Mikkel GrünerSunrise on the shores of the Aegean
Come closer. Come see for yourself.
Guzzle the red wine and spit your olive pits directly into classical antiquity.
On the worn steps of the Academy, watch bearded philosophers argue
The shared origin of fire and water,
While far away on the yellow fields of Persia
Glass statues make perfect targets for Cretan slingers.
Nothing left of the Macedonian phalanx now, nothing but dust
And blue-eyed children scattered across the steppes of Asia.
Ivory for gold. Lydian dice for Lydian money. Slavery.
Let the children carry the laurels. Let the women carry the children.
Let the men carry their fathers’ spears.
Let the souls in Hades carry the head of Orpheus. Let Orpheus sing.
Let purple kites hover in stasis over the marble cliffs.
Watch in shock as the island kingdom Atlantis returns once more
From the deeps of the turquoise ocean, tenderly breaking the surface.
Witness the invention of democracy.
Midday on the road to Iolcus
Chiron: I am intrigued by the human ways.
Tell me Jason, in what way is the work of the artist different
From any other human activity?
And how does art differ from any other human product?
Jason: Master, it seems to me that those who seek to set art aside,
Wrapping it in thick layers of paper, are like philosophers
Searching for logical proof of the Gods’ existence:
They think they are building a ladder to heaven, a sturdy vessel for their own elevation.
What do they hope to find up there?
And more importantly; what are they trying to get away from?
Look at them hammering away with their golden hammers.
It is a mighty edifice indeed, but from down here it looks like a scaffold.
Chiron: The man in me would like to pursue this argument further,
But the horse in me is hungry.
Let us halt here for a while.
We will reach the city tomorrow.
The Hateful Kinship
In clouds of dust and wheel-lock pistol smoke
Nine gallant cuirassiers did make their charge
Upon a line of lancers on a hill…
And time stood still
When out of the corner of his eye YOUNG PRINCE HARRY
(Forward Air Controller & 3rd in line of succession)
Recognized his own reddish, distorted face
Reflected in the smooth of his raised sabre/missile;
But stranger still,
Reflected also from the blade of his royal sabre
To the points of the heathen lances & back again,
So that every single piece of polished steel in that scorched desert
Shewed only the face
Of NOBLE PRINCE HARRY
And the line
Julius Caesar wakes up in a pool of blood.
There are elephants in the lobby. They demand to be heard.
A voice says: 'Animals are not allowed to vote because they taste good.'
'Sign this,' the voice says.
Julius Caesar drinks coffee for the first time and likes it.
There are elephants in the washroom. They are stealing the towels.
A second voice says: 'This is not the presidential suite. Get out.'
'Sign this,' the second voice says.
Julius Caesar is reading a memo by the pool as they circle him.
The summit is constantly interrupted by commercials.
A third voice says: 'You are the only white person left in the world.'
Julius Caesar answers: 'Elephants have always lived in the Alps.'Pinewood
Take the software from the Russians.
Take the hardware from the Germans.
Take twelve knights and do what must be done.
Why is the swastika so pretty?
What turns the tips of my fingers black is
Not the fresh dew on the unmarked tarpaulin.
What the Slavic tribes did to captive German knights is
Not what turns the tips of my fingers black.
This is not a swastika anymore,
Not an insect immobile in amber,
But a pine needle stuck in the resin.
Take twelve knights. Hoist a winter-white swastika of mercy.The language of petroleum
Why do you say this is not my mouth?
Every time I shake this rosy tongue of mine
Words fall off in nonspecific clusters,
Disarranged by chance punctuation.
Hoarding stolen words in the hollows of my cheeks
Makes no sense to me anymore.
They make my eyes bulge and my spit
Taste like bitter, foreign tea.
I have fallen in love with my own cranium.
I need short and easy words,
Words that will stick to my gums,
This is how I will make love to my pretty skull.Tokyo letters
Tokyo letters don’t write themselves, you know.
Tokyo letters are stamped with cherry blossoms.
The correct way to open a Tokyo letter
Is not with a sword, as one would think.
After the storm, the disorderly heap of fallen leaves.
When you lift the mat to shake them off, Tokyo letter.
The first line:
“I have never been to Tokyo”.Liberty throws a surprise party
The Caribbean is empty. We are required to dim the lights.
There was a hurricane, then a typhoon, and then a tropical cyclone.
Our cameras have been smashed. There should be a palm tree right here.
No walls, no roof, no furniture, but the bar is still open.
Broken bottles, coconuts and tiny umbrellas everywhere.
