Mercedes Webb-Pullman

temples of flesh

Rata hid near the fountain’s edge

Matukutakotako laid down his sword
loosed the strings binding his long hair
plunged his head into the clear waters

as he raised his head Rata grabbed him
by his hair

slit his throat

* * *

if a Padaean falls ill
his brothers kill him
share his flesh before it spoils

if he manages to grow old
they sacrifice him in the temple
then share his flesh

* * *

wind blows across the water
dispersing reflections

the king makes offerings

the temple flickers

end of the road

Hine-nui-te-po’s eyes shine red
with jasper pupils
her teeth hard and sharp as 
volcanic glass
her mouth like a barracouta
her hair long seaweed tangles

she flashes on the horizon
opens and shuts
waiting to vanquish you Maui

* * *

and wind
arousal and gentleness

* * *

level and smooth
the Tegean plain
holds the bones of Orestes
son of Agamemnon

feeding the masses

wind moves over the earth
rulers observe
and instruct

* * *

directed by an oracle
they’d founded a city in Corsica
twenty years before
steered for it now
vowing never to return to Phocaea
until iron floated

* * *

Manaia beat his wife Kuiwai
and cursed her for under-cooked food

‘are firewood logs sacred
like your brother’s bones
that you spared them from the fire?

if you do that again
I’ll serve your brother’s flesh
frizzling on Waikorora’s red-hot stones’ 

physics and metaphysics of myth

for an act of sacrilege
Toi-te-huatahi killed and ate
Houmai-tawhiti’s son’s dog

they searched
called until it replied

Toi kept his mouth hard closed but the dog howled
from inside him

‘hush’ he told it
‘hush! I hid you in Toi’s big belly
stop howling!’

* * *

the earth sends us out
receives us back
kings and criminals

* * *

Buto cured his blindness
by bathing his eyes
in the urine of a righteous wife

he tested his own
then many
until he saw again

then he burnt the non-performers


fire over wood
cauldron bubbles
chick-pea sacrifice

* * *

from Arabia to Thebe’s sun temple
the phoenix flew
to deposit his dead parent
plastered in a ball of myrrh

* * *

inside the cave
stretched across the mouth
a lizard carved on a lid

he stepped over it
went home
and died 

73rd day

clouds mass in the west
rain wafts across the sky
Arawa’s priest sings incantations
raising winds that blow the prow 
into the whirlpool throat
of Te Parata

* * *
our dead warriors stay unburied
until birds tear their flesh 
then covered in wax
they’ll go in the ground

* * *

waiting blends strength
with gentleness

Mercedes Webb-Pullman: Victoria University Wellington MA in Creative Writing, 2011. Her poems and short stories have appeared online and in print, including Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, Otoliths, Connotations, Kind of a Hurricane Press, The Red Room, Typewriter, and Cliterature, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home