Serapis from a Postcard

for Zouzi Chebbi Mohamed Hasesen

Inventor-cool that Ptolemy –

smoothed down via dream-dictation,
he discovered the beard of Serapis,
and made dynastic the perfect lie.

Led to the unknown        by the unknown,
(from Macedon to Alexandria)

for your face on this postcard, Mohamed,
Goddio’s magnetometer flashed green –

from the humming cave of a shiphead,
a four-month stint in the Grand Palais.


To Google –

Serapis the amalgamator,
the ghost-bearded messiah,

part-western bull           part son of Geb,
a Jesus decoy agent.

From the ruins of the Daughter Library,
to the Yorkshire garrisons,

brushed / rebrushed
the bunko of his rock face.



because the conclusiveness of one entity
is so crucial, so believed,

it carried Serapis from Alexandria
through Rome                   to the Bishops of Christ,

to these glassy banks of Petrovaradin –

where you are God of Fertility,
God of the White River –

          half-king of the deep.

by James Byrne

Copyright © James Byrne, 2009.

‘Serapis from a Postcard’ is taken from Blood / Sugar by James Byrne, and published by Arc Publications.

Notes courtesy of Arc:

James Byrne was born in Buckinghamshire in 1977 and divides his time between New York City and London. He is Editor of The Wolf, a poetry magazine he co-founded in 2002. His debut collection, Passages of Time, was published by Flipped Eye in 2003. He has translated the Yemeni national anthem and is currently working on a project to publish contemporary Burmese poets. In 2008, he won the Treci Trg Poetry Festival prize in Serbia. In 2009 his New and Selected Poems: The Vanishing House was published by Treci Trg (in a bilingual edition) in Belgrade. In 2009 his poems were translated into Arabic for the Al-Sendian Cultural Festival in Syria. He is the co-editor of Voice Recognition21 Poets for the 21st Century, published by Bloodaxe, and is co-editing Paris and Other Poems by Hope Mirrlees (Fyfield Books, 2011). You can read other poems from his latest collection here, hear him read one of his poems at this link, and read more poems here.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. You can find out more about Arc by joining them on Facebook or by visiting the publisher’s website, where there are discounts available on Arc books .

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