UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
STEVE PARKER

Enragé on the guillotine, 1798

Strapped to a board
his body jerked and spasmed
for some moments
as the last volts of rage,
the final syllables of paroxysm,
earthed through the extremities.
His face that had fallen pale

into a basket
worked through varieties of wildness
and cruelty
witnessed by all who looked in,
as though he was not yet done with us
and our milky constitution;

as though the febrile soul would slide out,
would manifest before the assembly
as a demon that grasped and crushed

and devoured, and those
who perceived this anguish
fell back,
left the square briskly,
pushing out through the drunkards
like swimmers frightened by a shark.
In this way, oscillating
with great wildness and fury
and explosion,
the Enragé passed,

his body finally growing limp.
Even his face—streaked, romantic and bloody
—ceased contorting, and at the last
adopted a sad aspect
as of one who has looked
into a savage crowd

through dead eyes,
and has seen such things there
as have made him glad
to be gone quickly from that place.


Mythos (a Buddhist farce)

stillness
connection with night
the mother collapses
down the stairs
lies there
breathing hard
wondering what next
the father roams
in the garden
uprooting shrubs
roaring
finally she makes it
to the phone
he's throwing branches
at the windows now
screaming out there
she gets through
hears a voice
name
details
she can't speak
he's here
in the door like a black wind
grabs her by the legs
drags her out
yelling for her kids
down to the river
throws her in twisting
sits meditating
breath slowing
looking at the water
night, trees
he's a Buddhist
sitting there
peaceful
bald, bearded, beaming
the moon shining
upon him









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