Briseus is just another ante in war


Briseus comes through the kitchen, the back

door, stepping out of her

shoes and into shoes left at the front

by a narrow tendon she saw leaving.

She never cooked lobster bisque

before Agamemnon.


I don’t look into the lobster’s eyes waving on stalks.

Or Agamemnon when he leaves the lights on.


The little shoes have no backs and click,

click on the slate floor between cutting

board and steel stove. Olive oil, a vine-ripened

tomato, garlic, lots of garlic until it’s in her

pores like patchouli, fresh

tarragon and thyme…peppercorns.

Briseus loves language she can eat.


Agamemnon walks in red mud on my clean floors,

piles armor like another man on the couch.

Leaves stains I don’t want to think about.


The yellow Corvair parked in the driveway,

the bobtail cat perched on the porch rail

save her in the rain

when she can’t go anywhere at any speed.

Briseus measures brandy and sherry,

simmers the delicate green tomalley,

mourns a little the sacs of roe.


It’s so much work not killing yourself.

           A jury of 12 women finds she acted in self-defense


Of course I killed the Achaean.

He sacrificed our daughter. Iphigenia

moves through me, as a memory through muscle

I remember sometimes my legs.

My legs belonged to a dancer, a ballerina of certain

circus acclaim, pointing and pirouetting

on an elephant’s seductive back.

The poster hangs still on my wall

painted in red and yellow,

daring black lines.


Agamemnon killed Iphigenia, you know,

for a wind whistling from her lungs.

I could have whistled for his fleet, air rushing

from my lungs as I fell and kept falling.

I remember my left thigh near the hip

broken in a field of horses’ hooves

like thunder gods. I could’ve whistled

but for the dry grass yellow with August.


Then there was Cassandra.

I remember how important eyelids were,

blinking away blood arcing from my ax,

a red rainbow (spatter patterns, the detectives said.)

Iphigenia moves through my womb again,

wraps her legs to climb the soft tissue,

whistles my heart.