‘paradoxical contrivances for intercrossing’ Darwin


Archilochus Colubris

From the red-light districts
of pomegranates
comes ruby-throated Archilochus

with his hocus-pocus metrics:
dithyrambs to Dionysus,
subsidiary of Zeus & co.,

still fragrant from an imbroglio
involving Neobulé.
Am I a sommelier

to provide minuscule
kraters for probosces?
You whose juiciest papyrus

tells us you orgasm caress-
ing her hair – your iridescence,
erudite and crudité at once,

an irreducible essence, registers
as with all megastars
as a contrivance: what orchids are

in the archipelagos
where your fellow Apodiformes
evolved reciprocally.

Ergo when versifying sex
it is of co-evolving one speaks:
the long metamorphoses.


Translation of Archilochus Colubris

Comes Archilochus again,
continually going off-piste,
soldier, tough guy, making fun
of boys with hairdos
                       while poking at the
C. paniculatum.

Why’d that Saxon taxidermist
give your name to something
                       so dainty? –
your name must be thrilled.

Or maybe it was that
having ditched your shield
                       to save your life

you must pay tribute
                       to the smallest,
most defenceless of birds.

But you could only brag
about ditching your shield
because you could always
                       afford a new one.


New Fragment of Archilochus Colubris

The only bird who can fly
forwards and backwards
wouldn’t have a hard time
reading Greek papyri.
In these shady backyards
she could mend a rhyme

with Spanish moss and
spider silk, like the repairs
she makes to her own nest.
If she came on command
I wouldn’t have to stare
so long with my nose pressed

to the window, but one day
she hovered there, in colours
that jesters used to wear,
and teased me, as if to say
Hey, princess, Archilochus
thinks you could use some fresh air.

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