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Three Choruses by James Dunnigan

Updated: May 22

Chorus: Pythagoras


And since I am moved on the wide sea

Et quoniam magno feror aequore plenaque ventis

full sail stretched: there is nothing in this world

vela dedi: nihil est toto, quod perstet, in orbe.

that stands in place. All things are flowing, made

cuncta fluunt, omnisque vagans formatur imago

each of them of refracting shapes, themselves

ipsa quoque adsiduo labuntur tempora motu,

adversely flowed upon in time’s persistent currents,

non secus ac flumen; neque enim consistere flumen 180

not following the tide—nor can the tide

nec levis hora potest: sed ut unda inpellitur unda

a moment hold still or light; but just as wave piles in

urgeturque prior veniente urgetque priorem,

on wave urging the next and urged on by

tempora sic fugiunt pariter pariterque sequuntur

the last so all things flee in time and

et nova sunt semper; nam quod fuit ante, relictum est,

follow and are always new; for what once was

fitque, quod haut fuerat, momentaque cuncta novantur.

is left behind, and made to be what once


was not, all things in every moment made again



Chorus: Agamemnon

τὴν δ ̓ ἐγὼ οὐ λύσω: πρίν μιν καὶ γῆρας ἔπεισιν

ἡμετέρῳ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ ἐν Ἄργεϊ τηλόθι πάτρης

ἱστὸν ἐποιχομένην καὶ ἐμὸν λέχος ἀντιόωσαν


tên d’égw oû lüsw : prîn min kai gêras épeisin hêmetérw éni oïkw én Argeï têlot’hi patrês histon époik’homénên kai émon lék’hos antiowsan I will not let her go till old age comes on her

at home in Argos far from her kinsmen keeping my loom and coming to my bed

begins the poem I want you to see and to hear it in near inarticulable cruelty (which of course it finds ways to articulate) between the loom and bed of Agamemnon the chainshaking steps of virgin Khrüseis

who never will see home again

until he tires of raping her this is the Lord Commander Lord of Men ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν anax andrwn Agamemnon in Homer I said to my friend once the finish is such that all things shine the wound in Menelaus’ leg later dyed ivory Fitzgerald says saying even our wounds are someway adornments George Steiner wonders how they could sing Schubert while murdering children in Dachau this is the reason why


Apollo’s arrows now: Chorus: Eulogy, Solar There are some things I won’t write about not because I can’t or don’t want to or don’t know how but because I want to leave them like rocks in the weave of the brook by my grandfather’s place which I drank from at ten it being so cold it hurt with the taste of mud and all the dead leaves steel and hoarfrost it gathered falling down the mountain’s slope which they’ve been carving at ten years to build new houses Some things I won’t write about because I want to leave them like those kids drunk on their vomit in Greenfield Park at Canada Day the first time between two urinals talking about their failed love moving like wasps at the end of summer slowly freezing in their branches Like those first words you speak to someone you want to have sex with not knowing what sex is Like the whispers of rats in the walls and slamming a cutting board edgewise down on their glue-trapped heads I won’t write about the horizon again the sea’s paradoxical smile I won’t write about JF and I

I won’t write about how it was to see you first in snow De Mentana not having met you yet

And there are those other things



James Dunnigan is a poet from Montreal and author of two chapbooks, "The Stained Glass Sequence" (Frog Hollow Press 2019) and "Wine and Fire" (Cactus Press, 2020). His work has appeared in such places as CV2, Maisonneuve Magazine, Montreal Writes and Graphite Publications.



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