I’ve no memory of Father’s first voyage,
though I’m told Mother held me in her arms
and wept as his flagship carved the waves.

Twenty years later, I’ve ordered him gone,
tired of his playing the raging Minotaur,
blaming Troy and the sea for his tantrums
fueled by urns of wine; he threatened all
in his howling path, tormented by his Furies,
then wept more tears than the sacks he swilled.

So I hired two thugs to escort him into exile,
and ensure he’d not return. It had to be done:
his drunken disruptions more violent
than winter storms; besides, it’s my time to rule,
all Father knew was the nightly retelling
of his adventures, a burden to listen to.

Before Mother withdrew to a mountain hovel
on Ithaca’s far side, she hissed in my ear,

“Far better men than those two have tried
to send great Odysseus to Hades. Sleep
with one eye open and a drawn dagger.”

I scoffed, but felt a chill. In my chamber,
I ordered my servant to build up the fire.

“But my Lord, it’s summer,” he whined,
then cringed at the murder in my eye.
Father’s besotted ravings gave servants
license to forget who their master is.

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is Reefer Madness (Aldrich Press). His latest chapbook is All Our Fare-Thee-Wells (Finishing Line Press).