As Odysseus traveled, the world
all along the path of his eclipse
left in tatters all the worse
his warrior’s heart was broken.
No longer beating for war
he dreamed of Penelope, Telemachus
his only son
his words unstrung, his ship and crew
he wandered the Aegean like a swallow
off its course.
Looking for stars to guide him
his bribed, borrowed and battered crew
across the Ionian sea with a new moon
to mark this verse.
Come stay awhile to hear my sorrow.
Except for war Odysseus would be home
no more ambrosia, no more Circe
no more siren-song,or the giant Cyclops
not on the rocks, just a memory
meandering his way home to Ithaca.
The birds no longer sang
their Mixolydian melodies, depressed
at so many ill omens, prophecy
that filled him with dread
a penumbra filled his head
craving,his heart ached.
In this twilight, he waxed and waned
the beard that weighed him down
his hair filled with eels,
eyes always staring ahead
toward a flat-screen horizon.
On a Greek Island floating
in the Saronic gulf
the hydra-headed monster
has been replaced by windmills
and the donkeys bray to us at sunrise.
Tourists swim like sea-turtles,
sunning themselves naked
on the rocks while below
the white walls of Hydra tell us
we have all been lost.
Bouginavillea follows us
flourish of the slipper parade at dusk,
dolphins, lovers of Zeus
sport in the sea, banished
long ago by Hera.
While grey-eyed Pallas Athena still
watches, patron of Athens to keep
us from falling overboard as we ride
on the Flying Dolphin.
I’ve come here wanting to drift
across the Peloponnesus
no does to write, no loom to mend,
so I’m not ready to be found out yet.
Still looking for a few good goddesses.
I sit in my seaweed chair
looking out the window
daydreaming about Circe,
my lost shipmates, the Cyclops.
Since I have slain the suitors
Penelope won’t speak to me,
my loyal dog died of happiness
and Telemachus has gone back to Rodos.
While I sleep deep in my cups
wish only for Lethe or Crete.
I am no longer seasick.
I dream creme-de-menthe.
My clothes tumble dry
in the sunlight. I long for
another journey. With my webbed
hands I close this book.
© Michael Magee
Photo ©Stratos Fountoulis “A stadium stroll”, Athens, 2011