Adrienne Rich

Reading the Iliad (As If) for
the First Time

Lurid, garish, gash
rended creature struggles to rise, to
   run with dripping belly
Blood making everything more real
   pounds in the spearthruster’s arm as in
the gunman’s neck the offhand
moment--Now!--before he 
  takes the bastards out

Splendor in black and ochre on a grecian urn
  Beauty as truth
The sea as background
  stricken with black long-oared ships
on shore chariots shields greaved muscled legs
  horses rearing       Beauty!    flesh before gangrene

Mind-shifting gods rush back and forth       Delusion
a daughter seized by the hair    swung out to bewilder men
Everything here is conflictual and is called man’s fate

Ugly glory: open-eyed wounds
feed enormous flies
Hoofs slicken on bloodglaze

Horses turn away their heads
weeping equine tears
a wall with names of the fallen
from both sides    passionate objectivity.

spoken = Heather C. Liston