Coarse fishing with the President

“Why the bare chest Mr Putin?”

Behind us, salmon bounce the falls
sideways, backwards, upside down,
flipping as if the rocks were sizzling.
He’s giving me that whipped dog look.

“You must feel the sun upon your heart.
It is Russian sun so it makes you strong
like a bear or a city or a larch.”

Anti-machismo snow starts to fall
in big doily cake shop flakes
that fade on his oh-so-tattoo-able torso,
slippery clean as a hard-boiled egg.

The salmon now vault like acrobats
in harlequin jackets flashing on and off.
Putin slips down his camouflage fatigues
to silver underpants, legs like trees.

“In Russia, our fish don’t swim,
They dance. All animals dance by law.
Even our donkeys and foxes.”

Now we’re at the abyss, how will he fish?
A rod and fly, maybe strangulation?
A couple of grenades would do the job
although crossbow is more his style.

But it’s too late. A spiked fin protrudes
from his chest and rainbow scales glitter
around his neck and scalp. His feet
splay out into a mottled fan.

The President of the Russian Federation
scythes through the thundering spume
to gavotte around a pink bellied sockeye
who Merkels back with quivering gills.


Runner-up in the 2016 London Book Fair Poetry Competiton
sponsored by Impress Books

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