#1

POETRY

June 2020

verity laughton

 

 

Lovernius lies in the peat-swamp, mud-

marrowed bones and mud-licked marbled 

flesh. 

         Or half of him. 

                                 There’s a leg and a 

haunch 

            gone 

                      but you still can see where 

the tight garrotte has bedded in his neck 

and the jugular’s been cut for the rush of 

blood to fill the cup the cup running over 

after they struck the back and crown of his 

poor head with a blunted axe.

 

Then they twisted the wire (they needed 

a knee in his back to get a purchase on it

and thus they broke his ribs). Then they

bled him. His blood was the point. That was

 

                       the gift. 

 

Then they roped him in a chariot – or was it 

a cart? – was the blank-eyed goddess 

propped at his side?  – and they drove him 

through the god-stuffed black enchanted night 

to the pool by the swamp and they

                                                           slid him in.

 

Perhaps there was observance to the god

who likes his darlings drowned or perhaps

by then they were tired and they smelt the

Romans on the wind and they wanted 

the blood-glut over. So they let him go

and the mud-dark waters closed over him.

 

And you think. Is there anything – oh, anything? 

– in this world or the unlikely vacuum of 

the next for which you’d swap three axe blows

to the head, a wire garrotte, a knife in the

throat, your body’s hog-drained blood and the

cold stink of brown-black muddy water?

 

                           ~

 

Lovernius lies in the peat-swamp. Lovernius

dances with the golden gods. They stroke

his body, finger the fox-strap on his arm,

cradle the cracked and blackened head.

 

Lovernius dances with the gods. They

fling him – up! – bones, breast, scarred

throat, skin all lightened of the burden

of its blood, the sad hiatus of his ribs.

 

Lovernius lies with the gods, the wild-

eyed goddess shifts her golden body,

nuzzles his torn, peat-shredded lips.

the fox man

VERITY LAUGHTON is an award-winning playwright and poet. Her more than 30 produced works have been seen in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, the UK and the USA. They include main-stage adult dramas, adaptations, plays for children and families, radio plays, a promenade community event, and a musical. Most recent productions are Long Tan (published by Currency Press), and The Red Cross Letters. She has just completed a PhD in political theatre at Flinders University. She is a member of the 7-ON group of playwrights. www.veritylaughton.com 

 

(Image credit: Photo by Laura Vinck, 2017)

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