Written August 31, 2021 on the occasion of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan
Poor, one-eyed Polyphemus, how did you deserve
the blind poet’s calumniation? You with no wife,
son, or even loyal dog; and that selfish wanderer,
stealing into your unlocked cave without permission.
The wage of hubris should be tragedy not poetry.
Let Odysseus pluck his own eyes out;
instead that wayward Ithacan took yours
then rushed to raise his sails with mockery,
Blind Cyclops, nobody mourns for you or sings your song.
Should not the poets lyre your cries to distant shores?
Poseidon, Sea God, cause winds to roar and earth
to shake and doom the trickster’s sail go astray.
Palamedes, how many dead have you for Agamemnon tilled?
Deceit has filled the Elysian Fields and wrapped
with death Trojans, Achaeans, courage, beauty, love;
yet left poor Polyphemus scorned and by Nobody wronged.
Would that Menelaus had never adored, that Paris’s eyes
been plucked at birth before desire could set
those thousand ships in vengeance loose at Aulis,
that young Iphigenia’s tears had stayed her father’s hand.
That you, solitary teller of tales had never gazed
on Odysseus or rolled your stone door closed.
Forget the graves and vengeance of man and gods
Sing for poor Polyphemus this loneliest of songs.