Measure for Measure

Empedocles fragment

Here’s old destiny’s deal, the god’s decree,

a pregnant promise and a proper oath:

if ever a perennial, imperishable spirit

strikes out in strife and stains his dear body

falling in failure by fraudulent oaths,

he must meander three myriad seasons

coursing down byways banished by the blessed

transmuting in time through all mortal forms,

supplanting one painful path for another.

The passionate spirit first splashes to sea,

sea drags the poor devil onto the dirt of dry land,

From ruddy earth he’s regurgitated to the rays of the sun,

whence again windy air costs him to whirling

    of the sea spume,

I too follow form to another

harboring hate for this doom,

from the gods a vagabond wanderer,

a tenant of this terrestrial tomb.

 

 

-translated from the Ancient Greek by Nathan Levine

 

 

Far East Love Song

 

Colonize me, baby. I want

your arm around me, your

fist in my hair. I’ll make you

kimchi for breakfast, spicy pho

noodles for lunch, my teeth

at your neck for dinner.

I’ll show you the best way

to put a rabbit on the moon, to

strangle yourself in spiderwebs, to

kill yourself over a man you barely know.

We can be constellation lovers

on a bridge of butterflies. And our first child

will burst into flames, be the death of me. Look for me

in the underworld but turn away

at the last moment. My Orpheus, my Izanagi.

Wash your eyes clean and birth our children,

the moon, the sun, and the storm. We burn

our myths first. This is the end of the story.

 

Tell me, how do you tame

 

a dragon lady?

It’s simple: you cut our tongues out.

 

    -Kailee Pederson