Another Apollo and Otter

March 14, 2014

Oh, John. What you said. Life changing.

This new poem respectfully dedicated to John Stevens, who gave it life.

*

Apollo and Otter gave birth to a two-headed fish
in the sea  as they emerged from the sea.
That sand is the mother, they thought—
which left four eyes to shine above the tide’s
high water mark—two mouths to feed.
A perch, Apollo called it. A sea perch.
But there are two fishes here, Otter said.
There must be two souls as well.
Look at us, said Apollo. No divisions here,
just a fable or a parable or something—
something that  ties my soul to yours.
Otter, you held my breath to help me swim.
You hold me still, for I am the mighty Apollo.
What a strange sun this water brings to shore.

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3 Responses to “Another Apollo and Otter”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    My, what a tangle of issues these ‘two’ poems raise. Actually Thomas, I’m glad you read the first (apparently) in ignorance of the second. I wonder, do you feel cheated—that you’re being toyed with? Or is it like a good lawyer who should be able to argue both sides of a case and win.’ The trouble here is that it smacks of nihilism and sophistry. One would like to think a poem reflects a vision of some sort, a commitment by the poet.
    Let’s see if I can sort this out. The poem started with a dead fish found on the beach. The two characters were named something like Anthony and Otto. I liked the way the names subtly filled up the mouth; these names migrated to Apollo and Otter. [In some Native American traditions, as I understand it, Otter fulfills the role of Coyote, a trickster.] But of course I am playing the role the trickster, am I not? Playing fast and loose with this poem. John sort of sparked the change, but of course he’s an innocent bystander. When I thanked him for bringing ‘life’ into the poem, it was of course my change of the two headed fish from dead to being born. [Suppose I said ‘ate’ or ‘worshiped’]. He not busy being born is busy dying. The sand became a mother. The poem became one of care and concern, not one of bleak despair.
    I would like to suggest that the line ‘just a fable or a parable or something’ holds some interest here. We’re being rather casual about this, aren’t we? What actually holds them together? Something? Death and birth both fill the bill. Both are susceptible to fable and parable. Or poetry. There is something about this poem that is like an equation: There are variables that can be filled in. It might have something to do with the names ‘Apollo and Otter’. They are both meaningful, but are not easily associated—so disassociated so as to be sort of empty. Are we in the presence of a god or a goof-off? Otter—well, Thomas, one thing I can clear up is that the Wind in the willows was not even slightly in my mind.
    What about commitment to a vision? Does it have any? Or is this nihilism? Is it sophistry in the worse sense? (as opposed to genuine philosophy). I’m not sure I can answer these questions, except to say that sometimes something that seems empty and forbidding and at an impasse, is merely asking for attention to be paid to a larger context, something that transcends the apparent aporia.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    Hmmmm…
    Apollo and Otter are certainly ambitious fellows, aren’t they? Birth, death, souls, communion, sandy mothers, two souls that are one that maybe mean we are all one soul? Help!

  3. John Stevens Says:

    You have a super-charged imagination Jim! Well done! I am grateful for the dedication – that is a first for me (and very likely to be a last as well I should think). All the best, J


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