BITING THE IVORY SCEPTER
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.
WALKING STICK MAKES THE LEAF DISAPPEAR
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
AS THE SALO TEMPERS IRON
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.