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Poetry by Christopher Mulrooney



Xenophanes (after Lattimore)


I say if a man win the footrace

at Olympia where the realm of Zeus is

by the river at Pisa or the pentathlon or wrestling

or be bruised at boxing and win or

the pankration where everything goes

a man such as that wins public honor

pride of place and everywhere is feted

he eats on the common weal

and has a treasure of the city for his own

or in a chariot if he win this too is his

but I am more deserving better than brawn

of men or horses is my wisdom

but who cares is custom what is just

in putting might before the right?

if any man be good at boxing

or in wrestling or the pentathlon

or on his feet and this is prized beyond

the feats of strength men do in public games

for him the city will not go governed better

not much is all the joy the city has of him

who comes in first in games bankside at Pisa

not at all does this make rich the state




Valley B


saddle 'em up mulepacks mule train

down the avenue away up the dusty trail

scraping the paint off the garde-fou or rail

beware the umbrellas sprouting under the rain

it's spectacular for all along this wilderness

stood or ran among the monuments' duress

or never saw anything worth even mentioning again


its streets in heaps its alleys full of garbage

strange luminescent parkways full of health

of a kind its way of unforeseeing cataleptic wealth

upon the dilatoriness of an age still in its dotage

while the dovecote still the dovecote keeps it current

upswept waveborne saddle-tramped amidst the torrent

gullying the paths sans unforeknowledge since the nonage


finally the thing moves its auburn rump we glide

upon the croup to see the trees primeval of the city

handsomeness in bounds nor leaving out the witty

remarkableness of the ocean glinting far and wide

away the towns afar the mountains and their solitudes

only the solitary waste here welcoming the dudes

come for reckless tour a mile in their pride





[Arthur Rimbaud, tr. C.M.]


Far from birds, flocks and village girls,

I drank on my haunches some heather amid,

Ringed by tender hazel woods,

In afternoon fog green and tepid.


What could I drink in that young Oise,

Elms and lawn sans flower sans voice, sky cloudy?

What draw from the gourd of the colocasia?

Some golden flat liquor, that makes you sweaty.


Thus, a poor inn-signboard I'd have made.

Then a storm changed the sky unto nightfall.

Those were dark lands, lakes, staves,

Colonnades under blue night, railroad terminals.


Water disappeared from the woods on sands virgin.

The wind of heaven made every pond a rink...

Now! like a fisher of gold or seashells,

To say I had no care to drink!




the ballad of MacPherson


it hears say must it hear ye may

upon a day of May


whichsoeverness wanted lieve it may grieve

that whithersoever a lay


for to dancing might it somewaysoever come

unto the realm of a fay


some bumbled tuckward sonneteer solilo

-quizing as he may


preponderating drivels at the back bay of a font

many have it will say


lest doubtful sure we may obiter dicta ask

axe or cause to play


another vanishing point whence to receive

the figure of an antic hay




About the Author

Christopher Mulrooney lives in Los Angeles, and has had poems in elimae, The Brooklyn Review, Southern Ocean Review, Dead Mule, etc.