Is that Hemingway buying daiquiris for Ulrike Meinhof?
It can’t be! They’re both dead now,
Or at least very drunk.
Clackbirds clacking in the dead of clack. Take these chicken wings
And learn to type. "Die Pflicht eines Clackbird ist, immer zu clacken,
Trotzdem zu clacken, bis zum Tod zu clacken."
Where have all the clackbirds gone? Fascists shot them everyone.
This year the 1936 Berlin Olympics will be hosted by China.
This year the 1944 Warsaw uprising will be hosted by Burma.
What are the stakes? The stakes are the same as ever, dude.
On this island the stakes are crowned with human skulls.
There are no dinosaurs here. No gorillas allowed. No trebuchets
To bring down sleek towers of mossy stone. No smoke, no siege works,
And the citadel refuses to fall. It is the graceful triumph of elusiveness
Over the science of history: The citadel has become fluent.
The President is there, the press, the VIPs, but she doesn’t show.
Where is she? Where is she hiding? She’s always late.
Liberty sleeps when she can. Liberty never smiles.
Liberty cries at weddings, but not at funerals.
Liberty digs her fingers like a mighty rake into the cobbled streets,
Tearing up stones and more stones for a stage to dance on; the barricade.
When Liberty has an orgasm ships go down at sea,
And the walls of great cities tremble and collapse.
Liberty sports a smart Phrygian cap, as does her sister, Barbarism.
Liberty paints her toenails with the blood of tyrants and innocents.
“She’s here.”The shuttle
I grew, and my blind skeleton grew with me, out of the small pajamas.
I was blind to my skeleton's loom as he weaved his way out of the small pajamas.
I was blind to the quick of the shuttle, but I grew quick to the dead of his bones.
I was cut to the quick when I passed my thread through the dead of my skeleton's eyes.
I had to take the shuttle. I had to follow my skeleton right as he left.
I came through the warp and I followed the weft, and I saw the loom of the land.
When lastly I came to the thinnest strand, he turned to thank me for my mother's milk.
There he put on his new pajamas, and he filled his pockets with stones.
Explanation by way of poem, backdated
January is the cruellest month,
End of discussion.
Sweet nothing in the hand is better than snowbirds on the roof.
The flight of a single starling is lighter than a flight of stairs.
A migratory birdhouse,
brick and mortar, mortar and pestle,
Moves south in the winter but cannot cross the icy river.
A five story building. The same five stories over and over.
Boy meets girl. Girl leaves boy. Boy assembles fleet & lays siege
To the mighty city of Troy. Or: Girl meets boy. Boy leaves girl,
Promising swift return. Boy blinds Cyclops & is cursed
To roam the earth. Or: Boy meets girl. It’s his mother. The end.
Hubris, Nemesis, those are birds’ names.
Follow the flight of wild game, chase the pattern of zero sum
To the abandoned quarry where rocks beat scissors every time,
Where winter triumphs consistently and without fail.
There is no win in summer.
There is no sum in winter.
No fall. No hidden springs. No trapdoors. No levers.
A snow blind Cassandra has rigged the Electra.
On her orders great herons circle the pyramids in tight formation,
Awakening old thirst from the dirty sands of Lower Egypt,
Cursing the seemingly inevitable and necessary succession of events.
Destiny rhymes with sorrow just as kartoffel rhymes with nothing.
Is that a potato in your throat or are you just happy to see me? All this
To say: I dreamt I spotted you in the crowd. We were witnessing a historic event,
An entire species tilting on the brink of a great achievement.
You seemed so eager.
The irreducible fraction
One half of me tied to the pier, bobbing on the cobalt lake,
Wading through the reeds where you can’t find a foothold,
In the marshy places, half out of the water, beached like a young fox,
One half decomposing on the green grass, ribs puncturing slick, grey fur.
One half of me in the green, green grass by the blue, blue lake,
The other half of me half asleep in the snow,
Stuck on this mountain ledge,
Keeping half an eye over the edge.The Republic of Silence
“The Republic of Silence may now most rightly be called,
In the fullest and truest sense, a continent.
There once were scholars there, who isolated themselves
In the pursuit of philosophy;
And there did also exist a confederation of kings,
But they were blind and deaf and dumb;
Wherefore the ocean at that spot
Has now become impassable and unsearchable…”
This is how it happened: Television commercials took off
Like fighter planes from an aircraft carrier that day,
But they couldn’t stop the silence.
My mind was finally blank.
The republic was moving.
Senators were shifting position,
Populares switching seats with Optimates
Or abandoning the benches altogether.
