Zeus Bits

Anne Carson

[ZEUS PAUSES AMID WRITING HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY]
How everyone thinks him a happy-go-lucky guy.
True and not true, don’t give the ending away.
Rhyme angst with spanks?
Bit of a buzz on the old loins yet.

[ZEUS DECIDES TO DO HIS OWN TAXES THIS YEAR]
Deduct the corpse of Helen from the corpse of war (net).
‘Victory’ (adjusted gross). ‘Virtue’ (attach schedule E).
Under penalty of perjury I declare that I have examined this cigar
and to the best of my knowledge and belief according to accompanying
statements and schedules
it is not a cigar.

[ZEUS REMINISCES ABOUT AN OLD MAN WHO LIVED ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THEIR SUMMER PLACE YEARS AGO HE WAS 96 A FORMER SLAVE]
Was that pretty terrible being a slave I say to him.
Old Wash avers no.
Master chose him out to be a body slave to work in the house.
House food I say.
Oh my the food says Old Wash.
What was hard.
What was hard was the day they sold my mother she went out
carrying a lap baby looking neither to right nor to left lest she catch my eye.
What’s a lap baby I say.
When they sold the women they
let them take lap babies not yard babies. I recall
it was a windy day.
Chain kranking on a pole somewhere like a crazy thing.

[ZEUS’ BIRTHDAY]
Cold and cloudless.
Cherries bounce in a hard blue wind.
All his wives arrive as tall as trees. Gifts will be later.
Some of the wives have extra arms.
Extra gifts.

[ZEUS OUTLINES HIS ECONOMIC THEORY (LAYMAN’S TERMS)]
Rhyme war with whore.
Say you have $84 in your pocket.
She’ll cost you $84.
Say you have $84 billion in your pocket.
Cost you $84 billion.
Free trade.

[ZEUS SENDS TO 2 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS AN ENVELOPE (WHITE)
CONTAINING ANOTHER ENVELOPE (RED) CONTAINING A LIST OF 9
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE (UNNAMED) WITH
INSTRUCTIONS (ENGLISH)]
Funded by your tax dollars vile fire pushes by day and night to break out!
I’d never send you vile fire itself I want you to know!
Homosexuals always mumble but their saddles are silver!
Don’t open this envelope you’ll be sick for life!
Some of the words are in French they don’t translate!

[ZEUS PONDERS HIS OWN AFTERLIFE]
Aesthetics of a glass coffin indisputable.
Models (Cinderella, Alexander, Lenin) tricky.
How to pitch this?

[ZEUS VISITS THE DEATH CAMP]
A little scraping sound along the bone of his ear is what he remembers.
He stares at the fields. At the faucet.
His guide has been leading tours here for 26 years.
He asks her about hair about the smell of hair.
Her answer dries away before reaching him.
Why does your arm, he wants to ask, why does your arm end in a glove of light?
And why just one?
Afterwards a heavy lunch in a nearby town and disputes about the bill.
Trout, it turns out, is priced by weight.

[ZEUS HAS A DREAM IN KOREAN AND WAKES SHAKING WITH FEAR]
Pas un bluff!

[ZEUS NOTES THE WORLD IS ON ITS WAY TO BEING PERFECT UNDER HIS ADMINISTRATION]
Where is the crag, groan, fetter, talons, torn chop, yellow slash, wild lip, no return
of Prometheus?
One who was born but could not die, it was illegal to have him in your home.
The established church had risen to its feet.
Bloodguilt blew out from under its brow, blood built a theatre.
Air can witness.
Folk keep starving.
Their choice.
What if soldiers, swallows, just stopped. What if oceans.
But they don’t.