For George Papaellinas (after the Rider-Waite deck)
I’m about to burst at the seams.
on the verge of bifurcation
with each arm yanked
by a different horse. To hold them
in synch, a practical
impossibility. Rabid steeds
repelling like absolute opposites.
My mind is scarred by the image
of a weeping mother. What
of the girl whose beauty
put me in this tortuous place?
Forget my initial foolishness.
Here’s this rite’s wisdom:
the armour is mere weight
quite futile when I fall
from the carriage. I have to be a magician
to survive this transitory hell
or even believe
in the aura of the lunar insignia
engraved on my shoulder-guards. How
these horses shriek
and gallop. I would spear them
with my wand if I intended
sadism rather than stamina. Perhaps
I do. But shouldn’t dire masculinity
include courage as well
as cruelty, if I’m an adolescent
trying to ride both parental love
and inner strength? No wonder
I’m pain personified
rather than a careful sportsman in charge
of these manic animals. I’m not
in control. Don’t be fooled
by the romance of my myth. I may be a warrior,
but my fiercest foe
my own physique and psyche. See
the wheels turning – you think – oh so gently?
They are sawing off my legs.
I may seem robust but my sinews
are about to tear apart.
Do I mind? I suppose I must. But
I’ve made my choice. Suicide
just a symptom of my heroism. Why
feel anything for the charioteer
other than remorse? See, somewhere
in the juggernaut’s dust, soon
my own corpse, dragged, skinned.