Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.
Kate McNamara is a Canberra based poet, playwright and critical theorist. Her plays have been performed internationally. McNamara delivered the opening address to the Fourth International Conference of Women Playwrights in Galway (2001). She was awarded the H.C Coombs Fellowship at ANU (1991) and elected to the Emeritus Faculty. She won The Banjo Patterson Award for her short story Verity. Her published works include Leaves, The Rule of Zip (AGP) Praxis and The Void Zone (AGP). Her poetry, short fiction and critical theory has been published in a number of anthologies including There is No Mystery (ed. K Kituai, 1998), The Death Mook (ed. Dion Kagan, 2008) These Strange Outcrops(2020) and The Blue Nib(2020) She has also worked extensively as an editor and has only recently returned to her first great love, poetry. McNamara is currently working on The Burning Times.
Being Cassandra of Troy: A History of the Future
The Sybil with raving mouth utters solemn, unlovely, unadorned words…
across a thousand years. (Heraclitus)
It is here where I stand.
There are no headless lions bestriding the House of Atreus now
the curse that never sleeps can not will not Hecuba’s appalling
fertility destroyed us all but for me the voice of hissing snakes uncurled
beneath my tongue till I no longer gave them birth that much I learned
at Clytemnestra’s ax now there is a stillness in my hands
careful with the words that once eclipsed me a great ox sat on my tongue.
A royal daughter of Troy woven into the prisons of my father’s rages
now here I am a matrix hiding words as stars burn and fall I am
she who walks casting no shadow no mortal man can endanger that.
Do any of you truly believe that I should be compelled to utter these indecencies?
It is here where I stand the cataclysm of your time stay not your hands
your mouths I walked the purple way edged in blood
the timeless curse of the House of Lions.
All your houses shall perish as you breathe.
Not even a planet could silence me now I know how to name a star bound
to the cauls of moons black black the holes in space the tides in time
returning restless reckless gravid with truth birthing it hearing your words
rotting in your mouths warlords power mongers rapists liars
as cunning as Odysseus all your wooden horses are your Troy Achilles the brute
Ajax the monster Agamemnon child killer earth killer
your endless rapacity written in the memory of a river of sacred water
poisoned with greed histories of depravity
O Troy burning ashes cinders bodies writhing in the light the sea drowning.
Barbarian souls have no syntax no symmetry in the cosmos of time
my mind is burning burning as the earthquake of truth comes
shaking like a spider in a web in the black lattice of time
It is here now where I stand the catastrophe of your time I am Cassandra
I cannot lie only the initiate stuffs up her mouth with earth goes bleating creeping
to the sacrifice I will never go there again I was a hostage to love once no more
I cannot unsay the barren curse I will say the prophecy what can you do to me now?
I who lived so little so long ago I tell you it is here now
blood flooding infernos burning mindless desecration earth convulsing
It is here where I stand the future of the past I cannot breathe.
© Kate McNamara