The Oasiad


Anyone out there read the Iliad (or seen Troy)? If you have, perhaps you’ll recognize this. It’s a sort of translation of book 18 (with a book 16 flashback) in the style of genius Christopher Logue. It’s still a work in progress (see note below), so let me know if there’s anything that needs changing.

And to those of you who recognize this: Sorry. This MAY look like a duplicate but if you persevere past the first page you’ll see it’s really not 🙂 I’m an insane editor and I fixed it. Big time. Enjoy!

Feet hammering hard on sand.
Thick heels sinking in, slowing his gait.
The head, planted on the stocky neck, droops
As hands push back the animal-hide flap.

“Son of Peleus,” To Achilles.
The warlike hero turns, and
As eye meets eye the voice dies.

But it is used.

“He is dead.”Ears stop hearing.
“A hero’s death, though, to the end. Hector…”
White noise. Words, like silent raindrops, fall
Unheard.

Slow exit. A statue of a king dethroned, he quakes,
Ropes round motionless ankles, marble muscles crack,
Then shatter, raising dirt.

Soundless around him, a million voiceless screams.
They stab his writhing body like spears. You know nothing,
Nothing of pain. Not like him. Tufts of hair in his massive hands,
Redcurrant hair mixed with saltwater and the smell of grief.
Lying in the dust,
The tears carving into his face,
Eyes seeing nothing around him, only the face of Patroclus,
Clawed at, chewed up,
Dead.

Listening below the bolts of grey sea,
Beautiful Thetis. Weeping for her weeping son.

Lavender fills the nose of her wailing child.
“Why, dear Achilles,” she whispers, by his side.
“Why do you cry?” Nymph fingers glide over strands of brown.

“Patroclus—” he collapses against her knee. Hot, angry rain falls on her skin. Tears until nightfall. “They killed him. Patroclus. He was—he,”
Was.
Through hacking, wrenching sobs:
“He took my armour,
Put it on, fooling the Trojans.
And I let him go! He let it reach him,
Eat at his brain, that sweet decay of killing.

I let him go.” His own fists hammering at his body. Reaching for the dagger.
“Stop—“
“No,
Not unless Hector
That rodent son
Of dribbling Priam,
Dies, too.
I’ll cut him
Gouge his eyes out,
Drag him around
Until Trojan sand becomes Trojan skin
And even crows won’t bow their heads to tear at him.”

“But, child, if you are the one to kill him, they will kill you.”

Then let me die!
Heracles, Perseus,
Theseus,

Patroclus.
Let me die.

“No man escapes the fixèd gaze of sullen Death.”

Thetis looked at her son, his face, his strong shoulders.
Too weak.
“Wait my dear, stay by the beach.
I’ll go to Hephaestus, that lord of fire,
And tell him to forge my son
The finest armour in the Ilium.” Cool lips to warm forehead, and silverfoot Thetis slid away.

You enter, late.
Slide through the door, hope nobody hears as you
Shuffle sideways, scuttle into place like the crab you are,
Skulking in the shadow of the octopi.

It’s already started. The footlights in their eyes,
They can’t even see you.

Grand jeté. Arms, legs, fingers tense, poised,
Ready with the spear. Slide the sharpened point between ribs, tearing,
Elegantly, fingertips pull, pull, push-pull, freeing the blade from bloody sinews, still tightly wound.
Victim falls like garbage from a metal monster.
Patroclus, bare toes pivoting on the floor, pirouettes with the knife, arm outstretched,
SCHGLUG. Into the stomach.
Faster, faster,
Head flicking dizzyingly, spotting his next partner.
Muscles contracting,
Lift! And throw.
Gracefully, a dancer falls.
Crumples, a swan with a broken neck.
APPLAUSE! LAUGHTER!
An eye rolls forward, but Patroclus’ foot
Doesn’t even touch it, he won’t be tripped.
Wild smile, savage cry,
The rhythmic stabbing into the crowd
Soldiers drop around him,
Peeling away like petals of a cactus flower,
Bloom for a day, then you’re gone, Patroclus.
At least you’ve made your mark.
A forest of arms, heads, hands, feet, legs,
Rooted in the fallen bodies, lifeless skin still sweating under the hot Trojan sun.

Little boy, little boy, Stab the bloodthirsty bastard,
Princip, out to make his name,
End the war.
Drive it, the spear into his spleen
Bursting bile-sack,
Almost, almost glory.
Run away before he sees who did it.

