Poetry by Tony Grist

by Tony Grist

A Short History of Pornography

The Greeks went in for some really hardcore
Tableware. They had grinning big boys
Doing it every whichaway
With common whores
With frizzy hairdos.

Not a whole lot of respect for women
There one feels.

But some of it’s sweet.
This lovely couple- with her on top-
Look equal, and they’re having fun,
Gazing into each other’s eyes.
I’d have no qualms about eating my bread
And grapes off them.

The Romans painted
Scenes of congress on dining room walls
Where women, kids and servants could see ‘em.
I call that civilized.

When Pompeii
Was dug from its tufa, the dilettanti
Kept all the good stuff out of sight.
And traded phalloi and dinky statues
And prints of the same in small editions
Like Pokemon cards.

And only men
With properly elevated minds
(Which meant, in practice, a private income)
Were in on the game.

I proffer “cum”
To my search engine and after a handful
Of jolly sites in devotional Latin,
We’re into the good old bizarre bazaar- 
A billion pictures of what you like,
But none, I think, painted on crockery.

If I had kids I could put a lock
On the engine, keep their scrabbling minds
From the fundamentals.

When I was a kid
I’d scrape up my peas and potato to get
At the bunnikins pattern underneath.
Just think how big an incentive your Greek
Or Roman kid had to clear its plate.

Hi Mom

The squamous waters of the Med
Have coughed a coiling monster up.
Perseus waves the Gorgon’s head
And stops the monster in mid-wriggle.

Cut, in the style of Pasolini’s
Oedipus, to a dusky house
In turn of the century Vienna.
Brother and sister in sailor suit
And pinafore peer through a crack
At mother having an intimate wash,
Reflected in the wardrobe mirror.

Freud maintains that the Gorgon’s head
Is mother’s genitals. Perseus
Warns off the other possessive mum
Who wants to neuter Andromeda.

I’m forty-nine. At forty-seven
I finally forgave my mother
All her oracular hand-me-downs
On Churchill and pre-marital sex.
I’ve realized that she was then
A good deal younger than I am now.

But Aileen’s mother is not forgiven.
She’s spent too much of her ratty life
Running her only daughter down.
She’s going dotty and why should I care?

My favourite image of the myth
Is Titian’s in the Wallace Collection.
Perseus drops from a cobalt sky,
The monster flinches. Andromeda
Is beautiful, a reclining nude
Stood on her toes and fixed with chains.
She’s doomed to be the mother of heroes.


A wisp of something silly
Flutters in front of her genitals.

An Open Secret

God is that which turns us on.
Not a thing the Pope wants spoken.
Michelangelo’s risen Christ
Wears a loincloth on his orders.

Still the visions of the saints
Are laced with sexual jolliness.
Christian art is full of bodies
At full stretch, like St Teresa’s

In Bernini’s marble group,
Tumbling in her storm of clothing, 
Going “Oh” as love’s young angel
Swings his dart and drives her loopy.


©2000 Tony Grist

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