Governments dissolved and reformed within the space of minutes,
Paralyzing political life and delaying economic reform;
Causing the entire house to turn, pillars trembling, windows cracking,
Making the floor tiles skate and shake like plates in a quake,
Until finally in a single day and night of misfortune
The very foundations of the continent snapped like twigs,
Setting the land mass adrift
In total quiet.
Away, away - past the pillars of Heracles and beyond,
Through Mundus Subterraneus & Terrae Incognitae,
To the silent land which lies icebound beneath the pole-star.
And there I was. My mind was finally blank.
Tired and grimy, smoking a cigarette in the early hours of morning,
Sitting up in the rear of the truck, with my back to the canvas,
Alone with the sunrise, the only man awake out of twelve.
I remember the sound of the truck.The sad story of Will Miller and Jill McGill
“There’s a miller name of Will in the windmill on the hill;
There’s a breeze in the sails but the blades are standing still…”
There’s a girl in this story too, you know. Jill McGill,
Anyways, the old mill is cursed or something. It grinds bone meal.
Jill comes by, they make love, he kills her.
I don’t know why, and neither does Will.
Tilting at the windmill from within, so to speak.
In despair, he throws her body between the grindstones.
Laughing, he throws himself from the cap of the tower.
His ghost returns every night
To claim a 10th share of the flour.
Jill too returns,
Whispering: “Are these long legs of mine
No more than chalk lines to be wiped from the blackboard?”
I’m on a roll here. You will take the poetry I give you and love it.Midnight on the course from Iolcus
Whispered Argus the shipbuilder to Atalanta the huntress one starry night,
Standing at the helm of the Argo, as the languid waves of the Aegean lifted them
Away, away from the port of Iolcus: Yes, my dear, he may be an arrogant man,
And reckless, but a useful captain nevertheless. The plan is madness, surely,
But strategy is for chess players. Straightforward invasions are often the most effective.
Shiny columns of spearmen embark the galley, they cross the ford, they disembark.
What else is there? War comes down to making the ships sail on time.
This expedition is no different.
Whispered Atalanta the huntress in reply: Did you know that I was a princess by birth?
As a child I was abandoned by my father, the king. That man left me to die
Deep in the Boeotian woods, simply for being born a girl, and I should rightly hate him for it. And yet it is my mother I hate. What do you say to that?
Answered Argus the shipbuilder:
The hatred between mother and daughter
Is older than warfare,
And older than shipbuilding.
They stood in silence, and the beams and boards of the Argo creaked under their feet:
All except one plank, for it had been cut from the sacred grove at Dodona,
And it knew how to be silent. The constellations turned silently above their heads,
Some with names like Perseus and Orion, and others nameless yet.
The moon laurel
In the beginning of this poem, the philosopher Lucretius has a girl in his bedroom.
He holds in his hands an empty vial of green glass,
A secret medicine made from laurel berries and purchased at an extravagant prize
Through a friend, perhaps Catullus, or more likely Gaius Memmius.
Lucretius is impatient for the potion to work, but as some time passes
And still he feels no change, he begins to suspect he might have been swindled.
He registers the girl's soft hand on his shoulder as she rises to leave the poem
In quiet repetition.
And he ponders the myth of Sisyphus, to him representing Roman politics,
The eternal and convoluted pursuit of power, which is itself a hollow thing.
For ultimate victory is essentially beyond reach, like the nymph Daphne fleeing Apollo,
Narrowly escaping violation by changing herself into a laurel tree.
But to the man who has discovered the causes of things, and has
Cast beneath his feet all fears, unavoidable fate, and the din of the devouring underworld,
The sweet laurels of victory are only the leaves of that simple shrub, Laurus nobilis,
A broadleaf evergreen. They taste good in a stew and nothing more.
In his mind's eye Lucretius sees now a giant laurel tree, not planted,
Strangely, on the firm slopes of the Mediterranean, among the olive groves and the vines,
But somewhere far away, on the other side of the world and beyond, in even harsher soil.
There is, it seems to Lucretius, a giant laurel tree on the moon,
And Wu Gang is trying with all his might to fell it. The mischievous Wu Gang
Who has neglected his duties and gone in search of immortality,
Wherefore the gods have promised him a place in their immortal ranks
If only he can fell the moon laurel - an impossible task, as the tree constantly regenerates.
Lucretius the Epicurean laughs at the thought of this
Because he doesn't yet know that he has been driven mad by the love potion,
And that he will kill himself by his own hand
In the 44th year of his life.
Zombies never panic because zombies don't go to church
Because zombies don't believe in God.
