Polyphemus Butchering Odysseus's Man

Parker Menzimer

The cyclops has a basic heart
He cannot not win the hearts of gods
He tended to his flock of sheep
And ate and slept and felt OK

He ate and slept and felt OK
But when Odysseus arrived
He felt belittled by the man
Who had the gift of clever speech

Odysseus was like a hymn
The cyclops was a bastard god
Who liked to eat and tend his flock
He felt moved by his animals

Today the birds in Queens all cry
The past is like a hungry man
Without the gift of clever speech
Odysseus was like a song

Odysseus was like a fox
The cyclops saw his bloody sword
Today I have a little cold
Odysseus was like a sore

Inside the cave-like throat he saw
In which I thought I spied dead songs
That might one day be sung again
But Polyphemus was a boor

He lifted up his famous hand
And instakilled an Ithacan
Whose life was like unprinted songs
Behind the indexes of books

The cyclops loved and feared the flesh
He stroked the cat upon his chest
She had the favor of the gods
He had a California vibe

He had a mother from the East
Whose eyes were like steel pots of fog
Who chatted to the mourning doves
And sometimes couldn’t leave her bed

Today the library is loud
The books are like untuned guitars
My life is like an ugly song
On radios in distant cars

The cyclops took his butcher’s knife 
He started with the man’s left hand
He cut the digits from the fists
The hands were like two pickled beets

He chopped the arms like they were leeks
He rent the torso at the hips
He cleaved the ribs and cracked the spine
He seasoned all the flesh with salt

And as he worked he licked his knife
I feel failure closing in
The memories I can’t retrieve
Are like a song I cannot name

And as he worked he sang a song
Odysseus had grabbed a pen
He bent over his diary
While Polyphemus mixed a rub

And carved the skin under the jaw
Peeled back the features of the face
And chatted to his animals
The cat was circling his legs

The light in Queens is not enough
The blooming daffodils will honk
Like wrong notes in recital halls
I feel my childhood all wrong

A cannibal is not a thing
Till someone needs a cannibal
To be a thing that can be called
The opposite of human being

The Ithacan was cut in parts
Hot oil crackled, spit, and smoked
The cyclops tied the thighs in ropes
And tucked in sprigs of rosemary

Odysseus was getting bored
He spoke the poems could recite
“The Snowman,” and “Banal Sojourn”
He pleased the gods by doing that

The words I say are not like that
He had the gift of clever speech
The light in Queens is not enough
A cyclops hungers like a man

The cyclops fears the fox-like king
He placed a setting on the ground
And watched Odysseus bend down
To eat the cooked flesh of his man