River Styx - Poem by Robert Rorabeck
They have a system for sorting their patients,
Though everyone is dying.
They put me near a window where
I can stare out and look at her,
Next to the narcoleptic general
Who happens to be my grandfather;
He kept nodding off while the bombs fell,
And telling his battalions they were
Doing a good job,
As they lay massacred in buzzing thickets
And roses bloomed like
Redheaded stepchildren out of the
Places where they had the greatest wounds
In a fallout Spring misty on the gristly hillside.
There is a beautiful man without any
Legs, without any arms,
Without any eyes
Who spends all day singing sea shanties,
As his motionless body is taken out with
His mind’s tide.
I’ve tried to look away.
I’ve tried to call her, but she is swallowed
Up by the ringing orders of the immaculate father.
There is a glowing priest escaping with the
Newly dead through the reeds on the bank,
While starving dogs bark at the
Next wing of planes banking to deposit
The magic bombs
Clocking the ghost towns
To clap and sing
The drooling mouth of the grave
Is getting full;
It is backing up like a clogged sewer line
And the abstaining sisters sit along the
Like crows in a habited line
and cast down blessings,
The petals amputated from evil flowers,
The dreams of triaged men chumming,
Cut by the silver fins of primordial game,
Swimming like mystified tourists
In the onyx current of the River Styx.
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