D. C. Weiser

D. C. Weiser

At 70, D. C. Weiser is the author of Crash Dummies, The Song of Strawberry and Angels of Twilight. “Song of the Shrike” appears in Last Leaves Issue 3 / Fall; “The Trees at Barbara” is scheduled for June 2022 issue of The Orchards Poetry Journal. Currently reinterpreting Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula for a new critical work, Mr. Weiser lives in Kansas City, Missouri.




I waken in the dark of my dank cave,
the dying embers glowing at my feet,
and listen to the railing rain unleashed
outside the entrance to my domicile.
My flock of sheep and goats huddle in sleep,
familiar musty wool smell fills my nose.
I recognize the voice that wakens me,
though I do not know where it is she’s gone
—across the Sea perhaps. It was long ago
that my own mother, Thoösa, daughter of Forkys,
left me, master of flocks and all my island home.
I sit and yawn and listen to the rain
that makes the wild grapes grow and turn to wine.
My little lamb bleats out a dream of pain.
I rise, go to the cave-hole, smell the brine
and wonder how I ever came to be.

When I was young, first-born beneath the Sun,
I’d roam the meadows and the glen
and chase the lambkins, ewes and rams
until they’d bleat—then I’d relent.
Each tree and rock and grass-blade sang my name,
I marveled at my image in still pools;
I’d run and jump and splash and play and swim.
Tiring, I’d lie back on a grassy knoll,
lost in pillows of clouds, great ships of fleece,
watching them crawl across the blue wide welkin
on sweltering summer days.
I’d listen to whatever the wind might say
until I fell into a honeyed sleep.
The gods I only saw in profile then
and thought they were monocular like me.
I was not always an eater of men…

When I was young, my mother bounced me
on her knee and let me gaze into that mirror
of her eye: ‘Twas like the Sea, or a cloudless Sky;
until it clouded over and I lost myself
in choppy drenching waves and drowning rain
as I was drawn into the Maelstrom’s Eye,
where terror still precariously reigns.
Poised between eternity and desire,
my eye went blind and all was fire.
—She died when I was very young
or went across the sea. I don’t know why.
When I lost her, I should have died…
I’ve always been this way.

Once when I was out at play, my mother called me in
to hear the great Kyklops Wizard, Têlemos
son of Eurymos, make augury. I heard him say
how a monster named O Dis-Use would come
one day to blind my eye. When I asked why,
burst into tears, they only shook their heads.
I thought they were lying to punish me
for something I had done or failed to do…
I promptly forgot it and went back to play,
wondering why grown Kyklopês made up such tales.
I’d turn my wondrous eye just like a beam
to every living thing, holding and magnifying every facet
until it rendered up its secrets to me.
So passed the years, so many days and nights
I scarcely noticed.
                                        Kyklopês are a solitary race
who live alone in caves atop high mountain peaks.
The day came, a cold and fiercely windy day,
my mother did not call me in. Hopes dashed,
my child perished; I was a Man. Thoösa had fled.



I waken in the dark in my damp cave,
the dying embers radiant at my feet
and listen to the heavy knell of rain.
The rams and ewes and lambs huddle in sleep
before me; I smell their damp wool.
How well I know the voice that wakens me,
though I do not know where it is she’s gone
—across the sea perhaps. So long ago…
I sit and yawn, listening to the rain
that makes the wild grapes grow and turn to wine.
My little lamb bleats with a scary dream.
I clamber to my feet and smell the brine
and wonder how I ever came to be.
Before the fire I sit and shake,
the drops fall from my nose.
I turn my solitary corporate eye within

When I was young, first-born beneath the Sun,
I thought the Gods were all one-eyed like me.
Each rock and pool and flower called my name.
I only saw the Gods in profile then
and all the days were different yet the same…
My mother died when I was very young.
I want—I need—no pity, pity from…
We Kyklopês are a solitary race
who like to make our home in rocky caves
on mountain-tops that scrape the sky
where lightning, storms and clouds pass by.
We prize our freedom. Kyklopês are no slaves!

