The Rain on Portsmith

by Charles Elliott


Thought immaterial, impulses of

the organic matter.


The People

The storm becomes onto us, people of Portsmith. Nineteen days it has poured upon us, with the constancy of the Sun and the fiendish Moon. Not a ship has left our waters in this time, though there are many strangers left among us. The refugees of the storm are variably strange men of strange tales. We may eat the least of them if the rain does not cease, for while Portsmith knows many, she loves few. We barricade ourselves, hold safe in our wooden homes. The dank dripping in the dark reminds us we must hold against. The oldest of us are very old and the passing sailors know this. They fear our strength in unity, these mysterious men of far places. The storm will not break us. It is they it shall break. For we are of the mud and the sand and the dirt and the rock. Our cliffs shall hold fast as strange men drown.

Ma ma ma-hei

Cliff ma ma


Caught in the rain;

There may be things ancient and things sacred, but no no no, I do not know, I do not know where they will go. I do not know where they will go in the rain and the wind which blows. No no no, I do not know. Where will things ancient and things sacred go in the rain and the wind that blows?


The Speleologist

I am the speleologist come beneath Portsmith.

I am beneath, beneath the waves, in the dark and ageless cave.

I brought, I did, a boat to sail upon its lake;

This still lake of air upon the water bed

knows no turn nor tide….

the air is stale, silent, not a creature to abide—Chqm-qmmn!

Ah—I feel the depth on my lungs.

But for its press

the depth rewards

the secrets of our form.

To know the lake so still, so deep, below our surface realm

is to know secrets never told,

secrets fine and cold.

Chqm’qmnm—it bites!

But so it is to know the oldness of our world.


The foul, flailing figure below the docks, amongst the chopping waves:

I am the one forgotten about, lone among the docks. The people of this city, they commune and they hiss. I hide, I swim, among the posts and thieve them when I can. But this rain, this rain, the tide it twists and turns. I struggle on the planks, fighting against the throws. The water it fills my mouth, and this water, it burns. Not one above might know my plight, save a stray eye or two. Hhhluc’gnh, my breast, it burns.


Mrs. Moon

My husband, you mustn’t tell him,

tell him that I play

with these fools of Portsmith

while he’s away.

For by day he lights them

(so kind and sure)

But me I see no reason


to play with their storm

to pull up their tides

with my rise

and shove them

just a little more.

My husband, he’s so kind,

really such a dear.

But I’m no sentimentalist

and see no reason


to play about with these creatures

of the dirt and rock.

So please you mustn’t tell him

Please you mustn’t tell

of these games

with these waves

on Portsmith’s rocky shore.


The Seabed

Sssssccchhh, we try to speak, but we find it hard. Sssch, no more throats or mouths, ssch’ground to bed of sea. What…is that….a distant splaying storm? More to mourn, room for loss upon our grainy bed. More more to lay to sleep our grainy bed. Rest rest, feel the weight of the mother sea. Ah, she rests her weight on thee. Lay, lay with Phlebas our sandy sea. Schhhh-pat! We await thee.


The Practitioner

The rain has persisted

It has been hard and

it has been long

and I have had to aid many sick.

It has been hard, but I know what I do is good.

Trudging home in the sopping, soaking night

I espied a patch of abyss and saw that it was total.

And it brought me to think of my patient just

moments before. So slender, so weak,

what world makes he?

Ours and there is no other.


The Banker

There ain’t much need for banking

here in Portsmith, the people’s ways

are old. But of course there’s money:

things are always bought and sold.

The strange men, they’ll barter us,

‘specially now in the storm. When

the sea tumbles and the air shrieks

it ain’t safe to fish. So we’ve ‘ad to

trade and I’ve been busier than ever.

But mark me we’ll eat them soon

—soon as profit turns to loss.

And I know, I know,

I keep the books you see,

that pretty soon it will be on

those strangers that we feed.


The Whore

These foreign men at Portsmith, they each love me in their way. The people of this town (I know for they see me) call these men strange. To them I say a cock’s a cock and I’ll take them all in my bed. It’s not so bad as people think, ‘sides the occasional rough customer. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t choose it, but most men are straight and swift. Their eyes are often absent, yes, but with a lust for touch. It’s all the same when they mount me, hungry for mine nectar, but then their way is frailer. Frailer in each a different manner, but frailer all the same. So I say a cock’s a cock, and believe me I know. I’ve felt them all and each I tell you is of the same silly manhood.


A Fisherman

I was out fishing on the pier

when the winds they swept in stronger.

The waves they crested ever higher, and

as fate will do my course was made,

upon the concrete and the swept up sand

between the throwing waters.

My steps they fell resisting the

sweeping of the waves.

But I must I must fill

the plates of little eaters.

They must wait upon my trials

of the slowly seeping sand.

And if I slip upon the

slick of sands ever churning,

then the eaters, they shall hunger.


A pulse:

a sudden rush of speeding electrons,

pulling their nuclei to the North.

Naught do they know of Portsmith,

nor the voices there.

And still they rush to push

the stagnant storm away.


A Mother

Snap goes the crack of teeth upon bone.

My child eats the flesh of some unwelcome stranger, and tell you I must I’m not the least bit sorry. I care not the least for the salt of the sea and these men are no better. Languid and proud, what better comings could they have than a restless stomach? Present we have a feast, be it of foul smelling meat. Our port of Portsmith knowingly provides. And if these rains they do not cease she shall make them our beasts to herd and raise as cattle. Our Portsmith, she is our mother, and a mother will provide. The waves and winds that thrash about our cliffs will know that we are cared for. Cared for not are those men, bastard-children’s fathers.


The People

Cliff-cra, clif’ma

Cliff cliff kah-rah

Cliff cliff kah-rah


Ma ma ma-hei

Cliff ma ma


The beginning of a


that curs’d magic of


a memory of a dream.

Thought at once to be


this memory, it fades.

Gone as quickly as its


this thing of mind

seems solid.

And thus I grasp about


thoughts unthought

and life

but only tentatively lived.

It seems to me I should


it seems to me I


A rock, a bird, a

glimps’d witch,

those queer cliffs,

the ringing of a bell.

Was it a horror then?

Or a grace too great for


If I were to know, might I

be free

of the earth beneath my


Time, time holds that I

must turn to the

counting of coins.

Eastern Michigan University's English Department senior student literary journal