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Monday, October 26, 2015

Beauty Calls

What Stories Lie Under

1. - I remember we made love standing
on the highest mount,
where the Romans conquered Seleucia,
renaming the town Zeugma,
which means “bridge” or “crossing”
in ancient Greek. It also means to yoke;
a bond, a band; to join; a term of
wordplay, when we say: She broke
his car and his heart, that's a zeugma,
or pussies that swallow milk and kisses,
and penises are a zeugma, too,
we use them to join to one another,
bridges with ridges we fuse on to tightly,
although fearing we'll come unstuck
by its highly unreliable glue;
and as I lay in you, I thought
about the archaeology of our bodies,
the digging we do, the excavating
of the old in the new; and I wondered

2. - Who cut the grooves
into the stone streets
, which once held pipes that
delivered water to Zeugma? Through the mouths
of bronze lions, who touched, who drank, whose lips
were watered on sunny days, courtyards ablaze circulating
the fresh air outside, as children laughed
by mosaics of Eros riding a dolphin;
Danae and Perseus being rescued by fishermen
on the shores of Seriphos;
Poseidon, the god of the sea watching benevolently,
who fucked who, or who made love through the milky
hue of sky, who was conceived in bedrooms
and who in fields of gloom,
who hurt, who laughed, who cried with joy,
who featured who in lovers’ stories,
whispering of Eros and Telete,
hands touching the secret that our hands touched now,
when you cupped my face, and brought me back down
to our bodies in the ground.

3. - And I remember how I met you, in the
days after completing my military training.
I'd wanted to wash the sundried sand
out of my throat, drink some good whisky
and watch the streets of Istanbul
stroll nonchalantly by. A good way
as any to kick the army
out of oneself
, I thought;
full as I was with a monthful
of sweaty, hairy, snoring brothers
breathing the same air,
which could only be detoxified
by a seat at some Istanbul cafe
on the promenade, ladies swinging their hips
to the call of some drum
men feel but can't hear:
Beauty calls to behold with starving eyes;

4. - And it was there, in the ruins that now stand,
where I met the proprietor of the coffee house,
a poet who wrote odes to his love,
mourning his time in the army
where he lost seventy of his poems;
and there where I met you, too, a Greek girl
talking of Turkish legends only a few know,
and suddenly we had hushed our tones
to inaudible decibels,
and we found ourselves travelling to Zeugma,
where most of the western bank
of the ancient town now sits
deep in water and the city’s eastern bank
is completely submerged, but it's
a misnomer-- as we were-- for there is much left
to see in Zeugma, and wonder,
what stories lie above, and what under;
as foot hits dust, and the step
of yours replaces the one of long ago.

In Soil Unseen

The old city on the Euphrates flood plain, Apamea,
was the first to go. Only excavations continue
to tell the story of an ancient city at the crossroads
between east and west, slowly drowned in a narrative
of water, on streets where once blood madder flowed
redder than a robin's breast. One of Alexander
the Great's lovers, a war commander founded this place,
a Greek boy slave whored out to a general,
a Persian wife under Roman rule, a once wealthy girl,
or perhaps goddess choked and drowned by the Turks.

Now archaeologists bore holes into the soil
of mosaics of children born thousands of years ago,
to awaken the ardor of Greek men for boys
long run cold. What was once great, now lies
beneath the world, as young boys once lay
under Greek men of old. The civilised ancients
fucking the new world, while the modern one
carefully excavates their bed sheets or
maniacally tries to wash them clean. Ancient
ancestors and enemies, one straddles, the other bends
over and so on goes history, in soil unseen.

From the collection: "Myth, the City" (Turkish Vistas) >>

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