The South African in England, writing on Greek mythology, of course

So…… I haven’t posted in a while, ahem, oops! This is mainly due to the finishing of a degree, a trip home for a fantastic family wedding, and now hunting for a job. I haven’t had much time to sit down and write anything chunky, like an article, review or recipe, but I am one of those people who writes really bad poetry when there’s a spare moment (usually during a commute, or just before bed, or something else mundane). I’ll write in notebooks, on napkins, my phone, even on store receipts if I have nothing else on me – honestly, it’s better than meditation when I’m particularly frazzled!

Anyhoo, once I realised I hadn’t posted in a while, and being short on time, I went through my notes and found a few poems I’d scribbled down. These two I wrote with a sprinkling of Greek mythology, something I don’t often do, but it made for fun writing! It’s a little odd to be placing my words in so many territories, but then again, as an immigrant I don’t often find myself occupying geographical absolutes. I’m popping the poems up together, and I hope at least one of them has a little something of interest for someone out there. The first one I wrote as I crossed Waterloo bridge on a cold winter’s night: I was really homesick, I had just read Cavafy’s Ithaca, and I was feeling just a touch resentful of the ‘journey’. The second one I wrote after a particularly gruelling day of political news – I imagine Kronos to have oddly small hands 😉 Enjoy!


 

Homesick [Response to C]

I read of Ithaca, then,

Ithaca.

Finding my mind poor

You opened me, Datura Wrightii,

Poured the sea into my skull,

Seething Proteus,

Protea.

 

Now I see Cyclops skulking

On the muddy river bank.

It glares at the towering spikes;

Bloodshot, regrown, never sleeping.

Seagulls shriek

‘Odysseus, Odysseus!’

As it squats,

Fat Sauron sneers, taunting me too:

‘Remember Nobody, nobody, no body’

Sirens wail as they pass

‘Πάντα στὸν νοῦ σοὔχεις τὴν  ̓Ιθάκη’

I feel I have heard it before, but I can’t remember

Where.

 

Somewhere

Beyond this sodden Ogygia –

I remember that purple aroma, Zeus in summer.

Her love woven into fast nets,

Hephaestus working molten rain upon our roof.

I yearn to return to her

But she is gone.

Her perfume lingers on the olive knots.

The geese have flown.

Is that what you mean?

Do I carry Scylla on my back?

I hear Penelope has wed Poseidon.

 

No,

My feet will not pace along Cairo’s rich banks,

Not yet.

‘Slowly’ you whisper, so slow I’ll be.

Perhaps some wisdom will visit me.

 

Ah! I long for the wealth of Ithaca!

 


 

Krónos

I ate my children,

As I had promised them. 

I consumed their flesh,

As is my right. 

I gave them life, so that they could give me power,

Is that not what we agreed?

 

My father was a hardly-familiar dictator.

I was born of his lust,

And so I took it from him

While my mother cheered and wept,

I made my own paradise with it. 

 

My power is absolute, absolution,

My rules so perfect, they do not exist.

My children practice self-tenderisation,

Indoctrinated mental cannibalism,

While quietly I devour it all.

 

It is not my fault;

They love me for it.

It is my right

One they gave me by living.

Still, when I spit out their sinews stuck in my teeth,

Sometimes I feel flecks of gravel pass my lips.

 

 


 

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