Rik Roots: ‘Portsmouth Thoughts’

Rik Roots is an internet poet who likes to do things his own way – you’ll not find his poems in magazines as he much prefers to publish them on his own website.
Rik’s major claim to ‘proper’ poetic fame is being part of the group that established Magma Poetry – he even edited Magma 6, for his sins. The magazine’s subsequent success has nothing to do with Rik; he left the Management Board a few weeks before Magma 7 was published.
The poem ‘Portsmouth Thoughts’ comes from Rik’s latest chapbook, To Posterity, which he released into the wild of the internet in September 2010. The chapbook can be downloaded (at no cost) as a pdf, which should be viewable on most eReaders. Rik’s previous publications can be discovered on his publications page.
Portsmouth Thoughts
With the marksman’s lead threaded
in his spine, they took him down
to settle in the rocking dark, alert
to the cracks of battle: splinter spars;
powder pillows heft from copper store
to cannon; sharp wine in water; shouts;
sweats. He bled in his ship of skin,
three hours to reach death’s dock.
Another man has no plaque, nor grave
beyond a weight of water. He has instead
a glass display, labels to mark him:
“barber-surgeon drowned with his chest”.
Here are his knives, his herbs, a leather
of shoe, some dice, some coins, a bone
nit-comb. He has no face; his blood
rusts in Solent muds. Still he was here.
This boat is all lignin bone in mist,
a preservation of what was once great,
and lost, and rescued. I pay good coin
to view her – for she is my history
as much as the bricks and stones
of the town surrounding us, the heroes
who watched these docks slip past,
a clinch in our tide’s slow pulse.

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