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ψεύσματα ποικίλα πιθανῶς τε καὶ ἐναλήθως ἐξενηνόχαμεν
—Lucian of Samosata

Both plausibly and persuasively
have I told artful lies.

Many thereafter
settled in truth's bones
inked line-drawings in ivory
—inclusions in vitrified sand
sketched fantastic in shadows:
here is a man with a jackal's face
a woman with sun-charred wings;
here ants scatter rivers of gold
out where the desert floods and burns.

One-eyed brother. The features change
down the years:
a stranger's mask-face kindred-charged
in a lip's curl—brow's lift, nostril-flare—
sear me strange
sister with the eye shot blind.
I never had a lover.

In the glacier-shivered north beyond north
the ice of her breath burning in my blood
his raven-feathered fingers bannered in my hair
beloved, honest: easy to fell.

You say all these lies are mine?
Tempt me to throat-aching truth, then.
You'll turn aside long before
I tell.




Liz Bourke is a cranky queer person who reads books. She holds a Ph.D in Classics from Trinity College, Dublin. Her first book, Sleeping With Monsters, a collection of reviews and criticism, is published by Aqueduct Press. Find her at her blog, where she's been known to talk about even more books thanks to her Patreon supporters. Or find her at her Twitter. She supports the work of the Irish Refugee Council and the Abortion Rights Campaign.
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19 Feb 2024

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