by Kathleen Akerley
people, everybody here today, living in DC, why you fakin’
with all the fancy clothes? Why have you come to my doorstep with
your baggy leather pants and white silk shirts and black leather
jackets, with all this money? I don’t want to send my messengers
back and forth, so I came for myself to hear what you have to say
with your own mouth.
Hey you there,
the CEO of the record label, you’re the big cheese, so speak
for all my peeps. Tell me what’s going on. I don’t care
if you need something from me or not, just tell me what happened.
I couldn’t be that heartless to ignore your presence. Tell
me, have you come to witness my magic or tell of your dread?
We have come to ask you for help. You have money, power and contacts.
Make some calls. Meet some people. Do what you can, just help. A
plague has come upon our town, rotting it of its beauty. Our people
are dying from drugs, drive-bys and anthrax. Snipers are shooting
us down in the streets and terrorists have made us scared to leave
our homes. Our children’s lives are ending as soon as they
begin. Our roads are empty and filled with broken glass.
not the President, but you can make a difference. You’ve come
to save our city from the newborn sphinx. We believe you are capable
of bringing peace back to our city, so you can rule over the living,
not the dead.
terrible, but I have no solution to you problems. I know that you
have life-threatening illness, but none of you is as sick as I am.
My spirit is aching for the city. For me, for you. I’ve sent
Creon, brother of the queen, to Delphi to try to solve our dilemma,
but he hasn’t returned. I’ve been out to Dulles about
a thousand times this week, but I never found him. I’ll be
an old man by the time he gets back.
in luck. They tell me Creon’s on his way.
Oedipus: I hope
his news is as good the mood he’s in.
what it has to be. They’re practically having a celebration
in the streets.
he comes now. Here’s our good news. (Creon enters.) Oh Prince,
son of Menoikeus. What’s up? What answer do you bring us from
the gods? Tell me what they said.
not good, but I’ll tell you. Great things will happen if,
and only if, these words are taken well.
is this helping me? I’m still hanging between hope and fear.
Creon: Do you
really want to talk in front of all these people?
them hear it. I will not part from my people. There’s no shame
in anything if it deals with my city.
I will tell you what I heard at Delphi: In plain words, the gods
want someone to leave the land of D.C. Someone is here feeding this
curse like rotting meat feeding maggots. They brought this upon
us, now we must get rid of this nuisance.
do you mean, a curse? How will we get rid of it?
Creon: By exile
or death, blood for blood. Death is what brought the plague upon
us, and death will take it away.
death? Who was murdered? Surely the gods have named him?
Creon: Do you
know our main man Laios? I mean, before you came.
but I never saw him. I just hear about him. Why?
Creon: He was
murdered, and Apollo wants us to find whoever did it and kill him.
was a long time ago. Where can we find a clue to solve this dilemma
after so many years?
it may be, he lives in this very town. Here in D.C. are clues that
we might otherwise overlook. They will tell us who did it.
did he die? Was he killed here on this land, somewhere in this house,
or in a foreign land?
Creon: He took
a short trip and didn’t come back.
there was no one there? No witness to tell what happened? Did he
Creon: All of
them were killed except one, but he was so scared he could only
remember one thing.
was it he remembered? It could help us a lot.
a rack of people jumped him. He said a gang of about 25 overpowered
them and the king.
why would anyone jump the king? Unless somebody paid him...
Creon: We went
over that, but nobody said anything.
couldn’t anyone find the killers?
Creon: We were
distracted by the sphinx’s rampage.
right, I’ll find whoever did it. Whoever killed King Laios
might try and kill me. At any cost, I will not stop to avenge Laios
and this town. I will exterminate all evil in this town. That murderer
will be sorry. Get everybody in town here and tell them what I said.
everybody. We got what we wanted. The King himself has promised
to kill whoever murdered King Laios. Mighty Oedipus has promised
it. Good bye plague.
is the man upstairs saying, as fear comes over me and my heart goes
Now I remember
you, the healer, with your powers, and I wonder how you can send
my worst fears, like a nightmare never ending.
Out of the darkness,
let us pray.
Now my troubles
have no end and no man can fight off death.
Now the plague
goes on like the sparks on fireworks, and there are no guns or weapons
that can destroy these monsters, and there are no shields that can
defend you from the plague.
help us get rid of the venomous plague.
Lift it from
Let the earth
rotate and show the sun again.
seeds, masses of the living, from the bloodline of our grandfathers:
Why shatter your souls at these tragic movies? If this is your prayer,
it may be answered. Listen to me, do what I say, and your troubles
will be over.
I never heard
of this story until today. No one ever told me Laios had been murdered
in cold blood out on a strange street. I came here after all that
drama was over. But this is what I do know: If the killer thinks
he can get away with this, he’s wrong. As long as I am in
charge here, the killer he’ll never be safe. I’ll hunt
him down if it’s the last thing I do. And if anybody knows
who the killer is and they don’t tell me, well, I’ll
do them just like I do the murderer himself.
