Recrossing the Styx

Il faut être toujours ivre.

The hardest working man in the Pantheon
Charon ferries only kebabs now, demands
his obol from the walking dead staggering
the Oxford strip, tabouli and tahini on pita
easy on the hummus. Having so discarded
the curving scythe for bent aluminium tongs
he claims no further loyalties future or past
and carves ununionised through skewerings
of meat, his new electric blade.

So you can’t stop progress. That’s what it
all means. A quick slide to the end of days,
old men and apples. The morning harvests
such tentative light to be a promissory note
toward all endings — here being the world
washed grey; here a dying earth. Of course
it’s nothing so dire. Café Falconer’s a stroll
down the road. It’s open too and you know
the coffee’s good, and those widening gyres
can yet be vaulted with a few unsteady steps.

This is only the ancient mythologies departed.
No facts but meanings, no detail but the map.
You know, doesn’t it all look the same to you?
Isn’t that sun finally pushing Homeric fingers
through Rosie’s winter foliage (pinked yellow
russets like the jaundice of chemo) revolving
yet amongst heavenly spheres? The same orbit.
The same star. Only heaven changed. 

And here we are. Olympic Gyros 6 a.m. Posters
on the wall of the crumbling acropolis, tourists
milling throughout the grease spots, absent as
ghosts. Such being the risk of late night revelry
get off the bus and you might just end up here,
searching out a few coins lost amongst the lint,
locked in some deepthroat with death. And it’s
fourscore’n ten if you’re lucky, and if you’re
not, well

Berndt Sellheim

Berndt Sellheim is a Sydney based writer and academic whose work has been published in Australia and internationally. His first novel, Beyond the Frame’s Edge, will come out with Fourth Estate in May 2013.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays