Three Poems

Whit Griffin



Like crustaceans that copulate when

the figs begin to ripen. It’s a tattoo,

not a stigmata. A year of penance is

three thousand lashes. Hercules had

not his club, and his right leg and arm

were extended. Dolphins make better

allies. Running animals are a good sign.

The algal bloom means an abundance

of flamingoes. The tongues of flamingoes

are a glutton’s delicacy. When I shall

have a fat turtle-dove, good-bye, lettuce.

Lettuce useful for relaxing. Saladin

presented his royal captive with a cup

of sherbet, cooled in snow. The sherbet

of Egypt was his common drink. The

hoof stroke of Pegasus created the fountain

of the Muses. Jupiter’s eagle carried

off Ganymede. Domitian gave Janus four

faces. Pollux invented boxing. So a stag’s

breath sucks up a clammy snake. Let us

bury alive our infirm and useless parents.




Fresh discoveries on the slow local

train. New paths to the old gods.

Agriculture cut us off from so many

spirits. Osmunda from Osmunder,

the Saxon Thor. Thirty-nine fern

acquaintances in Rutland County. Ostrich

fern on the banks of the Hoosick

River. Hart’s Tongue at Chittenango

Falls. Lunary to Martagon. Martagon

to Moonwort. Moonwort will unlock

the dwelling-house. Maidenhair not

meadow rue. What shall be our food?

Shall shellfish and fern-root? That

is the root of the earth; that is the food

to satisfy man; the tongues grow by reason

of the licking, as if it were the tongue of a dog.

So early in the journey. Goose grass

flour for the goddess of grains. Jimson

weed to Jamestown – a weed the natives

said would only grow around the whites.

It surely belongs to his Satanic majesty and

it is a little tomato. There is no milk and it

behaves like a pole bean. Beans, the food of

artisans. En-ki, Lord Love, man’s friend and

protector. God of wisdom, magic and medicine.

En-lil, Lord Breath, the life-giving wind.

Also the destroying hurricane. Wind carried

off its color. And the deer ran in circles

around them.




Procne was turned into a swallow

for slaying her son. Harmonia and

her husband were turned into stone

serpents. The lion is androgynous.

The green lion, also the serpent,

acid water, vinegar. Where the moist

heat of horse shit acted as a uterus.

Where it was once thought manure

played a critical role in resurrection.

Coprolite – fossilized feces. The warmth

of the hand brings out the fragrance

of amber. Finished is what I have said

about the work of the sun. As the sun

was Medea’s grandfather. The dove

granddaughters of Zarax. Let the sun

be my witness and Phasis the king of

our rivers. River gods are represented

with horns. No part of the ibis has

survived. The Pygmies of the upper Nile

were warred on and destroyed by cranes.



Whit Griffin is the author, most recently, of A Far-Shining Crystal (Cultural Society, 2013). Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Golden Handcuffs Review, LUNGFULL!, and Hambone. He currently lives in Memphis.