Since our murdered
King can’t get his revenge, I’ll get it for him. I’m
the one who’s taken his place. I live in his house. I married
his wife. If he had had kids, his son would be my children’s
brother. I’m going to find the murderer, and I’ll make
him suffer. And if you’re true to this city, then you’re
on my side.
you’ve got me in court, man, I swear I didn’t do it.
I’m no snitch, but I’d tell you who the killer was if
I knew. Fact is, I don’t know. But if the oracle knows so
much about this crime, can’t the oracle tell who did it?
a good question. I’m glad you asked. But no man in this world
can tell the gods what to do.
is one more thing...
ahead and tell me. Don’t hold back anything, because I’m
everybody knows that Teiresias is a psychic. Even though he’s
blind, he can see the future almost as well as the oracle.
told me that, and I’m not wasting any time. I’ve sent
for him already. Twice, as a matter of fact. I’m surprised
he’s not here yet.
he is, the one man who can help us solve this mystery.
the wise man. The one who knows everybody’s secrets, and the
secrets of the gods, too. Blind as you are, you can see what a mess
we’re in. And only you can save us. Read your magic 8 ball,
use your Ouija board, and tell us who killed Laios.
nothing worse than knowing the truth when the truth won’t
help. I shouldn’t have come here.
the matter? Why are you acting so cold?
me get out of here. You deal with your problems and I’ll deal
not very helpful. Come on, tell us what you know.
better off not knowing. I wish I was as ignorant as you. There’s
no way I’m gonna tell.
a minute. You know something and you won’t tell us? Whose
side are you on?
even bother asking me again. The truth is too terrible to tell.
My mind’s made up.
old fool. Now you’re getting on my nerves. You better tell
me, cause I’ll find out one way or another.
what you have to do. I don’t care what you think.
don’t care? Well, here’s what I think. You planned it,
and you got some thug to do the job for you. If you had eyes, I’d
say you did it yourself. Murderer.
Then I will tell. You’re the murderer yourself. Now do what
you promised you’d do. Either kill yourself or leave town.
dare you. You think I’ll let you go after talking to me like
already gone. The truth just set me free.
told you to play this game? You’re supposed to be a wise man?
told me to. Remember, I didn’t want to tell you.
me what? I don’t understand. Say it again more clearly.
said you’re the one who killed Laios.
you go again. That’s twice you’ve lied on me. Now you’re
you want some more? Do you want me to make you really mad?
what you want. No one believes you anyway.
say you’re living a lie, and you can’t see how sick
you are. You’re a shame to the world and to your family and
even blinder than I thought. You can’t hurt me or anyone who
sees the light of day.
right. I’m not the one who’s going to hurt you. I’ll
leave that to the gods.
me, who put you up to this? Was it Creon?
No, I’m just telling the truth. You’ll get what’s
coming to you.
huh. Money, power, respect. Now I see Creon’s just a hater.
I thought I could trust him, thought he had my back. But he was
just hatin’ on everything that’s mine.
So he brings
in this fake palm reader from the psychic hotline, this Miss Cleo
wannabe. Tell me, have you ever once got it right? You don’t
know who’s going to win the game until the buzzer sounds.
Who saved this
town from the Sphinx? You and your fortune cookies couldn’t
solve the riddle. But then I came along, and I figured out what
no one else could. And I didn’t need a crystal ball to help
And you think
you can bring me down? So you can get in with Creon when he’s
king? Well you and your man Creon will suffer for this.
get so mad, Oedipus. He’s just angry, and you are too. We
don’t need any more fighting. We just want to do what’s
right for our city.
you’re the king. But I’m the one who knows what’s
going on. I don’t need Creon to speak for me when I have Apollo
on speed dial.
Listen up. Go
ahead, make fun of my blindness. But you’re the one who’s
blind, even with two good eyes. You can’t see how sick your
whole life is. You don’t know whose house you’re living
in, or who you’re living with. Who’s your father? Who’s
your mother? Do you even know? What have you done to them?
One of these
days, and it’s gonna be soon, your parents’ curse will
strike you. You’ll wish you never had eyes to see the evil
you’ve done. So go ahead and curse Creon. Curse me, too. I’m
just glad I’m not you.
you talk about my parents! Wait a minute, who do you think my parents
you’ll know your father, and it will crush you.
talk to me in riddles. What are you trying to say?
thought you were supposed to be so good at solving riddles.
how I saved this town.
bad it can’t save you. You think the man who killed Laios
is a stranger, but soon you’ll find out it’s someone
you know very well. Someone who’s not blind yet, a homeless
street person who’s still rich. Someone whose kids will call
him brother, and his wife will call him son. Go think it over, and
if I’m wrong then you can say I didn’t predict the future.
I’m outta here.
Ode I (what=s
really going on)
crystal of forevisions ponders the ancient king killing
and a calm,
departure time has arrived.
He must be more
powerful than the fiasco
of the night
sky without stars, for Daedalus,
armed with Icarus=
to King Midas= castle.
And the nymphs
follow the hopeless, hopeless nymphs.
to the zenith.
Leers and glares
are the least of his worries--
It is a fact
that he will not rest until his demise is in effect.
