POETRY: Mario Azzopardi

Our Petard God
Copyright Gilbert Calleja
“Alla tal-Murtali” translated from Maltese by translated by Patricia Gatt with the author

Our god. Our petard god
voraciously feeding on severed fingers,
slit kidneys and ruptured lungs.
Our potash and gelatine god
swilling vein-spouted blood:
he’s our god,
gorging on men’s testicles
mashed by detonated bombs.

In pyrotechnic chambers
bare-chested, sweltering men savour the powder,
sampling chlorine and nitrate,
scrawling down formulae
for the ardent spark and blaze
to light up god’s phantom amid stars.

Our god. Our petard god
guzzling widows’ sobs
dusting off his feet on orphaned wails.
Our potash-gelatine god
dizzy on vein-spurting blood.

Our petard god
dements the men of fire
for the splintering cannon charge.
Our petard god
in concert with patron saints,
belches divinely at the human offering:
our men slayed into small chunks,
dismembered in his name in the chambers of fire.

Seven years later
or seventy seven,
in the same arena, in front of the same temple,
with threadbare souls the flashlight men
spin around the coloured wheels
in a ritual reprise of myth.

They then dissipate with the haze of spirits:
hacked fragments in the abyss of silence.

“Skandlu dwar il-Ħin” translated from Maltese by Patricia Gatt with the author

The angel-sentry of time fell asleep
And the five wall-mounted clocks
foiled the synchronous moment as the poet
traversed the cylinder between life and death.

A veritable scandal this is:
the time of death goes unmeasured
in a tech-era that computes fallacy
to a second every five hundred years.

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