Sequence from Jack and Jill

 

 

CLASSIC SUNRISE

 

Red-nosed dawn arose
– but it had been worth it!
 
Every gulp and gasp had so sharpened
the edges of her eyes that now
 
when she finally did heave herself
out of the tossing sea
 
barely up into the eggshell sky
temples pounding — that goes without saying without saying without
 
she could see all that was not her
see the unending not-self

perfectly, as in a spotless mirror.

*

 

 

 

HELEN OF TROY PUSHED AROUND BY APHRODITE

 

It’s private what we’re talking about
but everybody can see it.
 
The dictionary meaning is “aroused by”
but in context “angry” makes more sense.
 
Instantly she knew the goddess’
neck, eyes, breasts through the disguise
 
of the old woman faithful wool-carder,
the one Helen loved best back in Sparta.
 
Look, it enrages me
that you get to
 
arouse everything I’ve ever felt,
you swing that big golden chain
 
hanging from nowhere all the way down
to nursing and then you always
 
shove me back
into the fucking bedroom
 
and there’s my airhead lover fondling his armor,
always the same grin when he sees me.

*

 

 

 

THE BEGUILEMENT OF ZEUS

 

At this point she thought
how to get what she wanted.
She’d aim all his pleasure
right back at the father: she needed
to knock him out of his vantage point,
from where he saw everything. She needed
to shut him down for awhile.
His wishes were hateful to her.

So she armored up
with oils and other irresistibles,
then presented herself.
 
Never had he felt so alive, so on top
of his game, not when he’d played badminton
with Daphne, or solitaire with Lydia, or
catch-the-drift with Sue, let’s make a deal
with Rae, post office with Dawn, anything
with anybody, this was like
the first time but so much better
it was a half second before the first time
which was finally happening.
 
The cues worked to perfection.
The ground literally grew
flowers where they lay, the
atmosphere thickened to a golden
fog, so no one saw anything.
Sleep came out of the trees:
victory was a no-brainer.
She’d gotten her way, for now.
 
The young know all this of course,
they’ve heard it a million times.
But they also know that until
you know everything you
know nothing which is why
screens are sacred
and must never be left unattended:
miss something you’re screwed.

*

 

 

 

HISTORY LESSON

 

Jack & Jill went up the hill
to the windy keep of Troy
 
This was long before
apnea set in and all our woe
 
There had been problems
at the bottom of the hill
 
and these continue. Even in the safest
enclave they’ll overtake you
 
like a summer cold
when you’re no longer young
 
when someone takes what’s yours and keeps it
up on the windy keep,
 
up whatever, the thought roots
and won’t be said no to,
 
no more a glittering wave
doesn’t smash the scudding boat.
 
He who thinks to keep what’s yours
will get smashed.

*

 

 

 

THE ARMOR-SWAP

 

Duncan McNaughton red in neck and face at my first talk:
you can’t talk about Homer that way! it’s history!
 
like his head was going to explode.
When, in fact, writing a long insulting
 
but abortive challenge by D to G
– Do I even know you?
 
I’m a habitué of all the hot spots
right in front of Troy, I mean
 
you could say I’ve been in battles
but I don’t think I’ve never made your
 
acquaintance there . . . but G doesn’t
take the bait; sidestepping,
 
he utters the crushing generalization:
Just like the forest
 
each human generation is deciduous,
which means the leaves
 
fall, and since you say
you don’t know me
 
here’s my entire ancestry
which takes awhile and finally it turns out
 
G’s ancestors and D’s ancestors
were friendly associates which makes
 
the formerly insulting challenger D
completely happy, he stabs his spear
 
into the ground,
shakes hands with G
 
and G in return in a spasm
of witless bonhomie
 
swaps his gold armor
for D’s bronze
 
all in unstoppable rhythmic
differing singleness. It must have been fun
 
writing that
or however it happened