Four Poems from Doggerland, by Dicko King


LAW:   The presence or absence of goodness
            —of which absence of a sense
            of self—the inability to
            distinguish a self
            in a context of other selves . . .

Has evil dress
as a small

a sated
eating a spider,

a careless raven
feeding dropwort
to its bairn.

A boy
a toad.


From round stone to round stone
they wobbled, bits of bog between
their toes unnoticed, farmers not yet
farmers nor bound yet
to a Clachan

or to dry stone boundary
walls double stacked
for stability, long life.

Not bound, even, to single stones
stacked one on one and loose,
such that skittish sheep stayed put.

And though the limits of townland
and tenancy had not yet been imposed,
these would one day surround
the arable and graze land, would
cause grief immeasurable, settle
some things, leave
others unsettling.

No fuschia yet, either,

     or trumpeting
montbretia easing tired men
into commonage.


It wasn’t invaders split us into rotty fiefdoms,
rootless kings outnumbering the whitefly.
It wasn’t Saxon or Norseman or the shite
Norman ate the liver out of a Kingdom.

It wasn’t wives or bitter princes lost the Crown,
or Burke kept us out of Burke’s Peerage,

had the Berry woman, Kathleen—the stair scrubber, in steerage.

It was Connemara boys with pointed sticks, one tipped
with chipped stone, the other bone,
gripped in their wet hands,

one boy cutting the other, the other boy cutting the first . . .

Wort & Wen

Whether it was French or called Mediterranean
heath—or heather, for that matter, or gorse-
covered—the worst of the ground cover, or
whether or not the small pink or purple flowers made it more moor
didn’t matter

to the heathland butterfly or moth or
medicine woman bent to her pharmacy
pinching at the wortcunning, biting off
the nettle-tip.

This one For the Loss of Cattle, this
For the Water-Elf Disease, this
Against a Wen.

Busy she is against the moth,
and singing her charms for the practice

into the mouths and ears and wounds.

Dicko King
was born at the old Carney Hospital in South Boston, and raised in St. Margaret's parish in Dorchester during the last of the grand and mythical eras presided over by tribes of feral children. King's poems have appeared out of nowhere, some of them published in Prime NumberCactus HeartPortland Review, and Straylight. His first book of poems, Doggerland: Ancestral Poems, was published by Off the Grid Press in 2014. He is a finalist for The Louise Bogan Award.