Like a demonic
worm in hell, released to feed
upon the flesh
of wicked earthlings,
death compels him, but
can=t evade destiny.
For the earth=s
conscience calls him empty,
and the nymphs
follow the hopeless nymphs.
But now the
more absurd has come
from the keen-eared
elder who can read your fate
with the simple
shake of a tail feather.
As free as a
fallen leaf, my soul floats,
but can=t find
stability in this quarrel,
or any reason
for embracing tranquility.
Jesus with perfect SAT scores,
with the knowhow
to give his own night courses...
For the parasite
of knowledge needs a new host.
I have been notified that I am being accused of Laios’ death.
These accusations come from Oedipus, but I’m not going to
sit here and take it. He’s gonna blame me for anything that
goes wrong now. But I’m not going to be disrespected.
probably just gossip, probably private--forget I said anything--but
the fact is people don’t trust me now.
didn’t mean it. He was just upset.
Creon: I know
you heard him say I did it. Like someone conned the old man into
lying. Maybe it was blackmail.
don’t know. I don’t know about other people, but Oedipus
is here himself.
again? Why? That’s rude of you to come into my crib, you killer.
Did you think I don’t know you’ve been planning to kill
me, trying to take my place. Do you think I’m a punk? Do I
look like a dummy? I get your game now. You’re a fool, that’s
what you are. You can win my place in this city or you can buy it.
But a low-life like you can’t do either.
Creon: Are you
done? Let me explain. You won’t understand until you listen.
Oedipus: I find
it hard to listen to a person I don’t trust. I don’t
take advice from my enemies.
all, I have to disagree.
Oedipus: I don’t
want to hear your lies.
Creon: You can’t
get anything by being stubborn. If you think you can, then you’re
one can betray their own people and not get dealt with. Kill you
Creon: For real,
what did I do to you? You can’t buy the hype. Don’t
the one that told me to go get the fortune teller.
I did. I’d do it again, too.
so tell me, how long has it been since Laios--
he disappeared. Remember?
was a long time ago.
Teiresias working here then?
Creon: He was,
and he was good, too.
did he say about me then? Was I mentioned?
Creon: Not that
I know of. If he did I wasn’t there.
we did, but we didn’t find out anything.
didn’t he accuse me? If he says it now, why didn’t he
say it then?
Creon: I don’t
know. I’m the type of person who minds his own business. Especially
when I don’t have anything to go on.
is something you know, but can you tell it?
are you talking about? If I know, then why can’t you know?
the old man wasn’t in on it with you, then he wouldn’t
have said I killed Laios.
making too big a deal out of it. Now, I have some questions for
ahead. I never killed anyone.
this: You married my sister. Why?
I married your sister.
Creon: And the
two of you run things together?
Oedipus: I give
her everything she wants.
Creon: So I
just follow both of you?
are no friend.
Creon: No! Listen!
I wouldn’t want that type of power. All it comes with is stress.
No sleep. I don’t want power. I already have all the rights
that come with it. Why would I want to be in charge, when I can
already get my way with no responsibilities? And why would you want
to treat your friends like this when you already have enough enemies?
a good point. That’s something a smart man would think about.
do you want me to do? Just sit here and watch while he takes everything
Creon: So what
do you want me to do? Leave town?
I want you dead, so people can see what happens to backstabbers.
Creon: You still
don’t believe me?
you’re a fool.
you’re just pure evil.
if you’re wrong?
still in charge.
out, both of you. Here comes Jocasta, and you’re lucky she’s
here. She can talk some sense into you both.
you stupid little boys. What’s up with all this noise? Aren’t
things bad enough in this town without you two beefing over every
Come on in the house. And you, Creon, go on home now. We don’t
need any more of this drama about nothing.
Listen, sister, your husband wants me out of town or either dead.
right, baby. Cuz I just caught him planning to kill me.
please, you two. Just listen to Jocasta, and do what she says.
do you want me to do?
better respect my man Creon’s word. He’s never been
a fool and he’s never lied to you. Now he swears he’s
telling the truth.
been a true friend to you. It’s not right for you to turn
on him all of a sudden, and with no proof.
you see? What you say means I’m a dead man.
I swear on Helios, my right hand man. And let me die alone in the
middle of nowhere. Don’t take what I said to heart. I’m
just tired of my friends dying. Do I have to deal with all this
plague and your madness too?
you better let him go. And let me die if you wanna be so pressed,
or be chased out of town like a sucka. And Creon, do what you do.
For you, lies will follow you everywhere.
Creon: You give
up just as ugly as you fight. You’re just making yourself
just go. Leave me alone, hear?
You don’t know me, but the people in the street know me. They
know I’m for real.
didn’t you just ask the king to go inside?
tell me what’s going on.
accusing everyone else, and no one has any proof.
what are they saying?
just forget about it and let it rest. We’ve all suffered enough.
I’m your wife. Tell me why you’re so upset.
