Ulysses the Cat

Lupercalia, Poetry

Stretched in the sunlight

crowning Calypso’s shore

the big cat dozed,

small blue crabs drown

in a capsized silver urn, cream

filled and slopping beside him.

Why long for plump

tuna steak and cheesecake

crumbs when Apollo

scratches behind your ears

and no storm clouds

threaten tender olive saplings

with shaking? That

rural, stone hearth

plucked from the heart

of the hill your paws pounded

daily is miles away.

Waves lick gingerly

against the pebbly shore

the lambent royal blue of

Penelope’s summer dress.

He is still listless as

he is lifted up by

roughened driftwood hands

and tossed back into the sea.

Twisted Myths

Lupercalia, Poetry

They say I took the most beautiful dream in the world and destroyed it. Burned it up and my useless life right along with it. I got exactly what I deserved, what Pride throws out to everyone who fails. Death and shame.

No one remembers we were trapped there too, blind and starving for the open sky. They said, “Give us your magic or else.”

Or else.

Bloody feathers on the floor. But our wings didn’t break and we flew away and YES after eons of darkness I flew, unbroken, into that radiant sunrise.

Now they tell you my story with a warning: don’t break the rules or you’ll end up like me. Don’t go too far or you’ll end up like me, don’t get too close to what you love the most or you’ll end up just like me.

Now, because of me they tell you to be cautious, be wary, be afraid.

Remember the stories of the heroes Bravery and Hubris brought safely home? Remember those beloved by the gods? Those who tasted victory instead of defeat?

My story is not their story.

They tell you: never reach for more than what you are capable of catching, never strive to become your dreams.

They do not tell you my only dream is freedom.

Photo Credit: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Oracle

Lupercalia, Poetry

The fake ones eat

the bones and gristle of cats

to see the future. They drink

the blood of rattlesnakes

and wear sharks’ teeth in their

long, flowing hair.

The real ones hide in caves,

hang their dead

in cages, suck

the fallen vertebra

(when the backbone falls

like a clump of grapes)

and the cracked bodies of sun

dried tomatoes when gobs

of red blot their mouths,

where their teeth

have knocked upon the stone

floor. The woman’s eye

is an inkwell; pecked pious

and unfathomable.

She goes naked in her

sagging skin.

Listen to the recording here (as Jessica Otto).

Let’s play “who am I”

Everyday Life

Me: If I were a god or goddess who would I be?

Mr. J: (silence)

Me: Take your time.

Mr. J: Ok you know when Hercules fights all the centaurs because he opens a bottle of wine too early or whatever? The wine could only be opened at such and such time on such and such day? Something like that. Because the wine belonged to all the centaurs and it was special wine.

Me: …yeah…

Mr. J: You’re whoever gave Hercules’s friend that wine.

Me: I’m Bacchus? Why? Because I used to drink a lot? I barely drink anymore!

Mr. J: No. Because you’re neurotic as fuck and need things to happen in specific ways at specific times otherwise everything goes horribly wrong.

Note: I think Mr. J made up the part about the wine being reserved for a specific time and place and I’m not sure if Bacchus gave the wine to the centaurs or if they just got it from the local ABC store but it’s still funny.