Friday, April 14, 2017

Poetry Break: Reading Ovid

Voyeur (M.A. Reilly, Paterson, NJ, 2010)

Reading Ovid 

 - Marie Howe

The thing about those Greeks and Romans is that at least mythologically,

they could get mad. If the man broke your heart, if he  fucked your sister speechless

then real true hell broke loose:
   “You know that stew you just ate for dinner, honey? —

It was your son.”
   That’s Ovid for you.

A guy who knows how to tell a story about people who really don’t believe in the Golden Rule.

Sometimes, I fantasize saying to the man I married,  “You know that hamburger you just

gobbled down with relish and mustard? It was your truck.”

If only to watch understanding take his face like the swan-god took the girl.

But rage makes for more rage— nothing to do then but run.
    And because rage is a story that has

no ending, we’d both have to transform into birds or fish: constellations forever fixed

in the starry heavens, forever separated, forever attached.

Remember the story of Athens and Sparta?
   That boy held the fox under his cloak

and didn’t flinch. A cab driver told me the part
   I couldn’t remember this morning—

in Sparta, he said, it was permissible to steal but not to get caught.

The fox bit and scratched; the kid didn’t talk, and he was a hero.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Jesus said. He said, The kingdom of heaven

is within you.
   And the spiked wheel ploughed through the living centuries

minute by minute, soul by soul. Ploughs still. That’s the good news and the bad news, isn’t it?

From: Howe, Marie. The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition. 

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