I’ll tell you. I don’t trust any of these men the way
I trust you. It’s Creon. He’s out to get me.
going. Try to explain it to me.
says I killed Laios.
he have proof, or is he just running his mouth?
didn’t come right out and say it. He got the old fortune teller
to say it for him.
worry about it then. No fake psychic can tell you anything you don’t
already know. And I have proof--here’s what happened to me.
The oracle once
told Laios that his own son would kill him. Now, you’ve heard
what happened: Laios was jumped by a gang of thugs out in the street,
over by where three roads come together. But that son was only three
days old when the king tied up the baby’s feet and left him
to die in the mountains.
So that child
never murdered his father, and Laios didn’t get killed by
his son. The oracle was wrong. Nothing happened like he said it
would. So don’t be afraid of prophecies and fortune tellers
and oracles. Only God knows what will happen.
weird. I had a flash of a memory while you were talking. It shook
kind of memory? What do you mean?
just said Laios was killed where three roads meet.
what I heard. That’s all I know.
was all this?
out in Maryland. Near the traffic light at Phokis.
see... It was right before you came here. Just before you became
what kind of mess is this?
the matter? Why does that bother you?
Don’t ask me that yet. What did Laios look like like? How
old was he, anyhow?
he was tall, had a little gray in his hair. Matter of fact, he kind
of favored you a little.
Lord, did I mess up.I can’t believe I’m so ignorant.
are you talking about? You’re scaring me, baby.
looks like the old blind man can see better than I thought. But,
can you answer me one more question?
know I will, but I’m afraid to hear what it is.
anyone riding with the King? Did he have his crew with him, like
a big man’s supposed to?
had five homies with him—one was an m.c. They were all in
his Escalade, and he was driving.
that pretty much settles it. But how’d you find all this out?
Who told you?
of his boys. The only one to make it home alive.
he still hang around here?
when he got back and saw you hanging round Laios’ crib, in
charge of all his business, he begged me to help him get out of
the hood. He wanted to go way out to Northwest, where only shepherds
go, as far away from here as he could get. I helped him go, too.
I figured I owed him that much.
you have his phone number? Can you get him back here?
in my book, if the number’s still good. Why?
figured too much of this out by myself. I want to hear it from the
I’ll call him, and he’ll come. But I’m your wife.
Why can’t you tell me what it is you’re scared of?
you’ve got a right to know. I can’t hold nothing back
from my boo. Especially now, when I’m in the middle of something
that feels like it’s getting worse and worse. Who else can
My daddy was
Ploybos of Corinth, and my mama was Merope. I was a big shot back
in Corinth, got much respect, until something weird happened. One
night at a big block party, some drunk fool running his mouth said
Polybus wasn’t my real daddy. I didn’t say nothing then,
but I asked my parents the next day, and they went off. Said not
to listen to worthless gossip and lies. But it stayed in my mind
So I called
up the oracle on the psychic hotline, but Miss Cleo wouldn’t
answer my question. She wanted to talk about a bunch of mess that
sounded like Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones put together. About
how I would have a whole rack of kids by my mother and I would murder
So I got out
of town. Haven’t been back to Corinth since then. I just wanted
to get as far away from my home and that awful curse as I could
go. And then I wound up here.
it. I don’t want to hear any more.
no, you know the rest. I was stopped at a red light where three
roads meet. This big black Escalade came up behind me and tapped
my bumper. Nothing big, but he shouldn’t have done it. I got
out and said he’d better have insurance, but he sucker-punched
me, just like that. Well, then it was payback time. I pulled him
out of that SUV and went up one side of his face and down the other.
Then all those thugs piled out, and I had teach them a lesson, too.
Killed every last one of them before I was done.
you see? Could that stranger be Laios? That means I’m the
one who brought this horrible curse on our city. I’m the one
who killed your husband. I’m ten times as evil as all of death
row put together. I have to leave D.C., but I can’t go back
to Corinth either, or I might risk killing my own father and marrying
my mom. What kind of horrors does fate have in store for me? How
could my destiny be so messed up?
does sound bad, dawg, but there’s still hope. Wait til you
hear what the shepherd has to say.
right, but it’s the only hope I have left.
are hoping he’ll say?
hoping he’ll say what you said. You said Laios was killed
by a gang, and I was traveling solo. If he says it was a gang, then
I’m good. But if he says it was one man, them I’m in
a whole world of trouble.
I’m sure he said it was a gang. I remember clear as day. But
what if he doesn’t remember what he said. You know how people
mix things up after a few years. Still, the oracle said Laios would
be killed by his own son, and that is surely not what happened.
My baby was supposed to kill Laios, but it was my poor baby that
died first. So just forget it. Don’t waste your time worrying
about what any old psychic tells you. His prophecies are no more
real than Dracula and Freddy Krueger.
you’re right. But let’s just get that shepherd here.
I want to hear it from him.
call him up. You’re my man, and I’ll do things your
way. Especially this.
Ode II (Treachery
in the Air)
Let me be positive
in all ways,
but why are
all the yellow brick roads I trot belittled?
Let a single
word maintain the composure of the multiverse,
from the highest
mountain plummeted on down,
for heaven is
their remedy tool.
