Janice D. Soderling


What a shock to come home and find wizened Penelope,
girl of his daydreams, now past the menopause
and begging off every night with a headache,
and all she can talk about is that damned tapestry
she's weaving for Laertes' shroud. Let's face it,
women age faster than men. I mean,
what can a conquering hero discuss with a woman who
has never left the house. Looking in the rear view mirror,
he finds even Circe preferable, despite her bad habit
of turning men into swine, and vice versa.
She knew a lot of kinky stuff, well, she was a sorceress,
wasn't she, and if Zeus gives you a talent you should use it,
anyway, she was okay
before the three boys wore her to a frazzle.
Man, all that squalling, night and day, it could really get
on a guy's nerves. Knowing what we know now, what he
shoulda done, he shoulda stayed with
Calypso who was always hot to go
(cold lover, ardent lady);
she had a few magic tricks up her sleeve too.
Even promised him immortality and eternal
youth if he would marry her. He wonders now
why he had those attacks of post-coital guilt
that sent him straight from her bed down to the seashore
for a crying jag—why?
Was it for his lust to rule Ithaca again, to thrust
his weight around, exert his royal prerogatives?  
Forget it, Ithaca turned into a banana republic,
all the people do is gripe and complain;
all the real men sailed with him to Troy.
Was it for faithful Penelope, hunched over there
muttering and counting threads. I don't th-i-ink so!
Was it to be boss of his own household?  
Telemachus, that little twerp, shows no respect,
sleeps till noon and plays computer games all day,
when he's not eating. He won't look for a job,
so let him take over the family business,
the army will make a warrior out of him.
That's how his old man started out in life.
And now?
What's Ulysses gonna do now?  
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off.  

Janice D. Soderling lives in Sweden. Her fiction was published by Glimmer Train (USA), The Fiddlehead (Canada) and Acumen (England) and is on-line at 42opus, Our Stories, Word Riot.  Her poetry is online at Apple Valley Review, Autumn Sky Poetry, Babel Fruit, The Barefoot Muse, Beloit Poetry Journal (PDF), The Chimaera, Lucid Rhythms, The Shit Creek Review, Umbrella. Poems are forthcoming at Other Poetry (UK); Blue Unicorn (USA); Right Hand Pointing (online).



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