True Confessions - New tales from Ovid
by Ted Slade
These poems were later incorporated into "The Last Arm Pointing" with some minor changes.
Ted Slade wrote these poems as part of a series and put them out for comments 23rd May 2003. It is not known when they were written or if any other part of the series exists. They were published and were still available on Poetry Kit website when he died in January 2004 (Jim Bennett, poetrykit.org)
True Confessions New tales from Ovid by Ted Slade (May 2003) My Husband Ate Our Son Afterwards he said it was the tastiest stew I'd ever cooked for him. I could see he enjoyed it by the way he scraped the dish then looked around for more. Bits of flesh hung from his beard and he had that look, so I knew what to expect. Always the same once he'd eaten his fill; he'd give me that leary glare, his eyes small like a pig staring into the sun. Then he'd pull out his great thing and shove it into me right there at the table. But not that day. He seemed to know something was wrong. He said, where's that boy of ours? And I told him. My sister tried to stop me, screeching, tongueless. But revenge was too sweet. He's right there I said, right inside you, and I began to scream with laughter. He would have killed us both if he could have caught us. But we were too quick for him. It was as if we could fly. Now he's completely off his head. Most of the time he thinks he's a hawk and we're a couple of sparrows. He curls his hands into claws and chases us about the garden. My sister flaps her arms and swoops around in a mad panic. I just keep out of his way until he exhausts himself. Then I sing my song. Whatever He Touched Turned to Gold With luck like that you'd think he'd have the wit not to antagonise the gods. Not him. Every day another scheme to make money. Every day some new adornment to our house. I told him the roll wouldn't last. He just laughed and slipped another ruby on my dress. Our daughter went to school in silk and diamonds. No good will come of that I said. What harm, he said. If you've got it, show it. And he went on making money. Then one day he sold the lot, businesses, houses, goods, and took off into the hills. Left us, without a word, in the clothes we wore, bailiffs at the gate. Next I heard he was in a fight between a traveller and a goatherd over who played the hottest tune. His luck ran out, picked the wrong man; the traveller beat him silly. Now he wanders the town in rags, a woolly hat pulled down over his ears, hoping we won't see what an ass he is. Enough to Drive a Woman to Drink A romance made in heaven it was said. He, a scuba-diving tough guy - the type that wrestles bulls and bungee-jumps into volcanoes. Me, the lovely daughter of the King of Crete. Problem was my half-brother, produce of my mother's indiscretion with a passing stud, whose antics with the visiting girls were scandalous to say the least. A brief and bloody fight ensured the beast would rape no more among the eighteen-thirty girls seeking sun and wine and sex on Crete. But now my hero tired of love, Dumped this princess on the honeymoon and took off with another, the very image of his mother. The sky's the only thing attracts me now as through a haze of wine I gaze at a crown of stars, my destined place in heaven, so the barman says. Just Another Object of Desire Just because my naked image floats on glossy pages, you might believe you're free to wander over me, about me and into me, that I'm an object of desire, a piece of stone made flesh by your cold artistry. You might wish that in return I'll accept your exploration as a sign of true affection. Such illusions may possess you but I am not the thing you see, your creation rendered free. I am the stone I always was, figure of perfect womanhood, a female rock to break your heart. Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Lord Am I to blame if now my one, constant, overpowering desire is to sink my teeth into raw flesh until blood runs? Can I help it if my body hair is thick and matted with the congealed remains of past feasts? It was, after all, a harmless jape, a bit of buffoonery to deflate a self-important jackanapes strutting around our town every bit as if he thought he was some Lord of the Universe. Am I to blame if He couldn't take a joke? Woman in Tree Escape It's hard to credit that a man could pursue a woman with such single-minded dedication that in the end, out of sheer desperation, some deep-seated terror at the thought of his intentions, she'd climb into a laurel and stay there so long it became impossible to tell which was tree and which was woman. But who knows what a man will do when struck by Cupid's arrow? A poison takes hold of the blood and nothing can stop the pursuit until flesh is thrust into flesh, and the venom is purged. Persuasion is no antidote to this infection, nor reason. There is no vaccine to kill this fever. This man is bent on my destruction in the name of love. So here I'll stay, the breeze mingling my hair with the leaves, the river grumbling around my feet (something about a son-in-law and grandchildren) until he tires of gnawing at my bark. Down on the Farm I guessed he was up to no good again when I saw the cloud of lies he'd thrown over everything. This time he was banging a little milkmaid, although he said he was doing her pa a favour by looking after her and giving her a job - this from a man who'd rob his granny to get his leg over. I'd given her the once-over in the yard before I realised she was his latest prize. Quite fancied her myself at first. Until, that is, she burst into tears, said she wanted to go home, claimed he'd enchanted her to get his beastly way. So I said she could stay with me and I'd set the peacock to keep a round-the-clock watch. Handy birds these. Not as noisy as geese, but as good as a dog any day at keeping rapacious husbands away. A Stalker Laments Why do you never answer, pretty boy, pretty boy, why do you never answer to my calls? My calls are meant to tell you that I love you. I love you as I hold your perfect body in my dreams. In my dreams our bodies tumble till I come with a thunderclap, a thunderclap to rock the Halls of Hell. But nought from you. Nought from you but silence, or a sneer at my devotion. My devotion needn't be a singular attraction. Attraction can be mutual if you let it. Let it draw you from your mirror, pretty boy. Pretty boy we could be lovers, should be, must be, must be lovers, or I'll die of grief without you. Without you I'm a shadow, a fantasy, an echo, an echo round the valleys of your mind.