Those ages of
the realms of ivory, never of the mortal kind were they begot,
nor are they
prisoners of the past, lost in slumber.
is a class above time, and ages not.
The king is
a product of ego who rejuvenates his body
with his great
poisonous cup of irresponsibility and conceitedness.
And way up from
his state of mind, he plummets at unmeasurable speeds.
into the fog of debris from all the abandoned hope.
That bold man
is not bold, but let no just dream be declined.
May God protect
the warrior of the town.
in persuasive policy, who will tremble
when his name
is mentioned, and on his decree wait?
the high palm of excessive hate.
felony are God's holy law,
and any mortal
who dares to grasp no mortal ability in amazement
will be caught
up in the web of torment,
heir to the
throne for which his sweet talk is sold.
Let each man
take due earnings then, and avoid his all holy things,
and from sinning
in the worst way, let him stand apart.
Else the crackling
blast of heaven blows on his head
and though the
gullible will honor impious men,
in their countries
no catastrophic artist sings.
But shall we
lose our belief that something good is going to happen in Delphi's
We who have
head the zephyrs of the earth.
and the ancient metaphor of God that's so last season.
The duties and
the eerie visions must make simple routine, so Lord,
if you're so
big and bad incandescent on the throne above all, riddle me this.
don't ponder the two horses of Apollo's chariot,
and their respect
is not the first thing on their minds.
of Washington, big ole rollers of Thebes, ladies and gentlemen down
'round the block, it has occurred to me to drown myself in prayer,
but the gods are holding up this air freshener as a gift, as some
kind of cruel symbol. Our father, our king, our Oedipus, is not
himself. His noble soul is crazy with fantasies of peril, catastrophic
dreams, or else he'd look at these new prophecies in light of the
old. Right now, what with the state he's in, he'll listen to any
fool gossip who talks dread, and speaks fear. He ain't about to
listen to us good people. That goes for you, and that goes double
for me. Lord, I pray to you, help our king. He's lost like a sailor
can you show the way to 1623, the home of Oedipus or better yet,
just tell me where he is.
this is the place, he's inside, this is his girl.
wish her happiness in this house, blessed in all the fulfillment
of her marriage.
you here? What you got to say to us?
have good news for you and your husband only.
news you bring?
good news for you, but there is some grief in it.
is it? How can it be good and bad?
around here is that somebody was gonna kill Oedipus to be king,
to your master now. The man who Oedipus feared and ran from instead
of killing—he's dead, dead by another's hand.
you sent Antigone to get me? What's up?
to what this man has to say.
is he and what does he have to say?
came from Corinth to tell you about death.
can't say it any plainer: the king is dead. The king of Corinth
he killed or was it his old heart?
things put old men to rest.
Now I know. So he was sick. But why would that old man go around
telling lies that don't have no way of coming true? I can't believe
people thought I would kill my father. Now I have left my home,
and you come and give this news of my father's departure from this
godforsaken earth, and if for one second, anybody thinks I touched
him, they're wrong.
I tell you, baby?
did. It was my heart that stopped me from believing you.
now on, think of those words the way you think of about American
Still...shouldn't I fear my mother's bed?
should me, myself and I be afraid, since fate rules us and nothing
can be foreseen? Like me, you should live only for the present day.
Don't have no more worries about all this family past business.
How many men have had crazy dreams!
But if only my mother were still alive.
you don't need to check on that anymore, like I said man—your
father's death is the best news in the world right now.
and like I said, I hear you—I fear the living woman.
on! How come?
something the gods told me, something men of God told me, I mean.
At least everybody believes they're men of God.
gonna talk about this or what?
Oedipus: I know
what you wanna know, and I'll tell you. Miss Cleo said I would marry
my mother and kill my father.
this is why you ran from Corinth?
you have me kill my father?
you listened to the news I gave you?
pay to hear it again!
knew it, so I'll tell you man—I thought I could get some green
from you, but I guess not.
it. I'll never go near my parents again.
you still don't know what you're doing.
is you talking about? In the name of Jesus tell me what's going
are you so scared of going home?
I'm just scared. I'm scared to go back where I'm from.
scared of what? Why?
afraid the oracle is right.
hell will unleash itself on you through your parents, huh.
the weight that's always in my heart.
can't you see there's no gravity among these facts?
can you say that? They my folks, right?
don't know how to tell you this, so I guess I'll just let the words
say it themselves: Polybos was not your father.
gotta be kidding me.
no more your pop than I am.
why did he call me his son?
I'd given you to him as a gift.
did he love me so deeply if I wasn't really his? It's like our love
was flesh and blood.
didn't have any of his own until you.
about you? What, did you just bump into me along the way?
found you at the crooked intersection of Kithairon.
were you doing around there?
for my sheep.
your newborn tail that day, boy.
me from what?
foot in front of the other, but you so blind you can't even see
those two feet. Look at your ankles, man.
why you wanna bring that up again?
the one that set you free—I cut the rope that tied you.
had these birthmarks since I can remember.
that's why you've got the name that means "swollen foot".
