by Jim Benz
I. A fiery wheel or a dove
I was puzzling. Heroic.
And a barstool.
I was not a throne.
You were both tide and landfall.
A splash of brine.
We were an olive
swallowed, inarticulate
wildly mundane
and not too laconic.
You were conceived in tandem.
We breathed I am, I am not,
breath after breath
in the wardrobe.
I ate silage.
You ate corn out of season.
We wanted to be layered.
They found intricate displays
in your footnotes.
We have our seasons.
II. The dark uncanny
You flew down the staircase.
How dirt stains the carpet.
How there are too many linens.
They need a confession.
III. We are method
Your toe is a pencil.
It traces the hollow of reason.
Layers and layers
of heart beat and reason.
These are shadows.
Shadows are not method
and we are not echoes.
We lean toward the sun.
They ask us to be pleasure.
IV. Shaped and reshaped
What do they make
of our chorus.
We are translucent
and sorrow.
V. Somewhere in habit
You exhale. There are no syllables
caught in your teeth.
We are lonely. Your clock
is unwound. We eat the undercooked meat
that they serve us. It has delays.
You were avoiding the spoon
on your saucer. It is on your lips.
It is a measure of moments.
I cannot elaborate.
The saucer was only contrivance.
VI. A sort of coma
What do we void
if we count minute by minute
what is void
is retention. What do we count.
The minutes, the echoes.
Let me think.
They want me to think
in a chorus.
VII. Wildly mundane
About linens.
Their linens hang in a wardrobe
but the wardrobe is barren.
Its dimensions
are not what we hoped for.
Layers and layers
of footnotes and silage.
They want a confession.
They did not expect
the clock to be chiming.
The hours have been sprung
from its gears.
We do not comprehend
how they fold time into echoes.
We are submerged.
It is not what we hoped for.
VIII. Not a chorus
These tides
do not crest when the moon
falls from orbit.
They only sing softly
into night
for no reason.
We are not singing.
IX. A tin cup
This is an echo.
Every shade of intent
is a heart beat.
We are not method.
Not of syllables
and these
are not words.
We have seasons.

0 thoughts on “Coryphaeus

  1. Whenever i hear an ‘I’, ‘You’, and ‘We’ perspective poem i immediately begin thinking to myself that this is about a relationship chronicling the trevails of love. But “Coryphaeus” doesn’t appear to me to be a ‘soul, spirit, God, love, heart’ piece–all this and more is wrapped up in the implied search to simplify, to unravel, to flesh out the lowest common denomenator…and to just BE. How can we tune out the complications and remain focused on purpose without dwelling on it and stressing over it–Be Calm…and just know we are meant for this.
    This 9 part canto poem leaves me with a multitude of impressions ranging from a sedated passion for life (to really get it) to a sort of universal trancendence which is bound to stumble. The poem, like a wheel or tide (both mentioned in canto 1) goes back on itself as if opening a gift, exploring it, playing with it, and then sharing it. ‘Seasons’, ‘layers’, ‘reason’, ‘method’, ‘tides’, ‘linens’, ‘echo[oes]’, ‘chorus’, ‘shade/shadows’, ‘silage’, ‘syllables’ and ‘layers’. I think the first line really gives an insight into the author’s intent with writing this work: “I was puzzling. Heroic.” There is real feeling thruout and that’s from whence these poetic lines come. Nicely done!
    Here are definitions for some words in the poem:
    Coryphaeus: “Coryphaeus, or Koryphaios (Greek κορυφαῖος koryphaîos, from κορυφή koryphḗ́, the top of the head), and often corypheus in English. In Attic drama, the coryphaeus was the leader of the chorus. Hence the term (sometimes in an Anglicized form “coryphe”) is used for the chief or leader of any company or movement. The coryphaeus spoke for all the rest, whenever the chorus took part in the action, in quality of a person of the drama, during the course of the acts.”
    Brine: “Brine is water saturated or nearly saturated with salt (usually sodium chloride). It is used to preserve vegetables, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining (now less popular than historically). Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them (or increasing for taste).”
    Laconic: “A laconic phrase is a very concise or terse statement, named after Laconia (a.k.a. Lacedaemon [Greek Λακεδαίμων]), a polis of ancient Greece (and region of modern Greece) surrounding the city of Sparta proper. In common usage, Sparta referred both to Lacedaemon and Sparta. Similarly, a laconism is a figure of speech in which someone uses very few words to express an idea, in keeping with the Spartan reputation for austerity. This may be used for efficiency (like in military jargon), for philosophical reasons (especially among thinkers who believe in minimalism, such as Stoics), or for better disarming a long, pompous speech (the most famous example being at the Battle of Thermopylae). Spartans were expected to be men of few words, to hold rhetoric in disdain, and to stick to the point. Loquaciousness was seen as a sign of frivolity, and totally unbecoming sensible, down-to-earth Spartan peers.”
    Tandem: “Tandem (or in tandem) is an arrangement where a team of machines, animals or people are lined up one behind another, all facing in the same direction.Tandem harness (the original use of the term in English) is used for two or more draft horses (or other draft animals) harnessed in a single line one behind another, as opposed to a pair, harnessed side-by-side, or a team of several pairs. Tandem harness allows additional animals to provide pulling power for a vehicle designed for a single animal.Tandem seating may be used in two-seat aircraft, or on a tandem bicycle where it is alternative to sociable seating.
    The English word “tandem” derives from the Latin adverb tandem meaning “at length” or “finally”.The term “tandem” can also be used more generally to refer to any group of persons or objects working together, not necessarily in line.”
    Silage: “Silage is fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to ruminants (cud-chewing animals like cattle and sheep)[1] or used as a biofuel feedstock for anaerobic digesters. It is fermented and stored in a process called ensiling or silaging, and is usually made from grass crops, including corn (maize) or sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant (not just the grain). Silage can be made from many field crops, and special terms may be used depending on type (oatlage for oats, haylage for alfalfa – but see below for different UK use of the term haylage).
    Silage is made either by placing cut green vegetation in a silo, or by piling it in a large heap covered with plastic sheet, or by wrapping large bales in plastic film.”
    Translucent: “Translucent materials allow light to pass through them only diffusely: they cannot be seen through; contrary to popular belief, translucency does not include see-through colored objects such as (for instance) emerald in its cut state (which is transparent) but does include things such as frosted glass which allow light to come through but no images.”

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