Terry Sale
2011 Colorado Senior Poet Laureate

Terry Sale, 59, Littleton, former high school English teacher, retired to pursue writing; his first finished piece won this year’s Colorado SPL award. He says, “The inspiration came from a yearly reading of Homer's Odyssey in my A.P. Lit class. Every year it seems there's something new to discover, and this past year I found myself wondering what Antinoos' final thoughts might have been. The Antinoos I mean is the chief suitor of Odysseus' wife Penelope in Odysseus' absence; he's the main villain on the home front, then the final battle starts and boom, he's dead!” Terry has had one other poem published. He has two children. His sign is Taurus.


ANTINOOS SLAIN

He drew to his fist the cruel head of an arrow for Antinoos
just as the young man leaned to lift his beautiful drinking cup,
embossed, two-handled, golden; the cup was in his fingers;
the wine was even at his lips. And did he dream of death?
The Odyssey translated by Edward Fitzgerald


The last thing I perceive, my head thrown back
to quaff the dregs from one more cup of fate,
is interlocking curves of nymphs and fish--
the ceiling of my soon-to-be estate--
and now, too late, I comprehend the words
the ragged beggar cried before he slung
the arrow that, apparently, has pierced
my throat before the wine could touch my tongue.

A mark of inattentiveness, I guess,
to hear the crack of thunder from the skies,
to see the ragged wretch both string the bow
and make his shot, and not to realize
he’s favored by the gods. Laertes’ should
was not the only weave to be undone;
that crafty woman’s stratagem allowed
the magic maturation of her son,
for I recall, before the arrow struck,
the briefest glimpse of that once-weeping lad
all confident and manly there beside
the beggar, who could only be. . . his dad.
Yes, now I’m sure, the hero has returned
from twenty years a captive of the sea,
which means, upon resumption of his crown,
his first act was to swiftly skewer me.

I should be gratified, I guess—shoot first
the biggest threat, the leader of the crew--
but as my fit of knowing all expands
and opens understanding to my view,
I can’t help feeling that it never was
the power of Odysseus I served,
nor even his exquisite queen’s allure,
but something else by which my path was curved.

For what compelled my lifting of the cup
so carelessly with danger taking aim,
has also frozen time to forge the truth,
and guides my very thoughts about the same.
It’s not the gods, for even they must dance
the tune of that which brings us all to grief:
the singer, only, tames the monster Chance
to satisfy a favorite motif.





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Terry Sale