He stumbles, “It’s over!” “He’s done!”
But it gives a growl, springing back into the fight,
A one-quill porcupine.

Twitch. He’s down. Now’s your chance.
Go.

Hector advances, foxtrot to the right, slide under,
Arm flailing, he falters. Unsure.

Looking over, to Sarpedon,
Fallen hero.
Can you call him that?
Just a mass of dead skin
Blood-crusted, dirt-covered,
Faceless
Skin. Stabbed and torn at, devoured as an army of ants crawls desperately over a single crumb.
Anger floods like acid, eating through his bones.

Go, Hector. Stab. Slice. Hack. Blood on your hands
Slippery, red blood trickling like sweat
From your forehead.
Patroclus’ blood.

Regaining his balance, he leaps,
Sweeping his arm in one perfect arc, spear meets spear,
Straining with the pitiless bronze to tear at each other,
Mangy dogs in the street,
One on top of the other.
Slowly, he eases in the blade.
“Shhh. Shhh.”

Hector, holding him down with the tips of his fingers,
Stares into wide, scared-rabbit eyes. Fear.
RAGE.

“Does it hurt?” He mocks. Lip curls.
Patroclus gurgles.
“Don’t.”
“How are you feeling? Dead? You’re dead, Patroclus. It always catches up to you, you see.
Hector killed you. Tell everyone that. I bring death.
I am death.”
“No,” he said, “That’s,”
Last word, spat out with all his strength and clotted crimson lumps:
“Achilles.”

Blind, Deaf, Hector can only roar,
Ripping the armour off his prey,
Hurling it at the driver,
Leaving the naked corpse.

FTHIT. FTHIT.

While Thetis comforts infant Achilles,
FTHIT.
Bronze tips.
Dodged by instinct,
Reaching cold hands.

Drag him away! “Drag him away!”
Barely a hesitation. He slaughters Reason,
Hitler in his bunker,
Insane
He can only see Spears,
Spears stained for days
With Greek blood, filthy blood,
Leaving a mass of faceless skin.

“I’ve got him!” the voice of Polydamas accompanies
Arms, shoulders,
Buckle under weight,
Expand and drag the dead boy.

Head, gone with one blow.
Stuck on a pole,
Right through the esophagus.
Try and talk now, Patroclus.

Before he can move,
Half-giant Ajax sweeps
Two feet in one great hand.

Low bellow. Almost a word: “Ours.”

“Up, Achilles.” A mist voice whispers, cool spit on rough skin.
Frozen.
“Coward,” it declares.
Hammer to the ice.
Running,
Legs like steel springs. Propel him down the track.

Achilles
Feet planted,
A spire on the dune.
Soft stomach, open stomach.
An invitation.
Watch them fight, murderers,
Without you to save them.
They cannot win, for
You cannot help them.

Voice like Tamahay.

Just scream.

Metal clattering stops.

Thump, Thump, Thump.
Fast breath, in-out
Hop,
Crouch,
Tuck,
Run into the early sunset.

No one saw them drag it away.

“I think,” Polydamas said, “we should retreat.
Achilles’ presence is a sign.
We’ll return to the city,
Behind the wall,
And hide.”

Snarl from Hector.
Strong, rough heels.
Sunk into the sand.

“Are you Greek?
We stay.”
“I have always held your counsel in
Highest
Esteem, Hector, but this once—“
“We stay.
We will not be slaves.
We will not be girls.
We will fight. We will win.”

Priam’s nodding. When he looks at you, those eyes,
Piercing blue bullets shot from a derringer .41,
Commanding and wise and scary as hell
Agreement floods your mind.

Hector and Polydamas.
Face to face.
Nose to nose.

Open your eyes. Slide away
From that body-littered beach
Up
Up
Breathe cool winter-mint air as it stings your nose
And see them, controllers of fate.
Golden chairs in a circle. Fire pit, center.

Watch them ignore you.

Clusters of glass houses. Palaces.
Keep walking—

Dirty clay hut,
Grey from ash.

One is hiding.
Alone.
Hammer, metal, fire.
All he needs, he says.
No one comes near,
Not even his wife, no.
She’s too busy freshening lipstick,
Toying with wire-hair boys.

But Thetis, silver gown,
She enters,
Sings,

“Hephaestus,”—The massive man looks up from below greasy bangs—
“Can you do me a favor?” Coy smile. Wink.
He trembles, her slender hand running up and down his scarred skin. No reply.

