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.