The Friday Poem: Iron Throne, Overwhelmed, by Mikaela Nyman


A new poem by the poet and novelist Mikaela Nyman.

Iron Throne, Submerged

This vessel is of a curious kind, missing

his stomach

look how he chops the waves eats

pieces of seabed

sucks and pours

like the waves at Back Beach and Fitzroy

Past that sneaky bar where Virginia suffered a concussion

a wonder it even stays afloat

Who owns the sand anyway?

Trans-Tasman Resources had an eye

on the extraction of vanadium-rich iron ore

off South Taranaki

50 million tons of sand per year

a sunken bay, the Supreme Court

said no, echoing locals and iwi

On average, one ton of sand equals 0.625 cubic meters

or 625 liters

due to the heavy iron it is probably a bit less

50 million tonnes is an 11-digit number of liters –

hard to even imagine

Vanadium is used to treat diabetes,

cholesterol, low

blood sugar, heart disease, tuberculosis, syphilis

take care of tired blood

and water retention, can also be used to improve

sports performance and prevent cancer

You will find vanadium in space vehicles, nuclear reactors

aircraft carriers, pistons and axles, as beams

in construction

potters use it as a pigment

Skin wet, we beat angels on the warm sand wedge

salty grains in our mouths leave traces

the elements seep into limbs, skin, blood, tongues

It’s been ages since we’ve been on a trip of any kind

sand trips all the time

calculate all the interior dimensions of a truck, you end up

with a trip of sand or 450 cubic feet

so many feet in one truck

Just look at the current cost of building materials in Nigeria:

Pointed sand (20 tons) one trip ₦60,000

Soft sand (20 tons) one trip ₦90,000

Laterite filling (20 tons) one trip ₦48,000

Next time you’re ransomed, why not

trade sand dollars.

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will reopen very soon.

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