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Volume 9

Tall Tales - January 2012


Edward Ragg

Written by
Edward Ragg

Edward Ragg is a poet, critic and wine professional based in Beijing, China. His poems have appeared in Aesthetica, Acumen, Agenda, Critical Quarterly, Envoi, Gastronomica, Poetry Quarterly, PN Review, Seam, The New Writer and Three Line Poetry. Selections from his work were anthologized in New Poetries IV (Carcanet, 2007) and Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens (Iowa University Press, 2009). Ragg’s poem ‘Mutton Fat Jade’ was a runner-up in the 2009 Troubadour International Poetry Prize. He is an Associate Professor of English at Tsinghua University, where he teaches literature in English and has established the university’s first course in wine. He is co-founder, with Fongyee Walker, of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting. His poem "Some Other Mea Culpa" will be featured in the 2012 anthology, "Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam." Ragg recently won the 2012 Cinnamon Press Poetry Award, and his first book of poems, A Force that Takes, will be published by Cinnamon in 2013.


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The Gods on Holiday


That month, the oracle grew
Perplexed; the prophet delved
Into the entrails; sacrifices ceased.

Delphi was a brawl, but no one twigged.
Divining rods grew popular with hags.
Soothsayers were defeatingly prevalent.

Somewhere a panoply of figures
Relaxed: the clouds in
Valet-parking, the thunder bolts

With the pool attendant—
The pool attendant only slightly
On fire (an occupational risk).

An old codger with wind-swept beard
Runs naked round the pool pursued
By a nine year-old sparking

His finger-tips, proving once
And for all that holidays are cultural
Pursuits for the partially quick.

A goddess on a lounger reclines
With tomorrow’s cocktails, peering
(With modest self-doubt) through

Yesterday’s sunglasses.
Her tan is not what it could be,
But who cares?

A grandmother of five, by five,
Has finished her anecdote and
Falls into an unconvincing slumber,

Dreaming of a world without
The tyranny of mortals, their
Incorrigible peeling after truth,

Murmuring, so they can hear her:

If only they could see what we’re really like.



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