Poetry

Ithaca (No Suitors)

By

Sgt. Graham, fresh from Iraq, 
takes the adjacent seat
on the CRJ to JAX,
 
headphones wrapping his ears
with hip-hop. He mumbles
something, “... my man?”
 
I stash Odysseia in a pocket
where safety cartoons reach
for air masks.
 
He is twenty, pimpled, 
dopey around the eyes, something 
a military druggist gave him.
 
“He cut me loose at seventeen,”
Graham says, pantomiming his father
signing the waiver. The flight attendant
 
notes the exits. A recording
says the seats double as floatation devices. 
The first thing, he says, 
 
will be to roll a joint: 
isolate the stems, grind the bud
with a mortar and pestle, 
 
sprinkle in tobacco, wrap
the whole operation twice in zebra-striped 
papers, and waft
 
the skunk to the deathless gods.
He’ll reach, then, for his Penelope,
who looked thinner in a Skype window.

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