When I was young, first born beneath the Sun
and every day was different yet the same,
my mother Thoösa rocked me on her lap.
I’d suckle at her breast and burp and nap.
When I would wake, she bounced me on her knee,
“My Little Poly-Wog,” she’d say. I’d gaze
into that Great Brown Crater of an Iris,
immense as Seas ruled by a Blue-Maned God,
my father, where mirrored I would watch for hours
until the mirror clouded: I stared into black space,
a starless void, deprived of Moon and Sun;
I stared until I was not anyone
but Thoösa’s feelings, longings, fears, bright pain
were hard-etched in my noggin, soul and brain,
and every day so different yet the same.

One day when I had grazed my flocks
and they had drunk from pristine streams
my island Wilderness abounds in,
I drove them back up the long grassy slope
that leads to my Cave-Home. When I got there—
a summer day that I will well remember
all my life!—a ragged band of small and filthy men
were moving all my store of food and goods,
cheeses and sweet cream, milk, goats and sheep
left in their pens, while I grazed the big rams;
a dozen or so men with all on carts
laden so heavily the wheels could barely turn.
“What,” I bellowed in exasperation,
“Would you rob me of all then, friends?”
I wondered just what kind of men these were
when one sprang forward (a good talker, too,
he was) and cried: “Oh no, never! We would
never steal from you. But pirates took our ship
and we, fearing that they still lurk nearby,
were only hiding this stuff, to make it safe
from such marauding spirits: brazen, murderous men
who serve no gods but their own selfish will
and who would stop at nothing to get their way.”

I thought about this, saying nothing,
though it seemed that I had heard
some such tale or other of corporate plunder,
renegade factions, pirates seeking merger
with every weak and vulnerable species of man,
child, woman, beast and bird; rapacious cannibals
knowing neither boundary nor restraint beneath
the all-observing gaze of Zeus. It seemed to me
that these devils were called “Akhaians”—
an ugly name, to be sure. The longer I considered,
the more likely it seemed my guest spoke truth.
So, with a wave of my hand, I invited them to sit down
and dine with me in my home. The truth is:
I had not set my orb on any face but that of beasts
for years. I longed for sentient company,
for pleasing speech that might remind me of
my dam and the father who abandoned me,
blue-maned Poseidon himself, Lord of Oceans.

Not wanting to brag of my pedigree, I said nothing
about my family’s celebrity. We Kyklopês
make no fuss about such things. We are
a democratic tribe, each solitary one of us.
“Good fellows,” I said, sitting cross-legged on my cave floor,
rolling my rock-door shut against insects
and predators of the night oncoming, “Please,
sit you down and make your feast with me.
We shall pass the time in singing songs,
exchanging stories of the worlds we come from.”
I introduced myself as “Polyphêmos“
and asked my new friends all their names.

But their sly spokesman invited me instead
to imbibe the ruby mead he’d brought,
a gift from Maron son of Euanthós.
“Some call me Silenus,” he said. “Or Sinbad.
But you may call me Nobodaddy.” —Brazen Liar!
He held a wineskin full of smooth-nectar’d brandy.
Licking my lips, I longed to taste his nectar,
ambrosia from which the Gods spin ecstasy.
The greasy man now filled my cup. No sooner
had I drained it in one gulp than he replenished me,
keeping this up until I swooned and swayed,
my great head spinning, walls and firelight
whirling in my eye. I soon blacked out
nor did I waken of my own accord.



Startled by rain, its dull refrain outside
my cave, I waken in the middle of the night,
disoriented, knowing not where I am
nor how I came to be…at first. But then
the dying embers of my fire on the floor
before me warm my feet and I can smell
the wet wool of my flock of sheep, the ewes
and rams asleep. —I do not like to waken so,
I do not like to wake up in the night,
although the voice that cries for me is one
I know as well as my own shadow
in the sun. Sometimes in wind or pelting rain,
tall grasses or high-bowered rustling leaves,
I seem to hear her plainly calling for me.
I listen…but she does not come.
If only I could hear her voice again!

…How long I slept I cannot say for sure
but I awakened screaming out of sleep,
a searing, burning pain blazed in my eye,
which popped and sizzled, as liquid tears
or blood came streaming down my cheeks.
“Monsters! Why have you burned my eye,
blinding me?” I wailed, crawling on hands and knees.
Incensed, drunken and wounded, I lashed out.
Sweeping the room with both hands, I seized two men,
conspirators in this foul and horrid crime.
Maddened (I’m ashamed to say), I devoured them both
without really thinking—they tasted like shit!—and so
I vomited them up—mostly—undigested.

