Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Calypso and Company

The elation I experienced on Monday, during the first flush of creation, has abated somewhat, as it always does, a few seconds after I embark on something new.

Nevertheless, I managed to put together a few more stanzas today, and attempted to tighten a the other stanzas I published so prematurely.

If the Muses were a bit more reliable, in terms of inspiration, I might consider trying to wring one or two stanzas per day out of them, and putting the poem together as sort of serial, or an extended comic strip. But never fear. The idea of producing 730 stanzas of ottava rima, per year, or 5840 lines of verse, while attractive, hypothetically, would probably kill me in a week. Not to mention how unfair it would be to my indulgent readers, who would have to suffer through a dose of perverted verse every day, when all they really want to hear about are the antics of the squirrels in our back yard, my trips to Texas, art gallery openings, or how much I managed to squat on Saturday.

As it happened, last Saturday, it was 270lbs. And this weekend I am going for 325. Which is not bad for a guy who is 5'6" and weighs, 155 lbs.

Anyway, here's the poem so far...(annotated links to be provided later...)

Canto I

Now, as a respite from Reality,
The humdrum horrors your might call your Life,
I return to my favorite subject—me—
Like old Ulysses. Won’t you be my wife,
Dear reader, patient, like Penelope?
I come—exhausted—from the arms of strife:
I’ve just spent seven years inside a cave,
The plaything of Calypso. A love slave

Is not the life for me. At 59,
Making love is too hard on the knees,
And you must monitor intake of wine,
If you are going to perform. Oh please,
Penelope, leave that alone! It’s fine.
It’s just that great adventures on the seas
Can leave a sailor—well—I won’t say limp—
But—for seven years I lived on shrimp

Toes, oysters, and Lobster Thermidor—
Foods rich in zinc. A funny chemical.
I’ve no idea what women use it for—
I’ll merely mention it’s available
In pills, at the General Nutrition Store.
Men use it to control cholesterol.
We think of you as ice cream—our desserts—
And careful preparation never hurts.

Calypso’s kitchen—her exotic flair
For honey and hot wax had its romance,
But lust will form a crust in your chest chair.
I’m not sure love stood much of a chance
Between us. No. Nymphs do not declare
Affection for a pair of underpants,
Like these, I haven’t worn for twenty years.
You have stained my skivvies with your tears.

Don’t cry, Penelope. Have some champagne.
Glass is a great improvement on a shoe—
Those crystal slippers that she wore. Insane.
The things that cruel Calypso made me do—
They put the P into the word Profane.
She was like Lucifer, compared to you,
Dear reader—my Penelope—my wife.
I’m lucky I escaped her with my life.

I’m here because I’ve something to discuss.
I have been thinking about retirement—
Abandoning the huge, Homeric fuss
For something more—Platonic. Well, I meant
To mention this before I left. The bus
Was coming, and unfortunately, I couldn’t.
I had a ship to catch down in the port,
Men to command. In Agamemnon’s court

Great hairy eyebrows would have been upraised
If I had slunk in, in the middle of song,
Dressed in the chiton of a dairy maid,
And tried to change into a leather thong
Behind a pot. Besides, I think I made
My bed. And being gone from you so long
Wasn’t my idea—but God’s unfathomable will.
I am Ulysses—king of Ithaca! Still,

I might have set the cock for earlier
And skipped the speeches for some conversation.
In retrospect, too much may be too clear
To men consumed in the affairs of any nation…
Wasn’t Telemachus’s hair much curlier,
And lighter, when I left? He’s changed. Our son.
Not only taller. He smiles like a stone.
How does he handle sitting in my throne?

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