Divine Rights

By Stephen Edgar b. 1951 Stephen Edgar
Sprawling like some small group of picnickers,
They're propped among the shadows of the trees,
Though one seems drunk, spread-eagled. Nothing stirs
Except the flies that clog their cavities.
A red cleft rules the parting of that head.
You stretch a little and slide out of bed.

Acres of debris are in sodden flood   
About the ruined village, which concedes
In blackened matchwood to the tide of mud
Its smoking households. Rising from the weeds,
Arms reach up stiffly, as for an embrace.
Out of the mirror you observe your face

While sunlight offers all that you desire.
The Aztecs, to appease your counterparts,
Would hook still-living bodies from the fire,
Hack out and hold aloft the pulsing hearts,
Drenching the steps with blood, so they might give
Those idle brutes each day a day to live.

You have today. Stark-eyed and hollow-faced,
Her rigid ribcage almost bursting through
The skin, a girl sits in a land laid waste
And stares out blankly. So then, it is you—
The thought had not occurred to you before—
It's you, Huitzilopochtli, God of War.

Source: Poetry (January 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2008
 Stephen  Edgar


Stephen Edgar was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied classics and English at the University of Tasmania and has worked as an editor and a librarian. He is the author of the poetry collections Queuing for the Mudd Club (1985), Ancient Music (1988), Corrupted Treasures (1995), Where the Trees Were (1999), Lost in the Foreground (2003), Other Summers (2006), and History of the Day (2009).   A lyric formalist, Edgar probes the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.