Oedipus: I can't
believe them two! Which one was it, my mother or my father?
don't know man, I got you from some guy who can probably tell you
more than I can.
so now you didn't find me?
was a shepherd or—I think he was in the market—no—he
was a shepherd too and...
Slow down! Enough of all these triflin' stories. Ok, who was he
and can he tell me what I need to know.
was with the old king. I think he was one of his people.
mean old king Laios?
him—this guy was one of his men.
he still around? Can I see him?
young'ins here might know.
anybody here know what this guy's talking about? Seen this shepherd
man around the block? Bus stop, train station? Downtown?
think the man he means is that same shepherd you've already asked
to see. Jocasta might be able to tell you something.
kind of fool runaround are you people giving me? Anybody care what
I'm after? My own past and our future? Woman, is this the man we
asked for that's already on his way?
forget about all of this, it's not good for you.
can you say this when my true birth is at stake?
stop asking questions!
Oedipus: I won't
listen to you no more. I'm not hearin' it. I gotta know the truth,
that's all I'm after now.
Jocasta: I say
this for your sake only, it's all for your own good.
own good? Please. All this stuff, all my life for my sake, and all
it is is hurt. If this is for me, I don't want it.
wrong as sudden death. I hope you don't ever find out who you are.
of you all go get that man. I got some questions and he's gonna
give me the answers.
are wrong and that's all there is to it. If you don't wanna listen,
you ain't gonna listen, and I ain't gonna rail at you no more. Hard-headed
men never change. I'm through (exits quietly).
she leave so eerie-like? Something's not right. I don't like this.
it come. The truth must be known, and it's gonna come no matter
where I come from. Maybe the queen is ashamed of the truth, but
I'm not. I faced the storm before. Bring it on.
Ode III (input
of the past)
If the arrival
of time were discovered by my cardiovascular thoughts,
Lord now by
Heaven I see the torches at the Unifest of the next equinox,
and see the
choreography, and hear the choir generate stable biwaves
to form appeasing
harmonies in tribute to your soft shadow.
our mighty king was found, O taxicab protector or a noble race,
may the entity
who hears us grant his balm, and let his glory come to pass
for our king's
Of the cursed
that flower beyond the years, who don't appease you, oh exhausted
of love, frozen in satisfaction where the upland clears
as dusk's fog. Great Apollo, roamer of unbearably blue temperatures,
was it he who
was the first to gaze upon you? Who engulfed you in his human tentacles
from the sweet
god-ravisher and who was entertained by our endless trials of torment.
But not all
eyes are worthy of time's pupil. Even with a cataract they don't
All acts have
just consequences around these parts.
Laios, blessed to death, then blessed to be deprived of that death,
would God you
never embraced, and nourished his lungs with polluted air, contaminated,
dirty air that
my faulty lips accept to weep.
For I cry earth's
I was unable
to see, and now I understand,
for we breathed easily with content to Corinth,
while the decades
of deception weren't counted.
I don't know the guy, but I think I see him coming, this shepherd
we want. He's old, like this guy here.
him, I recognize him—and it's true, he was Laios' man. You
can believe what he says.
is this the same guy we were just talking about?
Shepherd]: Come here, look at me and answer every question I ask.
You worked for Laios?
since I was a kid.
you do for him?
kinds of stuff, but I eventually became his chauffer.
all did you drive him around?
round here, up by Kithairon sometimes, but I'd also make deliveries
for him occasionally, all over the place really.
see this guy around on your deliveries?
who else? Him!
Least not that I remember.
that's kinda off, mister, but I'll remind him. You remember that
summer we did all that secret business for our bosses between the
two of us? We saw each other practically every day that summer,
have a drink sometimes. We never knew each other's names, but we
hung for awhile. Now, how about that old boy—any of that sound
yes—but that was a long time ago.
you remember one of those "deliveries". A kid.
are you talking about? We did a lot of quiet jobs, but that wasn't
our business to question it.
was that kid.
better shut your mouth.
more keeping quiet old fella. It's you who needs to be careful,
not this man.
King, my Master, what have I done wrong?
never answered the question about the boy.
old guy don't know—he's senile—he's just telling old
delusional stories, might as well be talking to himself while stomping
around the streets...
better speak straight or I'll make your neck crooked.
God's sake, don't torture an old man!
torture a young one. Come here fellas, tie this mouse up.
curmudgeon, what else you wanna know?
know what we wanna know! Did you give this man a boy!
did. And I wish I'd died that day, either right before or right
after I did my job. I was only doing my job...
die now unless you speak the truth.
if I speak the truth, it'll bring death anyway.
have it your way, you wanna keep playing, give it to him fellas—
told you I gave him the boy!
where'd you get that boy from? Your house? Somewhere else? Speak
man gave him to me.
he here? Do you know who he worked for?
