Friday, November 4, 2016

Song at the Styx

"Lost in the Crowd" © 2016 David Prashker
To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

Like a blind man crossing a busy street
   I took my guide’s hand and let him lead me -
      exactly as Virgil once led Dante

Over my shoulder the lyre of Orpheus
In my right hand the club of Hercules
In my left hand a blooming
                         wilting rose
In my bag a pomegranate
In my pocket a single coin
     with which to pay the ferryman

So we began our journey
     among the shades and spectres
I, Yehudah Ha Nachri
          and Lupus
               my guide -
     in search of Ayishah

Many were there gathered
   in that drab and dreary place
      (I had not thought Death had undone so many)
         - though there were few surprises

   after living
      was there much to shock
      or titillate
or rouse to anger

There was Isaac
     still bending his throat towards the knife

There was Tamar
     thighs clenched tight against orgasm

There was Moses
     stuttering his farewell

There was King David with his roving eye

There was Jesus the Naztsri
   still nailed to his cross
      damned for eternity
         for a single moment of self-doubt

And I stepped forward silently, circle after circle

There was Dante
     punished for his arrogance

There was Persephone
     chewing a pomegranate

There was St Augustine
     burning, plucked out

There was Eurydice
     turned to salt

And the rose wilted in my hand

There was my mother
     coughing on her bed of nails

There was my teacher
     strung like a spring chicken

There were the named and the unnamed -
     skewered like beef to the blade of my knife
          blown up like bridges
          bullet-holed like corpses
          shovelled like ashes
          buried like memories
          sainted like martyrs
          anointed like heroes
          vengeanced like victims -
          redeemed in my conscience

And there
   there was my own shade
      already living the immortality
of its past and future death

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Copyright © 2016 David Prashker

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The Argaman Press

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