days I talked with Zeus
I ate only ice
felt the blood trouble and burn
under my skin
on the soft parts
of my body
and a speakerphone between us
and still I wasn’t safe
thunder moved in my brain
I kept the dictaphone running
it recorded nothing
but my own voice
vulcanized and screaming
you won’t get away with this
Zeus on parole:
I BRUSH THE BOUNDS
AND YET IT IS
SHALL WE SAY
ITS SUDDEN CURSE
[surveillance: bull kneeling]
not there dusk like a bruise its yellow air
not there yet some difficulty in transmission
the near trees thrashing and that thickening,
how it stirs at the edge of the field milk cows backed
against the furthest stile stamping their hooves
like epileptics drumming their heels on the floor
nostrils frothing the scorched white smell of myrrh –
not there still charcoal blur manifesting
like a storm out at sea bull on its knees was it
was it flies? staggers up white bull smirched
lightning in his horns phallus scarlet and engorged
thunder crackles on his suede as he bellows
and the ground gapes to the underworld and all the dead
scream out girl walking by the river
drops her flowers and her phone turns starts to run
The day Zeus came to the safe house
and shoved a sawn-off shotgun
through the letter box calling softly
like he was calling to the cats
that terrible croon, HEY HONEYS
Had them kettled for hours.
Oh yes they were mightily changed.
Maddened, fuguing. Dissolved to rivers,
shaking like trees in a hurricane.
Some of them damaged in their entrails,
two thrown from high windows;
impossible to save.
Split urethra, fistula, stitched rectum
Infant removed for its own protection.
Her breasts are searing bags of milk,
her shirt is soaked. She will not talk.
Her mother takes her home, coaxes her to eat,
roasts chicken with potatoes, herbs and salts the skins.
Callisto picks the carcass clean, moves on –
pork chops, dumplings, chocolate rolls,
past repletion, through to the distended gullet,
forced stomach, goose with a funnel down its throat
and the grain shovelled in with a scoop,
beak tied shut, liver corrupt.
She holds herself down, clamps her mouth,
piles on flesh like upholstery,
does violence to herself, cuts, infected sores,
squats to shit does not wipe does not wash
her hair down her back in a matted clump,
her hunch and look-away demeanour delivering her over
onto all fours, patchy fur, hardened claws.
Her mother searches in the dark –
every doorway and underpass.
Finds her daughter mite-ridden and stubborn.
Callisto I love you come home.
Cornered by a ranger one morning Callisto
rakes at the air with her paws, is chased out of town
with tranq guns and flares, their falling coals like meteors.
But there is pleasure in the woods –
the sun shining amber on her fur,
the teeming world of the river as she hunts headlong
after fish, or shins up a tree tracking bees
and bites through the sugared wax crust
to the golden ooze of the honey. She grooms herself
with a rasped tongue, heaving her body over
to reach her belly. There are moments in her cave
when she almost feels safe, and sleeps to dream
of the cub who mewed at her briefly before he was taken;
his eyes swollen shut from the pressure of birth,
his small blind face searching for her voice,
his kicking legs and his tiny fists waving.
Bundled out of the room. Perfect human.
Her voice, when she calls for him,
is the voice of her own mother, weeping.
Go ahead, Zeus. Constellate this.
Zeus rattling his tin cup
on the bars of his cell
Zeus in the exercise yard
looking up through rain
his upturned face, his smile
Zeus who can walk between raindrops
without getting wet
who can pass through the vaults
and walls of this prison
as if they were air
who could pour himself
between the atoms.
You’ve got to ask
why he’s here?
Zeus watching carp in the hospital pond
on Zenuphlate, Zemperon X, Prozac, sedatives.
Getting an erection through the haze
shifting back and forth,
fidgeting with his slacks,
The psych nurse brings pills
in a doll-sized paper cup.
These are for you Zeus.
Hold out your tongue.
What nymphs go dancing in your brain,
I WILL RAPE A CHILD WITH AN IMPLEMENT
AND THAT IMPLEMENT WILL BE SWAN.
Photograph © tanakawho