Troy Games

Troy Games are what the war games played by Roman boys were called. They were played with wooden swords as preparation for the life of a Roman citizen/soldier.

1. Before Troy

Before Troy
There were no Odysseys
If you were
Blown off course
You were just lost.
Sometimes for
A very long time.

2. Clytemnestra

Of course my sister
Could trap stupid men
With her perfect face
And her balanced breasts.

But I knew
What power was for
And how to tempt a man
With arrogance.

Iphigenia is dead.

So’s Agamemnon.

3. Iphigenia

Mother brought me
To Aulis.

I was to marry big
Gay Achilles.

That would be all right.
Mother taught me
How to take a lover.

I didn’t expect
My father to kill me.

4. Hector

Mostly, I know about horses.
Those wild ones, from the mountains.
Anatolia has great ponies.
I have a long wife.
I have a weak brother.
I must save this city.

5. Penelope

He left me.
I’ll show him
I can weave.

Still—twenty years—
That’s a while.
Sometimes a suitor
Is suitable.

6. Helen

You have no inkling
How dull it is
To be so beautiful
That a thousand ships
Get launched.

(Truth be told,
That’s an overestimate.
Forty or fifty at best. Still,
It’s gratifying.)

Have you ever
Watched the eyes
Of other wives?

My father was God.
It’s not my fault.

7. Hecuba

I know that I
Am no one to these men.

But I am weary.
My children die.
I don’t like it.

Our men lost
So now I am
The world’s proudest slave.

Whoever wins me
Can just deal with that.

8. Aegithus

She wasn’t Helen
But she wasn’t in Troy.
She was here and lonely.

She, too, was the daughter
Of a god, a swan.

I know where power rests.
I’ll enjoy a few years
Before some vengeful son
Hunts me down.

9. Cassandra

I would tell you
But you would
Never believe me.

Why bother.

10. Polyphemus

I was just home alone,
My one eye open.
Then strangers broke in.

Some were tasty.
One blinded me.
Some one
Named no one.

11. Paris

Three naked goddesses.
Let me say that again:
THREE NAKED GODESSES.

That should have been enough.
But no, they made me choose.
And each one bribed me.

As if
Three naked goddesses
Weren’t enough.

12. Agamemnon

Achilles
Never understood
That I was in charge.

Neither
Did Clytemnestra.

13. Priam

That Greek boy
Killed my favorite son.

Then he stopped his war
So we could bury him.

So we buried Hector
Breaker of horses.

14. Andromache

I stood outside
The burned walls.

My husband dead.
My son, dead.

Go ahead.
I’m ready to be slave.

15. Circe

It’s really no trick
To turn men into pigs.

16. Calypso

I loved him—really—
But let him go away.

He was just so homesick.
I gave my name
To a song.

17. Electra

How many deaths
Does my family deserve?
It wasn’t my crime.

I’m tired
Of all this vengeance.
I just want
My sister back.

18. Achilles

I know that I seem
Like some big
Dumb jock now but
Remember, prophecies
Were made.
Troy couldn’t fall
Without me.

I never cared
About that girl
Who caused all the fuss.

I never really cared
About any girl.

19. Patroclus

People told me
That I was pretty.
All I wanted
Was to be strong.

I wanted to be as strong
As my friend.

In the end, I got my wish.
I died in his armor.

20. Laocoon

Mostly I’m remembered
For a statue or
A dull essay by
A forgotten philosopher.

But I was right—
I told them not
To bring that wooden horse
Inside the walls.

So I offended
A god or two,
Who doesn’t?
Snakes took care of that.

21. Brisies

He didn’t really
Like girls. Still
There was a gleam
When he looked my way.

22. Calchas

I never meant
To cause trouble for anyone.
I can’t help
Seeing all I see.

I feel bad for the girl
We had to kill.
But we won the war,
Didn’t we?

23. Orestes

There is something calming
About arriving at the end.
I mean, the story
Was mostly played out
By the time I killed
My mother.

Athens seemed like
The right place to run.
Furies forgave me.
Someone set up a court.
Eventually
My sisters found me.

24. Aeneas

Men, and their arms around women—
My mother was love
Although she didn’t tell
My father.

Because of her gods
Kept saving my boring body.
It hardly seems fair.

I carried my father
From the burning city, across the world.
I turned my back on love.

I knew I had a new world to build.

 

 

 

 

mitchellMark J. Mitchell’s work has appeared in various periodicals, as well as the anthologies Hunger Enough, Retail Woes, and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution, as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors and Artifacts and Relics. His novel, Knight Prisoner, is currently available, and two more novels are forthcoming: A Book of Lost Songs and The Magic War. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.

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