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  • By Bruce Meyer

A Homeric Hymn

There is a picture a friend snapped of me

drunk atop Dun Laoghaire’s Martello tower.

I’d been overseas for months, my hair

grown into an Atlantic storm, the ferry

from Holyhead lolling like the tongue

of an oracle in a Howth Head pub.

The stinging rain was cold and blinding.

Passengers tossed their salvation into bags

as the gods prevailed against them.

It seemed to me a ten-year crossing.

On the last ferry in for two weeks,

with three-story waves hammering our ship,

I thought about my father and his vision,

how he’d seen so many destinations

and still stood restless whenever we left,

jingling his car keys in our front hall,

and declaring how he hungered in his heart.

My father’s name was Homer. He’d tell me

stories of towns in Iowa, of factories and jokes

of a rough-hewn men, of cities and habits,

and steaks bigger than the sun, and remind me

if he was ever gone too long, I should

look for him in a litany of places where men

live, and toil, and fight from habit for a home.

Agony is life, he’d say, a competition

in the soul where someone misses

the last flight out but nonetheless comes home.

For all Joyce did he never won a prize,

losing an eclogue to John McCormack,

the tenor of the times against him.

Winning isn’t everything, he said. No Nobel

Prize, no noble estate. The hand that wrote

Ulysses, he’d recoil, did other things as well.

Hesiod defeated Homer in a singing match,

the Works and Days, and the dull Theogony,

were stories where everyone knew the end

whereas Homer could only sing of imaginings

down to the final moly-drop of Powers.

Poetry is never as good in its time as poetry

that sails in search of life, wise as an owl,

both singer and song, and becoming a question

of mystic calling only great whales answer.

Bruce Meyer is author or editor of 64 books of poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, and non-fiction. He has had three national bestsellers in Canada, and was 2019 winner of the Anton Chekhov Prize for Fiction (UK) and the Freefall Prize for Poetry. He has recently been a finalist in the Bath Short Story Prize, the National Poetry Competition (UK), the Tom Gallon Trust Fiction Prize, the Carter V. Cooper Prize, and the Thomas Morton Prize for Fiction. He lives in Barrie, Ontario, and teaches at Georgian College and Victoria College at the University of Toronto.


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