PoetryIssue 04 | April 2009

Two poems by Lily Iona MacKenzie

Troy XI

        As the swarms of flies
(seethe) over the shepherds’ stalls…
so many long-haired Achaeons swarmed across
  the plain
to confront the Trojans….

—Book 2, lines 555-59, The Iliad

A hot day and a hush
silences the flies.  I think
I see the soft curve

of a woman’s hip under swaying
cloth.  Goats graze surrounding fields,
the sea now far in the distance.
Sthenelos sprang to the ground
from his chariot / and standing
beside him pulled the sharp arrow clean

through his shoulder.  I stroke
the stone wall, rough surface crusted

with age.  Fine dust clings
to my fingers.  Rocks
evenly stacked row upon row

meander, connecting all ten
Troys, collapsed into each other
like Russian dolls.  Three thousand

years prod cracks and a farrago of lives.
Our feet graze rock slabs
slick as time.  I expect to hear

a horse’s whinny or a donkey’s
bray, smell flesh sizzling
over coals, see a warrior’s blood

spurting through the delicate tunic.
Weeds poke through spaces
between stones and blood

red poppies thrive among
remains.  We stop and watch
ants the size of stars lugging

bits of straw.  They descend
through a hole underground,
building their own Troy.

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About the author

A Canadian by birth, Lily Iona MacKenzie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she teaches writing at the University of San Francisco. Her work has been published in numerous venues, including The Malahat Review, Other Voices, and The Denver Post.  Her interviews with Brenda Hillman appear in Indiana Review and Berkeley Poetry Review.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok