Found Poem: Death of a Lady’s Mermaid

mermaid deep twk 1

The Mermaid And The Deep

Mermaid muscles were numbered
and mermaid style was obsolete
and all mermaid virtues hissing
in a steaming holocaust:

And the deep took unto herself
most everything her mermaid lover lost.

The deep beckoned to the sentry
of mermaid’s high religious mood.
The deep said, “I’ll make an ocean
between my legs, I’ll teach you solitude.”

Mermaid offered her an orgy
in a many-mirrored sea;
mermaid promised her protection
against the fishes of her womb.

The deep moved her body hard
against a sharpened spoon,
the deep stopped the rituals
of passage to the moon.

The deep took mermaid’s admirable
oceanic frame of mind,
and the heart-of-darkness alibi
mermaid hides behind.

“This mental ocean is occupied
and everything is mine.”

Mermaid tried to take a final dive
beside the sailor’s tack.
The deep said, “The art of longing’s over
and it’s never coming back.”

The deep took mermaid’s tavern,
mermaid’s shimmy-dance;
the deep mocked mermaid’s female fashions
and working-class moustache.

The last time I saw him
mermaid was trying hard to get
a woman’s education
but mermaid’s not a woman yet.

And the last time I saw her
the deep was living with a boy
who gives her soul an empty sea
and gives her body joy.

It’s like our voyage to the moon
or to that other compass star:
I guess you sail for nothing
if you really want to sail that far.

Note: After letting them rest for almost three months, I’m posting, one by one, the 27 found poems I wrote during National Poetry Month (aka April), and posted to the PoMoSco site for Poetry Scout “badges”, since Camp PoMoSco is now offline.

The Mermaid and the Deep earned the PMS Sub. Texter  badge. Earning the badge required replacing one to five frequently recurring words with words of my own choice, in a text of my choice. As my source text I used Leonard Cohen’s Death Of A Lady’s Man (New York: Penguin Books, 1979. Pages 30, 31, 32):

death of ladyI’ve owned this copy of Death Of A Lady’s Man for 35 years, and it looks it.

For she, I substituted the deep; for his, and he, I substituted mermaid; for space, I substituted ocean; for room, I substituted sea. There were a few additional tweaks, which I did not draw attention to when I posted it to PoMoSco. The result in my own judgment is more a play on Cohen’s original than a free-standing poem, but I like it anyway.


3 responses to “Found Poem: Death of a Lady’s Mermaid

  1. Dear Dr,

    You and Lenny write nice. That’s fine and good, but where did you get that mermaid with the wash-board and the hub-cap and the shaggy snake? Spike is losing weight and I’m not.

    As I was riding down the elevator a fellow stepped on and called me “Sir”. I flinched and said he could call me Nathan. He said I could call him Keith (which is fine and good) but also I could call him Lemon, his “performance” name. My performance name was “Mud of the Arkansas”. I sang, among others, a classic song by the name of “Keep on Truckin’, Mama” which contained an all-but mermaid verse: “Your daddy is a deep-sea diver and he goes way on down…/He goes way down to the bottom of the sea./He’s got a big long hose and it’s for you and me./So keep on trucking’, Mama…

    As a public service I gave my guitars away, and my performance name with’m.


  2. Powerfully effective. It would take a Dylanesque (rather than a Cohen-esque) tune!

  3. Two tails, a diptych IPAD in one hand and a pizellated Chevy hubcap
    in the other, clearly: a Merman. There is no heat like the fevered brain of the too long at sea-man.

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