Death’s Epic


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All the murdered poets rising from the seabed,
who stride ashore through the murderous surf,
crowned in kelp, in gowns of whitewater,
‘slumbering Thebes’ on their kill-cold lisps,
who said dead before all others, then died,
maddened by such minds and pills and firewater,
self-murdered by the very thing, the poetry . . .

Inglorious death by insult to the brain.
Death by ocean-going steamer. Death by bridge.
Death by oven, shotgun, whiskey, love.
A question for these dancers in the sand:
Which came first, the utter madness or the line?
Just one word, just a skeletal hand on a bloodied page.
I saw it was a name like theirs, written over and over.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, came to poetry late but has enjoyed a large number of publications in the past 10 years, recently gaining airplay for his poems and songs in the U.K., Australia and the U.S.A. The So-Called Sonnets, is his first book, which this audio poem is an excerpt from. More information can be found on his website: