Daisy Fried
Book 13

When Odysseus finally gets home

he doesn't know it is his home.


Why does Athena love him so much?


She, disguised as a boy,

boys are always wandering around, swineherd boy,

oysterman boy pottering along the seashore—

a shimmer in the folds of her/his crappy old clothes—

that’s Athena’s “tell” even when shapeshifted to menial youth—

Athena’s like come on man, it’s Ithaca. You know.


And Odysseus? Dissembles, says, oh yeah,

heard of that place. In this

he reminds me of you: always in the know

when not in the know.


Oh yeah, he says, and tells a story of a length

we can no longer in this century tolerate

besides which we’ve heard it all

a few times before

how he killed some guy

who wouldn’t do what he was supposed to do

then acquired the loot

he’s now got piled on the sand alongside what was his sleepy,                             stretching,

maybe fake-groggy, now waking self.


Bracelets, earbobs, fanciful weaponry,

heaps and heaps of drachmae, drachma from the verb “to grasp,”

its value that of a handful of arrows.


And where should he stow it, he says

to the swineherd, oysterfella, young worker,

not to lose it all again.


And Athena’s: come off it, man of tactics,

her gray eyes gleaming. She really likes him.

Not just in a physical way

though he puts in her

a forceful sense of his masculinity,

cock, balls, strong arms and back

ropey with muscle, mixed in with the notion

he might be a good lover.

He’s a man with a brain and will use it. Rare.


She smiles, fast

flammable contortion of the mouth,

strokes his hand, morphs

into a woman tall, beautiful and skilled

at weaving lovely things.

And he anoints his body with oils

that trickle through the curled hairs on his chest

through other hairs on other parts.


He smooths his moustache. That’s his “tell.”


Why does Athena love him so much?

Why does she stick by him and help him out of dangers

even as his expendable crew

is devoured, broken, broken, devoured again—


My sweet tactician.


And why does she raise the fog that shrouds the shore

so that he is happy so his breath comes faster

so there is a corona of light inside him

he is on the brink of completing his story

though still has many trials to endure,

10 books worth. She hopes.

At least 10 books more.








Found In Volume 50, No. 04
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Daisy Fried
About the Author

Daisy Fried's newest book, The Year the City Emptied: After Baudelaire, is forthcoming from Flood Editions in 2022. She is the author of My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (Pittsburgh, 2006) and She Didn’t Mean to Do It (Pittsburgh, 2000), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Award.