“Odysseus, Retired to Florida, at the Mall,” by Marc DeSantis

Aug 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Poetry

Odysseus stood before the food court, flummoxed, bewildered, confused,
bereft of all ideas, no clever scheme could he devise,
None of his considerable craft was of use,
Nothing he knew had prepared him for this, no experience,
Not all of his wanderings in search of his beloved Ithaca had readied him,
he was lost, adrift, as surely as if he had been storm-tossed, alone, on the wine-dark sea.

Super-size a meal? Certainly such a thing is meant for the tall Ajax, or Diomedes,
not the short Odysseus, who lives by his wits,
Value meal? A notion foreign to rugged, simple Ithaca, where all meals, regardless,
are savored and enjoyed with friends, not on account of their cost, but their quality,
The Starbucks coffee, at least, is good, and Odysseus drains his cup,
a small wispy thing made of paper, neither humble pottery nor shining bronze.

What use is mortal guile in this place, where the pace of things is so alien,
uninviting, cold, and swift,
Odysseus knows of nowhere else like this, not even the gods, he thinks, would care,
to visit this strange agora, though it still be in realm of Zeus,
under his wide sky, and subject to the justice of his laws,
No, that is not right, the only law of this realm is coin, and here justice rides a Segway.

Odysseus could survive this oil-fried Tartarus, he had escaped before, from the cave of the Cyclops,
and from the island of Circe, the beautiful witch,
then too from the lure of the Sirens, and heck, he had even survived the great war itself,
ten years before the lofty walls of Troy, where the plain of Ilion had run slick,
with the blood of noble Argives and Trojans, cut down in their prime, like fresh hay,
What was a credit card or expired coupon to him, the inventor of the ruin of King Priam’s city?

Oh, if only he had brought his bow with him, of wood and sinew and horn, which only he could string,
that rude, mocking youth, who slouched behind the register,
he would treat harshly, just as he had the suitors, who had sought to supplant him in fair Ithaca,
But Penelope had forbade it, she said there was no room for the weapon in the minivan,
It was not appropriate for a Saturday at the mall, he would look silly,
people would laugh at him, worse than death was an insult to the honor of a Hellene.

Lunch should never be so hard, it was not meant to be a chore,
But he is yet hungry, and again approaches, warily,
a different counter this time, well away from the pimply, smirking youngster, who knows nothing,
who had never gone in a black ship to Troy, and there fought for lovely Helen’s return,
She had never been worth the trouble, Odysseus thinks, not at all, the spilled blood was for naught,
How many valiant Achaeans and Danaans fell there, never to see their own Ithacas again?

A polite woman places spoonfuls of chicken onto his plate, and vegetables too,
Odysseus sits amidst the multitude, and eats, recalling more exciting days.


Military historian Marc DeSantis is the author of the Punic Wars naval history Rome Seizes the Trident and A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War. His articles have appeared in a wide range of international publications including MHQ, Military History, Ancient Warfare, Military History Monthly, History of War, Medieval Warfare, All About History, and Ancient History Magazine. In addition to his historical writings, Marc is the author of the science fiction novel The Memnon Incident and several short stories, including Across Alien Seas, A Knight of Mars, Imperial Colleague, and By the Blade.


Marc also thinks he has a sense of humor.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.