It came up mixed, a potpourri, a constellation
of feathered bone and forgotten meals: Aegean fish,
a mess of undecipherable food, a needle, bent, well-used,
shattered fragments of an ancient pot.
In the stifle of hot sun, his legs were crossed, he sat
with shards of poetry on his lap, shuffling
puzzled jigsaws amongst grains
of filtered sand, and half a tooth.
Herein he construed a tale
that was worth a smile, at least,
at that night’s review: a tail to wag a dog,
and make it run; whereby
a bite of bone broke tooth,
and whose owner thereby accidentally smashed
his precious pot;
in one convulsive swoop
of his table and his meal askew.
Somewhere the Oedipus assigned
this task read a zodiac of runes,
saw signs therein
of compatibility with his skill
whereby the damages,
so ruinous and obscured,
could be restored to “almost new”.
So much, it gleams:
A satyr reaches for an arm.
A woman with a lyre
turns, her hand
still plucks the strings; Surprised
by all that this incident portends,
she twists her head around
one side, and waits,
if she should run and hide, or stay:
play music at his side.
In this country, this century, from even garbage,
do we accept both loss and gain
and what one tosses out
like an old de-treaded tire,
another will surely rush to acquire.
We relish the partial, jettisoned
products of ancient times:
torsos and worn-out coins
fragmentary aphoristic rhymes;
We deign to draw inference
from abstraction, whose origin
was persiflage, or simply a joke.
What therefore meant the Homer of this piece;
some sly and contumelious poke
at religious faith, to show
that gods, like men
are overcome by undeniable, licentious needs?
Or, was she a love
and he the spurned,
and like a sunken, bottled, message
in a stream, some secret craving of the heart?
He held his tongue
for fear that he’d be burned,
and reigned his aspirations to full stop.
Instead, he painted feelings on a pot.