The Chemical Oceanographer's Poem


I have a very long title indeed,
designed to surprise them on the bridge.
"It's very deep," I say, nonchalant.
The waves wave back; one of them
is a permanent wave.

Time for me to investigate.
Donnishly, I clamber into action,
sprinkling minions into the drink.
They used to use cups for this;
now I've rods, poles and perches
(out here on the 'Nautilus',
we still treasure our exercise books,
even if the measurements are altered).

Levels. That's what I'm after,
different levels of meaning, the shades
of suggestion. I generally sample,
before writing the hieroglyphics
into my waterproof wet-look notebook.

It is a hard life, that of a fish,
that's my opinion - professionally speaking.
Some of them rust, are tettered,
need a scale and polish.
I would not drink this stuff if you paid me
(unless the sum was considerable).

At the office, safely berthed,
I ink the areas of concern, marking
this chart and that with symbols.

Above my desk, which is very dry,
hangs my very long title indeed,
and visitors stare helplessly at it.

I've just smudged in some mercury,
Bad sign: next time out I will be
trawling the water for culprits.

They shall not fathom me.




From the book Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday

- a speculation