Almighty, don't make me reveal anymore of this terror—
Oedipus: I gotta
ask you another question and I'll cut that wrinkled old throat of
on my soul. The boy was from Laios' place, ok? He was from Laios'
some neighbor or friend of the family's, or part of the family?
me...help me...what I gotta say's a death sentence for somebody...
for somebody, but truth forever and all, so I gotta hear it, you
better spit it out!
have to know, huh? They say it was Laios' kid. But it's your wife
who can be sure for you.
wife! Joe? She gave the baby to you?
lord, she did.
you know why?
was just told to get rid of it.
tell me one.
said the boy would slay his father.
why'd you give him to this old man, and make him someone's son?
felt sorry for the baby, my King, and I thought that if the baby's
own family wouldn't take care of him, maybe another family would—maybe
they would give him a home. And they did save him, but for what?
Cuz if you are who this man says you are, ain't nobody wants to
be in your shoes, or have their heart in your soul.
my God, it's true. All those prophecies. Now, O Light, may you finally
show me the truth, and may it be the last truth I behold. I am Oedipus,
cursed in my birth, cursed in my marriage, cursed in the blood I
spilled with my own hand!
Oh, for man's
offspring. How much higher are these generations exalted
and exhale in the desolate labyrinths of fiasco
and exist and
do not exist simultaneously. Who wields the weight of happiness
than bands of
Aurora beams in altering looks. Or who will cause his thought to
in that state
of mind while time candidly passes us by. You're so last season.
O bare lash
of treachery and leaks of disdain. I who bore your catastrophic
man shunned. Like remnants of starlight, your great days cease.
was a brute spear penetrating all dimensions.
Far down, how
far down you dug them, forceful pitcher,
at a baffling
distance, and handed oh sacred praise down.
the enigmas, the untouched wit,
barbaric obsidian blades.
And though death
could blow, you held position like a skyscraper
to make pale
Corinth take heart.
granter of decrees, omnipotent Oedipus!
No prince in
Corinth was ever so reknowned,
no prince ever
earned such grace and authority.
And yet, out
of all men, the most scornful biography is this man's.
His gains are
gone as soon as he gets them,
he is an empty
soul with no hope, dwelling in the States of Peril,
fallen to the
ranting state of a nymph's condemned life.
O Oedipus, most
The great gate
that guided you to the dawn-given light,
guided you to
your dawn-given power,
of the household, as legitimate Son.
All the puzzles
of these generations were solved too late.
How could the
queen who was Laios' victory,
that he manipulated as his latitude,
be humble when
the verb was validated?
of DC, most respected in the city, this is hard to hear and hard
to say too. This house is contaminated with the blood of men. Suicide
has made its absence felt. Not even the Anacostia and Potomac combined
could purify this. Evil is not done naturally, but is premeditated.
The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.
what news do you have for us now? It can't get any worse—what
else could go wrong?
man [crying]. My queen, my queen. What have you done? Who did it?
We gonna squad up on 'em, watch!
did it to herself. The full horror of this you can't realize. I
saw everything, but I can only give it to you through my own eyes.
You still wanna hear this?
won't guess what she did when she left. She went up to her apartment
on the top floor of the high rise. She had her hands in her hair
so you couldn't tell her fingers from her braids, her knuckles from
We followed her into her place, trying to console her, get her to
acknowledge our presence, but she locked herself in the bedroom.
We heard her tear the sheets off her bed, the same one where Oedipus
was made, and she called upon Laios, the ghost of a ghost by now,
and she moaned a river of plangent sound for the sins of her love
and rule: a husband by her husband, children by her child.
We were shocked into stillness by that scream.
Then Oedipus busted in looking like he was on drugs, running around
the place like he couldn't figure out she was in the bedroom. He
was rummaging through the kitchen for knives, tearing through the
closets for a cane or a bat or anything to take out his hurt with,
but you know how bare that apartment's been the last couple of days—it's
like everything's been gotten rid of.
He was cussing the whole way, the whole time, and I ain't gonna
repeat it cuz I couldn't hardly believe it anyway, he was speaking
in tongues or something—it was like the devil's language,
but he was cussing his wife, his father, his mother, his parents'
child, his own children, cursing himself for mixing up all these
roles to all these different people. But finally he realized she
was in the bedroom and he kicked that door in like it was a kleenex.
And there she was.
Hanging right there in front of us, swaying from some sheets she
tied to the ceiling fan.
Oedipus got all still, but then he climbed up and got her down,
with tears slowly sliding down his cheeks, but not a sound from
I ain't never seen nothing like this before—in a nightmare
or on the nightly news—but he was holding her dead body, and
rubbing her hands, and you know how she had them long old nails
she took crazy care of? He starting scratching her hands all over
his face, and finally just grabbed two of the pins from her hair,
raised them high up in the air, stared at them as we stared at him,
and plunged them straight down into his own eyeballs.
He was crying, and hollering "No more, no more, no more! No
more of this you gonna see! All this misery you made and never knew
an ounce! Go on into oblivion's guts! Go on into darkness's ocean!"
While he was saying all this, he just kept slamming into his eyes,
bam, bam, with blood just gushing out like thick sobs, a black cloud
spewing red hail from a ruined sky.
This place used to be pretty happy, but where is that now? Nowhere.
