Friday, November 17, 2006


her sentences curve away in
labyrinthine infinities,
vague swirls
and an ever-receding horizon line

her soft interiors are salty,
muscular, coiled
and unavailable
a fascination of secret compartments

she moves carefully, is
surprisingly and slowly carnivorous,
her piercing eyes bore holes
if you linger too long

do not mistake her,
calm and smooth,
curvaceous and sensual,
for vegetarian

Inspired by a spam email subject, "was he whelk," this is a completely fictitious portrait.
Click on the photo to see a larger version. This is a manipulation of a stock photo.


Blogger Pat Paulk said...

I learned something new. Didn't know they were carnivores. Can't imagine what kind of "spam" generated this "tasty" little poem??

11/17/2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I love creature poems like this. It reminds me a bit of José Emilio Pacheco, the poems in his Album de zoología,, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden as An Ark for the Next Millennium, which are a great blend of natural history and fable.

11/17/2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Did you see yesterday's Poetry Daily? Erin Belieu has a nicely contrarian piece about not being moved by the ocean -
"How can anyone relax
near something so worked up all the time?"
The photo reminded me of it.

11/17/2006 10:28 AM  
Anonymous marja-leena said...

Always learning something new, this time the meaning of whelk! What a lovely poem inspired by such an unlovely happening! The photo is just right.

11/17/2006 10:49 AM  
Blogger polona said...

a wonderful poem from an unlikely source of inspiration. love the photo, too.

11/17/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Firehawk said...



"A fascination of secret compartments..." is a wonderful line, sending the mind in so many different directions.

I have been reading your posts, for the most part, but I've been bad about commenting. For that, I'm sorry. Many of your recent pieces had a stark and crystalline quality that I very much appreciate.

11/17/2006 3:44 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

A beautifully crafted and affectionate poem, suited to its subject! And I love the build up to the surprising ending.

11/17/2006 5:06 PM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

An infinitely recursive (and tasty) nugget. Whew!!!, especially for the first two lines and for "a fascination of secret compartments."

11/17/2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

What a wonderful poem. I like the way it slowly unfolds, much like its subject. You have such an ear for musical language.

11/17/2006 9:24 PM  
Blogger floots said...

really liked this one
(and i resisted commenting with all the shellfish puns - maybe i'm growing up) NAH :)

11/17/2006 11:31 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I'm impressed. This is nothing like the Wikipedia description and yet exactly like a whelk. You wield the poetic form like a surgeon's knife.

11/18/2006 4:36 AM  
Blogger zhoen said...

Creepy in a wonderful way.

11/18/2006 10:24 AM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

Delicious, salt water and sand swirl of words.

11/18/2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger firebird said...

A beautifully vivid portrait--of a creature from the sea--who really has our own qualities if you look deeper inside... complex, sensual and fierce!

11/18/2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger charlie said...

Oh mb, that is a deliciously ambiguous poem :o))))

11/19/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

your words, the way you choose the, the way you line them up side-by-side like the notes of a song, are amazing...

11/19/2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger Don Iannone said...

Wonderful poem. Enjoyed it and its message.

11/20/2006 2:46 AM  
Blogger mermaid said...

I think if I gave you anything, you could connect with it. It's what I love about you.

11/20/2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Dale said...


11/20/2006 4:05 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Beautiful poem about the ocean. I love the sea.

11/21/2006 1:52 AM  
Anonymous mystical moon said...

amazing poem. 'her sentences curve away in labyrinthine infinities...' beautiful line. as my sis would have said, "scrumptious!"

11/21/2006 4:33 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Pat, I didn't either. Something about "chef's selections" — ironic for spam, yes?

Dave, thanks for mentioning Pacheco, I'll have to look up his work. And thanks, too, for pointing me to Belieu's wonderful poem which I had missed. I recommend others take a look at it, too!

Marja-Leena, thanks. It's always a (fun) challenge to figure out how to work a photo so it will complement a poem.

Polona, thank you!

Firehawk, you picked up on one of my favorite lines. I'm glad to know you are enjoying reading, thanks!

Beth, thank you very much.

Lori, thanks. It seemed to me recursiveness was something of the essence.

Bitterroot, much appreciated, thanks!

Floots, oh, let's neither of us grow up, not completely!

Pauline, for me the fascination lay in identifying the essence within the thing.

Zhoen, yup! My sentiments exactly.

Corey, I've never eaten one, have you?

Firebird, thanks for your insights!

Charlie, I'm so glad you experienced it that way.

Michelle, thank you very much.

Don, "and its message" — yes, the message from the message. Thanks!

Mermaid, that's the challenge, or at least the opportunity, life presents us, I think!

Dale, thank you.

Gautami Tripathy, thank you. I do, too, though I don't get to experience it often except through imagination.

Mystical Moon, thanks so much!

11/21/2006 10:36 AM  
Blogger moira said...

I particularly loved this one, had to come back and tell you belatedly.

11/22/2006 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Ooooh, this one's really strong, MB. Nice job.

11/26/2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Moira and Sara, thanks so much, both of you. I had a lot of fun with this one, and I'm glad you enjoyed it, too.

11/27/2006 8:54 AM  

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