Today's poem is by Stephen Dobyns
Among the suitors, the poet was the worst
drunk each night, cheating at dice, kicking
the old yellow dog. Even the suitors hated him
a broken lute, amateur hexameters and singing
out of tune, but to send across the sea for another
was too great a bother, so the poet stayed on.
One would think when Odysseus showed up
to exact revenge the poet would be first to get it
in the neck, but as the hero stared down at this
piss-stained travesty of the muse, his verses
unpublished in the journals of Hellas, he decided
to let him live while slaughtering the rest. Who else
would spread his fame and sing of his noble victory,
albeit badly, who else would proclaim his deeds
from the marketplace to courtyards of kings?
Without this dabbler on the doorstep of the muse,
Odysseus' heroic action would be a vague whisper,
an unlikely rumor. So Odysseus sent him on his way
with giftsfine linen to guarantee his invitation
to the best houses, sturdy sandals for the long road,
convincing hexameters, new strings for his lute.
Copyright © 2006 Stephen Dobyns All rights reserved
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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