Just moans of lament—and it all belongs to those we looked
up to. This kingdom of glory is now a kingdom of self-deceptive,
is Oedipus? Has the storm subsided?
The worst is past but he's in bad shape. We can't do anything for
him. He's done. Here he comes now.
don't know if I feel fear or compassion. Is there anything we can
done enough. I've done more than enough, sweet Jesus, good Lord
in heaven, and now there's no hell greater than what I've created
in my own little corner of the earth. My voice, my heart, my mind—they're
like the thunder that barely bubbles underneath the horizon before
a summer storm. What has heaven made for me?
has heaven made for you, or what have you made of heaven?
clouds in daytime, sunrise at midnight, this is the plague I've
made, this is the plague my ignorance craved. This flood of remorse,
and no dry land in sight.
...is pain squared man.
how could you do what you did to your eyeballs? What devil, what
god, what twisted part of your subconscious rose up with knives
and eased them through your eyes? How could you pour tar into the
clear streams of your eyes?
Apollo, Apollo. Sweet city-kin, the god was Apollo, but that chariot
of his didn't haul the sun across the sky, it hauled hell straight
through my mind, so I could understand a stitch of what my life
was weaving itself into. When the god finally gave me sight, how
could I stand to look? Not when every inch of my vision is horror...
guess that's right.
Horror, all horror.
only I'd died when I was a teenager, leaving my home, or what I
thought was my home. No more of this would've happened. If I'd never
come here to where I found fame, I wouldn't have my father's blood
on my hands, or my mother's children for my own.
we can say or do for you. I hate to say it, but you might be right—death
is better than this. Murky ignorance is better than this blinding
y'all. I'm through, and now I've got to go, exiled as I said the
killer of Laios must be exiled. That's me.
We can't be the ones to send you out, only Creon can do that. He's
the only man near your stature left around here for us to hold onto.
Let's see what he says first.
Oedipus: I wouldn't
blame him if he just knocked me out, the way I talked to him. I
didn't know jack, and I couldn't ask his mercy—I don't deserve
Oedipus. I'm not here to savor your agony, or to shake my judging
finger at you. All y'all over there, get him off the street. I don't
care what you think about what's going on, but get him out of public
and into private where he belongs. Ain't nobody deserves to have
the world watching them suffer in blindness. Get him inside with
his blood—it's only right for only family to see family in
this kind of situation.
better to me than I was to you. If you're this merciful, please
give me what I ask.
Creon: And what's
me outta here, outta here to where my bad luck and bad decisions
can't affect the city I've grown to love. I can't stand to do any
more evil to where I come from.
Creon: Ok. I
understand. I'd have done that before, but I didn't realize what
was going on.
the plague-bringer must be destroyed, and that's me. I am that evil
Creon: How can
we go about this best?
how we gonna right this right?
me go back out Kithairon way and die the way my parents wanted me
to when I was a baby. I submit to their will, even though it's ages
Creon: You got
it. How about your kids?
my sons be; they'll be alright and can take care of themselves at
their age, but the girls—they've never done anything on their
own. Creon, take care of them for me. Can you do that?
Creon: I can.
can you let me touch them one last time, so I can see them with
my hands? Please just one last kiss with my hands...is that them
I hear? Creon is merciful!
Creon: I know
you love 'em, man, and you wouldn't have done any of this if you'd
here, girls, dear, dear children—I swear us grown-ups don't
know what we do sometimes. How can we? I'm the man who made you
at the same fountain I was made, and I never knew the difference
until today. I love you deep as the ocean, but I know that your
lives will be pretty much loveless from now on. Who will marry you?
Knowing how you were born, knowing who and what your father is?
Any man who might begin to love you will find out that your father
has killed his father, and conceived you with his mother. And your
lives will evaporate in childless dreaming.
say that, Oedipus.
Oedipus: I have
ruined your lives long before they've begun. All I can pray for
is whatever happiness you can find, however you can find it. Please
Lord, let these two children be happier than you have let me be!
come on. Let them go.
Oedipus: I know
I have to, but it tears me up.
will pass, and the pain will dull. Let's do this.
Oedipus: I lived
blind and now I deserve this. My love is dead. Send me from D.C.
You didn't have much use for me before, and I'm only a curse to
you now. Take me away.
Creon: Ok. Come
on, let's go. But leave the kids here.
can't take them!
from you! If you're so remorseful for all this, take action and
let go, instead of wailing on and on. This is it! Don't you think
for a second that you're the boss around here anymore. Think about
how you used to boss around this hood—well that's me now.
You can go boss around in blind exile.
of DC, look toward Oedipus, big man that solved the most shadowed
spiral of riddles. Power upon power, now bathed in sad eyes.
Chorus: No one
look at him with joy. He's got to own up to what he's done, and
so we have to own up to what we do, knowingly or not.
swept over him like the surf over a hermit crab, sinking into wet
sand. That's you and that's me, and that's each of us. Don't nobody
think you got it good, until you're on your death bed, looking back
over your life, and see that it's free of suffering.
that would be a miracle.
would be the favor of the gods—a life without pain, a mind
to student work