Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oedipus Act 2
A play based on Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”
© Eso A. B., 2014

Act Two

(Scene unchanged from as in Prologue, but for event: a meeting of the Council of Elders.  Enter King OedipusI.)
King Oedipus:
Honorable elders, dear people!
I’m losing patience.
Stop listening to rumors.
Be patient.
Wait until you hear from me.
You will not discover anything new
by listening to the fantasies of kitchen maids.
I did not bring the plague to Thebes.
Maybe some foreign prince brought it.
But princes who come visit us.
bring us gold
for the reindeer underbellies
they lay their princesses on.
Fur has made Thebes wealthy.
The death of the Sphinx
(remember, I bested it)
has made the wood safe
not only for children,
but berry and mushroom pickers as well.

Thebes has become
the safest city in the world.
The rumors you listen to
leave me speechless.
The only danger to us
is some coward, who
having slain King Laius
may hide  among us.
Indeed, I call on everyone 
who knows something
to come forward!
You, elders of Thebes
have age in your favor.
You know what youth does not know.
Confess all you know
about the death of King Laius.
I’ll not harm you if you speak the truth.
However, your skin will replace
the hogs bladders on the windows 
of my castle
if I discover you hiding secrets.

The guilty ones,
their names be cursed!
Their faces will be drawn on icons
hung on the cursing stone
and spat upon.
A king’s murders must not remain a mystery.

A king's death must not turn into a plague
that brings ruin to our great city.
If Queen Iocasta and King Laius had had children,
I would be their father today.
We are all of one household.
We all are of Thebes.
Therefore, all know,

I will not relent
until I discover King Laius’ murderer.
The murdered King is as if
my own father.

O great King!
We do not know who killed King Laius.
May the shadowless days of Midsummer
help us discover him.

King Oedipus:
Let night be turned into day!
Let’s clear what remains of the wood.
The wood is the place,
where liars and cowards go hide,
and rebels without a cause flee to plot
subsistence economies.
The wood is where they worship the Sphinx.
The wood  is where the wild johns
hid that cart load of squealing ‘meriahs’*’,
their own children 
like wild piglets,
to be delivered for slaughter
at the cross road in the middle of the wood.
It was the children's lucky day,
when I came upon the foul traders
of their flesh.
Therefore, speak!
My ears are open to good news.

King Oedipus, listen!
Tiresias, the blind priest
who once guided the children
from the temple to the sacred wood
and oversaw the sacrifices
at the edge of the wood,
(or was it cliff?).
He is said to have eyes 

that pierce the dark.
He knew where the Sphinx lurked.
It was you, Great Savior,
who with burning spigots
from your campfire,
scarred such stars into his eyes
that he ever sees but stars
and explores black holes.
To this day he seeks to find our beginnings
a thousand years in the past.
King Oedipus, waterboard Tiresias.
Make him tell what he sees
in the black waters 
of our misfortunes today.

King Oedipus:
I’ve already have thought of him.
I don’t fear his crazed imaginings.
Prince Creon has brought us
not only good news, but Tiresias,
that priest of terror, as well.
To help persuade the Sun’s maids
to surrender him,
I have promised 
the Sun’s Temple virgins
a hundred vests
made of reindeer underbellies

As songs of heroes attest,
violence brags about itself,
but proven killers threaten violence
if their deeds are discovered.
King, the violence of terrorists
has set death on the loose;
protect us, agents of truth.

(Enters Tiresias. He is led by a youth by a rope pulled through his nose. Spear toting guards follow.)

King Oedipus:
Tiresias! Great friend of Thebes!
We have not seen each other for some time!
Have I told you
that your temple, 
your dwelling place,
the wood is no more?
The great democracy of Thebes
has made it 
a transparent space,                                                             
truth and honesty rules here.      
All tax dodgers are soon strung
and sing "Fuck fuck 
the ghosts of air!"

I hear that by the kindness of the Gods,
you still see.

