Louis Groarke: ‘Greek tragedy’ and ‘In Late Fall’

Greek Tragedy
Ruin justice …
And your bloodline will weaken,
Your descendants fade out.
—Hesiod, Works and Days

The rose fading on Antigone’s cheek,
Rocked like a child in her fatal sleep;
Hung from the rafters in a makeshift grave
At the end of a rope, in the Attic cave.
No mortal king can undo the deed,
The wayward end of a wayward seed.
Haemon—angry!—blocks the way;
Strikes with his sword but the king runs away.
Turns round the blade for the fatal blow;
Follows Antigone far below.
Etecoles slain in the family feud;
Polyneices left for carrion food.
Eurydice, next, disheveled, dismayed,
Swoons on the edge of a different blade.
Meets her end on a point so sharp,
It dulls the pain of her raging heart.
Creon, alone, afraid to die,
Spies Lycus, sullen, creeping by.
Madame Fortuna spins the wheel,
As flesh gives way to cold hard steel.
Nemesis plays the game of fate:
Each piece moved—for checkmate.
The Furies, gloating on the hill,
Dance in circles, laughing shrill.

Louis Groarke


In Late Fall
Summer nests uncovered by autumn wind
Some torn, others dislodged, all dark
—Edward Thomas, “Birds’ Nests”

In late fall
As winter looms
I walk through hills
In the evening gloom

The cold sharp edge
Of a lonely breeze
Cuts through the gaps
In the waving trees

Under a branch
Where we once kissed
I stand in shadows
The sun has missed

I stand on leaves
The trees have shed
Like our hopes and dreams
Now withered and dead

Up above—
An empty nest
A little round house
For birds to rest

I bend the branch
Find feathers inside
Caught in a web
Where birds used to hide

Traces of summer
Left far behind
Like memories of you
Caught in my mind

I walk on a ridge
As the sun now sets
In the deepening gloom
With a keen regret

I walk on a ridge
Where the sun now sets
Homeward bound
But a few miles yet.

Louis Groarke

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