Scotch Gambit

Chess is so much more, he said,
Than simply moving pieces
On an eight by eight board,
Tossing another blood-red husk
From without his creel,
Indolently, then another sip,
Almost all unreal
And twice as tall.

‘You see, this existence’, he said,
With an expansive gesture
Befitting a man of knowledge
Of the ocean berths and beds,
‘Is only an unblemished stone
Of a moment sat upon an axle,
Whether on your pebbled shore before
Or what will be my later wheel,

And so yes’,
The fisherman said,
Cartilaginous and devoid
Of any spurdog-hampered gansey
Over a mottled chest
Akin to bruised and foot-pressed prunes,
His old eyes closed and his
Skin drenched
By a genuflecting sun,
Riven planes along
His spokeshaven cheeks
As light-brown as to be almost
White as leather bleached
And blanched deceiving,
On saddles before the bronzing
Inspired by untamed biga-chariot horses,
Flehmens flared and frenzied
Underneath that self-same sun
Sailing blithely far above
A crowded hippodrome
On a Punic evening.

‘It is about foresight, you see’,
And I nodded, absentmindedly,
‘Knowing your opponents’ moves
Before they know themselves’.
He stood up slowly, somewhat
Frailly, brushed himself down,
Claws and breadcrumbs
And sovereignty,
Shook my hand
Defiantly, before
Wending his way
Back up the cobbles
To his cottage,
And his wife
Waiting patiently
With a cold soup supper.

Canto Dell’aragosta

They used to eat lobsters here,
Before beginning the end of ends;
In restaurants, on promenades or piers
Which have since all disappeared –
Overlooking the Papal Bay of Scampi
Patés of blue tomalley.

Fresh from the sea, picked from a pot,
Seasoned with salt for a rich polyglot;
Suspended in freezers, icy blocks,
They tied the pincers, joined the dots;
As he played with his ring
He lied to his wife that his lover had gone.

A lobster with one claw or less is named
A Cull, in Maine and the eastern seaboard.
The male transfers sperm through its legs,
The red is the red of the roe;
We breathe through our gills
Through the gaps in our toes.

Once we have extinguished all nature,
Where will dharma and karma take us?
My hands are changing before me,
My body will soon have its telson.
I will adapt to a life on dark distant beds,
Before I am speared, for fatter men fed.