Alamogordo 1945

in my father's tomb the gods have been buried for millennia
in Crete Mycenae Mexico or Babylon
and your task, young ephebe, is radically changed
we're not talking about singing in chorus by the light of the moon
nor pretending to the warmth of a bonfire shepherding a metallic herd
we're talking about carefully observing and staying ready
because from one moment to the next our father's tomb will break open
and one shadow will move over the earth with the force of the lord
who first made it possible
who will destroy it in an embrace

the wound inflicted on the earth slowly heals
the outraged generation dallies by the shores of Guadalcanal
drinking vodka in Leningrad and whiskey in Piazzale Michelangelo
playing jazz on the West Coast
all this is very important
all this must be remembered

A.S. from Diaries (London, British Museum)
for days I was in the dark
one night I suddenly opened the window over the piazza:
the sun was rising
and humans? they prayed stretched out under delicate automobiles
while sewer grates sucked down the already blind children
ah said the imploring enemies
the angels grappling fire ladders dismantled the clocks on gothic spires
telling the vengeance of time upon human hours
the escape hatches were all already shut
history lay in my bed with legs wide open
although I was innocent like the rest

in the desert temple laboratory
restless children prepare the definitive version
tempted the last time by the fruit of knowledge
in your womb they deposit the ovum to be fertilized
the altar of sacred embrace is the metallic tower
of the disinfected cavity introduced into your body
what can a poet do but cultivate warts on his face
you will see the air taste the fire touch the light
mother earth created from our ambiguous love

and repeating the creation myth
throwing men over one's shoulder so that they become stones
the priest implores the divine seed (energy)
(sun) semen encephalon of every living form
time (fire) divine cause (vis viva) amoeba eternal splitting of its nucleus
universes burned and recreated—manifold in the unity of repetition (actus)
(energy) matter assumed into the city of god
constant polium of every protoplasm
lord of the negative and the positive of the numerator and the denominator of the part and the whole
(ovum) a click will be enough to proliferate
(semen) fertilization (fission) in your body you will conceive
(the nuclei will have a total mass inferior to its origin)
fission fertilization human hands reproduce god (the ovum splits)
air fire light (sun that they adore)

he fixes the season lets his voice loose among the clouds makes lightening shine over the earth
your and our destiny mother earth
here is the orgasm of Shamash the victory of time
when the universe's love will explode
and the son of the sun will set his chained roots on the tower of Babylon
when your belly will be rent by divine coitus
and the trees will crack under the solar rain
umén, uménaion, umén or uménai or
all his strength in you
and eros and thanatos the right and the left eye of his eternity
confused in his one flashing glance

although your name may only be written backwards 
immanent not transitive cause
wearily we gave ourselves to reconstruction
so that violence would find new matter to feed upon
a thousand times we destroyed stone with fire and with stone suffocated fire
but now the eternal river uproots the dam of history
spreads across the plain bringing you nothingness
you who forced the first being to divide in order to renew the species
while in him you sank softly like a stone in the mud
and readied the inexorable fulfillment of the most unjust justice
I have begotten in vain
because the umbilical chord is the way taken by this your scorching parasite to infect the son after the mother
they hang themselves from dead trunks who with a kiss betray the human race
I seated in the midst of an overflowing river
are those my brothers, down there, those I see evacuating?
I count the corpses that follow the current down to the sea
I ask myself what orchards will they fertilize
because this is the demonstrable necessity
lighting a dead man's breath to light your way
as for the cow trying out-of-breath to climb back up the steep bank slippery with muck
I have known the bovine god from since he visited the sacred prostitutes, over in Thebes
I am that mummy in the Louvre (radioactive)
it would vain to sprinkle grain in my eye-sockets
or to eat of my flesh—touched by god
next to me the serpent's sawdust awakens
and the undeciphered inscription found in Assyrian halls speaks
as the two-headed fetus floats knocking against the crystal vase vibrating in alcohol

From The Position of Things: Collected Poems 1961-1992 by Adriano Spatola, translated by Paul Vangelisti. Copyright © 2008 by Adriano Spatola and Paul Vangelisti. Used by permission of Green Integer Press.