Stephen Oliver is the author of six major collections of poetry. His recent collection, Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978-2000, covers five volumes of poems and spans two decades. A poetry chapbook, DEADLY POLLEN, is to be published by Word Riot Press in 2003. Stephen is a transtasman poet and writer who lives in Sydney. http:people.smartchat.net.au/~sao/
O Say Can You Hear?
The dripping Gorgon's head
over the sands of Iraq, spittle of snakes flame out
from a thousand gun barrels -
at last! the two worlds unite in the death struggle,
the two as one to make a third:
fantasy is reality is fantasy.
America has become its own horror cartoon,
each thought locked within its renegade cell,
Bugs Bunny holds forth in the senate on
the bankrupt dream-stocks buried at Fort Knox.
Donald Duck meantime jerks off in disgust
over the American flag - quacks
the country's been bushwacked,
'ain't worth a hill of beans'
in archaic colloquialisms of a nation near claim
jumping the Middle East.
The last capitalist gasp v the last medieval groan;
eventually, to make way for the eco-terrorists whose
motto: destroy what you cannot save: will sound
the retreat to a history vaporised - a memory erased.
So we come to inherit 'Our Common Loss'.
The Space Shuttle Columbia makes
its long wave 'good-bye'
bright finger nails tearing at the sky (like)
'morning Lucifer, that star that beckons all
mankind to daily rounds'
scratching down God's blackboard
as seven souls fly away
toward the Pleiades.
So we make our omens to live and die by.
Stephen Oliver, 2003