Poet’s Justice

I recognised the voice calling for help 
from the quicksand as belonging to a 
critic who had scanted my book. No one 
else was near and, realising his fate might 
depend on my actions, I took time to 
carefully consider the situation 
before walking swiftly to his aid. ‘So 
you didn’t like my book?’ I asked, talking 
to him to calm him. ‘Your head looks as if 
it’s on a plate,’ I added. Branches lay 
everywhere and he fell silent while I 
was in the midst of selecting one. I 
got the branch to his hands just as these were 
vanishing but he wrenched it from my grasp. 

Listen to David Beach read ‘Poet’s Justice

The Iliad 10

Sleep turned to death for the Thracian king 
Rhesus and twelve of his men, roused to 
oblivion by Diomedes. They had only 
just arrived at Troy and failing the first 
test of prowess, keeping good watch, were 
snuffed out the merest victims. Odysseus 
meanwhile, since the king wouldn’t be needing 
them, took Rhesus’s magnificent chariot 
horses. So, as the spectacle of the 
allies, now neutrals, was appalling the 
Trojan camp, the perpetrators of this 
exemplary ruthlessness made their own 
lines in style, to the question whether a 
god must have given them such creatures. 

The Iliad 11

It was becoming congested on the 
sidelines. Agamemnon, Diomedes and 
Odysseus were forced from the fray hurt, 
also someone charioted back to the 
boats by Nestor. Achilles asked Patroclus 
to find out who, this departure from 
indifference to the Greeks’ woes like 
presenting his own breast, or heel, to 
Nestor’s spear. The old man, a compulsive 
reminiscer, could nonetheless be so 
calculatingly, his tale of youthful 
exploits first running Patroclus through, 
then on, as if a needle commissioned 
by the Fates, to its greater target. 


David Beach lives in Wellington. He is a strong believer in the use of personae i.e. has no idea, no idea at all officer, what might have happened to that missing critic. A book of his poems, Abandoned Novel, was published by Victoria University Press in 2006.