“What do you mean, I asked the poem…”

What do you mean, I asked the poem,
its gears for a moment at rest, steam
leaking from its boiler. Who
are you to ask, it replied, touching

my cheek with a human hand.
Where do you come from, I asked
the poem, marvelling at the shining
grooves behind it, which seemed

to vanish into the forest, but might
be snaking out across the plain
or climbing into the amber hills.
Who are you to ask, it murmured,

nodding its stiff mane, so like
the plume on Hektor’s blinding helmet.
What are you for, I asked the poem,
but the poem had nodded off, drive-

shaft disengaged, bowels a muted
mechanical hum, carapace bright and impassive.
So I lay full length on the grass beside,
moistened by the poem’s breath, acrid, hot.

Mark Scroggins (© 2013)