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Men, Nonetheless

About war, they say, there is nothing new to display either in public, or in the privacy of one’s own home. It is as common to know the truth but forbid oneself to speak it, as it is to both love and betray the same person in the same day. It is the glint of a discarded dagger by the roadside, and by equal turns, the threat of wealth without influence, that may drive lovers, brothers, and sisters to reach for a book of old tales. A man afflicted with internal monologues may associate combat with competition, or over-knead his dough due to the distractions of celebrity fashion news. Two men afflicted with internal monologues may leave their posts undefended in the grand tradition of Götterdämmerung border guards, or about to humanise their foe, however unintentionally.

 

 

 

Men Fishing

About war, they say, there is nothing new to use as bait. It is as common to be expelled from the belfry, as it is to be raised from the riverbed. It is the sight of the burning ships from the plains, and by equal turns, the sight of the plains from the burning ships, that may determine the agenda for the proposed negotiations. A man faced with the choice of losing a hand or gaining an irrepressible thirst for revenge may decide to run away to hide in the forest, or seek the counsel of bog dwellers. Two men faced with the choice of losing a hand or gaining an irrepressible thirst for revenge may limit their deliberations to seven years, or place advertisements in the local newspapers for doppelgängers.

 

 

 

Men Holding Candles

About war, they say, there is nothing new to help us sleep. It is as common to be hailed for lionhearted derring-do, as it is to be executed for mutiny. It is the application of goose fat to the King’s buttocks, and by equal turns, the evidence of one’s old school chums, that may cause us to rue our liaisons with the lowland paramours. A man sent to protect the British Raj may be unknowingly under the influence of heavy sedatives, or convinced ‘gung-ho’ is a far eastern dish to be eaten with the tender shoots of the bamboo plant. Two men sent to protect the British Raj may be utterly fearless, or have been rusticated from University College, Oxford for not denying authorship of their pamphlets.

 

 

 

 

Men Lighting Candles

About war, they say, there is nothing new to crush our spirits. It is as common to surrender, as it is to charge the heavy guns. It is being placed in the custody of a Middle European count, and by equal turns, being reunited with an old cell mate, that may quell the growing discontent among the lower middle classes. A man caught in flagrante with Lady Hughenden may laugh it off as a silly misunderstanding, or become a laughing stock among society ladies at court. Two men caught in flagrante with Lady Hughenden may be acting under orders, or celebrating the recent demise of the latest Lord Hughenden.

 


 

 

 

[Mark Russell’s full collections are Shopping for Punks (Hesterglock), and Spearmint & Rescue (Pindrop). His chapbooks include  (the book of moose) (Kattywompus), and ا (the book of seals) (Red Ceilings). Poems have also appeared in The Rialto, Tears in the Fence, The Interpreter’s House, Butcher’s Dog, and elsewhere.]

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Russell, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.



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