Of Caliban and the Sixes, Upon the Cuttlefish | wisconsinacademy.org
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Of Caliban and the Sixes, Upon the Cuttlefish

Third Place 2012 Poetry Contest Winner
Of Caliban and the Sixes, Upon the Cuttlefish

The world resembles a cuttlefish changing colors
And shimmering.
—Arthur Sze

Cuttlefish on display perplex.
Shimmy shine shenanigans.
One message right, one left, to vex
thine enemy. Be thou a cuttlefish upon a Caliban
to shimmy shine the bigger light; and thereby hex
the prospero-us man.

O! hooligan be! a mollusk man
to metaphor me and perplex
in honoring of vox populi, vox populae. Dear cuttle Caliban,
I’ll teach you language; so shall you vex,
now knowing how to curse; ply, you, your shenanigans
to free vox populi from Hermes’ hex

a meter, twangling instruments, through which our hex
will well-rewarded be cast upon the man
a kin most villainous ’twould be easy to perplex.
Wake, you, my Caliban of the deep; mimic sun
in shimmer-shine manipulates to vex
in honoring of vox populae; trump master by shenanigans

complex. Make sure she, nan, n’ grans
do not reflection lose. The sea is full with vex.
Snaggle-toothed the shark, no friend to man.
O! do not hesitate to give perplex
and tea to them who would ’pon Caliban
deliver torrential oath and hex.

Do you not from time to time a hex
perform with hellacious shine shenanigans
and to a convex curvature give perplex?
O! Pity poor manunkind; man,
that’s some row to how without a vex
in your hip pocket, like unto what a Caliban

would have to sepia with ink and spurt, my Caliban
of cuttlefish; who’s inkfish, too, and could hex
the face of sea in changing colors; good shenanigans
darken and so bemuddle, so completely vex,
that brave new world will open to the populi-and-aye of man
who with word and rhyme, in time, might dis-perplex.

Cuttle, come, perplex. Play you th’ocean Caliban.
Persist you, your shenanigans. Rime off intolerable hex.
Teach ink to vex. Redress, thou, as thou can, and shimmer! mollusk man.

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Barbara Lightner is a 73-year-old shameless agitator, retired. Lightner grew up in rural Tennessee among sharecroppers and poor whites, aristocrats and cotton magnates. She began writing poetry in law school to escape the intolerable burden of injustice by law.

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