Zombies never panic because zombies watch TV all day
Because zombies believe in reportage.
Reportage --------> Feeding endless accounts of violent death
Zombie --------> Continuously placed in role of survivor
(immortality)The bookshelves of the future
I shall never forget the first time I insulted an elephant.
It was one of those chance encounters you read about,
Him an old bull,
Me a greenhorn explorer, host of my own hit TV travel show.
We both of us sought shelter from the monsoon
Under a freestanding steel construction built by uranium miners
Deep in the jungles of Africa.
This must be what the bookshelves of the future will look like, I remarked.
Has been trying
To kill me
Giraffe, I saw thee
Once, accompanying the autistic children to Copenhagen Zoo, I saw thee.
One of them, a freckled boy, remarked: "The giraffe needs to get a life."
O giraffe, bow your head down gently, and listen: You should never have come!
Europe, the sorrowful maiden, has no place in her heart for such a tall animal.
When in 46 BC you first were brought here, the gawking Romans
Named you camelopard, and on the red sand of the Arena you discovered
How it feels to be casually torn to shreds by ravenous lions, in celebration
Of mighty Caesar's Egyptian triumphs: The power to kill something so rare, with such ease.
Not before the renaissance did you again set hoof on the shores of Europe,
Presented as a gift to Lorenzo de Medici by the Mamluk sultan; you were praised by poets
And immortalized in paintings by Vasari and Botticini, but in the heated stables
At the Medici villa you soon broke your neck when it came stuck in the crossbeams.
Three centuries later Mehmet Ali Pasha, Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, sent three giraffes,
One to London, one to Vienna and one to Paris, to stanch support for the Greeks
In their War of Independence. Only the French one, the one named Zarafa, survived.
5 giraffes for 18 centuries. Such rare gifts from old Egypt to careless Europe.
O giraffe, do not come to Europe! Go to China instead. There where the great admiral
Zheng He's crew brought you, thinking you the mythical qilin, the auspicious one,
Where the painter Shen Du wrote of you: "Its hoofs do not tread on living beings.
Gentle is this animal, that has in antiquity been seen but once."
Lies, lies, lies
They told me in kindergarten:
Be nice to the other children, especially the girls.
Have a crayon. Make a nice drawing.
Don’t worry about the future. Follow your heart. Don’t lie. Don’t steal.
Money isn’t everything, you know.
Money is in fact about twenty times more than everything.
Credit is everything. Credit is nothing. Value is money.
The value of money is nothing.
The interest rate determines the value of nothing.
I don’t understand the interest rate, but I think I’m OK
Because I have a little breeding.
I have a few skills afforded by unfair privilege.
I have a little money but I have nothing compared to rich people.
Rich people have money.
Refugees have no money.
Terrorists have almost no money.
If refugees had money they would stay where they were.
If terrorists had money they wouldn’t blow things up.
If rich people had money they would want more money.
Please give the terrorists some money.
Feed the refugees but don’t give them any money.
If the refugees had money they would be rich,
And why would you give money to rich people?
Rich people have money.
The value of money is nothing.
Rich people have no values.
In times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour
A small section of the ruling class is set adrift
To join the revolutionary class, which holds the future in its hands.
The iPod starts playing in the middle of the night for no reason.
The iPod starts playing in the middle of the war for no reason.
I shot the iPod through the heart in the middle of the night for no reason.Page of swords, reversed
every time you se
e the german chancello
r on tv she is surrounded b
y her entourage and walking bris
kly toward a microphone stand you
can’t remember the exact sound of h
er voice but if you concentrate you c
an see that her lips are moving s
he is talking about germany
Be quiet, Muse! Sprinkle your cherry lips with wine
As molten wax for the waning moon to seal,
And sing no more. Muse of night, hush, and heed
The sound of softly scraping hands beneath the Earth.
Approaching even now from under feet, your cousins,
The grimy Erinyes who dwell in dismal Tartarus,
Come to punish him who has sworn a false oath,
Come to punish him who has broken the ties of kinship.
Fury! Madness! In the beginning when gods were young
And men did not exist, when Kronos the Titan gelded his father,
Blood hardened like cast lead where it broke the virgin water
And the vengeful Erinyes were born. Fury! Madness!
I hear them. Retribution is at hand. That sea is thirsty again
Which once drank the blood of Titans. Sing now, O muse,
To drown out their voices. Name me the cities that have fallen
To besieging armies, pestilence, volcano or earthquake.The doleful story of Tristram and Iseult
Sir Tristram of Lyonesse, the Cornish knight, eventually forgot his fair Iseult,
And the moss sucked the dew out of the fabric, removing the itchy, wet patch
At the seat of his pants, and he rose up from the flat rock by the ruined watermill
And walked slowly backwards out of the woods.
