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,
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
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.