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Poetry Magnum Opus



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albatross and lexicon

a tumble of days

with myrmidons and biremes

sepia photos on the dentist's wall

and a sensitivity of silent wraiths

sat in their pregnant chairs

a game of bowls on the village green

that is not green... the might of rome in a cloud

of ash that blasts out from much older might

the rustling of dog-eared magazines

arsenic and old lace..

elderberry wine

and the joy when a mummy's cake

won first prize at the fair

a cue for the tattooed lady

preening her garden of earthly delights

as the white clad ghost with a clip board

smiles and calls for lydia

to accompany her

away from twiddling cell-phone thumbs

and past the cypress trees in an olive grove

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Welcome to the forum.

Perhaps I should have titled this "crossword in a waiting room".

The way a single word can conjure up a whole avenue of thought gives insight to my pre-occupied Narrator. Myrmidon (ant-like) Homer's reference to Achilles' men at Troy-- bireme, a bronze age warship. He's conscious of various pictures on the wall and the silence of the others; who sit like the dead in anticipation of being allocated a place in some further existence. Yet continues in his own Limbo. "Arsenic and Old Lace: the comic play about two seemingly harmless old ladies; who poison elderly gentlemen with elderberry wine, to spare them the rigours of old age. The allusion of the tattooed lady's art to Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights-- and a half-thought of Jimmy (Schnozzle) Durante's music hall song: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" brings his own dark humour into play. "Have you seen Lydia, she's an encyclo-piddia, Lydia the Tat-tooed Lady?" The nurse/angel-- calls, smiles and leads her past the swirling image of Van Gogh's painting: "Cypress Trees in an Olive Grove", out of the Narrator's sphere of existence, to her demise.

They always say a poet should not explain his/her work; for even the most 'normal' of things can mean different things to each reader, and we all have different life experiences to draw from.

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thank you for the break down. & i agree, a word, just a single word, can transcend your brain into so many places!


it's okay to explain your work after someone has read it. i love listening to someone's perspective on my poem & then telling them how i wrote it. i like the whole spectrum, because most of the time the reader goes so far away from the point of where i wrote it - it makes it special & cool - it's a unique interaction poets have with their readers.


so telling me about it is okay. i've read it & got my perspective, now you tell me how you come to the terms with your poem!


no harm done!

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David W. Parsley

Hi Geoff, I enjoyed this piece even though I did not know what biremes are, was not familiar with Jimmy's ditty, and somehow missed the reference to a familiar Van Gogh. Like mp, I am grateful for the pithy breakdown afterward.


- Dave


P.S. Book? What book?

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