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Green 1.5

By (September 1, 2008) No Comment

Following the first, second, third, and fourth parts of the epic poem in earlier issues, Open Letters is proud to present the fifth installment of Adam Golaski’s Green. —The Editors

{th’ game is given t’Gawain }

All stood stunned, still + stiller more—

All, all’n th’hall, courtiers, high, low—all.


+th’man on’is horse turned in’s saddle,


+fiercely he rolled his red eyes about’nd

bent his bristled + gleaming green brows,

+waved his beard side-to-side to see which knight might rise—

When none, it seemed, would keep him, w/talk’r otherwise, he coughed,


+drew himself up, proud + thus spoke:

“What is this Arthur’s house?

“Th’rumors which run through so many realms?

“Where now are your vanglories + y’r conquests?

“Y’r grand elegance’nd great anger’nd golden words?

“Now is th’rule’nd renown’v th’Table Round

Overthrown w/ th’words’v one speech?

“For all’r done in by dread, w/out one blow showed!”

W/ this he laughed so loud that the lord grayed;

Th’blood shot for shame to Arthur’s sure face

+ cheek.

He works up a wrath like th’wind;

As did all who were there.

Th’king, keen by his kind,

Now near th’knight stood t’glare


+ said, “Knight, by Heaven, thou’v asked f’r folly,

+ if’t be folly thy seek then folly shall find ye.

I know here no man’v games who’s aghast at thy great words;

now give me thy axe, for our God’s sake,

+ I shall break what bones thy body has.”

Lightly Arthur leapt t’lay a hand upon th’knight

+ fiercely that freak dismounts.

Now has arthur his axe’nd has gripp’d its handle,

+ sternly he swings it about, w/ thought to strike.

Th’knight stood stiff + stood on high,

higher here than any in the house by a head

+ more—

W/ stern assuredness he stood’nd stoked’is beard,

+ w/’a dire countenance he dropped down his coat,

no more daunted nor dismayed by Arthur’s display

than if a boy from th’beach’ad brought him wine

to drink.

Gawain, that sat by the queen,

to the king his head inclined:

”I beseech now w/words that are plain

that this melly might not be mine.”

“Would ye, worthiest lord,” t’th’king quoth Gawain,

“Bid me from this bench, t’stand by ye there,

“so that I–w.out discourtesy–may leave this table.

“so that I–w.out discourtesy–may leave this table.

–+ if that my liege lady likend not ill–

I might come to y’r counsel before your great court?

“For–you see–I think it not seemly–as manners’r known t’me–,

“for such a haughty request t’be held so high in y’r hall

“(through y’r talented enough t’take’t t’task y’rself—)

“while so many so bold’r sitten upon y’r bench about ye,

“that under heaven I hope are no higher of will,

“nor better’v body, bent’nd battle-reared.”

“—I am th’weakest, I wot, +’v wit, feeblest,

+ least in love w/ life, t’quoth th’truth—”

“+ only f’r y’r being my uncle, am I t’be praised—

“no bounty but y’r blood in my body I know;

“+ since this note be so foolish it ought not be y’r folly t’follow

“but mine.”

“I have frayned of your first—let this folly fall t’me;

+ if my talk is not true, tell me, all, all’n this court, tell me—

but w/out blame.”

Then all th’

nobles converged around,

+ hence decided all th’same:

to release th’king with crown,

+ t’give Gawain th’game.

Adam Golaski is the author of the story collection Worse Than Myself (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2008) and of Color Plates (Rose Metal Press, 2009). Adam co-edited A Sing Economy, the latest anthology from Flim Forum Press, and he is the editor of New Genre, a journal that promotes craftsmanship and innovation in horror and science fiction. He teaches literature and writing at the University of Connecticut.