The angel Samael
The angel Samael, whose dominion is hell -
He slides door to door (That listless seraph),
To persuade you with graphs and a fiery sword,
His charts in accord with his well measured steps
And the lies on his lips - he’s a salesman of sorts.
But the blood of the lamb is like bug spray to Sam.
The angel Samael whose dominion is hell -
His movements are slow but he never stands still,
Peeking over the sill wherever he goes,
In his white shirt as clean as a sterile syringe,
He's dispensing revenge like a vending machine.
But the blood of the lamb is like bug spray to Sam.
The angel Samael whose dominion is hell -
He’s as prompt as a clerk, but you know what they say?
He stays home Easter day to rest from his work.
Yet the slower the front, the faster the aft -
And so after the fast he continues to hunt.
But the blood of the lamb is like bug spray to Sam.
The angel Samael whose dominion is hell -
He’s the patient type: Waiting under the tree
For the fruit to fall free, on the day it is ripe.
Eat the unleavened bread or go searching for eggs:
If you curse or you beg you will one day be dead,
And the blood of the lamb will not keep you from Sam.Ascension Island
I’m running out of paper. I’m running out of words.
Words run off the paper like egg whites into the sink.
Cook’s hands separate the words from the paper
And discard them. Cook’s hands use the yolks
To make lunch for workers on yellow bulldozers.
Yellow bulldozers level the black, volcanic sand of Ascension Island
To build the air strip and later the golf course. Ascension Island does not exist,
Or Ascension Island does exist and its main export is stamps.
Cook does not exist, or Cook does exist and his fat, black head
is very fat and very black against the glossy white tile of the kitchen.
Cook’s fat head is thinking: I am running out of eggs.
Cook’s fat head is thinking: I am running out of pepper.
If Cook runs out of eggs there will be no lunch for the workers
And the yellow bulldozers will eventually stop running.
If Cook runs out of pepper the black volcanic sand
Will not be levelled to build the airstrip
And Ascension Island will eventually sink
Into the South Atlantic, making for a single moment
A gap in the Gulf of Guinea
For the waves to smooth over.
Here's looking at you
I love your movies, Erica. There's no denying it, I'm a fan.
That scene in the elevator, the subdued whisper, the murmur
Where there might have been a shriek. It's all in the delivery.
Your voice is so clear, it carries so far.
There's so much power in you, and you're still beautiful.
Your googly eyes, your pointy tits. No lips
To speak of, no taste in whiskey or menfolk, but I fucking love you, I do.
Hey, can I be serious for a minute? Do you remember that day?
We were coming home from some fundraiser: You were in your fur coat
And heels, the camera drops to street level to capture your face as you point up
Your mouth a big O -
Is it a bird? Is it an aeroplane? No sweetheart, it's the enemy.
And then you turn into King Kong. You turn into Godzilla. You turn yourself
Into Darth Vader, baby. Hey, don't shout, your voice is so clear,
It carries so far, it carries across the oceans, a word whispered from your lips
Is a wind that reaches around the world to make the heads of children go pop.
Shush! My heart is filled with love for you. But you keep me
At the edge of my seat. I sometimes feel like a small monkey
Stranded on an island inhabited by a whimsical, spike-headed goddess.
How do you think that make me free?
You're larger than life up there.
I speak to you, but you don't seem to listen.
Please, I love you, I really do. We all love you down here,
Your googly eyes, that broad rimmed hat, the cigarette, the gun,
The seams of your stockings as you step into the elevator,
One slim finger poised to press the button, and none of us knows yet
Whether you're going up
Or going down.
The bogy song
Silhouettes in the hall, inexplicable stains,
Fingernails scratching the windowpane.
When children go missing (it happens you know),
Their parents boggle: Where did they go?
Were they lost in the woods, did they fall in the lake?
Did a paedophile lure them with candy or cake?
Were they hit by a car, were their bodies puréed?
Did they play where we told them never to play?
But the truth is another, more dreadful, more vile.
In your stomach you know what’s befallen the child:
When children go missing and never come back,
It’s because they’ve gone into the bogyman’s sack.
Take a look at the bogy, I dare you my friend,
As he carries his victim away to its end.
Have you ever seen something as awful as him?
So horrid, so filthy, so wicked, so grim?
How on earth do such terrible things come to be?
Would the good Lord create such an evil as he?
