Iris Gribble-Neal

Agamemnon Holds a Full House

             Briseus is just another ante in war

 

Briseus comes through the kitchen, the back

door, stepping out of her

shoes and into shoes left at the front

by a narrow tendon she saw leaving.

She never cooked lobster bisque

before Agamemnon.

 

I don’t look into the lobster’s eyes waving on stalks.

Or Agamemnon when he leaves the lights on.

 

The little shoes have no backs and click,

click on the slate floor between cutting

board and steel stove. Olive oil, a vine-ripened

tomato, garlic, lots of garlic until it’s in her

pores like patchouli, fresh

tarragon and thyme…peppercorns.

Briseus loves language she can eat.

 

Agamemnon walks in red mud on my clean floors,

piles armor like another man on the couch.

Leaves stains I don’t want to think about.

 

The yellow Corvair parked in the driveway,

the bobtail cat perched on the porch rail

save her in the rain

when she can’t go anywhere at any speed.

Briseus measures brandy and sherry,

simmers the delicate green tomalley,

mourns a little the sacs of roe.

 

It’s so much work not killing yourself.

Nestor Still Loves War

           Hecamedé loves Nestor a little like a daughter

          or a waitress at the Wall Street Diner

 

I follow Nestor following the man

watering perennials at Wal-Mart.

The gods decide who we will be and we stay there

like Elvis impersonators. Nestor talks about war,

says to the man watering the astilbe,

I still serve Nestor his mess. Good Gallo red wine

mixed with grated goat-cheese, white barley meal.

It no longer quenches his thirst for war.

He watches cable news,

another bus blown up, another cave, another country.

But I can’t help loving

a man who recites the “Prologue to Canterbury Tales.”

He says to the man watering the pansies

looking back like the next generation,

 

If you hit a man just right on the forehead

you can knock both his eyes out I know

I watched Menelaus hit Pisander then

we watched his eyes watching us where they fell

crying I think they could still see even Pisander

was looking at his eyes from lonely sockets

I can’t remember any sound.

 

I serve him Walla Walla sweets with his wine for relish,

barley cakes, honey like clover running down his hands.

Old men from the VFW come over,

watch talk TV, argue with the news,

men blown with opinion like puffer fish.

He says to the man now showering maiden

grass, Japanese sedge, blue oats,

 

 

You had to be there to hear your own

heart see the beauty of blood running blue

ridges across the top of your hands

like distant hills where they shoot at you in the night

and sometimes the gun-lights are so pretty

you forget to fire back but some Ajax-kind

of soldier jumps up on the bunker yelling

‘come and get me you sons-a-bitches’ and then

you remember where you are

what you’re supposed to be doing so you shoot

until morning hoping you live until the copters like aliens

come pick you up only you’re the alien when you

get to Hawaii drinking tiny bubbles wearing a lei.

 

I say I’m ready to go home.

The watering guy at Wal-Mart

gives a slight salute to his red baseball hat,

says have a nice day.

 

Clytemnestra Confesses To Killing Agamemnon

           A jury of 12 women finds she acted in self-defense

 

Of course I killed the Achaean.

He sacrificed our daughter. Iphigenia

moves through me, as a memory through muscle

I remember sometimes my legs.

My legs belonged to a dancer, a ballerina of certain

circus acclaim, pointing and pirouetting

on an elephant’s seductive back.

The poster hangs still on my wall

painted in red and yellow,

daring black lines.

 

Agamemnon killed Iphigenia, you know,

for a wind whistling from her lungs.

I could have whistled for his fleet, air rushing

from my lungs as I fell and kept falling.

I remember my left thigh near the hip

broken in a field of horses’ hooves

like thunder gods. I could’ve whistled

but for the dry grass yellow with August.

 

Then there was Cassandra.

I remember how important eyelids were,

blinking away blood arcing from my ax,

a red rainbow (spatter patterns, the detectives said.)

Iphigenia moves through my womb again,

wraps her legs to climb the soft tissue,

whistles my heart.