“taking back the land” – song [c. 1992]

moving through the green shade, glistening from the salt wave
on a giant sea snail, a dolphin & a blue whale

leaving behind them a furrow & a blood trail

sunlight sparkles in the windows of the houses on the hillside
high tide & the city shining like an open salt mine

leaving behind the beach front, the road is full of fish gut
wrestling their big bodies up the hill into the quiet street
fishes without gills & creatures without feet

moving with a strange noise & singing in a strange voice
rolling with a strange motion away from the soft ocean

the river’s broken back, carving up the tarmac
overturning cars, away from the beach head
where the small fry bled & died in the turning tide
the long coast running red & black
& green & tan in the sunset

take this shimmering wreck in your hand, hold
this broken waste in your hand
they are taking back the land

green & gold like a dreamscape
keep it close to your face, make it
take it
shake it
break it into crumbs of bone & bits of glass

every home on the sea front reeks of fish gut
soaking up the last rays, crackling in the last rays
last thing & last days

today’s lasting always, woman with a fish head,
man with a fish tail, crabs scuttling sideways
following the slick trail, down the gutter
up to the city smell, the sun like butter

on the back of a sea snail, the paths run with batter
from the flesh rot & the entrail, every male & female
runs for cover & the suburbs shudder & cave in
before the tidal wave of fish meat & fin
& sea weed from the sea where life did begin

a wave of sickness floods in
& the island wakes & shakes
& the land wags its tail on the dinner plate

spreading like a crime wave, dying from a new plague
on a giant meat dish, human & a big fish
making up a last wish & pushing up a last wave

leaving behind them the pearl, weed & pumice of the seaside

moonlight flickers through the smoke fume on the wreckage by the roadside
low tide & the fingers of kelp shine like the wet organs of the sea
the city open & empty like a slipway to the ocean

like open heart surgery, hosing down history
every storefront & porch a place of misery
faces without tongue & people without thought

lunging through the plate glass, cutting up the land mass
fishes caught in the turning time, swimming in the tarseal
skin & hair in the cesspit, sewerpipe & waste trap

creatures gutting buildings on the city map
& street corners burning
in the sea dark night

save this sad mess by your heart, drown
this murderous art in your hand
they are taking back the land

old & brown like the earth’s arm
sell it up for what it’s worth, earn it
burn it
spurn it
turn into lumps of gold & bits of grass

heaving through the grey dawn, moving on the firm soil
sliding on the sea spawn, plankton & a sperm whale

every mouth in the convoy sings with the same voice

in the fish eye of the dead moon, making up a strange tune
the whole earth moans and shakes with the low noise
& the ground groans & spoils & breaks & folds with the weight
as the trail & snake of black & tan blood & silver fish scales uncoils

away from the foam & spume of the ocean
the valley floors run slick & red
& the claws of the dead
dry in the morning & the holes in their heads are yawning
on the planes where the sick moon wanes

& the roiled & waking world is doomed from the dawning
of the days of fishes, the distant roar

birds fall from the sky, the beasts of the forest call, crawl & cry
& the forms of the men & women change as they try & change
& the children sing with a strange voice there

take this glimmering hope by the hair, choke
this poison grace in your hand
they are taking back the land

seen in dreams like a good thing
hang it close to your head, air it
share it
wear it
tear it into slivers of flesh & lumps of bread

drink this sea green wine & blood black & tan
from the palm of your hand, from the past
they are taking back the land
at last