Professional Mermaid

A tail can be manufactured

Neoprene, dragon skin silicone, urethane,

flukes customised &

sold to finfolk

lost@sea. Staccato tweets,

eyespots as strange as olives.

At work the dorsal fin separates

easily from the mould.

The mertailor’s apprentice eats.

Knife and fork

reveal flesh as pink as corned beef.

Afterwards, he skims the stock.

(His soup smells good in the pot.)

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On weekends she’s a wish in a tank

satisfaction guarranteed,

will do small fry,

Are you real?

(Are you?)

What do you eat?

(Seaweed salad, kelp on the rocks)

Do you know Ariel?

(Yes, but she’s busy with Prince Eric.)

Fingerlings tap her scales,

tease chlorine through the plastic teeth of her comb

lift each rubbery heel fin

as though looking for…

mermaids don’t have knees!

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A pod

in Antarctica


Continents melt,

mountains defrost,


The glacier begins to pulse_ _ _

The mermaids pause, profiles

still as popsicles,


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At Bikini Atoll,

coral bleaches

in the socket of an

atomic crater.

A shoal of triggerfish

radiate around the edge

of the r  f.

A dropped





sinks to the seabed.

Sand rises in its wake

like ash.

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Merman tail is fragile,

mythic fluke, an iridescent shade of blue.

He curls his arms around it. He waits.

A merman unboxes only once.

The shell cracks.

Tape rises from its equator.

This is a dangerous time.

Sharks. Eels. A stingray’s barbed tail.

The merman lines his hashtag with sharp objects:

shells. Emojis. Jokes. What lies at the bottom of the sea and shakes?

A nervous wreck.

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A tanker spills glutinous black into Oceania

Scientists are ferried on to scene

One reaches his rubber-glove into

long hair with the sheen of oil

beneath it, the stunned face of a mermaid

her eyes still open, a mauve

rainbow caught in each pupil.

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In a desert hotel

the Roswell Alien

glugs & sighs,

a hand-out is handed out,

a sequin pried off like a scab.

Inside the monofin her toes drip,


At night, underneath the galaxy of sand

the deep dull echo of water.


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The professional mer works swiftly,

her tail emits a scent

that causes blindness.

A profile of jellyfish rise to the surface,


She can smell the fear of the Tiger Sharks

as they stripe closer,

keeping time with her fluke,

she aims her GoPro

with the zeal of a pole vaulter.

The shoot is followed by pilot fish

on Instagram.

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Off hook, the mermaids exit

rocked by merwranglers.

cotton on skin is a delicacy.

Dry hands, how strange, how exotic!

The wranglers smell of the women they have loved

and the things they have eaten.

The wranglers bring towels, perfumes.

The mermaids catch a hint of fabric softener and flowers.

Their minds unpeel, bloom

until the perfume is spilt and absorbed by the ocean,

If a wrangler plunges into the sea

eventually he will begin to shiver

and if he goes down too deep

if the mermaid forgets that he is not a fish

and drags him under, he will go quite white & luminous.

His body will become limp in his clothes

the cotton will billow around him

& he will float