Oedipus and Tiresias by Jonathan Taylor

After Sophocles


Beloved Oedipus,

there will always be a Tiresias

sitting tight-lipped in the corner

of chamber, pub or courtroom,

not saying what he is thinking,

his eyeballs an opaque mirror

on plague, famine, massacre,

a city of wailing and ashes.


Beloved Oedipus,

you can interrogate him,

beat him, even arrest him

for silence under oath,

deviancy, transgenderism

or for your father’s murder

(as you have many others)

but still you see what he sees

within and cannot unsee it

despite dossiers, ministers,

secret police and newspapers.


Beloved Oedipus,

you can kill him as your father

or fuck him as your mother

or both. It hardly matters

for there’ll always be others

somewhere in the crowd

blindly knowing what you

have done in the past

and will continue to do.


Or maybe one day,

beloved Oedipus,

you’ll even take his place,

donning sackcloth and ashes,

haunting foreign cities,

eye sockets bleeding truth,

leaving a trail like history.


Jonathan Taylor is an author, editor, lecturer and critic. His books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is director of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.

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