letters home II

Well!
Hell!
WHAT a lot to tell!
I was outside picking daisies
when dodgy uncle Hades
showed up in his Mercedes
we’re off to the underworld he said
so effectively dead
I said
can’t we go to Skiathos instead?
nope
this time of year, no hope
so he took me to the underworld
one word?
underwhelmed
the decor?
hardcore
the lighting?
frightening
basically an underground storage facility
for deadheads shuffling around unpredictably
in various states of invisibility
a bit like a Club Med holiday
for the damned
where none of the activities go as planned
anyway – thanks for pulling that crop stunt, mum
I can’t believe Hades would be so dumb
my bags are packed, my passport valid
I’ll be off when I’ve finished this pomegranate salad

welcome to the island

[Aeaea is pronounced Ay-Ee-Ah; Circe is pronounced Sir-See]

[Enter CIRCE, to greet ODYSSEUS at the gates of her island mansion]

Welcome, welcome to Aeaea!
the island of vowels
that sounds like the howl
of a hungry wolf or hyena

Welcome, welcome to Aeaea!
it’s really SO lovely to see yah
You’re off on a quest?
I’ll do my best
to follow you on social Medea (….it’s a Greek joke, Odysseus… lighten up… she’s my niece, fer chrissakes….)

Odysseus, Odysseus!
Why so mysterious?
C’mon – whaddya think about pigs?
D’you like them squealing
not so appealing?
d’you like them stinking and big?
I feed mine
on treachery
and lust
and despair
and I plait their tails
and I comb their hair
and stuff them full of the most succulent figs!
honestly, Odysseus – the worst thing I did
was spoil them like kids
I’ve got specialist tailors
who dress them like sailors
so don’t be surprised
if you stare in their eyes
and think you see someone
who looks like you guys
Imagine if that could be true!
Imagine if that could be YOU!
Wouldn’t THAT be a lovely surprise?

I’m Circe
here at your bidding & tender mercy
dinner’s served sharp
at the sound of the harp
you’ll hear the girls play at eight thirty

five short chapters from the age of gods & mortals

I.

prometheus was generous / he was basically alright / he leaned down from the clouds to the ground / to give all the smokeless mortals a light / and if his punishment was a bit over the top and livery / for such a naive and unauthorised delivery / still, the laparotomising eagle always took flight / and the poor guy’s liver grew back each night

II.

the medusa / was a serial user & abuser / every day a bad hair day / (the classic gorgon confusion / any new relationship a foregone conclusion) / but perseus got the heads up / on the practicalities of this particular pre-nup / wore cool mirror shades / that paid off in spades / and just as he practised in rehearsal / did all his sword fighting in reversal / ended up tossing her hissing head in a sack / and whistling heroically, sauntered back

III.

scylla and charybdis / a couple of mean-minded sisters / who took a terrible maritime toll / one a monstrous snake and the other basically a hole / they lived either side of the strait of messina / guarding the water inbetweener / royally and orally destroying / anything buoyantly annoying / until odysseus / stealthy & inconspicuous / taking the line of least resistance / managed to / find a way through / and okay – so a half dozen heros got eaten by scylla / but at least the boat made the homebound flotilla

IV.

labyrinthitis is rarely fatal / except if you’re a cretan youth or neonatal / because that’s where a bunch of them got sent / every year as punishment / the labyrinth was this crazy maze / built by daedulas in happier days / before icarus and his fickle attitude / to altitude / failing so spectacularly in his fatherly devotion / by hurtling curls-first into the ocean / so anyway / the labyrinth / basically a plinth / in the middle / of an underground puzzle / with a griddle / for the minotaur to get snacky with the kiddle / until down came theseus / muscles gleaming with greaseus / who straightway cut him to piecius / lopping off his head / and then winding his way back with a ball of thread

V.

the chimera! the chimera! / most terrifying creature of the antic era / body of a goat and the head of shakira / and the tail from a snake / and fiery breath that would burn and bake / and giant paws that would pound the ground and make the houses shake / which the general population found pretty hard to take / until – step forth bellerophon! / ripped & ready for the slay-a-thon / he leapt up onto pegasus, his horse / tough as a rhinocerorse / but aerodynamically better of course / together they swooped on the hapless creature / and ran it through with his most prominent feature / (a long & lethally lead-tipped spear / which pretty much did the trick, I hear)
medusa