Book Report I’m such a slow reader that I began The Iliad shortly after the Trojan War, and today— bloodshot and squinting in the thin light of my desk lamp— I finally turned its six hundred, sixtieth dauntingly thin page, and read, with exhaustion, that gorgeous last line, Thus they buried Hektor, tamer of horses. Christ, I can’t wait to plow through the sequel! As if the names weren’t hard enough— Iphegenia, Clymenestra, Agamemnon, Astyanax—all ideas of love and law seemed to count for nothing. Almost everyone died for the sake of the gods’ desires and a foolish dispute among men—two armies whaling on each other, while Achilles played blanket burrito in his tent, then carved a murder canyon through the Trojans. Finishing Homer’s epic was an odyssey in itself. I’ll never get back the years spent slogging through its plot, a page or two at a time, tacking forward, then circling back on a dactylic tide, a ship lost in the fog. How good it felt to finally glimpse the ending’s rocky cliffs, a coastline vaguely familiar, family and friends standing at the edge of the last page, waving me home.
Michael Steffen‘s fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, has just been accepted for publication by Main Street Rag Press. His work has recently appeared in Chiron Review, The Chestnut Review, and The Comstock Review. Michael is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, NY.