"Preparations for Obsolescence" - Michael Walker

"Preparations for Obsolescence"
Michael Walker

At Thermopylae,
When war-weeds wagged
Someone said
That the oars struck salt
And my tongue struck salt
Off from their bones.

Found at the Claudio-Julian gladiator barracks in Pompeii, on a column in the peristyle:

“Celadus, the Thracian gladiator

Is the delight of all the girls.”

He’s got the war-story,



They say he’s an outside cat.

Upon entering Grendel’s Mother’s home, Beowulf almost immediately discards Unfearth’s sword. When he returns, the hero concedes that the once great sword, is no longer. The old-iron blade, many times hardened in gore-wounds, which failed the lord of the War-Geats, is curiously named “Hrunting,” which translates into English as, ‘Thrusting.”

Found on a wall in a gladiator barracks in Pompeii:

“Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th Legion
Was here.

The women
Did not know
Of his
Only six women came to know,
Too few
 Such a 

Leonidas, the Hero-King of Sparta,
leader of the 300 Spartan Hoplites,
900 Helots,
400 Thebans,
and 700 Thespians,
who left his salt and blood at Thermopylae,
and was portrayed by Gerard Butler in 2006,

Was one of the few Spartan Kings to train at the Agoge, and it is thus likely that he was involved in a pederastic relationship as a child, being sexually damaged to an uncertain extent as an    initiation into his immortal heroism.

‘Having Come, Take’

Found on the Basilica wall in Pompeii:

“Let everyone in Love come and see.

I want to break Venus’ ribs
With clubs
And cripple
  The Goddess’ loins.

If she can strike through my
Soft chest
Then why can’t I smash
Her head
With a club?”

We were riding in one of the old-school high-back Humvees. I was driving, hauling ropes and equipment for the HRST master course out to one ranges. The guys waiting at the range would be fast-roping out of helicopters that day. Corporal Spence was my A-driver, and sat in the passenger seat beside the raised platform where the radio would normally mount. I’d only been in the fleet for a few months, and he had been assigned to be my mentor. As I drove, he reached over to offer me his can of Copenhagen, and I could see the pink and shapeless scars on the inside of his left arm. Shining wide beneath his rolled sleeve, someone told me that it was the chemical burn from the Quikclot powder used to stop massive bleeding, but I never asked. We were talking about hazing, and I remember thinking, paradoxically, that the crackdown was a bad thing. I told him that I thought we had it too easy, that we were too distracted.
“You wanna be treated shittier?” He asked.
Dumb silence.
“It all depends on the intended result,” he said. “I remember my roommate got it real bad one time. Our seniors came into our barracks room and beat the shit out him. Eventually, they pulled him into the bathroom and shoved an MRE spoon full of hot sauce up his ass. Like, what the fuck was the point of that?”

“How’s he not gonna be scared of everything now?”

“How’s he supposed to come back from that?”

Found at the Bar of Salvius in Pompeii, over a picture of a woman carrying a pitcher of wine and a drinking goblet:

“Whoever wants
To serve themselves
Can go on and
Drink from the sea.”

Found beside the door of house of Hercules and Nessus in Pompeii:
“Learn this:
While I am alive,
Hateful death, are coming.”

All that to say
That I
 Am a man.
My throat is swollen
And I am swollen
Like a river.

And like a hero
I’ll lift up my arms
And pull down the sun
Changing the stories
We tell our sons;
But each rising comes
Closer the day
I can no longer speak
Or stand
In my bones and blood-salt.

I lose my veins
Day by day
Till my blood doesn’t work,
Yet I’m swollen
Like a river.

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