Sons of Sisyphus
Have you seen Spartans train their youth away:
oak trees beneath a ridge, 200 boys
broken into 20 files, 20 pound
shields that have never touched ground, 5 pound helms
packed with wild grass to fit growing skulls. “Spaaaar-
taaaans! Choose a tree.” They move, little gods made
from levers and chains: shout, turn brace shields, one
against the back of the next and next
then lead shield meets the bark. “Now push them down!”
Teeth fuse, chains tighten
driving force against oaks firm as
slip, effort spills through the sandal
soles marching furrows
in earth that deepen into knee-high
muddy from sweat and urine – “Be born!”
– pushing and pushing
‘til tree trunks smolder from hate-
filled-boy glares, pushing
‘til the links snap
drop like skin-sacks – “Stand!”
– pushing until sun
rolls, like Nazarene’s tomb door
into dusk. Dying
child – one in five die – thinks about
his shield touching ground
drags it to rest on his chest.
Breath. Somber slaves bury the slain, still-births
in the wheat fields. The living, beaten, shamble
to barracks where fathers dab watered
honey on lips exhausted. Wash, oil
sons’ limbs, polish their shields, sharpen their spears.
“Sons. We hear jackals barking.” Little
gods stir. Wind in common groans as they rise,
grey-skinned and ghastly. Shields, spears, helms, “File out!”
The night breaks Stygian surf around them.
They stride for the wheat
fields; they’ll chase Hades’ hounds
from brothers’ graves while
oaks beneath the ridgeline await
the tomb door’s rolling
Open eyes, get out of bed.
Put a toothbrush in.
Eat raspberries for breakfast.
Lick ass and chew shit for work.
Drive home last.
Gargle mouthwash next morning.
Tylenols before breakfast.
Call in sick, eat the loss.
Park by my junior high school.
Write poems about love poems.
School security approaches.
I can smell danger, go home.
Smoke weed on plastic-covered couch. Weep.
Skip breakfast, eat nothing in the A.M.
Saline drops in the parking lot at work.
Connie from the second floor walks by my car
window. Shakes her head at my Visine.
Key her Audi.
Need to piss bad.
Google scalpels and
black holes for lunch.
Speed home full of megabytes.
Drunk, high, taking that piss.
After 5pm, fuck rabbits. Or fuck like them,
whichever presents itself most advantageously.
Home by 12.
Rinse midnight from mouth.
Jam guitar and scream.
Cops thump thump my door:
noise complaint. Put myself
to sleep. Take to alarm’s
Onkh, onkh, onkh. I smell scalpels
in a bag beneath bathroom sink.
Desdemona of Troy
I’m so mad at you I
face Medusa’s gaze,
turn that bitch to volcanic glass.
Floor cracks beneath my weight;
fractures ride the lightning across her face.
I’m so mad at you I
leak magma from tear ducts.
Molten granite, brighter than
love’s ire, carving
channels down my cheeks.
I’m so angry with you I
can’t walk or get
up or lie down. Soul so smoking
the Arctic Sea can’t quench it
without shattering me.
Mad because while I
quake, earth sleeps. My anger
has red roots
like a nigger slave
bleeding lava down a whipping post.
I’m so mad at you
I can fly, throat-in-noose fly,
volcanic plume high.
When I settle, I’m ashes.
Fumes and burning plastic.
Helen of Sidewalk
I do remember our song.
It was about pay-per-view
in hotel rooms and a plumber
who became Porn King. We listened
while you made a game
out of hopping cracks
in the pavement. You knew yourself.
You were a ballerina who never
had to pause to watch
her toes, and I sailed
far to move like that.
Emile DeWeaver is a 2015 Pushcart nominee with creative work in a dozen publications, including The Lascaux Review, Frigg, Punchnel’s, and The Rumpus. You can find his work on his website and by visiting his monthly column “Good Behavior” at Easy Street.
He is a co-founder of Prison Renaissance.