artwork: ralph murre
THE ORAL TRADITION
by Jefferson Carter
Sometimes, in conversation,
he’ll look away & say
I don’t want to talk about it.
I respect that. I really do
but like some nosy Homeric hero
I can feel the words piling up
behind my teeth’s barrier:
tell me, godammit! Tell me
everything so we can be friends!
I like to imagine the real
oral tradition, the lost passages
of The Iliad, those Myrmidons
all sitting around their cook fires,
gossiping, trading recipes, even
consoling one another as they
mend the horsehair plumes,
the helmets heavy in their laps.
~ previously published in Get Serious (Chax Press)