lonely genus

With you, it’s terraforming comfort zones.
Without me, sea monkey habitat goes
smash; we spend all our time repairing homes.
You, inside, watching all the concrete prose
wobble like loose eyes. Wave, insomniac,
your fixed gaze criss­crossed, upturned. The sad shoal
follows me. I’m building them a brand new home,
(the last) made crumb in a flash by a black hole.

My friends, the fish, repay me with treasure
which I invest in a pensioners trust
for old fish, to keep them old but clever.
Me inside, spent, watching the whole sea rust.
I learn to live without necessity,
This flood made drought by sand,
                                                                       sans you, sans me.

Ben Armstrong


One thought on “lonely genus

  1. progiestben says:

    Writer’s Note:

    One of two echo sonnets in this collection, ‘lonely genus’ began its life as part of a rule-breaking exercise and became one of my favourite pieces.

    I have a strong love/hate relationship with the sonnet, and wanted to capture its beauty and harmony without the predictability and cliché language that’s often synonymous with the form. My idea was to merge the conventional sonnet with the echo technique practised by Surrealist writers, that is, a style of automatic writing where one line or stanza is written to ‘mirror’ the one before. After many attempts at experimenting with the fusion of these two ideas, I ended up replacing the end rhymes entirely with these surreal ‘matched’ phrases, but this poem is the best of the ones I wrote with end rhymes intact.

    I’m very fond of the line “watching all the concrete prose//wobble like loose eyes” and especially the final lines which I think capture the true power of human connections in a way that isn’t sugary and dripping with sentiment. This poem also merges the themes of the sea and deep space which run through my first collection ‘adlibion’ as key motifs. ‘Perennial’ is a sequel, of sorts, to ‘adlibion’ – set in the same universe but earlier. Several key characters overlap and develop across the course of both narratives.

    Thanks again for reading



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