A finch has told me
you’ve made good use of my mercies
and coo-coo less today

than when we first met.
I hear, that your nether eyes
have discovered shiny secrets
in the nights of yesteryears.
I hear people seek your touch.
because your fingers grow eyes
into their ills.
You’ve grown fat
Explaining dreams and calming fears.

Still, problems remain.
You’ve no doubt heard the news…
the daughters of the Sun claim
until we discover 
who killed King Laius
Thebes still houses a plague.

Don’t hold back from us what you know.
Tell us what is hidden in the crevices
where the snakes and bats live,
lest I must chase the truth
by toasting your arse
with a dildo greased with mustard.

I hear rumour
you were the coachman
who took the king to the wood,
who took the gold to the parents 
of the meriahs,
who never received it.
I hear it was you
who hid King Laius’s body away.

Tiresias (whining):
Gods, if you only knew
how heavy wisdom lies on a man
if it earns him no profit.
King Oedipus:
I am offering you thirty pieces of silver.

Yes, King Oedipus,
I hid King Laius away.
but the fleas and lice of the Sphinx 
ate his corpse away.
Yet who are you to know
if I speak the truth?
Are you not Yod the uncircumcised?
Look at your pinky:
Its nail is neither cut or cleaned.

Give Thebes your pinky,
and you may keep 
the secrets of your heaven 
of a thousand brides.

King Oedipus:
Are you getting an erection already?

The guards have long belts
to teaze you up the branch
of the nearest tree.

You can’t intimidate me.
Need I remind you 

of the last time we met?
You surely remember
it was on the occasion
you struck out my eyes.
But you failed to cut out my tongue.
It can still speak of what my eyes saw:
the unspeakable:
the old King die of the mustard
you speared up his arse.     
I raced my stags with the moaning King
for the Holy River of Yang.
Alas! King Laius, 
his intestines shat 
on the wagon boards,
was dead upon arrival,
For all that,
because your mother married you
and the chorus sung you
the Hieros Gamos song,
I ask from you is but your pinky.
King Oedipus:
You talk in riddles and tell crazy stories.
What’s it got to do with me?

Promise your pinky
if you wish to learn 
what keeps this city hail.

King Oedipus:
Guards! Shake that fool by his hair.
Loosen his scalp from the head bone,
before we hang it
from his stuffed dork.

Your speech speaks of a man

who knows no pity.

King Oedipus:
I am King of Thebes, not you!
Did you not just tell me

your wagon held the remains of
dead King Laius?
Don’t stand dumb.
Come take your thirty pieces of silver,
or I’ll stretch your eye sockets

over your dork
and put your face 
on the spitting stone .

You may have blinded me,
nevertheless; I see what you don’t see.
Your seed is no different than that of the white worms
that compose the song of the wild cicadas
at the roots of the tulip trees of Thebes.
Come closer to me.
Let me see!
Let me touch the necklace around your neck,
the one made from King Cadmus’ gold teeth,
the same gold that made the wire of the loop 

that pierced your ankles
on the day you were born to be
(maybe) the next King of Thebes.
It was not I, or your mother, 
but your father, the great King 
(the same who put out his eyes
when the queen told him you were dead,
devoured by a mountain lion)
who wished to tether you to the throne.
by means of the loop 
that lamed you.
King Oedipus:
Outrageous man!
Do you want to lead the children
in a "rings around the rosy" dance again,
then have your cane 
turn merry laughter into shrieks?

Chorus (shocked, screams!): 

King, have mercy!
The shit smeared cliff

is still there!

King Oedipus, we want your pinky now!
Or will you prove yourself to be
the bastard of a whore?
Note! A breeze has sprung
and curls the incense
rising from the altars.
The Gods have come 
to be our witness.

King Oedipus:
I spared your life.
I was wrong.
You were among those
who conspired against King Laius.
You were the guide of the zoans
of who brought children to Thebes for slaughter.
Why would you not kill a King?
Let me remind you, King Oedipus,
of the prize you promised to
whoever found King Oedipus’s murderer.

