Two Poems by Colin Dodds

Redeye to Ilium International

There’s a peculiar poignancy to a business trip
Wrestling luggage into a bathroom stall
Ill-fitting comforts, perfunctory human kindness
Fugitive eroticism in the security line
Lethe of calendar squares and leather seats
Hundreds of heroes, centuries of backstory
colliding politely in a food court

Flights direct and connecting
from the echo districts to Ilium, to the flesh
where only those who truly belong
are truly doomed

The big board—arrivals and destinations
catalogue of ships and genealogy of demigods
Like how, as a child, you learned where you live
state, country, capitals and borders
the Iliad lists the heroes and their deaths
says not him, not him either as the story,
unwittingly betrayed, departs from each

You see your father naked and are cursed afresh
You may move on, alive and intact, but you retire
like Poseidon on a cruise liner
And the story folds down its blood-lidded petals
until only Odysseus remains open-eyed
to depart the terrible and nearly satisfactory islands
Folding down petals as he goes
He’s a destination, too

The airport after hours is quiet
You can hear mollusks and slime
excrete legibility into a reef of spacetime
The ceiling-mounted TV breaks its cursed covenant
of spastic narrative and angry faces
to reveal a jagged smear of multicolored beauty
glibly disregarding state lines
The TV mentions a billion perfect little snowflakes
driven into the sea like it’s no big deal

Now you tell me
just what we’re talking about here


The Defensive Perfume of the Lower Archons

The gods hate it
when you catch them playing defense

You went looking for the glory in the power
But past the lobby, there wasn’t much to report
Good plunder misunderstood, caviar and caveats
The black magic of a prosaic age
—that exhausting someone
is the same as satisfying them

The blocks of flat mirror glass
advise the wandering eye to fuck off
The public art over the scar
where they ripped the personality out
is a bright green speechless shrug

At the water’s edge
halogen lights buzz and slant
onto figure eights of razor wire
and some saint has seen fit
to name his yacht “Justice”

Maybe justice is in the eye of the beholder…
is the best you can come up with
Everybody lying like a drowning puppy swims
Everybody swearing that drowning is the new yachting

Ten years of the same news: The Momentarily Powerful
filled with fear and short of cash
have made the following decisions…
They call what happens a tragic accident
and sell tickets to the next one
They say you or someone who looked like you
showed real character when they clapped those shackles on

They own your ass but forget your name
Your revenge is always against an illusion
It makes you a still falser illusion
Don’t you get tired of saying how grateful you are?
Don’t you wonder what you’re not saying instead?


Colin Dodds is a writer with several novels and books of poetry to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Over the last seven years, his writing has appeared in more than three hundred publications, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology, and praised by luminaries including David Berman and Norman Mailer. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at The poems are included in a new book coming out this summer, Spokes of an Uneven Wheel.

Featured image by Paul Mocan

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