Literary Yard

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‘After the Siege’ and other poems by Dave Whippman

By: Dave Whippman


According to the poets
This is how it ended: the tall towers
still ablaze, me struggling in my husband’s arms
as he dragged me to the waiting galleys.
I yearned, they say,
to join my love among the dead, to drown myself
in the sea – which was of course wine-dark.

In reality, things had become tedious.
As I stepped distastefully around the corpses,
I reflected that Paris would not have aged well.
I didn’t even mind when Menelaus
Whispered to me: “You understand
This was all about politics. For love,
I would not have launched a fishing boat.”

Back here in Sparta, life is bearable.
There is a young envoy from Corinth
who is pleasing to the eye…

Oh, and by the way
I don’t think there were all that many ships.



I listen in shops and coffee bars for code phrases:
Nothing so far. I cannot learn
The secret plans for relationships.
I must operate alone. In my room
At night, the radio does not pick up
any message from HQ.
Under interrogation, I would break
And admit that I have become my disguise.
But the knock on the door will never come.
I am expendable:
Nobody wants my information.



The room and I did not choose each other:
Circumstances have shipwrecked me here
In this shaped vacancy which seems
Geometrically indifferent to my needs,
Uncomfortable as new shoes. Reluctantly
I unpack, stick posters on walls, the banners
Of an occupying army. Now I must wait
As if to be rescued. In time, the room
Will contain friends, be warm on winter nights,
Acceptably surround me as the radio sings
Of possible relationships. By the time I leave
This space will be a perfect fit for me.

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