The Agenda

Half a world away
I could see the wrath of Poseidon building
There wasn’t much to point to:
disembodied gaze,
turn of the head,
steely sheen on the sea
I tried to warn them in Troy,
told them about the army of boats blackening towards them,
the cold undercurves of the light
told them about the fires,
the screams, yelling, flesh,
how the flesh howls for dying even after it’s dead
the trunk decapitated and the howl still standing
in the air
about the wrinking of the earth
like an apple rotting after,
the ridges of the wrinkles the unburied dead
told them about the city’s final mouldering
I flew home and said it all again:
went door
to door, street
to street, to all the squares of the city
fingernails snagging in sleeves, anything
to get their attention and make them listen
while the light grew colder
and my brother sickened
and would not leave.
The Trojans said
You have an expatriate mind
Shouldn’t you be discussing this somewhere else
Look: nothing but thin blue air.
They locked me in the tower.
I heard my brother and the city
and when the Greeks smashed the doors and dragged me
I saw him,
disembodied gaze
turn of the head
a Greek standing in his brains.
If I could have plucked my heart out
and my eyes and tongue
and given them to him
or given them to the gods
to unwind the clashing sky and turn it back
I would have
but the gods were deaf
and the rocks and the ground and the air and the hills are deaf
And Poseidon in his dull steel greaves
stepped onto the fallen sky
the hardening sea of blood
lightning bolt, trident;
daring the red and level dark to become a womb.



M. F. McAuliffe, long-time resident of Portland, Oregon, co-founded and co-edits the Portland-based, completely multilingual journal Gobshite Quarterly and material for the Quarterly’s offshoot press, Reprobate/GobQ Books.

Her published books include The Crucifixes and Other Friday Poems, 25 Poems on the Death of Ursula K. Le Guin, and the long and short story titles Seattle and I’m Afraid of Americans.

M. F. recommends the Oregon Food Bank.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, June 19, 2022 - 22:05