Poetry: Sørina Higgins


Ode to Uncertainty

You come with Janus-face, your quartet of eyes
turned towards me in a quick succession: psychedelic
cycle, counterpoint of circle and plane, a lunacy
contrived by velocity with valence and designed well if

madness is the goal. Only your luminous glances,
dancing a whirling dervish, are colored: a gloom
for your robe is a charcoal carving, a sketch-book fancy
faded into nightmare, a chiaroscuro gone monochrome.

Your motion in stillness could nauseate;
your monstrous size inside my small mind is uncanny—
strange, then, how solid you are in this crowded place,
and you stink like a dead man and squall like a baby.

Yet I never thought to question: are you real?
Or are you just a side effect of how this century wants to feel?

In Persona: Prometheus Thinks About Sanctification

Finally, at last, tomorrow
          everything will be better.
I sense my wholesome organs growing strong
and I see clearly: see my fault
spread-eagled on a rock, incised with truth.
Thank Zeus for this operation,
          if this operation heals.

Forgive my fire.
I should not have shouted in gigantic rage
at all my little people.
Yes, the power-rush felt good and fed my belly
like a Gatorade of the flesh,
like liquid adrenaline for the old man.
Ah, how sweet it was to see them squirm,
to speak with thunderous firm tones and know
my own authority, my own height, my head
higher than theirs.
I wore a natty business suit,
so slick beside their dumpy Catholic-girls’-school uniforms,
and they whined and pawed their dog-eared papers
and I smiled a grim demi-god smile
to watch them flinch into detention.
I set my ego on a pedestal
and pinned up a little plaque:
          Titan of the year.

But that was then, and this is now,
and never, never, never
will I stoop so low again.

I’m happy that my liver’s growing back.
From now on I’ll be temperate and perceptive.
In the past, I have been cross-eyed with selfishness, lost all
peripheral vision, wore the blinkers of
need,          want,          need,          want,          need,          want,          need.
Something was wrong with my spleen,
because a kind of green and boiling
taste of bile in my veins
set me to clenching fists
and making scrunched-up faces
with a kettle-whistle pressure
and skull pressed full of smoggy steam—
pushing my forehead against the bathroom wall,
legs crumpled up on the tile floor,
extractor fan hiding my sobs
from my oblivious living-room lover.
          Shouldn’t she worship my titanic beauty?
          Shouldn’t she stroke my sculptured torso
                                        and chiseled thighs
          and sigh in adoration?
          Shouldn’t she gaze in bliss
                    at these eyes that Reubens, Moreau, Fuger, and Cole
          paused to admire?
Why isn’t she wild with lust?
—that is what I wept about,
when weak and human kinds of agonies
controlled my bloodlines and my brain.

But now my liver’s growing back,
and I feel sure, while Helios returns,
my circulation’s steady and I see
with clarity the way I ought to be,
that it is not about me, that I can cultivate humility.

Helios is up. Hera’s Sky is clear.
And look! God’s eagle circles down.
It looks like Zeus has sent his aegis-bird
as confirmation of my [final! real!] conversion,
and as a golden symbol that the cycle’s broken.

Then why is he descending talons first?

Mappa Mundi

With thanks to Gerard Manley Hopkins

Four mortal dragons corner the earth
As capitals have gilded Evangelists
With prodigal colour, with glory swirls:
Terror illuminates joy.

Dragonflies draw down spears of flame
and dragonwings weave the invisible air
while dragonwalks stalk a thunder ground
and dragondeeps quiet the waves.

Scarlet are their mile-long tongues:
Golden their keyhole irises.
The planet is squared in their slender bones
And time quartered between.

Dragonflies draw down spears of fire
and dragonwings weave the invisible sky
while dragonwalks stalk a thunder land
and dragondeeps quiet the sea.

Earth lies spread like an ancient chart
Before the eyes of its dragon kings.
Rivers are lapis lazuli chains,
Cities scales of bronze.

Dragonflies draw down shafts of fire
and dragonwings spin the invisible light
while dragonwalks tread a thunder drum
and dragondeeps silence the sea.

Stylized winds with ridiculous cheeks
Embouchure every joint of the frame
And cool with their breath the dragon smoke
And stir the parchment waves.

Dragonflies loose their fiery shafts
and dragonwings visit the spin of their sight
while dragonwalks thunder a trampled beat
and dragondeeps see into silence.

Four phases of spirit, four inspired flames
Inhale and exhale the germens of earth
And in turn are breathed forth from beyond the page:
The nimbus, the ether, the All.

Dragonflies draw down spears of flame
and dragonwings weave the invisible air
while dragonwalks stalk a thunder ground
and dragondeeps quiet the waves.

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