Les Murray, ‘The Fall of Aphrodite Street’ (1990)


So it’s back to window shopping
on Aphrodite Street
for the apples are stacked and juicy
but some are death to eat.

For just one generation
the plateglass turned to air—
when you look for that generation
half of it isn’t there.

An ugliness of spirit
leered like a hunting dog
over the world. Now it snarls and whines
at its fleshy analogue.

What pleased it made it angry:
scholars Score and Flaunt and Scene
taught that everything outstanding
was knobs on a skin machine.

Purer grades of this metaphysic
were sold out of parked cars
down alleys where people paired or reeled
like desperate swastikas.

Age, spirit, kindness, all were taunts;
grace was enslaved to meat.
You never were mugged till you were mugged
on Aphrodite Street.

God help the millions that street killed
and those it sickened too,
when it was built past every house
and often bulldozed through.

Apples still swell, but more and more
are literal death to eat
and it’s back to window shopping
on Aphrodite Street.

~ by ohkrapp on February 12, 2009.

One Response to “Les Murray, ‘The Fall of Aphrodite Street’ (1990)”

  1. an unsettling, almost vulgar (but still fascinating) AIDS poem. i’m not used to seeing the desire of the flesh described so carnally (stacked and juicy apples, ‘knobs on a skin machine’) or the deaths of its victims presented so matter-of-factly (‘the plateglass turned to air,’ now ‘half of it isn’t there’)

    i don’t know murray’s poetry. nic manning (KLB’s resident poetry expert) is very critical of him. must be some oedipal/from-ritual-to-romance aussie thing, eh nic? ;)

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