Day 136 11/8/13: The Sharks of English 101

Going through the notes I took during student presentations, I realized I have the rough beginnings of a poem on the weird and wonderful variety of sharks in the ocean.

So often I find these words together:

vulnerable, beautiful, strange.

English: Shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrhinchus)

English: Shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrhinchus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes ugly is lucky.

The translucent goblin hates the sun.

Too deep for fishermen,

his nose is a flattened sword

to study currents.

When pulled into the upper world,

the Shortfin mako rebels

&  aborts her eggs

Other things we know:

Nurses travel long distances for love.

Porbeagles play seaweed games.

Megalodon’s jaws were a tunnel, a gateway

crushing whale skulls like grapes.

The angel (also called the sand devil)

lies motionless on the ocean floor

waiting for a hapless mollusk,

and captured in the swirling, indiscriminate sweep

of the fisherman’s trawl.

Who has seen the flickering southern lantern?

Been ambushed by a shaggy-bearded woebegong?

The poisonous flesh

of the slow, drowsy Greenland shark

will make you drunk.

Its teeth are dense, yellowed icicles.

It sneaks up on sleeping seals,

while the twirling, breaching

spinner shark can only be called

an ecstatic hunter.

Day 121 10/24/13: A Poem for Sharktober

I don’t know how I feel about this poem yet…..what do you think?

Requiem Shark

By Rad Smith

This morning as I gulp five gleaming white
capsules of shark cartilage
to make me strong again, I want
another look at the terrible
eye with its nictitating membrane,
those extravagant fins,
the ampullae of Lorenzini freckling its snout,
all of that huge body on the rippled sand
in turtle grass
with an entourage of neon-blue barjacks,
and a remora wriggling in
and out of its gill-slits.
I even want to touch it again,
and this time not just with my fingertips,
but my palm, loveline and lifeline,
my wrist, the underside of my forearm.
I want to press my cheek against its chaste
astonishing skin smooth as a headstone,
want the touch that feels like a blow,
the summoning touch, the touch
of reckoning, the consummating touch, as well as
the stinging sandblown touch of regret,
the stranger’s touch on the train,
the reproachful touch,
even the last touch of a human
who has lain down with a shark,
the touch I have spent my life so ignorant of,
your touch as you unbutton my shirt,
the searing, unbearable touch.

Source: Poetry (March 2000).

Day 51 8/15/13: Sharks’ Teeth by John Ciardi

Action: Looking forward to screening and teaching Rob Stewart’s movie Revolution a follow up to Sharkwater which I just downloaded from iTunes. Until then, this little poem:
The thing about a shark—-is teeth
One row above, one row beneath.
Now take a close look. Do you find
It has another row behind?
Still closer—here, I’ll hold your hat:
Has it a third row behind that?
Now look in and…Look out! Oh my,
I’ll never know now! Well, goodbye.

Day 28: 7/23/2013: Sharks: Feel The Poetry

Today I bought some shark educational materials for the Fall semester. I wanted to memorize which shark belongs to which family. Instead of studying, I became swept up in the beauty of names–all these sharks I’d never heard of:

the blind shark, the tasselled wobbegong, the false, the graceful, the grinning, ghost, honeycomb and lollipop cat sharks

and among the requiems: the blackspot, the dagger nose, the milk shark, the nervous shark, the night shark, the pondicherry, the hardnose, the big nose, the spinner

not to mention the sawback, hidden, ornate and angular angelsharks or the unforgettable dusky, sharpnose, sharp fin, whiskery, western spotted gummy, the flapnose, and humpback hound sharks

Did you know the smallest shark is the dwarf lantern (6.7 inches)?

Or that hound sharks hunt in packs or

that a school of hammerheads is also called a shoal or a shiver?

Wobbegongs are excellent ambushers

and once someone found

a doll inside a tiger shark