jueves, septiembre 23, 2010

Four Poems From Dawn Corrigan

Sailing from Troy

The next morning Cassandra was brought to the ship.
She’d told our people not to take the horse—
though it was futile, she could not stop
herself from trying to warn them. Of course
she was ignored. She turned away to miss
what she had already spoken out loud:
the serpent wrapping Laocoön like a shroud,

its barnacled skin the fluid bark
of a tree. It moved relentlessly
to the prophet and his sons, the way a shark
finds a shipwreck, and ate them with glee.
The dumbstruck Trojans suffered loss of memory
as they always did when one of Cassandra’s
prophecies, before their eyes, came to pass.

But I’m surprised she left. I would have wanted
to see the monster, though not the slaughter
that followed, everyone killed but a few painted
boys and girls, and the king’s daughter,
who would have been raped by a soldier
but he was stopped by Agamemnon,
the triumphant chief, who claimed her as his own.

On the voyage Cassandra assured me
she would not live one day in Greece:
Iphigenia’s avengers will not spare me.
I didn't believe her, as perhaps you might guess,
teasing her, even: Death shouldn’t scare a priestess.
I thought no one would harm Agamemnon.
But I was wrong. The fleet was scattered by Poseidon,

and envoys have just brought word on Cassandra.
Diomedes thinks war is threatening
against the murderous Clytemnestra,
but Cassandra’s words as we were sailing
away from Troy, as she clutched the ship’s railing,
were No revenge, pointing toward the cabin
where Helen lay with Menelaus again.

Naked and Playing the Harp

They are unknown to me, tears and laughter,
as the history of man is, strewn with shards,

a string of beads heaped upon the bureau
blinking scarlet, turquoise, marigold.

The brutal singer, seeking work, fleeing work,
knows a song adorned with a name lasts longer,

sings of Odysseus, who thought of Penelope
though he slept soundly beside Calypso.

She has a violent relation with the moon.
She says, Let me say nothing of the moon.

Let me speak instead of the hungers
of bodies, those machines

that invent things delicious and repulsive
and reproduce in a clap of laughter.

Pyrrha Remembers the Ages

Chaos begat Night and Erebus
who together produced Love
who in turn begat Light and Day
who begat Gaia and Ouranos
who begat the Cyclops and Titans,
Prometheus among them and his brother
Epimetheus who, with Pandora,
begat me.
               At first earth and air and sea
were all one thing, the earth not solid,
sea not fluid, air not transparent yet.
In that undifferentiated world
all creatures kept their heads bent toward the earth
except for man, who dared to raise his eyes
toward heaven and the sun.
                                     But Jupiter
felt that gaze like fire; it burned him
all over, so in return he took some dust
and from it made revenge, which took the guise
of woman: Pandora, earth's first mother.
Upon her Venus bestowed passion,
Apollo music, Mercury persuasion,
but no one knows whose gift was curiosity.
Epimetheus saw her and called her his own
and that occasion was the start of history.

Through each ensuing age--the Golden,
Silver, Bronze and Brass--the gods diluted man,
but with each his malice only increased.
So they took the road that weaves across
the sky at night, the road to the palace
of the gods' king.
                      As one they approached
and called to him, and asked what should be done
with man, who ever bathed the earth in blood.
Jupiter said the experiment had failed.
It was time to work the mud and try again.

Pyrrha Remembers the Flood

Then all was sea. The wolf swam with the sheep,
the fishes moved among the tops of trees
and weary birds gave up and plunged to water.

Deucalion and I, warned by his father,
were sealed inside our casket, where I lay
on him until we landed on Parnassus.

Zeus spared us because we had been harmless.
We threw some stones and made the new race,
a hard people who, like us, are virtuous

if only they can say: My life is harmless.
At last, when none of them objects to wrong
or feels some shame, Zeus will destroy them.

Meanwhile, my uncle, who arranged for men
to keep the good meat for themselves, lies chained,
tortured for his generous mistake.

Dawn Corrigan has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in a number of print and online journals, most recently Prick of the Spindle. She's an associate editor at Girls with Insurance.

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