Eric Parker

The Achaeans have been pinned against their hollow ships

all winter. Not because this is how the epic unfolds,

but because this is where I left off, tired of the clashing of swords,

the clamor of armor, the spilling of black blood,

tired of the myriad of forgettable Greek names and

their fathers’ places of birth.

Maybe later this month, after I’ve read The Elements of Style

and my daily horoscope for the second time, the Achaeans will once again

raise themselves from the dirt, released from their paused state,

and drive back onto the plain of Scamander to rescue a reluctant wife.

Or maybe this summer, when beach reading gives way

to more heroic struggles, Achilles will quit

his stubborn stance and rejoin the reckless battle;

but nothing will happen until I pick up that book and silently

recite the words, turn the pages, and continue the struggle.

I, Eric, son of Brent of Salt Lake.

Eric Parker

I sit in a car dealership waiting room:

you know how these places are:

oversized, fluorescent lighted, uncomfortable furniture

a few trinkets, some NASCAR T-shirts and

this woman,

kind, motherly, best of intentions,

asks if she may give me literature:

The Watchtower

I ask if she’d like to read

the book in my hands:

this literature.

She asks who wrote the book,

and I say a Pulitzer Prize-wining poet:

Yusef Komunyakaa.

The interest washes from her face,

though she leans in close to read the title,

and I want to ask her

if anyone writing for The Watchtower

ever won a Pulitzer:

Then I guess it’s not literature.

Eric Parker was born and raised in California. He now lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, teaching English at the University of Alabama. His nonfiction can be found in New South and Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac, and his poetry can be found over at Anomalous Press.

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