Was he spawned by the devil or made by a man?
Did he grow like a mandrake or come in a can?
Was he built like the golem of water and earth?
No, an old gypsy told me the date of his birth:
In ancient Carthage (300 BC),
The bogy was born just like you and like me.
Long before he could speak he was already spoiled.
By the time he learnt how, he made sailors recoil.
He was cheeky to strangers and rude to his friends,
It would seem he took pleasure in causing offence.
He refused to do homework, neglected his chores,
His report card read: “Lazy and foul to the core”.
Still, his mother and father they loved him a lot.
The other Carthagians, sadly, did not.
On a day when the boy was especially gruff,
The good people of Carthage had just had enough.
See, for all of their virtues they did have one vice:
The time-honoured practice of child sacrifice.
So they carried him off to the temple of Ba’al
(The Phoenician idol they liked best of all),
He was placed on the altar and fed to the flames,
As he burned to a crisp he was cursing their names.
“Hear me, Carthagians, detestable ones,
I swear to come back for your daughters and sons!”
Over the flutes and the drums he was heard,
Even old Ba’al paid heed to his word.
On that ill-omened day in the shade of the horns,
As his body was eaten, his soul was reborn.
Now he slips through the ages under the curse,
Destined forever to wander the earth.
For his journey is fuelled by voracious hate,
By a hunger he’ll never be able to sate.
He must feed on the fears of the people he meets,
Oh, and lest we forget: All the children he eats.
He sneaks into your house around 7 pm -
Even bolted the door is no hindrance to him.
And he harvests your dread for the smallest of creeps,
And he reaps from your nightmares while you’re asleep.
And he sucks out the marrow from inside your bones,
And he moulds it to shapes he can use for his own.
When his strength is sufficient he seeks out a child -
He pursues it with terror and traps it with guile.
Once a child is entrapped in the bogyman’s sack,
It is certain to end as a nourishing snack.
Silhouettes in the hall, inexplicable stains,
Fingernails scratching the windowpane.Fastland
I ask: Brother, can you spare a dime, a decimal, a decade?
And theyanswer always: Patience, brother, patience.
WHAT AM I? A soldier king, a veteran of countless wars,
A panhandler, a speaker of the thieves' cant, a bum?
Farewell, my island kingdom. Farewell palatial baths.
I used up all the hot water. The link that I followed
Was invalid or incomplete. My accounts were deactivated.
The laurels of my many victories were but a spice
To season that great soup: the world's ocean. I alone
Have survived to mourn the loss of a fleet. From the wreckage
Of comradeship I swam, away from journeys brave and poetic,
And came here, to the Fastland, where the gods do not exist.
Perhaps I survived because I was never here to begin with.
The fear of death is the fear of my own skeleton. Pain
Is the fear of my own blood. Ghosts are scared of music,
As everyone knows, and the gods do not exist here.
And what of the Fastlanders?
They take their coffee with milk
And the memory of heartbreak.
Heartbreak. Heartbreak. They say:
“All cities in the world are built to stay
In one place, come war or dragons, even until the day
They are ruined, burned, abandoned, or swallowed by the sea.
They sit like acquisitive shopkeepers on every coastline
Of every continent, they straddle every river and crossroad
And mountain pass, taking a bite out of every apple
That passes through their gates. There are cities on islands
Far at sea, and cities hidden deep in the green jungles
And white deserts of the east, and all these cities,
Rich or poor, are built to stay in one place. But you are not
In any of those cities now, for you have come to the Fastland,
And we all know why.” Yes, say I. I am come to blind the cyclops.Migraine
Migraine was a clever girl,
Full of good ideas.
She invented turbo shoes
And had lovely ears.
When I met her I was drunk -
When I left her too.
Migraine tried to follow
But I took her turbo shoes.
It was many years ago,
Migraine didn't mind:
She ensnared another man,
Handsome, wealthy, blind.Concerning the sheep under the hazel
These sheep you see before you, strewn in the shade of the hazel,
have never heard of Fionn Mac Cumhail. They have no thumbs to suck,
and so they cannot summon the knowledge and wisdom of the salmon.
Their eyes do not sparkle with magic and power. They're just sheep.Poetry in water insoluble is
A doll's house. @ the table the dolls are seated for tea. The father doll speaks:
"In this house, children, there used to be such an abundance of poetry,
It ran down the wallpaper like resin.
We extracted approx.imately 20% directly out of our own speech,
Using simple, primary recovery methods (such as rhyme.
The pressures of language depleted, we drove another 10% to the surface
By repressurizing the poetic form in strict_metrical_patterns.
