Issue 20: Paul Muldoon

Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay-Ropes 


Of all those we’ve wrought among

I love the hay-stack from which we’ve wrung

this one idea to which we’ve clung.


That stack’s a tomb

from which you’ve managed to exhume

only a hackneyed notion of a bride and groom.


Since we all too briefly kissed

and you seemed not to overly resist

it’s true I’d hoped we might be talking a tryst.


Not a tryst. Trust. That’s the lynch-pin

of any relationship. Your method is more akin

to feeding me a line whilst reeling me in.


Yet you’re the one with the thraw-crook.

You’re the one for whom I forsook

all others when you shot me a tearful look.


My eyes water mostly because they’re stung

from ammonia rising off horse-dung.

These moldy spores will give me farmer’s lung.


I’m no less hedged in by my self-rebukes.

Now the more hay I pay out to your hook

the less I have to show in my hay-stook.


I’d always hoped neither to toil nor spin.

It’s truer now than it has ever been

most situations aren’t win-win.


It’s a cruel twist, Thestylis. A cruel twist.

With every turn of your slender wrist

I find myself summarily dismissed.


Why on earth would you assume

I’d fall head over heels, vroom vroom,     

for a loser who texts me from the next room?


I’d imagined the trap had long ago been sprung.

But the more tightly the rope is strung

the even further afield we’re flung.

Paul Muldoon is the author of twelve collections of poetry, the most recent of which is One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (FSG, 2015).r.