When I’d done retching, “Nobodaddy,” I heaved,
howling, “Silenus or Sinbad, you will not escape me
until I’ve wreaked my hate and vengeance on you!
So, tell me who you really are and why
you’ve done for me who never meant you harm.”
But Sinbad was too cagey; he knew better
than to open his mouth and give away the place
where he was hiding from Polyphêmos’s fury!
Biding my time, I thought to wait him out.

…When rosy dawn arrived, I let my beasts out
one at a time, my fingers betwixt each ewe
and ram as it passed, to make sure not one brutish man
snuck by as I sat blindly at the door.
Not until the last ram had departed and well after
did I realize that they’d contrived their escape
somehow and loaded my fattened herds into their ship
like so much cargo—stolen contraband!
As their ship pulled away from shore, I heard his voice
the wind carried up the mountainside
to my burning ears: “Oh, Kyklops! Poly-feeee-mos!
How’s that eye feel? Better now?” His carrion-eater’s
laughter subsided; then he continued: “Kyklops!
Would you like to know who blinded you? My name’s…”
And here my blood ran down my spine
like icy mountain water, portentous as a Curse:
“O-Dis-Use! O-Dis-Use is my name, Laertes’ son,
the Akhaians’ chief corporate raider, who guts cities
and who rapes your women, wives and daughters just for fun!
I blinded you, Kyklops. —I’m glad what I done to you!

Teeth gnashing, arms outstretched above my head,
I cried out to my fellow Kyklopês
in their solitary, neighboring, rocky caves:
“Kyklopês, help me! Your brother’s fallen,
his only eye put out by O-Dis-Use, mangy Akhaian!
Help me sink his ship with giant boulders
before he makes his miserable escape!”
Yawning and grumbling, Polyphêmos’s brethren
stirred sluggishly, complaining from their nests:
“Don’t bother us! It’s time for The Sopranos!
If you’ve been blinded, it’s your own damn fault!
What’s that to do with us? Don’t shove
your misery in our face. We Kyklopês are a nasty,
brutish sort! To be honest, Polyphêmos, we never
liked you that much anyway! Now…Goodbye!”
But they heaved some rocks at the departing ship
just the same as did I and I heard O-Dis-Use say:
Kaka! Let’s git outa here fast! The crazy
blind-eyed bastard’s trying to sink us!” I called
upon my father, Great Poseidon, Blue-Maned Lord
of Seas and Oceans: “Drown this Sumbitch, Dad!
Please, suffocate him and his friends beneath the brine!”
So I prayed and prayed the God was swayed
as the Greeks beat their retreat without delay.

I turn my lonely corporate eye within…
and through the flashing pain inside my head
I see ruination’s dreams, dark smoldering masses
of cities razed and plundered, their towers collapsed
to rubble, a burning heap of molten slag.
Behold! men squabbling over bloodless tokens,
hundreds of battle-flags, each one contending
for supremacy, an idol and delusion: it is this,
more than any other single factor witnessed,
that unleashes ambition, evil and contagion
like corporate storm-troopers free to roam the earth,
the nature of what’s to come’s grim ghastly nightmare.
Remembering the prophecy I failed to heed
so many years before, Têlemos’s warning,
my briny tears drip slowly, one by one,
from the burnt-out socket of my eye,
and I see that all is not as I had thought:
that the dead, slain, broken suffer not one whit
but slumber free of all mutating flux.
It is the living who remain that suffer,
the mother, babe and boozing comrade suffer.
And I see as in a vision, mutely: it is
the children of this earth who suffer most.

When I was young, first born beneath the Sun,
each tree and rock and grass-blade knew my name.
I’d romp and tear through meadows, swim and play.
Tired, I’d lie back on a grassy hill,
Great Billowing Clouds like fleecy sheep for pillows,
and listen to whatever the Wind would say.
And every day was different yet the same.
My mother held me on her lap
and bounced me on her knee
“My little Poly-Wog,” she said.
“Why have you come to be?”
I gazed into her big brown eye
so like the wine-dark sea.

Poetry in this post: © D. C. Weiser
Published with the permission of D. C. Weiser