Trojan bronze and coin
embedded in Ionian turquoise blue;
Where metal black crows span above a man spraying spittle
over weaved baskets in strips of long bamboo - skinned.
I suckled on Tzatziki and lamb Kleftiko
consumed a carafe of Grecian wine;
saw the stars of Ithaca dance with mountain songs
bells chimed like the after-dinner shrill from deranged sirens.
Gazed like the God’s at amber and crystal blue boxes
jarred along a shark bitten tail shaped bay
prickled fruit – decaying pomegranate
peeling red flesh inside the opened draining of day.
I travelled on the navy blue albatross
wooden fin splicing through Hellenic water; Triangles in translucent green
reflections from the feverish and mad -
the faces of those who had come before me.
Half sunken Byzantium shaped ships
moulded into yellow cliff - Crescendo of beach crickets surfing
on the sound buckles of Poseidon wrists,
I swam in the strong currents – mangled in storms
Tumbling through rotten ship masts
lined with dead pine trees; My lungs filled with salt
while white snappers nibbled at my blue flesh,
my limp body awakened and dragged to the surface of a unfamiliar sea.
A beautiful woman with olive skin and tarantula coloured hair held me
I peered down into the depths of clear ocean,
noticing she had dolphin heads as human feet
her complexion and breasts as smooth as soft whale skin
In an ancient tongue she pointed to the rise of sun
a pink centre of valley - shining marble from the caves of the nymph;
as I swam closer I saw the chipped face of Odyssey shaped in the marbled mountain
in green cypress print – Inside the cave Penelope weaved her twenty first shroud.
Diachrome bloodstream – bar code wrapped with pulsing veins
square box replaced our modern fane
tramline vision fixated like choreographed sunbeams;
our muted and exploited constellation
a circle we repeatedly spin,
mirroring our appearance – through doctored magazines.
Identity and blood
lay at the alter of visual castration!
moulding our uncertain self
creating a cloned detachment of celebrity asphyxiation.
Destiny enshrined in western addiction
– the want!
the pressure to be on that popular shelf.
A smiling tanned jester - Brilliant white teeth
– square jaw – sucked botox
Everyone will want to be YOU!!
You the popular – the imitator – the regurgitated walking CLICHE
for the true and humbled self;
is vacant - lost – stewed.
The Missing Quarter- Jacks
On the edge of Corn street I stood
as a child like Southey before me; Awaiting the clocks final tick
eyes like a tourist
staring at the quarter jacks - Transfixed!
On the hour they moved
in beetle red - luminous yellow - marching towards the clock-face
seconds chimed from golden hammers
on Broad Street; delivering the sound of time.
Today the Quarter Jacks are missing
lost in dust-bins of boxed antiquities –
Waiting on a slashed council budget to unclamp
their rustic uniforms; with stone pages etched in ancient cuneiform.
On the centenary of the Great War
When Armistice day came to end
King’s letter - blood ink from sea,
‘rejoice my friend’ is what Tommy had once said to me.
Mesopotamia – the black bog of Ottoman
remember those on the banks of velvet Tigris,
Kaiser led a slew in Jihad the desert rape of Solomon
Oil mouths of burning hydrous nightmares from iron beds in rehab.
On the Centenary of the Great War do we not hear youth?
could we not see what we were fighting for?
Returning to the same gates where Tommy had already warned us
Yet, the battle suits before and now still continue; posting death onto Persian shores
where our boys fell - shrapnel cuts - gas with sliced skin of mildew
circulating into poisoned pours.
Tommy saw posters protect our King now we see rolling news posts
to fight and defend our Queen - Nothing great about war and it’s ghost.
When we see what Tommy had already observed
boots walk in ancestral blood - joining them in brave battle-song,
protect the Anglo-Persian oil reserve
desert of red and rose - clipped mud- How do we justify war and its abhorrent wrongs!
*Written for Thomas Duggan my grandfather -Who fought and survived the Battle at Kut-al-Amara, in Mesopotamia (Iraq) during the Great War, and received a medal for bravery and a letter from the King.
Follow my eye said the young boy
see where the cloud hangs like a floating noose,
above the spare and dirty cold waves
that is where Rottnest Island stands!
Hoarding bones of our elders
where rich sun seekers now lay unknowingly
on the foundations of unmarked graves.
Bronze footsteps stood above our ghosts on straw beds
a hessian fence broken with the dried flesh of quokka
knots of wire with red clothe; Tanned and fresh tourists
seeking rites of passage where our ancestors were imprisoned,
This is the island of spirit people
Winnaitch – The Forbidden Isle!
Now close your eyes said the young boy
as you may hear the manacles of my forefathers,
No number sixteen on that island
one for executioner and six for the noose.
*Winnaitch – Is Aboriginal for A Forbidden Place.
Matthew Duggan was born in Bristol United Kingdom. He is the winner of the erbacce prize for poetry 2015. Dugan´s poems have appeared in Poetry Qrt, Yellow Chair Review, The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, The Seventh Quarry, The New Ulster, Ygdrasil, Cobalt Review, Illumen, Lunar Poetry Magazine, and many more.