My Love, Penelope

My love, Penelope, I’m incomplete–
You are not here, and I feel so alone;
Love is a chore, without you there’s no heat,
Only dust, mere air, for you’re my blood and bone.
Victory brings me riches, glory and slaves,
Each night a bacchanalia, all I’ve desired
Placed at my feet, but now I hear the waves
Eating away at the shoreline, and I grow tired.
Now is the time to leave this place at last,
Escape the bonds of duty that bade me roam.
Love will not shake, though heavy years have passed,
Over the seas I come for you, and home.
Poseidon send me swells and sea-winds keen,
Enchantments shall not keep me from my queen.


Odysseus at home

His hardships over, once again a lord,
usurpers’ traces swept from every room,
relinquishes at last his shield and sword
to rust beside his wife’s abandoned loom.
“We’ll talk no more of conquests, or of wars!”
the king proclaims, and then he sees it so–
both bards and scribes he tosses out of doors
beyond the shadow of his mighty bow.
But late at night an urging, deep as bone,
compels him to a window down the hall,
convinced he’s heard sweet Circe’s lilting tone
or else an echo of the sirens’ call.
His memories come haunting on the breeze,
the scent of lotus sifting through the trees.


Penelope’s Lament

The suitors were a nuisance, it is true,
and in the end no more than mindless brutes
who threatened to tear our lineage from its roots,
their scheme to steal me rather than pursue.
My husband served them well when he returned,
still undisputed master of this place,
yet when I once again beheld his face,
I saw a different light within him burned.
Ten years at war and yet ten more at sea,
his soul is blood and water, exotic lands–
they touched him with their sure and subtle hands.
Now even when he’s all alone with me
I sense he dreams he’s back on foreign sands
where Wife, they sigh, why darling, who is she?


Music is hateful to his ears

Silence reigns supreme throughout the hall,
the corner where the fiddler sat is bare;
forbidden are the lutes, musicians, all,
no single man-made note ignites the air.
On pain of death should any trumpet sound,
the songs of all the servants have been stilled,
except the occasional howling of a hound;
the songbirds round the house have all been killed.
Upon his throne the king sits wrapped in silence,
the look upon his face distressed and daunted,
tortured by the memory of the sirens–
the sight, their sound, his senses now are haunted.
Death was not the curse but rather the cure
for the pain of knowing song could be so pure.


Jessica F. Smith: I hail from Oregon but am a world traveler at heart. I’ve spent the past six years living in cities throughout Europe and China. I believe traveling is the best way to gain experience and expand one’s perspective. I adore poetry, particularly sonnets. I’ve been writing it for years but only recently began publishing. My work has appeared in the online literary magazine Mused. I graduated from Willamette University in 2006 with B.A. degrees in English and Spanish. Currently I’m employed as a daily newspaper reporter in the small mountain town of Frisco, Colorado.

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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