Joint first prize ($7,500), 2016 Griffith University Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize
We discussed the possibilities
while brooding over strategy – the chairman took
my rook and asked – but
how alike are we to calves?
I said, do you mean before or after
slaughter? The fish-gasp of his laughter.
My queen and king
were done for. We started over.
He said – how about
in the moment
we move from one state
to the other? I lacked a satisfactory
answer, said that dog to dog
is always preferable,
but it seemed harmless
to remember Denys, who parted
the carotid arteries of several
and transferred their blood to men
with great success; there was, for instance
that boy, dumb in body, who took a lamb’s blood
and revived, pissing out
a choler, black and shining
like his hair.
Years later, they handed me
the chairman’s exsanguinated head, said –
do what you might to revive him.
They say: grind up tiger teeth,
and stir them into tea,
Or: owl eyes, swallowed entire,
will bring vision
to the hunstman
who wishes to see in the dark.
of the Iroquois chief
who, impressed by Brébeuf’s tenacity
under red-hot hatchets,
saw fit to eat his heart.
It is the same, old knowledge –
slips into the circulation
will exert its influence.
We have been undertaking the exchanges.
My wife’s face expands, a rehydrated
apricot. My hairline
retakes territories it had conceded.
We reach for one another
Blood. One more type
of private property
to be abolished. In the paradise
I’ve designed, it circulates
like money. All the young
are rich as sultans. I imagine
taut as fresh-picked grapes.
I imagine setting them out
in the sun,
the concentrated sweetness
as they wrinkle; I think
of spitting out the pips.
Blood is a jungle. In a single slide, observe
the tangle of thugs and roughnecks,
their nightly riots. Foreigners
may be swept along
with the pressure-current.
My volunteer had a wheal I did not see.
A proboscis had gone searching
through his person, left him teeming
who think nothing
of the edifice which they deface.
A shame. Days later, I am slick and glistening
with fever. It is a comfort, however,
to think of how I flourish
throughout another’s vascular forest. He will
wake, convalesce, recover,
not thinking to ask what or whom
might be zooming through the florets
of his brain matter –
accepting the arrival
of a desire to amass flammables,
or pen the seditious letter – that needling
insistence; that new,