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Winter 2018/19

Scott R Hightower


       (Oct. 6, BAM Next Wave, Siti Company, 2018)
                     “Gods should not be
                     like mortals in their rage,”

Bogart launches with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 
“I Put a Spell On You.” Euripides’ formal 
processional chorus of long black-skirted,
black-jacketed women of Thebes (nine 
men and women), each carrying
an abstracted fennel stalk, 
yanks us from the smoldering stench 
of Kavanaugh’s antics. Entranced, 
up-stage, they ritualistically
share a matching pair
of glowing red-topped benches.

Bacchus, a lively woman with a flaring
mop of moussed blond hair,
wears red leather pants. 
Her long, black riding coat 
has a red lining. Eventually,
Pentheus disrespectfully throws her 
to the ground, leans over her, 
and growls, “A truce 
to thy preaching to me!” 

Pink Lights:
The goddess Demeter––that is,
the earth––feeds men with solid food; 
and, as her counterpart,
came, this god, a vengeful
avatar of Dionysus, 
who was brought forth 
and crowned 
with a coronal of snakes; 
from which the thyrsus-bearing 
Maenads hunt the viper 
to girdle their dappled hides, 
twine about their hair
and lick their cheeks.

Blue Lights:
Never, while Pentheus’s senses are his own, 
will he consent to don woman's dress; 
but, when his mind is gone astray, 
he will put it on. You alone 
bear your country's burden,
Sinatra’s anthem “I’ve Gotta Be
Me!” blares out. Pentheus–– 
donned for spying on the mountain
and ready for dazzling revelation––
walks out on stage with “the rictus smile
and rolling eyes of someone roofied by a god.”
We are approaching Joan of Arc,
Chelsea Manning, and Caitlyn
Jenner territory. (A stranger, I
in a foreign tongue, express
our joy. For now, no more 
do I cower in terror of the chain.
“Who are you to tell me
to quit harping?)

(Oh, how I so love the dramatic,
highly descriptive narratives
of messengers in classical dramas!)

Red Lights: 
The processions-to-their-ends-on-stage 
are marked in spills of pliant blood-red 
organza. Also uncowering, Cadmus 
and Agave, under enchantment, 
give the vengeful, neglected
god their everything. 

Bacchus as a janitor––sort of
a Prospero: rod and spell
broken, book drowned––
rolls up the trails of organza
and heartlessly stuffs them in-
to trash bags and bins, erasing
the entire providential design.


One can only imagine
what Kavanaugh’s wife
thought when she listened
to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
describe feeling trapped
in an upstairs water closet
and wishing there was more
than one way out.
SCOTT HIGHTOWER is the author of four books of poetry in the US  and two bilingual collections published in Madrid. He lives in Manhattan and teaches at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.



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