Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Tuesday poem #454 : Grant Wilkins : In Which Margaret Atwood Consults The Chaldean Oracle




The Sibyl asked…

What happens in the sheer silence
of our broken mouths and unheard songs?
What happens in the sharp lacunae

when our voices and rhythms have gone?
Is this how Nature exalts itself?

How fashion and form are figured in things?
By the hard closed fist and petty proclamation

of some pale geometric Kings?
What will happen to our sacred names and our hieroglyphs,

and the winter games in the dark?
What will happen to our fallen totems and theologies,

painted above in the stars?
Is this how the footnotes of history are taken

or the broken objects of culture forsaken?
On the dull iron shields and unbalanced scales

of the men of the Platonic God?
Is law the language of creation, Oracle,

or is language the creation of law?

The Oracle answered…

When the first sharp shot whizzed past your head,
did you mark the morals of the one with the gun,
or doubt his righteous intent?

When you saw the vapid god in his eyes,
did you build barricades behind paving stones,

or push burnt-out cars with your broken bones?
Did you block up the doors to the hiding places

where you’d collected your songs and your father’s seeds,
and the poems that were written with undrowned hands

long ago on your grandmother’s beach?
But when the King my brother and his riot squad

come goose-stepping down your street,
they will wrest away your silent places, and fire your privacies.

They will break down your symbols and still your lives,
as they move to set things Right

in the name of their fatal Father,
with his ether, his rum and his razorblades,

and his Son’s ill-burning light.




Grant Wilkins is a printer, papermaker and occasional poet from Ottawa. His writing has appeared in the pages of ARC Poetry Magazine, The Ottawa Press Gang Concrete Poetry Anthology, Train: a poetry journal and BafterC magazine amongst other places, and he recently published Literary Type with the fine folks at nOIR:Z. 2020 was a good year for Grant, as his sequence “Roman Alphabet: Readings and Translations” won Exile’s Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Competition, and his poem “In Which Gwendolyn MacEwen Translates Émile Nelligan: II” was shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year prize. Grant has degrees in History & Classical Civilization and in English, and he likes ink, metal, paper, letters, sounds and words, and combinations thereof.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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