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The Fan is Broken, Bring Me the Black Hound


Sen Kudukeru, Chi Koku Haku [Fan-Broken-Bring-Black-Hound]

When the fan is broken, come with some relief,
For the coast is being broken, so bring that blackened hound.

Do you think it right, to be here tonight,
By the gasworks glow, this dirty town so drenched with orange light,
Where fossil gas piped along the seabed, still burns a smoky wind,
One day soon, the salty tide the highest known,
Will dash up, slap homes with once fine views,
Shatter windows scatter cars, come close to breaking through.

On dark nights like this, the duty guardian hound of Woðin,
Prowls the silent paths, from site to site of ancient bloody battle,
Over fen and marsh, down green lane and up again,
Along the sea cliff, paths that slid fast these days,
The moon was full, yet hidden by the stormy cloud,
Each fish boat drawn up high, lobster pots in piles,
In cottages of pebble and flint, screens flickered ghostly light,
Outdoors all was quiet, it was well-past closing time.

On nights like these, it is Black Shuck who is also walking,
That dog with many names, Old Scarp and Snarleyow himself,
He pauses at the tide mill, takes wooden ways on ligger boards,
Stitches the web from place to place, is gone inside the gorse,
It was Herne the famous Hunter, who stood upon these cliffs,
His hounds were white, red-eared and red-eyed,
Those Dogs of Annwm, hunted souls across the sky,
Shuck was their descendant, his coat grown rough and cosy.

You may see his lantern eyes, you may think them brake lights,
Yet odd that a distant vehicle, could be out here all alone,
This hound and all his claws, scratched at marsh church oaken doors,
You may hear a howl, for Woðin’s dog will call,
When the coast in pieces, is about to die,
At the edge was a wheat field, clawed away and crumbled,
A path that leapt to outer space, silent safe ways fallen far,
And so the frothy sea below, advances all the closer.

What of this hound, whose footfalls make no sound,
Who burst into the marsh cathedral, at Blythburgh by the water,
Beneath the twenty wooden angels, high on span of nave and chancel roof,
One night of storm and lightning flash, the hound howled and ran down the aisle,
Past poppyheads and golden robins, on the wardens’ staffs,
And the parish people, spiralled outward to the walls,
Just as the steeple fell, crashing through the roof,
The hound’s work was done, and he left to run the river walls.

This was the land after all, of roaming phantom drummer,
Green children in a woodland pit, the wild merman of the shore,
The shrieking pits at Beeston Regis, a chapterhouse in ruin,
Clasped by ivy, by the winds of wildness in the stones,
Shuck raised a howl, above the roar of storm,
And the light still shines, brightly in the giant church of flint.

On nights like this, Shipden church clear slid away,
It became a wreck undersea, it split the hull and sunk a steamer,
The tall Sidestrand tower, slipped down the steep,
Far from the fair green corn, below the field of poppy flowers,
The banded Haisbro’ lighthouse has watched, all the homes of Beach Road go,
You can safely swim at Dunwich cliffs, only now to 1760 or so,
For the rip tide at 1550, could haul you fast away,
Black Shuck can shriek and only do so much, to protect the people from themselves.

All was dark on nights like this, it was a long way down,
To scramble over sticky clay, wade through seeps where water rushes down,
To meet the highest tide, the waves that slapped at broken concrete,
The top town raised a memorial plaque, boarded up the sanatorium,
In that case, being off balance could bring some hope,
When the climate has been shattered, bring us the black hound,
Bring the dew, the smile of the newborn babe,
A chancel boy who sings, a girl who rows the ferry boat.

The Red Queen said, why sometimes I’ve believed,
As many as ten impossible things, before breakfast,
Could Shuck mend the fan, could he transform fear with hope,
Could we put this problem in a wide meadow, make it look anew,
On the treeless cliff at Beeston Regis, by the ancient priory,
Where the ancient monks still can be heard, singing to the sea,
The moon rises from the ocean, a glittering path to far horizon,
Two red eyes still are staring, waiting for a whistle.

It is said, to be broken is to be aware,
The chick after all, must escape the egg.

Jules Pretty
[Sen Kudukeru, Chi Haku Koku]

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