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Minotaur || Dustin Hellberg

Ask, no, say that the rain has sought us out,
      and will break as surely upon our hands,
noses, foreheads, as effortlessly as
      it does upon the nameless fleshes of the civilized world,
and will not break them. As though the parallaxed
      and inverted images were permitted then to go on
indefatigably, tendril-like, spidering into other versions
      of themselves inside each waterbead, into another world
where our hopes had been better attended, with stricter
      purity, given over, until that instant of splashing bead shattering,
to some thing more forgiving than we have been allowed.
      Their clear and rounded surfaces betray none of their panoramic
sleights flexing back on themselves as they collapse
      into mere singularity of vision, a perfect conscript sight,
and voice. The mirror and the mutability.
                                                      The barest
of threads of loop and tatter at the feet of the heroic
      and the failed. The hole in the man’s head
that my chemistry teacher put there for selling
      his platoon beer with ground glass in it is not more
and not less important than the rain fanning his face
      as his wife and children screamed in a language
there is no need now to translate. His face flowering
      out the back of his head is not less meaningful
than the sign behind him reading Beer in Vietnamese
      and English, by this. Mr. V told me the story
one day after class, as if talking about his family lineage
      or explaining the surface cohesion of water. Cold the distance
the mind makes. Even and unburnished the leaves droop
      on dark wet trees, and in them, too, a kind of silence. Ergo,
ergo, pia mater. Ergo, dura mater. Who then desire
      the connection dared? I am not sorry that is a small thing
to write this poem in a feckless geography, full of
      disgust and pity for myself and humanity. But I have
dug no pit, one cubit by one cubit, and have no millet,
      goat blood or milk. These I would give to the living
for their need. The mythology augments, like the dead in their rows,
like the intractable steadiness of losses we’ve braced
      against before they bend in their arrival. The mythology goes to shit,
was never there. Smallest things round and pompous. Round words. Yes,
      the disguises, and yes the unraveling. Yes,
the wreckage, and yes the tapestry. Yes, i am lost i am lost i am lost.
      I who assumed the heroes would escape the mazes
with a requisite grace and skill, I who never found
      the right question for the breaking world, and asked
nothing of the rain.
Dustin Hellberg’s other poetry has appeared in Gut Cult, past simple, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His novel, Squirrel Haus, is coming out this autumn. Under his pen name, Papa Joe, Hellberg has also has written and widely disseminated several instructional pamphlets concerning the procurement and distribution of farm equipment and how to care for disabled livestock. His groundbreaking autobiography, Rocking Chair: How I Overcame Fear And Learned To Love The Wood was a bestseller in Finland. He teaches literature and creative writing at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.