child, to touch the other me, I waited, alert as a cat searching for a hand then groping for the fuse box and my flickering lids

as the temperature fell and a void opened, I reached across the undisturbed sheets for a gene spliced figure who remained out of reach

a metaphysical trick a singularity with no mass an event which came to nothing, still rolling out waves a fleck on a radio telescope's unwatched screen the background hum of the cosmos, of relic radiation.


we see a pile of rounded stones left by a family who lost their dog to something neurological a cairn on the beach where she had played; the rug, the flask and the coiled lead; they speak her name in a sort of ceremony, for what it's worth

and we see a man with a librarian gait, not dressed for the dunes, stop by the stones and tilt his head sensing a monument, significance and old luck as a superstitious man he leaves the stones untouched for fear of causing an unknown hurt, or jeopardising his safety on the journey home, in this way the connective chain quivers about the rational world;

and now we see the stones, picked up and one by one hurled into the sea by a young woman

wracked by worry, working it off so

a dog is lost but remains in stones that are no longer there a beach is cleaned of love, luck and anger and then by the incoming tide,

and we see them pack their bags and turn to scan the bay through instinctive hope call to each other as if calling upstairs or from another room and squint at the horizon at shapes that might be ships

the waves undermine the chalk cliffs the sea level imperceptibly rises a cairn may last a day monuments are temporary, everything changes,

they wish that they had hurled the stones and tidied up, leaving the beach like a place set at table, neat.

Water Baby

a water baby she left the lab by the back door which led down the steps to the beach the wind was raw with salt and peat until sharp stones the dazzle and haze

gave way to sand shelving to the sea and she was swallowed by the swell splayed by the rip tide gasping when she breached

when she was born there was webbing between her toes, a mark of quiet shame and her skin was nipped and sculpted for her parents to view her, to prod and accept

her shoes would never fit and she went barefoot when she could and swam at public baths churning the lanes in oblivion or by weeded banks regretting the loss of buoyancy as she clambered out; found work in her field by

speaking to the careers officer like he was a drunken man and took up work experience cleaning tanks, smelling the brine on her overalls on the bus home learning Latin names, dissecting left over parts

which fell apart in her hands the tentacles, connective tissue, beak and stalks denatured by the air their colours leached, out of their element, when

her mother fell ill she went home to care for her and each morning when she wiped her face and pureed her lunch she thought of the mussel beard, the mucus whelk the flavours of the body

they gave her seahorse earrings when she left for the lab at Galway bay they glint in a box like specimens colleagues, they have a gift for going away, in abandon

neck deep in the surf in the churning mud and granular salt her vision blurred like a drug trip

and her legs bruised from the undertow, she was

tied to the sea by a cortical thread, like feeling the seabed fall away or seals picking up a scent, like four thousand herring twisting on a pulse, she

is in her own body when becoming water, salt runs in capillaries in her tangy tears, and something endocrinal forges a bond like a fouled anchor wrestling her back,

in the lab Convulata roscoffensis lie in a tank a mile from the beach, with only artificial light rising and falling in time with the Atlantic tides subatomic, constant, day and night.

Brian lives in Worcestershire,England, he writes poems and short stories and has performed regularly at spoken word events in Worcester. Brian has had flash fiction published in Black Pear press anthologies, was the winner of the Worcestershire Literary Festival's 'Story on a Card' competition in 2013 he was runner up in the 2015 National Poetry day Light and Shade event at Kidderminster. He has had poetry accepted for publication with Picaroon Poetry, The Beach Hut, The Gentian journal, Re-side onlinezine, Prole Poetry and Contour online magazine.

His Twitter handle is @briancomber