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Salmon Poetry

Achilles in the Afternoon

John Murphy

I no longer walk by the butchered reed margins,
pick devil’s bit scabious, red clover, or yarrow,
and having no cure for anyone least of all myself
I live content in the knowledge that tomorrow

I will be one day older and if not wiser
I will have kept my grip on the remote control
and avoided (so far, so good) the fatal ankle shot
that’s set to come my way, and no amount of cold

comfort from Oprah, Dr Phil, or Geraldo,  
can alter the fact that I have mislaid my armour,
lost my spear and helmet, am dumbfounded 
by the glinting treasures of all-night shopping channels 

the hokie melodrama of Australian soap operas, 
golden oldies, and whodunnits. I sleep soundly, 
never dreaming of sieges, warring city states, 
recalcitrant satraps, long marches, or voyages.

But sometimes during an ad-break in Countdown,
I wrestle the Teatime Teaser until my kettle boils over,
and squinting in the blinding Trojan sun, I step
once more into the hellish mist where Hector 

lies slain against the wheel of a Greek war chariot. 
I lash his feet on with my dressing gown rope,
take the reins, and set off.  All Troy watches my victory lap.
Nine times the sun will rise before I stop.

Copyright © John Murphy 2012

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