You said he would be allowed to speak no more.
You said he would be chased from Thebes 

and spat upon.
I will now tell you 

who deserves this prize.

It is you, King Oedipus.
It is your image that should hang on the spitting post.
It is your scalp that should have a hole punched through
to hang from your dork.

King Oedipus:
By what magic do you hope 

to escape death?

Truth will save me even if die;
it will kill you even if you remain alive.
King Oedipus:
Who told you this so-called truth?
Ha! You spoke the truth? Ha, ha!

Thebes asks of you
only your pinky.

King Oedipus:
Your words are squid’s ink.
All Thebes here hears you.
The Chorus is our witness.

Repeat your confession
and I will spare you!
But bear in mind 
that should you lie,
I’ll let dogs scatter your rotting flesh
as the children
who failed to fly
once scattered among the trees
when they fled to to escape the hornets
you loosed on them to get them lost.
Oh Dearest Goddess!
Ai! Ai! Ai!

King Oedipus,
it was you who murdered King Oedipus.

Oh Dearest Goddess!

King Oedipus, you live in shame.
Ask your wife, the whoring Queen!
Your entire clan lives in incest.
Your son, Polyneices beds your daughter Ismene,
to clone for himself the comforts

of the throne of Thebes
Egyptian style.

King Oedipus:
How dare you?! Traitor!
You’re Creon's serf!
Who's he? 
But a slaughterer of reindeer,
who had his son Haemon 
drag my Antigone
into his hunting dog shacks to lay,
where in place of rose petals,
she had to inhale the putrid smell 
of bloody reindeer pelts.
I will say you one better:
Antigone and Haemon have already signed
a binding contract, two generations long.
King Oedipus:
All hear! This blind charlatan
promotes himself King.

Tiresias, tell me,
when the Sphinx hungered,
why didn’t you offer your own yod to her?
Yet you have kept all your ten fingers.

Guards! Guards!

Chorus (screams):
King Oedipus! Tiresias!
Think of Thebes! Think of us!

Even if I am killed,
the truth will come to light.

King Oedipus:
The plot against me
can not be plainer.

Is that so?
Then listen to what every shadow murmurs.
You say your parents live in Corinth?
You tell you solved the riddle of the Sphinx?
You say the answer is “three legs?
An old man resting on his cane?
A babe crawling?”
Your answer satisfies but children.
You’re the grown man who stands
on two legs masturbating.

The Truth is not in the legs,
but in three people holding
the cauldron of Thebes’ sacred waters.
You, one of the legs of the cauldron, are a clubfoot.
You, not Creon or Iocaste,
or the stary cathedra of Cassiopea above
tilt the throne of Thebes
and spill your shit on our heads.

King Oedipus:
May the people of Thebes stone you.

(Exit Tiresias, then King Oedipus.)

Antistrophe (as if talking to itself.):
King Oedipus, be careful.
Your anger treads on your own heels.

Your anger is like a snake snatching its own tail.

(A video reenacts the story told below)
Tiresias knows the story:
Long ago the Dearest Goddess,
dressed by the gentle wind of spring,
was provoked to anger,
And a serpent crawled from the clouds.
At sunset the Sun could no longer hold back,
and raised her skirt to reveal
she had a cock where a grouse was thought to be.
The wind whirled into a tornado
and the Goddess’ cock chased around her thrice
and gave birth to a dragon.
Fire, smoke, and sulfur wrapped the skin of the wind.
The serpent understood but one word: REVENGE!
It seized the cush of its tail
and devoured itself up to its face.

From the forehead of that Face 

then grew tusks,
grew through the brain and skull
until a Face of horror
some say Glory was born.

Then from the horns
it birthed twins armed with spears,
who thrust at each other
until spears passed through their hearts of horn.

Such are the mercies
of our Dearest Goddess.
She never fails us.
*Maria—a Kond word for blood of Mother Earth; also meriah—children raised to be sacrifices.

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