“You see,” Soft. Mouth near burnt ear.
“Achilles needs armour. My son, at Troy.”
Grunt.
“My

Husband

Is dead, you know
Mortals—they do that. They get old.
Weak.” Not like you, Hephaestus.
Slim fingers on bulging arms.
Lungs try to open.
Can’t.

“Ok.” Lips almost touch
Almost touch
So close he feels her dewy breath on his hot cheek—

pull away.

“Thanks, Phi-Phi.” Gone.

“Phi-Phi.” Smiles.
He pushes up his flannel sleeves,
Rubs his prickled chin,
Lifts his hammer,

Sparks.

Waterloo Sunset


I decided I’d do a creative writing piece based on a song. Enter my iPod. Put it on shuffle, and the first song that came up was “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks. (Click song title to listen)

Waterloo Sunset

He sat there in the fading light, dangerously close to the edge of the bridge, legs dangling from the openings in the rusted metal bridge. His arms draped themselves over the top rim, sloppily, like a shirt cast to the floor after a long day at work. He stayed.

He forced himself to look down, over the muddy water. Water, he thought. Water. Water. Water. Whenever his mind would start to wander, he snapped it back into place. Water. Nothing else is important. It’s just you, the metal, and the water. That’s it. He must have been a strange sight, sitting on the bridge at 6pm, his mousy hair tinted titian by the sinking sun, the briefcase casting a long shadow next to him. He shivered. The delicate tremor shook his slender frame, and for a minute he imagined himself old, faded like a black and white photograph. Slowly he pushed himself up, collected his briefcase, and hailed a taxi. He didn’t much like it. The light burned his eyes.

Staggering to the windowsill, he gazed out across the river of people and lights and traffic. I wonder where he is now, he thought. I wonder where She is. He thought he saw her, and him, down on the sidewalk. She embraced him. They kissed.

The man pulled on the white plastic blind, and gently rested his head on it, closing his eyes to the dark room.

All Grown Up and No Place to Go


Stories Without Words (again)

Stories Without Words. An Endless source of inspiration (Check the links).

Gently, she placed the phone back in its holster. She didn’t want him bothering her anymore. Every day, without fail, she would get a call from the same number. The same old, tired voice on the other end of the line would tell her that she would only mess her life up again, and he would have to bail her out. Two hundred dollars, maybe, or a trip to AA. A Weight Watchers membership. A loan. A lawyer.

She didn’t need him, even. Sure, he gave her money. But he shouldn’t, really. He was just clinging to the last vestiges of her infancy, clutching at the baby he still thought her to be. Her feet were jabbed into the floor as they carried her to the old ’70s couch that sat dismally across from her small TV. He had given it to her. She could have bought her own furniture. Or found some, by the side of the road. Someone else’s reject. She hurled herself down on top of it, hoping for something dramatic–a spring breaking loose, maybe, or a cushion ripping. Her red dress echoed the screaming color of her brain, throbbing with anger. Her head was swelling, it really was. She pictured it inflating, a giant red balloon, floating away from her. Her forehead whined its discomfort.

She stood up, lay down, and slid herself below the couch. She was six again, staring up at the bare metal, the yellowing polyester batting poking out from the gaps like fungus.

She didn’t need him. “I’m a grownup”, she told herself. “I am.”

War Poems


Here’s a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, 1918.

DOES it matter?—losing your legs?…
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs. 5
Does it matter?—losing your sight?…
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light. 10
Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?…
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won’t say that you’re mad;
For they’ll know you’ve fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit. 15

The Spectator


This one isn't from SWW. It's a painting by Gustave Caillebotte

The man pushed himself out of his chair, stumbling to the balcony’s edge. He gripped the banister for a moment, steadied himself, then stood straight, staring out at the street below him.

I sat, just out of eyeshot, watching him. His face turned away, I caught only the back of his head and his hunched, sloping shoulders. I stayed still, just watching him watch.

He didn’t seem to be paying much attention, gazing listlessly over the Parisian boulevard. Suddenly, his head dropped. It was as if it had been attached to a hinge, so quick and mechanical was the motion. The man let out a sigh, moving his head along as if following someone walking on the street under him. He snapped his head back up again, and, turning to hobble back to his flame-colored seat, allowed his pallid face to be seen for a moment.

A single teardrop traced a river down his cheek.

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