The Latin Teacher’s Lament
In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Gods—
those ageless oafs whose scattershot and squiggling
adventures often leave my students giggling—
inseminate a hundred earthling bawds,
whereas their mountain-tall, immortal sisters,
the Goddesses, are rarely shown to be
progenitors of mortal progeny.
Why do the misses score less than the misters?
After you ran my wife off last July,
I think I know. The poet was too kind
to saddle any of the death-consigned
young men who populate his book with fate’s
most cruel curse: a mother whom one hates,
and whom one dreads, and who will never die.
The Faerie Queen Speaks
Come kiss me, you scarfaced old-timer.
Come embrace me, my postpubescent pet.
Unwind my hundred-year-old obi. Strip off my mod designer
threads, my green hand-woven kirtle, my Hello Kitty™ barrette.
Let me show you Faerieland. Relax. Lie back on my recliner.
I’m the toast of the town in Ed Koch’s Manhattan and 8 B.C. Tibet.
What’s your name again? Thomas the Rhymer?
Urashima the Fisherman? How fast an old dame like me forgets.
Fatima, my next-door neighbor, chews
me out: “Round ten o’clock the other day,
you passed me in the street and didn’t say
hello. Is neighborliness just old news
to kids your age?” Her milky eyes accuse
me as I crouch down on the steps to help
her scoop her dropped plums up from where their pulp
has blotched the dusty floor with purple ooze.
Her gnarled hand grips a plastic shopping bag
that has a hole in it. She doesn’t deign
to thank me for my aid, but snaps, “Last year,
my husband died,”—she waves away my vague
condolences—“and I’ve been living here
four decades. Doubt me? Ask the landlord, then.”
Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Poetry Bestseller. Her poetry, fiction, book criticism, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Gargoyle, Harpur Palate, Massachusetts Review, Measure, Pleiades, Post Road, Rhino, Spillway, and 32 Poems.