Pete Evans visits the underworld
How to join this mystery cult? That’s easy, child:
sunburn, soaked bones, no cake
unless it’s televised.
Corinth was always full of such boys, burnt
wheat faces, cold slivers of the winter sky
knifed in their orbital sockets all of them
dancing down the spring,
on the edge of a volcano. Initiate, steam is
healthy for the pores, and charcoal,
cleansing. Any sin smaller than blood-guilt
can be washed with water or oil
probably carcinogenic; the amphora
and the black figure glaze, definitely so. Initiate,
bath more in the streams.)
Foraging for fennel and sage
marjoram, poppy-faced, the breaker of bread
stands apart from the goddess of the harvest
because grains should not be cultivated.
Elysium cannot be digested
and so must be forfeited.
cries for sustenance; the mouth of the cave
smokes, which is to say, the same. The goddess
of gluten, transubstantiating
through the field, offers
to sate Hades’ beast. Initiate, listen
to your hierophant. He of the false summer
skin said: “I will not take these, even
as the hell-hound chews raw my bones” – (Initiate,
the healthiest choice)
cause cancer, and disbalance the humors.”
Alone, and unarmed, he descended
into the heretic fields,
that no human hand tills.
most likely damages the immune system;
the lord of the underworld
drips with it, sits on a throne bent with sheaves,
Argive syrup from Athenian hives. Initiate,
of death and bees is one.
The king of bones
and burning fat commands a table like a trireme
sat low against the ground, sheep’s eyes and
unleavened bread, goat’s milk and figs split
like skulls, pink cerebellum thick with cholesterol.
“Is this,” asked he of the sunset-flesh,
it was not.
Beware the curse of the usurper’s meddling –
his dark liver to god-wrought fire; Initiate,
do not fatten yours
at man’s symposia. But the pomegranate,
glass-seeded like glittering promise, is full
so the cynic of the corn field ate and found
that there is little oxidizing among the asphodel.
Corinth was full of such men, all barley and bravery.
He is holding down spring, for the half-measure
of the year when
fires are hottest and singing with wine. When
swim to the nets and the curing. Initiate, burn
your last honeyed cake: winter is dissolving as
libation smoke, cane sugar on the tongue. And,
in our religion there are no such things.
About the author
Madeleine Dale is a Brisbane poet and word enthusiast. She holds a First Class Honours degree and University Medal in Creative Writing, and is currently completing an MPhil at the University of Queensland. Her work can be found in Wildness, Cordite, Voiceworks, Ibis House, and Meanjin, among others. She can traditionally be found eating biscuits in bed.
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