22 Ocean Terminal

a sijo

I’m standing here, at Ocean Terminal,
wondering what happened.
Moon cut like a glass eye, light bends;
an unusual sequin.
Like I’ve never seen before, light
dies, wondering what happened.

My arm round you we see the stars
die like the moon cut through
us as if it can see right through
us, together, trembling as if
dead. I’m eating an ice cream.
You want some. Us and Them plays loud.

What I’m anticipating now
is far too unthinkable
I am thinking, it is not fit
for the lobe of a simpleton.
In tongues, I whisper it
To an already dead cow, moo

I make the sound for it because
It would have, had it been alive.
He was a bovine delight, he
was all I had, for a long time.
Burying the cow, I notice
you’ve gone, and all I’ve left is dirt.

Ben Armstrong


One thought on “22 Ocean Terminal

  1. progiestben says:

    Writer’s Note:

    22 Ocean Terminal is an aside to my longest standing ‘adlibion’ narrative and concerns itself with the loneliness and isolation of the main character as he stands at the edge of the world.

    The poem is a heavily modified Sijo (Read more about the form at the link below) and appears to me now as quite Murakami-esque – though this was written before I’d read him – due to its contemplative nature and jarring references to modern culture.

    Stanza I is heavily inspired by the silent, surrealist Luis Bunuel film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ and in many ways I tried to write this piece as wordlessly as possible. Like many of my poems, this is designed to be read and not spoken. I wanted to bottle the sadness and whimsy of a Pink Floyd song in a poem – a sort of unconscious monologue, structured yet confused with itself. Us and Them seemed like a good choice for inspiration.

    Although unintentional, I really like the way this one cadences at the end. The poem both opens and closes with an isolated narrator but the final lines feel far more lonely and desperate than the first. I guess my point is that loneliness has more to do with perspective than anything physical – it’s about knowing yourself and knowing what you need to be happy.

    Lastly, you can read the final line in two ways. ‘All I’ve (got) left is dirt’, and ‘All I’ve left (behind) is dirt’. You can read this either way – I do. Is this an optimistic poem? I don’t know. It’s curious to me and that’s what I like about it.



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