John J Trause

Adrian Piper

τυφλός τά τ᾽ ὦτα τόν τε νοῦν τά τ᾽ ὄμματ᾽ εἶ

Oedipus to Tiresias

Adrian Piper, our Tiresias,
From age to age
From Thebes to Thebes
From Africa to Europe
To America
Tiresias of our time and all time.

You who were female
Are now male
And again a female
“a sweet young thing”.

You who were black
Now white, now black
Again, are black and white.

Our Tiresias Mediatrix,
What was it like?
Our Tiresias Metamatrix,
How did it feel?
Our Tiresias Meretrix—
No, you turn no tricks,
But tricks of the media,
Media tricks,
So turn again.

Daughter of Ham and Amon
And Dam of Hammon[s?]
Daughter of Man and Aton
And Man of Manhattan
Daughter of Isis and Osiris
Sister of Whorus [?]
Beloved of Ra
Queen of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms
Of East and West
Of Midtown and Uptown
Of Nevada and Times Square
And of Nevada in Times Square
Lady of the corner and the [lacuna]
Lady of columns and stepped pyramids
Of obelisks and stelae and amphitheaters
Sweet and low

[lacuna] Canopi

Are you
A kinder, gentler Cleopatra,
Who trods around the pools of Canopus
At Canopus and Canopus of Tivoli,
Hadriana Auletes,
Daughter of Piper?

Hap(p)y were we who heard no evil
Hap(p)y were we who saw no evil
Hap(p)y were we who spoke no evil

Baboon-headed were we.

Are you the Pied Piper, the Colored Piper,
Piping, prodding, pushing? Pushing it?
Pipe up.

No, you are not.

You’re not pushy
You’re not sneaky
You’re not lazy
You’re not noisy
You’re not vulgar
You’re not rowdy
You’re not horny
You’re not scary
You’re not shiftless
You’re not crazy
You’re not servile
You’re not stupid
You’re not dirty
You’re not smelly
You’re not childish
You’re not evil

And turn again.

Adrian Piper, our Tiresias:
Tell us what it’s like,
What it is.

The epigraph may be translated “You are blind in your ears and mind as well as in your eyes.” Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannos, line 371.

John J. Trause is the Director of Oradell Public Library. His book of fictive translations, found poems, and manipulated texts, Exercises in High Treason (2016), is published by Great Weather for Media. He is fond of cunning acrostics and color-coded chiasmus.

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