The Dilemma: a poem

Direct forays into American politics are never the preferred focus of these pages, but I believe the extraordinary circumstances of 2016 justify such an excursus.

The Dilemma: a poem

If we should be Odysseus in search of homeland shore
as Scylla and Charybdis pose their haunted, narrow door–
the vortex is as treacharous as ev’ry rocky face,
for half would run aground; the other, plunge into disgrace.
Because our weathered battle-boat was built so broad and wide,
to choose a course betwixt the two would ruin ev’ry side.
Now, I know how the story goes and why the king survived,
but pardon me, for Homer’s tale seems quite a bit contrived.

For Circe was his only guide, but she laid plans her own;
her lust for the brave Ithacan she shamelessly made known.
Instead of leading him toward Penelope’s embrace,
she bade him through a most exhausting, labyrinthine race,
and blindly did he heed her word; wherefore his wait extends,
bestowing time to suitors, that they might achieve their ends.
I ache to see the clever king fall victim to this ploy–
the same Hellenic hero who had breached the walls of Troy!

Why must he feel compelled to sail into the killer strait
and risk that dear Penelope shall ’til her death await?
Why must his cunning intellect fall suddenly so dumb?
Why must all sharpened, grown-up, common sense be rendered numb?
When faced with that dilemma, a solution still remains–
a prudent course developed by the action of the brains;
a third way can be possible, if dip we oars aright,
and row far from disaster, ’til disaster loses sight.

Sail ’round the coast of Sicily to waters calm and wide;
rest in the Panoramic harbor, if one must abide;
and whence, pass nearby Akragas, and thus, his father’s sight,
and then, due east toward the rising of Apollan light.
And when at last we land upon our lovely, long-lost land,
unleash we on the suitors the full fury of our hand;
and let their bloody cadavers be offered unto Zeus,
that he may banish Circe to the mouths of Cerebrus.

If, this year, our selection must be Hillary or Trump,
’tis but an eerie sign that this election is a dump,
and those who feel resigned to such a false dichotomy
should soon, I hope, avail themselves of a lobotomy.
For Scylla is no option and Charybdis is no choice,
lest we fall victim to malicious Circe’s tempting voice,
like those who claim that ev’ry ballot must be split in twain,
condemning our inheritance from Athens as insane.

Reject we now the opportunist suitors of this hour,
the pundits and the talking heads who ride the tails of pow’r;
Reject the single-mindedness of the establishment,
whose party politicking oft shuts down the government;
Advance we now to Ithaca, but by another way,
that safely may we once more kiss Penelope some day.
At Scylla and Charybdis, I would sail around the pain;
‘twixt Hillary and Trump, I shall choose neither: I ABSTAIN!

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