Issue 26: Alistair Noon

Field Trip to the Post-Holocene Coast

To revisit the vision of ants,

we examined the amber dunes:

our heels and toes became Jains

as they cratered their grainy advance.

Somewhere must be the nest.

In the dunes’ dystopian aloneness,

we scurried the route of pheromones,

our instruments obsessed

on the second before the sun sank.

Pioneers recalling the rooks,

late-afternoon alders would creak

to the hawk-owl sirens. The ant

prefers the sharper gradient

to ramps whose bends are invisible,

the escarpment of leg-slipping particles

to the trail that zephyrs have laid,

brings back what it records

to the colony, leaving no print

in the peer-reviewed sand, a glint

in the vapour above the seaboard.

Reading the IPCC’s 6th Report while Crossing the Müggelsee

Lead clouds reconstitute reptiles and scythes

above the grey lake, but the rain is irrelevant

where the motor-raft moves and the tension seethes.

Where rocks once rode the ice sheet,

the fish note a new instability, flies

take cover, white socks get splashed.

Airy crocodiles and turtles peer down

as a Maori war boat centipedes the water.

Paddling the dusk, the ascending din

of small constellations mapped for a second

whose naphthenes grind over birches – ow –

into my ears and the land they’ve skinned.

Around us the weekend banks that greened

as the freezer truck beeped into reverse.

Although the ions report to the ground,

nobody here goes short of a rainbow,

its capsized keel a locked horizon.

The atmosphere hemispheres a brain

where the feedback of clouds remains beyond us,

and the lawyer suggests we engine around

the regulations for local amphibians.

Then through the haze a slab of perspex

erupts, upon that dripping display

a Samsung Galaxy A7, unpacked;

on its fractured glass, fresh in their soil,

a forest of oaks and ferns; and among

the aggregate uncertainties, I see my selfie

as bacteria the off-run deposited wait

for the heat to craft-brew this season’s algae,

and industrial skies keep sieving the water.

From the Esperanto

Some Latins are short of a church

or wavelengths aligned into flags:

in the Hapsburg currents, their words

are lithe Carpathian logs

tumbling and swerving past oaks

that weevil generations holed,

that spiders style for a week,

where ash crowds in the bole,

and the bark has noted the score.

They seek a route to the open,

their meanings as frank as a fly.

Let’s meet at Hotel Europa,

where you might find me staring

at the flickering chandeliers

that structure the lobby’s air,

wherever that language lies.

Alistair Noon’s publications include Earth Records (2012) and The Kerosene Singing (2015), both Nine Arches Press, and a dozen chapbooks from various presses. His translations from the Russian of Osip Mandelstam, Concert at a Railway Station: Selected Poems, appeared from Shearsman Books in 2018. He lives in Berlin.

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