never come

ulysses is back and the sea has receded
its hum tamed in a conch on the mantelshelf
and its salt on the kitchen table beside the pepper
his sea legs are slowly adjusting to dry ground
they say there are countless cities between here
and the coast with warehouses full of dead fish
their streets slicing the night like glowing eels
the squares crammed with statues of the phaeacians
who were turned to stone by the vengeful god
of those cities he has seen none he stays at home

mornings penelope shuttles majestically
between the living room and the pantry
twenty years is a twinkle for a heavenly body
whose orbit was clasped by the cosmic cooper
and being a wife becomes her even though
he still wonders what was the nose job for
the desk chair keeps suggesting alien shapes
but the stars in the window have not changed
since he drove them home from the journey
he likes the stars well enough but he misses the sea

they have no kings now and he has been
pensioned off by the municipal council
he could have tried his hand at a service station
but the models are all new jammed with wires
and he yearns for his little statelet he used
to criss-cross each morning smiling benevolently
but the sea has receded his subjects are dispersed
the dead fish whisper in the foam of his dream
and the statues hum their distant sea shanties
cut into shreds by the wind in the pillars of air

this evening is probably his now-or-never chance
what with his son not back yet from the rehab
his wife off to her weekly quilting bee whatever
ever so furtively he turns the ignition
launching his tin ship onto the waves of dusk
is this a flight or perhaps his last assault
something to be decided later for now
he reads the remaining stars not yet mowed down
by autumn from ithaca all the way to albany
and on to troy aiming at the maine coastline

he will never come back now no such thing
as back because the sea retraces its retreat
the lobster season is over and on the beach
a solitary someone lights up the smoke mixes
with the mist while the smoker merges
with the observer let the rancorous god rage
at the trespasser who is the king again
of infinite space and his own lone subject
braving the foaming jaws of the last element
gone and never come back never come


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