Sunday, July 12, 2020

New Poetry by Rebecca Dempsey

Coming home? 

This red brick-veneered low-rise terrain 
of straight-jacketed yards, 
hedged by swept concrete driveways 
is still warm underfoot. 
It used to be wetland. 

A roof tile slips as dragonflies 
dart over browning Kikuyu and Santa Ana – 
cut too short: straight, back and sides. 

The last startling train echoes across shallow valleys. 
Too few dreamers conjure blank faces, eyes clouded. 
Bleating struggle-throated flocks
crowd decks of floating hulks. 
Cannon fodder for foreign parts. 
Trade quotas fulfilled. 
Awake, I still remember, 
We promised them, sometime around 1990 (and later).
Waved them goodbye. 
I still hear knives sharpening in the Gulf.

Sacrificial Spring Lambs - 
holy meat that fed whey-faced youths, 
who stumbled toward the green dark
of freedom in the gloom of dawn raids.
Goggles on, smiling for cameras.

So many sated the blood frenzy,
dining out on night visions
of vast Mesopotamian plains:
bone strewn and barren, and no good for grazing. 

Who speaks for them? Are they heard?
Herded? Boats return from drying shores. 
Silent. They might stop, but for how long? 

The other day, or 4000 years ago, 
dispatches from Nineveh detail a fresh outbreak:
violence like a natural phenomenon. 

Contested borders, tolls/taxes, sanctions/slaves. 
Women wailing at the butchery. 
A child eating grass. 
We see it again and again. 

The Towers of Silence are dormant.
How can carrion birds be too rare to pick apart the bodies?

Sleepers in dozing suburbs sent them back where
the Cradle of Civilisation bloomed and ripened. 
To the desert. It’s no longer imaginary. 
But full blown. Its mud-bricked cities broken, 
at the edges of dry water ways, 
while reed warblers sing somewhere else. 
Its horizon peopled by smoky ghosts of burning oil wells.

Memories of missiles tracing paths in the night sky:
retina inscribed lightning after-images. I still see them.

The First Poet: She
wrote upon sun-hardened clay... intimations of battle. 
She among the ancient dead, 
Is lost in the sands with the newly deceased. 
Sheep bones and soldiers.
She knows no hierarchies.

She would cry, except there are no tears 
For sheep, nor for those who die as them.
Enheduanna saw the soil was red long ago. 
Red it remains. 

- © Rebecca Dempsey 2020

Rebecca Dempsey is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He works have been published around the world. She can be found at Writing.Bec. 

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