Ancient glyphs on unstable clay
divide a hard shell from its centre,
sever construction from landscape,
bisect equilibrium
and micro-theocracy.

At night, the temperature breeds;
while within, my humidity
seizes and entraps the parasite
that seeks to deploy a new one,
as my husband, invisible, jolts.

At four, the watchman sleeps;
and I, deliberately, traipse 
past brickwork graced with mud urns,
housing ornament and organism.

Beyond the walls, the rustling crops
admit their immobility:
a moat to pen their owners in,
albumen for a nucleus.


Shimmering spittle, pink-red hued,
hangs gently off the battered mouth
of the handsome, dust-streaked market whore
as merchants flee encroaching dusk.

I shuffle near him, warily,
affected by his half-slumped spine,
to overhear the muttered verse
he chants in sullen monotone:

“This city’s sacred harvest rites
are frowned upon by Yahweh God;
its sexual immorality
and ritual child sacrifice
abominations in his sight.

Thus, His mighty force shall cleanse
this population from the Earth,
along with every beast therein.
With this, the local tribes will know
that this is how He deals with sin.”

Laid static in a nearby barn, 
the gathered crops dwell disconnected;
buffered from the breeze outside
as fire cascades from the sky.


When the destructive grandeur
of bipolar malevolence struck,
I was made recipient of a
trip for four to incest porn — the luck
denied to 10,000 or so
on supplication’s account.

I run headlong from the woman in flames,
who grieves for her charcoal-in-arms
as my husband blinds me; as
my back, half-seared, blisters;
as my lip shakes for my son-in-law.
The prophet speaks in sombre tones,
and grips my wrist paternally. I turn, 
and I’m spared the pistol jump; the drowning; 
the scene I face with the briefest glance – 
an eternal second of outcry.


~ by David Heslin on 05/10/2011.

One Response to “Monument”

  1. My first attempt at a composite poem.

    Over three stylistically disparate parts, this tells the Biblical story of Sodom from the perspective of Lot’s Wife. Having grown up with a typically blind acceptance of such tales of divine genocide, I wished to convey some of the emotional reality of an ancient town’s destruction.

    Here, I recast Lot’s Wife’s fatal act of ‘looking back’ as a deliberate act of protest. The two angels of death become a beaten male prostitute, and the conception of one of Lot’s daughters functions as a prologue.

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