Emil Brägg

Mask with Flag Paul Klee

Emil Brägg is a poet, a playwright, an erstwhile director of avant-garde theatre and a self-confessed dilettante. He is the author of a chapbook of literary miniatures, titled Felicitations. His work has been anthologized in Rhubarb-O-Rama and Globale Heimat.ch: Transnational Encounters in Contemporary Literature and has appeared in literary magazines in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. His newest collection of short-short fiction, The Ovation & Other Conundrums, Convolutions, Circumambulations & Peregrinations, is forthcoming from Guernica Editions.


After a long day confined inside Mount Aetna and the tedium of shuffling back and forth and back between furnace and anvil forging thunderbolts for Zeus, Polyphemus likes to take his rest on the side of the mountain in the open air.
       He has a favourite spot on the westward slope where he likes to lay down his aching bones and cast his eye over the shifting blue and green waters of the Ionian Sea. On a clear day, Polyphemus’s one good eye can see all the way to Pylos.
       Having worked since pre-dawn without food or drink, Polyphemus is understandably both exhausted and famished. Though tranquil on the outside, within him, hunger and fatigue are waging a battle as ferocious as any fought at Troy.
       On this day, just as his eyelid is beginning to droop and it seems fatigue will claim the victory, he spots a ship approaching the Sicilian shore. He sniffs the air. “Men,” he thinks.
       It is a long time since he last savoured a man’s flesh; the sight of this ship sailing closer to shore is, to Polyphemus, as miraculous as if it had fallen from the sky. He offers a muted word of gratitude to his father, Poseidon.
       He is wide awake now. Hunger, it seems, has triumphed after all.

*     *     *

Polyphemus may be a Cyclops, but he is no seer and he cannot know what the gods have in store for him. He cannot know that the ship headed his way carries the wily Odysseus and his crew making their own hungry and tired way home to Ithaca. He cannot know that, at the hands of this Odysseus, he, Polyphemus, will be blinded as blind as Tiresias.
       He watches gleefully as the ship sails closer and closer to shore. He rubs his hands together. His giant tummy rumbles in anticipation of this unexpected gift.

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Poetry in this post: © Emil Brägg
Published with the permission of Emil Brägg