Four Distressed Sonnets

I

dull gray and the gray and whose gray of the sky and the land
is sluggish; that with smudged foam and with the birds
of that shouts keening assault of salty air;
where oxidation and wrack decorates the disintegration of husks
of abandoned structures constructed the end to stop
bending the disastrous displacement of the sand,
cuttlebone flotsam, eggs of the seawolf, kelp of the feet,
torn moved away from bags and the plastic other dreck mark
where the swell of the morning the highest lost force
as muscularly the wave disgorges the heaving coast
that receding makes the sea disclose one chainbound corpse
and naked, sexless, discoloured in the inner thigh;
alongside the mud as for outflow of the estuary and which eddies
the subcutaneous bill and you inspect godwits strictly


II

a residue mud-brown as convoluted cream;
smell; to harvest it prompts your fingers inside
and consider its treacly, unremovable corruption;
before commemoration, ancient times, time and excess,
half noisome gloop of thing of the shadow,
ephemeral things, gone things before you will
establish or determine them; the melody
perhaps hint which can only be in the ear
of your reason, shading in the past without
possibly always existing in any present;
thistledown you may not grasp; it affects
the intangible walls and unnameable,
continuous that they are not there;
echo of the sound you cannot do


III

the cow drinks crosses the place
in the heavy earth breaks out completely
and still in sky their breath impression
only under the shafts rain now which falls
a hard explicit sky the so much naked soil
sounds as wrapping a dog in closed at
edge of waterhole brilliant with clear
reflected shimmer luminous portrayed dusk
cloud curls vivid pink traces of plane steam
surrounds the domain of wedgewood blue
knee-high mist that wraps the sectors
lighted to the outline of the hill
where see five deer in the daybreak
rigid, alert, regarding, silent, still


IV

the fact that bordered flavour withers of bitterness
the uncultivated land grinds the taste
falling and cuts ploughland to drop, knotty,
the work which fumigates dawns the autumn tongue;
the vulture chaotic spatial flies again
air from the air which gets tangled the bank to fall
spits phlegm warmly fragrant, the border dry fish
good organic savour; each seed of the grass increased
by a droplet; cases of moonlight on the church tower
which goes down, being cut off, dressed silver to the cloud,
that scream of an owl, its constant sparkling wingbeats;
the air coughs and the direction which the wall
cuts the cloud silver stable wingbeats to call;
only the lower part of the tree has the rain

 

Each of these poems was first written as a formal sonnet, in conventional lines of iambic pentameter, then distressed through a process making use of the deficiencies of computerised translation. Languages involved included Greek, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.


Since returning to poetry after a hiatus of many years, Aidan Semmens has work online in Jacket, Shearsman, Shadowtrain, Stride, Great Works and Jack.