Job Oedipus Lear (David Achilles Othello)

Patrick T. Reardon

Dung dark lone.

(Lust flow betrayal)


Bible Greek bard.


King launches daughters to death.

Leper badgers for answers Deity.

Womb-returner holds, unseen, his eyes in his left hand. 


             The baby dream of Agamemnon:


             Never show the scream.  Their rules.


             fetid guilt, a baby’s blame.


             Hell dark.  From the sky.


             Awaiting prophecy. The rotting bodies.



Self-blinded with maternal stickpins.

Self-paupered by paternal blindness.

Self-corrupted by faith disease/serum.


(Arrogant wife-stealer, foe-dragger, wife-doubter)


I am picked and pecked by crow scolders.

I ask one too many question.

I lust for rest without death.


             Let my sorrow river current between banks,

             Lord Eternal,

             between fields I tend and reap,

             and bake bread, and break bread,

             warm as Grandma’s kitchen

             where she smiled — the sun

             jeweling soil and dogshit and growing

             things and creeping things and

             the newborn and the dying and the dead.

             Her bread was sprinkled with flour.


Did Lear know of Job, Oedipus?

They would have recognized him,

having each made the same vain grab.


(David was caught in the war of his sons,

Achilles caught the arrow in the unwatered spot,

Othello listened with his ears and caught nothing.)


Job knew Oedipus guilty of

blind copulation and murder

despite innocence.


Oedipus could have chatted the other king

family dynamics until

the cows came home to roost.


             Under the train tracks seven miles,

             I take a step and

             the movement pulls my other leg and foot

             up and forward and

             this is the way it goes and

             has gone and

             will go until I take the step

             out the back door

             for my appointment

             with the gun.


My impatient patience.

My clutch for clear vision.

My miserable map.


(My hands on her pure throat.

My song to the roof-bather.

My gleaming blinding armor.)


You opened yourself to the whirlwind.

You self-crueled your blameless flesh.

You knew yourself a fool, nuncle.


             Translate breathing. Define

             the voices in the shadowed alley. Explain 

             the tracks of blood and brain 

             to the harsh pebbled touch

             of the cement garbage box 

             by the crab apple tree 

             where brother David wanted to hide. Be 

             precise about orgasm. Spell 

             the animal hoot. Cackle. Render 

             weightless steps. Construe 

             a poem. Pray in a line. Draw 

             a schema of anxiety.


Don’t trust Job’s happy ending.

Hear eye-castrated Oedipus.

Hug the foolishness of Lear dying.


In this life, innocence 

dangerous as success, everything

to the same place.

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo's novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in Silver Birch Press, Cold Noon, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, Down in the Dirt, Time for Singing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and The Write City, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His Pump Don't Work blog can be found at

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