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Poem: “Job Oedipus Lear (David Achilles Othello)”

Job Oedipus Lear (David Achilles Othello)

By Patrick T. Reardon


Dung dark lone.

(Lust flow betrayal)


Bible Greek bard.


King launches daughters to death.

Leper badgers for answers Deity.

Womb-returner holds, unseen, his eyes in his left hand.


The baby dream of Agamemnon:


Never show the scream.  Their rules.


fetid guilt, a baby’s blame.


Hell dark.  From the sky.


Awaiting prophecy. The rotting bodies.



Self-blinded with maternal stickpins.

Self-paupered by paternal blindness.

Self-corrupted by faith disease/serum.


(Arrogant wife-stealer, foe-dragger, wife-doubter)


I am picked and pecked by crow scolders.

I ask one too many question.

I lust for rest without death.


Let my sorrow river current between banks,

Lord Eternal,

between fields I tend and reap,

and bake bread, and break bread,

warm as Grandma’s kitchen

where she smiled — the sun

jeweling soil and dogshit and growing

things and creeping things and

the newborn and the dying and the dead.

Her bread was sprinkled with flour.


Did Lear know of Job, Oedipus?

They would have recognized him,

having each made the same vain grab.


(David was caught in the war of his sons,

Achilles caught the arrow in the unwatered spot,

Othello listened with his ears and caught nothing.)

Job knew Oedipus guilty of

blind copulation and murder

despite innocence.


Oedipus could have chatted the other king

family dynamics until

the cows came home to roost.


Under the train tracks seven miles,

I take a step and

the movement pulls my other leg and foot

up and forward and

this is the way it goes and

has gone and

will go until I take the step

out the back door

for my appointment

with the gun.


My impatient patience.

My clutch for clear vision.

My miserable map.


(My hands on her pure throat.

My song to the roof-bather.

My gleaming blinding armor.)


You opened yourself to the whirlwind.

You self-crueled your blameless flesh.

You knew yourself a fool, nuncle.


Translate breathing. Define

the voices in the shadowed alley. Explain

the tracks of blood and brain

to the harsh pebbled touch

of the cement garbage box

by the crab apple tree

where brother David wanted to hide. Be

precise about orgasm. Spell

the animal hoot. Cackle. Render

weightless steps. Construe

a poem. Pray in a line. Draw

a schema of anxiety.


Don’t trust Job’s happy ending.

Hear eye-castrated Oedipus.

Hug the foolishness of Lear dying.


In this life, innocence

dangerous as success, everything

to the same place.



Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared in High Shelf on 11.15.19.




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