© DB Fishman, 2010, 2011

“The ducks are not my friends” - My Wrongs #8245-8249 and 117 (Chris Morris, 2002)


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21 22 Dead Duck

I’m sure, like me, you’ve wondered why no one has ever written a collection of poetry that casts the common Wild Mallard as metaphysical, mechanical agents of disruption, portent and hysteria; observation and infinity - flying, feeding and fighting, their existence predicated on violence and rape. You can stop wondering.
DB Fishman, Oxford Canal towpath, 2011


Crossing over the bridge A sunny mood is tainted A feeling of unease becoming an awareness All the ducks are traversing the other way At speed.

The ducks are in formation Coathanger heads tearing through the surface As storm-grey ferments in rising winds & land clings to the waterline.

Like a living room wall Brought to life; Bombers, Darts in mid-flight, free of target Their incessant honking a Rising demented chant Reaching frantic flurrying pitch In the red brick curvature of sheltered underbridge At sunset they trace The true length of water

Their straining pull Drops into a fall & They sunder surface to Two trailing ribbons of wake With the satisfying, full Sound of a child’s shoe Plunging into gravel Bulbous as a brandy glass Like swollen balloons of buoyance They jacknife, buckle-fold In on themselves, imploding Geometrically, angles carved of Burnished green stone Paperweights, with one beady eye.

Folding in upon its own being, reaching For some buried discomfort, some itch Becoming sphere-like, self-contained, surrounded by concentric circles, sitting In the centre of the world

Bending matter with their movement Heading up stretches of ripples They are force & effect, infinite Undulation running on Into eternities Ducking in and pulling Fluency over their head like Some dispersing bedsheet And sleeping, pulled in Like knotted scarves They stand solid, like horizontal commas.

The spastic lazy lolling Of a single orange flip Steadily maintains the still stasis Of nothing but unblinking potential: Once and again, one circling, Circumnavigating others’ Motion, turning everything Into cross-confluence Of disruption & velocity Rising to a vertical stretch Above & beating Wings, battering things Forward, commanding Before dropping dipping, bobbing Up and through - tearing spaces & Falling through surface.

A slick, smoothed shape A droplet, a tear Cut into space amidst the Overlapping planes of fracture Trailing a train of Circular dissipations Dark head ploughed, skewered Into the flow, hunting Thrashing it all up and Shredding to froth that Instantaneously returns To unity.

Heads of turquoise jade shading To rich, regal purple Beaks like broken woodwind Seeking sustenance in murk Rising from out the water, before The shake, glimmering beads hang, Gems bejewelling plush fabric before Lateral motion restores normalcy.

Heads in line like Novelty cane handles Garnet eyes twinkling In burnished jade Texture feathered, intangibly Fine, softly staticy & Transient to the touch Before footfalls launch them From the water’s edge One by one In order.

Preening masculinity Resplendent in its finery The dowdy females sporting stripes Like military ribbons Upper limbs folded back, they Have the air of inspecting generals Resting back on their heels, poised Pinpoint inkwells alert.

Flapping the full cathartic Burn-off span of a yawn before Lurching over broken ground In the low-slung, stunted surges Of a child’s remote control car To a thrown launch, Up over water, flying Like already hanging in A butcher’s window: Neck ahead on the descent Before landing into dispersal With the sound of a tin of spilled nails And all the breadth The entire length impacted From a single action Everything is ripple

Forward propulsion – neither Ground nor sky Through movement, like Soaring bowling pins, they Plot surrounding space, & Descend like parachutes Under duress & pull Their contact cutting in curves Pushing against surface’s caught resistance Drifting across the calms, heads Elongated & droplike as blown glass Swivelling, beaks clapping open-shut In clockwork binary alarm Before coming to rest In a stare because They think You look like food.

Crumbs hit the surface of the murk Like circuit connectors Boatlike bodies snapping to motion Like started dodgems Wakes fanning out like Slender solar wings Spun gold behind Wind chime jaws Snatching vicegrips pince, shaking, Shredding in water and the wall-to-wall Clamour of hungry calls; a Double Ouroboros arising Beaks clattering at tails Wings rigid, battering at Full span, a circular Whirlpool tearing surface up skywards Like a death struggle in Jaws A churning engine of envy & competition, starts & stops and Through all, the body Of the river remains wholly unchanged.

Followed by & outrunning Their effects they set in motion Untouched & moving on The last light captured from a failing sky Flown only to return to Their patrolling, gliding On a stillness full of dusk Pulling an unfurled wingspan Of epic, reflected flame.

A form halfway between A pinned moth and a crucifixion They hold themselves vertical, backs to the sun Beating - with all their force - against air.

Her neck gripped In a snap, from behind Forcing head down, underWater, and again, his Weight above, pinning, in Mid-morning broad daylight A whole swathe of Biological deviations entailed Here at the end Of frantic flutter & grip Is your answer to the right Of what’s natural.

Dead Duck
The arrival of death on the towpath Electric jolt of primal recognition His back to approach, at eye level Holding on by his skull Squeezed in the crux of two branches Limbs hanging loose, as if halted in flight A little blood on the underside like watercolour Lifeless, left as omen, a symbol The abstract concept rendered fact in deactivated flesh.

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