Michael Buhagiar

Rookie (13 January 1954 / Sydney)

Echo Point 2: Tragedy - Poem by Michael Buhagiar

Stone, the emblem of the timeless become space
- Oswald Spengler

Why does the ghostly father flee
When dawn on Hamlet’s terror breaks?
It is the isles of cliffs from the blue leaf sea
Surging like golden-hooded snakes.

And why does Ophelia spurn his letters?
Why is he tortured north north west?
He has kept the cliffs of gold in fetters
And now they rebel to shatter his rest.

Why does the broad sword of Pyrrhus smash
Time and again old Priam’s skull,
His grey hairs and bones and brains to mash,
And his years of inner peace to annul?

It is the cliffs of gold so deeply cowed
Beneath the ghostly father’s fist,
Gushing like water hissing loud
From the ruptured skin of some occult cyst.

Rosencrantz is dead, and Guildenstern
Too, destroyed by their own device:
A garland of roses his hard hands spurn,
To the star of gold his eyes are ice:

A nought that would his quaking neck grip tight,
A sun stretch out its gold cliff hands
To guide him up to the shimmering light
From the fetid crypt where Onan stands.

Why does the dagger pause unthrust
As Claudius bends his back to his prayers,
Whose words pile up like stirless dust
As no dream in the careless heavens flares?

It is the cliffs of gold in the naked steel
Surging like a prick from its wrinkled hood,
Which Hamlet’s loins must never feel,
Such is the father’s fear of wood.

The old man behind the hanging lurks
As Hamlet fires the faggots of speech:
The forge of the gypsy poet works
Cliffs that yearn to the heavens to reach.

The flames lick up toward Gertrude’s eyes
Where, deep within, the cliffs glow gold
Like the face of a painted whore that lies.
Now his pants the bulging tackle hold

As the blade thrusts through the silky flesh
To fish the old man from virtual sleep,
A monster calf in a Cretan crèche
He feeds with blood as the teeth strike deep.

What is the gift the pearl fishers brought
Which rests at the bottom of Gertrude’s cup?
It is the cliffs of gold Ulysses caught
In the blue leaf sea, and ferried up.

Though flames may lick and winds abrade
And the hammer of Thor enraged pound,
The cliffs of gold must never degrade
To the seed that falls on stony ground.

Why does the ghostly father flee
When dawn on Hamlet’s terror breaks?
From the cliffs of gold he shrinks to see
The truth that slack the old codpiece makes.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 14, 2008



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