Two Poems

by Grayson Quay (February 2020)

Vampire, Edvard Munch, 1893


Macbeth’s First Witch


I was an anxious village girl

Who felt the planets’ steady whirl

Transfix me in a mundane home

Beneath God’s whelming overdome

Which capped my flattened parchment world;

I longed to burn the edges curled.

At eight I set the heath aflame

And on a playmate laid the blame;

At fifteen, with our secret sealed,

I lured two boys into the field;

We splayed me out as on a rack

While heather bit into my back.

At night I’d slip from bed and shout

Beneath the cosmos “Let me out!”

They catechized the life Divine

In flakes of bread and sips of wine

And promised an eternal place

If I could but my will erase,

But, crushed beneath the silence cruel,

I struck dumb saints with mason’s tools,

And in the vestry dark heaved up

My stolen wine, refilled my cup

‘Til on the floor I spun at odds

To all designs that they call God’s.

‘Twas then the beldam mistress came

And asked of me my given name

Which I gave to and for her power

And have not thought of since that hour.

Dislodged from time and self and peace,

I’ve lost volition to caprice

And, augmented with what deprives,

I torment pious sailors’ wives.

Incapable of loyalty

I fear the goddess Hecate,

But stumble toward her as I flee

The man among the myrtle trees:

That threat’ning grove so lately grown,

The haven only faced alone.

Now, poster of the land and sky,

I fly in spirals until I

Am everywhere and fill with me

Heaven, hell, the heath and sea

‘Til I upon myself collapse

In solace of perpetual lapse.


Golgotha, Edvard Munch, 1900


Scamandros and Golgotha

A sunrise-to-sunset Sisyphean slaughter

Looms before the godlike son of Nereus’s daughter—

Economy of kleos hollowed out beside the water;

The gift of death and destiny itself begin to totter.


To gain the Life the gods set by and hoard like silver talents,

To drink ambrosia thick like blood and make the grave a dalliance,

To find the path from death to life, would throw it all off balance

Though we be torn by bronze or steel or raked by harpies’ talons.


I like to think Longinus must have known his Homer well

And seen the thing the blind bard sensed but could not know or tell

When he made trial of the strong and spilled out over hell

The ichorous streams that never will run dry, but overswell.




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Grayson Quay is a freelance writer living in Arlington, VA, whose work has been published by The American Conservative, The National Interest, Reason, The Stream, and Intellectual Takeout. He holds an MA in English from Georgetown University.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


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