And when secondary recovery methods were no longer viable,
We switched to tertiary recovery methods; those methods which,
Though most productive, are also the most hazardous.
By gradually reducing the viscosity of poetry, through the injection of prose,
We were able to extract another 70%. But in the course of this dangerous work
We inadvertently flooded the reservoir, until the structure finally collapsed.
That was yesterday. Today, children, our work is done.
My sweet, sweet, lifelike children, I never thought this day would come:
We are OUT of poetry."2
Memoirs of a man who has accomplished nothing
I grew up on an island the size of a coin.
At the time I was old enough to see the Egyptian lady down at the Queen's Chamber
On the corner of Pyramid and Nile, she asked me how I wanted my fortunes told.
I said all I wanted was a drink, and fast.
She poured me a famous wine, of the finest vintage,
Or at least that's what it said on the bottle. To me it seemed a pale, watery drink;
I spat it out. Are you trying to trick me? I demanded.
Pour me something I'll remember tomorrow, or I'll take my money elsewhere!
The pint of beer she drew me next was the best I ever tasted,
With a head of foam on it like a clear night,
And a body like an endless day spent hiding in a field of wheat.
It seemed to last forever, echoing down my throat. It seemed to last forever.
And as perfect a drink as that was, yet halfway through
I was already thinking about the next. The beer stood stale in the glass,
Weighed down with a bitter taste, and hard to swallow.
It seemed to last forever, thank God it didn't.
Never have I thirsted for anything like that third drink.
It went straight down and burned like a pailful of souls descending to hell.
The more I drank the thirstier I was, and only at the very bottom did I recognize the taste.
Poison! I yelled. What do you mean? The glass I gave you was empty.
Water, just give me water, and she did; icy and clear like a glacial lake,
It deadened me and quenched me right down to the very soles under my shoes.
Benumbed I turned to take my paper cup and leave, but the Egyptian lady called me back: Now for the price! There's always a price.
The wine you spat out, it doesn't count. For the beer I'll give you a sovereign of gold,
For the water I'll give you a diamond. Here, take them: They're yours to carry.
What are you waiting for? Go away before I change my mind and give you more!
So I took my water and ran, not spilling a drop.
Set fire to your ships
Son, it’s a struggle.
If you start from the centre you will be surrounded,
And if you start from the edge you will have your back to the sea.
Set fire to your ships.
The great generals of antiquity are all equal now:
Julius Caesar escaped his creditors and conquered all Gaul,
But was knifed by his own friends.
Remember, and learn.
Hannibal, thunderbolt of Carthage,
Swore as a child to arrest the destiny of Rome,
And in his prime brought 37 war elephants into the Po valley.
Years later he took poison. Such are the ages of a man.
After his Italian defeats,
Pyrrhus of Epirus seized the Macedonian throne,
But in the narrow streets of Argos an old woman threw a roofing tile at his head.
Son, always be kind to women.
Things are tough all over
Winter is heartbreak: A tree will die by my hand on Sunday.
I have two coins in my pocket, one I found and one I stole,
Both on the same day. This is not a metaphor
For me having apparently decided to start smoking again.
Winter is sorrow: The scanner is dead.
Electricity comes and goes; I spend half the time alone
In a house without power. In a house, without power.
If there’s a ghost in my office it’s me.
Winter says: "You were the celery in my Bloody Mary.
And who likes celery? Not me. It’s a disgusting fruit.
Every bite is abhorrent, but without it the drink is ruined."
My drink is ruined. If there’s a ghost in my office, it’s you.
Winter is when I sing and dance. Winter is
THINGS ARE TOUGH ALL OVER.
Winter is my delight in the smallest of victories,
To have forgotten even two digits of your phone number.
White the plot through pane,
Trampled by virgin’s feet the snakeless grass,
Rime in beard and icy teeth: My Crete lies empty.
Nailed and crossed over static phone lines,
Your christmassy voice in the hum.
Dumb like a lamb I am to Christ, but no stranger to hubris,
The familiar hint of acetone on the exile of older gods.
Exhaled on this my island of Teflon
You bid me choose between salt and pepper -
If patience then is virtue and wrath is deadly sin,
Will be white.Digger digger digger dig
I need a powerful metaphor. I seek a powerful metaphor.
We go in search of a powerful metaphor.
At the centre of this poem is a powerful metaphor.
This poem is engined by a POWERFUL metaphor.
It’s not on the surface, between the tall stalks
That tricked the lawnmower. No. It hides because
We must dig for it. Or I must dig and you must watch.
