Sunday, 24 July 2011

Antiquity's Rose

“There was a world...or was it all a dream?” (Helen)
And there Homer traced the curves
Of Calliope along the walls of Troy, 
Beneath a god-made diorama of a matchstick war, 
Where all were lit, and all would fall
And yet I dream a most preposterous dream.
A dream where Troy is unbroken,
The lapis seas consuming themselves along virgin shores,
Helen sitting in the shell of her golden egg,
A flaming swan, fondling the sun
That rests between her burning lips;
Beauty entombed,
With sand-bled ringlets and moon-slaughtered robes,
But eyes of a chimera, of fire and ice, 
Fixed on the crinkled waves and paper boats, 
That glisten on the horizon like stars 
On a fallen sky.
She sings Paris to sleep with cowardly tunes,
And decorates his dreamscape with tales
Of tin-foil lions, and men broken on rocks;
Her gilded fingers 
(cursed with a malformed midas touch)
Scraping the impenetrable walls
As she retreats to her chambers, 
A blood stained siren.
The gods descend to ready their thrones
On the bones of man-made altars,
And the ghost ships arrive,
The windup soldiers standing two by two,
Thrown from the arc and
Moulded from Olympian clay, their fate
Carved into their breastplates by prophets of age.

“There is nothing alive more agonized than man 
of all that breathe and crawl across the earth” (Zeus)

And there they crawl, from sea to wall,
Soldiers born with rocks between their teeth
And metal stitched to skin,
Volcanic glory bottled behind mournful eyes,
Which steam as blood pumps through lava-tube veins
And Destiny drags their hollow limbs across the sand.

Many fall to Beauty’s mess
As she waltzes with Ruin atop the broken ramparts,
Lust smeared on naked walls,
As Hector and Achilles battle
In shallow waters of the styx,
An arrow through heel and sword through throat,
Bronzed death,
As Apollo bleeds from Spartan mouths,
And Aphrodite rips the hearts out of fallen men
To hang as windchimes over crimson seas.

The moon refuses to shine on fallen Ilium
And Helen sits dressed in shadows and pyre-smoke,
Her tears caught in an apple-core chalice,
As a wooden horse made from the bones
Of a thousand ships
Rubs its back against a decade of death
And explodes beneath Homer’s brocade - 
Shattering the walls of blood
With sibylline precision,
Cassandra broken in prayer at the foot of a temple,
Her words hanging behind glass eyes.
“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. The wind scatters the old leaves across the earth and the living timber bursts with new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.”

And there Helen sits
On the ruins of an empire,
A blood flower blooming 
Between the souls of Heroes
And bones of Myth;
Antiquity’s rose
Cutting the buds off of newborns
And scattering the ashes across the land
Lest she find another Troy to burn.

Yet, when the dust finally settles

On a war-born vase,
All that is learnt is how to fall
With melted wings and blinded eyes,
For no man can catch the sun,
But all would die trying...