Tony Harrison – Amazon

Listen to the poem here:


At the watery border

of three countries,

one eliminated early

and two in the running,

tethered to thick trees

the floating house

with foundations of gators

strains on its moorings

so the satellite rocks

and the football flickers.


Swinging in hammocks

watching the World Cup

on dodgy reception

with six macaws

feathered in fan strip,

blue, yellow, red,

Colombia’s colours,

men swig shots of cane-hooch

and shout at the screen,

when Colombia scores

or the crowd as a whole hollers

gol! gol! gol!

yell the loyal macaws.


Outside on the verandah

the world’s biggest rat

the pig-size chiguero ‘s

almost wholly devoured

the national team calendar

and a black boy in blonde wig,

El Pibe Valderrama’s curls,

balancing on felled floating timber

on currents full of piranhas

boots his World Cup ball

from his log to his sister’s

who gets her own yellow wig

under her brilliant header

of the, till then dry, ball into the flood

of the Amazon where it swirls

and bobs from Colombia to Peru

past pink dolphins and sawmill

through rubber trees on to Brazil

and the downstream fish market

where a black-scaled fish just sliced

in six still writhing slices

bloods the white marble and a priest

makes grunting gourmet noises

under a glass Parisian roof

where non-fan flocks of parrots,

untrained for the touchline,

fly like a curtain over the glazing,

team jerseys shredded to pixels

showering from shouted at screens,

a cloudburst of dazzle and hue

over Colombia, Brazil, Peru.