Because it has to be like digging, yes, yes, shut up.
Or let’s say it’s like mining on a gaseous planet.
The stripy one with the storm on the surface, Jupiter.
Try drilling for diamonds on that one, because you can’t.
Why, the drill would fall right out of your hands and disappear.
Like the time you saw that movie again, and it was
No masterpiece, not the second time you saw it.
& that’s why you keep your iPod on shuffle.
& that’s why you press the skip button through your jeans.
But fuck me if there wasn’t a time when the colours were
Like BAM and every other song made you fall in and out of love
Like a drunk man staggering down the street. But now, sadly,
You’re old, plus you’re getting a little fat (It’s true).
They say humans made poetry before they made prose.
So what? Once in awhile you’ll stumble over some old track
And put it on repeat until it loses its flavour. Are you going to
Help me with the digging or are you going to just stand there?Come ye howling demons and ghosts
"Night," I cried, "ink me black once more!" And chasing
The echo of a girl’s name I waded waist high across Styx,
Terrible river, into the mouth of Hades, and came back
Blackened by the soot of cannons, divorce and infamy.
"Day," I said then, "Wash grime from time!" And so I dove
Into the white of the snow. I divided the pride of a king
By twice the vice of a fool, borrowed from the sorrow of tomorrow,
And followed the arrow into the sparrow.Selkirk and his Lady Greenface
My love! My love! We need a better system 4 your keys don't seem to work.
Take my hand. Stand up and X them creaking floorboards, backwards,
Backwards, away from teh screen of trees and forget those other islands.
They're in the fog now & we've lost them forever. Make this island work.
Build a better shelter. Chase them fucking goats and make fire like we used to.
Get drunk on coconut juice and run around naked like them fucking goats.
C? We've become like them goats, darting for cover at the unexpected sight of
Ode to Envy
Invidia! Dark Goddess of kittens, cocks and shoelaces,
Matron of pedestrians and gladiators, overgrown wellspring
Of hidden devices, my absent mistress; Invidia!
Your hair is braided with many retreats.
Shapely Invidia! You hide from me, but I see your shadow cast,
Checkered past the kitchen floor, whence a hinged trapdoor leads me
To your downstairs panty, excuse me, pantry -
Fuck it, I lost my rhythm.
I couldn't find you, Invidia, so I wrote your name on a climb of vine;
It begins with 4 and it ends with nine.
I called your name into a woman's shoe.
I called your name but you didn't answer.
Heads, I called you first by your maiden name,
Tails, I called you then by your greek name.
You liked that, and so you came -
Now I see your face, Invidia, on the obverse of every coin.The last book on Earth
This may be the last book. All these books will disappear. No,
I am not prepared to make an exact prediction of when or where,
But books will cease to exist, as all things cease; eventually.
Think about it: Have you received many telegrams lately?
You can't reach the dodo by e-mail. His number is not in use.
Still, poetry may presumably outlive her younger, uglier sibling,
At least in printed form, for poets are mostly sentimental types.
Also: Some cultures or classes may hold on to their books longer
Than others. Books may become rare & prized objects to the very
Civilizations which abandon them first, while still cheaply made
And circulated in the poorest regions of the world. The truly rich
Never burn their candles for the same reasons as do the truly poor.
There will be that final book, therefore; that last book on Earth.
But in what sense? The last book printed? The last book published?
Or: The last book read, the last reading (...) Or: The last actually
Remaining book, the last book in existence, hidden among the bones
And garbage, half buried in the beige sands and gray ashes,
Pages flapping in gusts of contaminated air. A phone directory
For a dead city, say. Or: The last scribble made by a man,
Or something similar to a man. Or: The last book-like device,
Some electronic tablet, transparent screen like cellophane,
Crisp Sanskrit fading as the battery dies. 2 weeks from now,
Blind meteors may collide with this our green Earth, turning it into
A single ball of fire. On the shelf of some Antarctic research station
One scientific diary may burn marginally slower, making it
For a nanosecond: The last book on Earth. The last book on Earth
May be a bible or a pornographic novel. The last book on Earth
May be less than the magic 200 pages. It may even be more properly
Described as a magazine. Farther out there can be other races,
They can have their “language”, their “writing” and their “books”,
They can keep their copies of the many postcards we've mailed them
Over the years, using rocket fuel for stamps. But no more books for us.
No more detective stories in the hammock. What you hear as
The quiet buzzing of bumble bees is in reality the battle of workers
Evicting fat drones from the nest. Turn the page and put the book down.
Summer is ended when you know who committed the murder.