Poetry: Patrick Lodge

Patrick Lodge
Anaspitos Prays

They smirk with Ray-Ban eyes, say
tomorrow we will try the woods.
Somewhere a line will be crossed
but I can neither see nor sniff it.

We skulk in scrub and valley,
like hermits with no hope of home.
These trees are dank, medieval,
stinking of rack and thumbscrew.

They drip misery and bleed soundlessly.
I strain to see through bars
and branches to a murky sky
that mocks my clear Carpathian air.

The deluge drums loudly, creeps
across the cage roof, like artillery.
My feet scald as if I hiked over shrapnel.
I must endure these tribulations.

My teeth are shattered, my claws pulled,
my ears beaten by shellfire’s tambour.
I am led where I would rather not go.
There can never be any rest here. 

Arcturus! Where is the mother,
the shield? Keeper of the north,
shepherd these cubs across the night;
help me shake off weariness, be a sign.

Let me dance in their cities a measure
of chaos, enflaming their cold communities.
Arcturus, bright sky fire, in my steps
let justice rage. I will bear witness.

Note: Anaspitos is colloquial Greek for “the one without a home”. Arcturus is a star in the constellation Boötes and translates as “guardian of the bear”; it is also the name of a Greek sanctuary for freed dancing bears in Thessaloniki, smuggled into Greece along the same routes used lately by refugees from the Middle East.


Three scents you gave me:

first, on your cupped palms,
burning with cinnamon oil,
held as if exposing wounds to doubters;

second, your perfume on my skin
until the sea burnished me
in the early morning;

third, a stub of temple incense,
broken, each half lit at an understood
but unspoken moment.

This I recall, but here’s the sense:
how kneading muscles, working bones,
you made me formless,
then built a perfect space,
a womb house,
where all that is essence quickens.

Deux Soeurs

A year apart, two sisters
one a spinster, the other
still shrugging her way
into the solaces of a new
surname, have death
incised in grey stone.

Hard granite it looks,
propped in a recess,
of a barn with outline
permissions. Not hard
enough to defy the axe
that cracked it sideways.

One blow, parting forever
two girls torn apart in life
by the man who paid
for everything other than
this gravestone, gracing
neither grave, nor memory.

In an Amount Sufficient to Cause Death1

My end is a higher education in metallurgy;
a first degree in the mechanics of killing.
The strap-down team arrives to execute a suave
totentanz; I am gurneyed, burnished buckles

clack shut, splay my arms tight to this chrome
crucifix. I am a nailed-on certainty to die today.
The thrumming of tin cups on iron bars -
an unalloyed percussion of death - is my threnody

as I am delivered from a windowless room
to a star-shell sparkling chamber exploding
with yellow mercury light. This is a ferrous
domain; a buffed, stainless, sterile cube

where ceiling reflects floor reflecting ceiling.
An infinity of mirrors in which I diminish.
Alchemists hook me up, I am become cyborg,
pierced by shiny steel needles like little reeds

that will pipe a lament into my bloodstream
at the plunge of the hard-tempered syringe.
I know the protocol - I exchange fluids
with the machine. First, the seep of sedation comes:

second, the spreading stain of paralysis.
I am a driverless car racing nowhere.
My brain goes molten; I cannot think straight.
I am careening in the dark. I shout silently.

Thirdly, the potassium gift is given and sparks
through my veins like ore in the mother lode.
I am smelted pure but stay heavy, can’t rise above it.
I am transfigured. This is glorious light. Full stop.

1 Execution in Arkansas is by intravenous lethal injection; a so-called three-drug protocol administered   “in an amount sufficient to cause death”. The State announced it would perform eight executions in April 2017 but executed only four prisoners.

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