Spokes

Bicycle wheels spin;

the spokes like chrome knives

shining in the sun

slice the passing world

into sweet wedges.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

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Magnetism

The story goes

that if you stop your car

at the bottom of the hill

and shift it into neutral,

some magnetic force

will tractor-beam it

backward and upward

at accelerating speed,

and when I hear it,

I imagine the mythology

of some alternative universe

in which their Sisyphus

sprints perpetually up

his mountain in reverse,

colliding with the boulder

god-parked at the top,

and then I wonder

if my punishment’s

the same, just slower.

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Jason & Medea

I seldom post work other than poetry on this site, but I thought some of my readers might enjoy my short one-acting reworking of Euripides’ Medea, with a gay Jason–and it actually is in blank verse, so it’s kind of poetry.

JASON AND MEDEA

A 21st-century reimagining of The Medea of Euripides, in one act 

Medea enters, obviously agitated. She wears nice clothes but appears somewhat disheveled. She carries an open liquor bottle, and though she is not yet drunk, she has taken a slug or two from it. She directs her opening speech to the audience.

 Medea. You know it’s true, we women have it rough.

To get on in the world we need a man,

and a decent husband’s hard to find.

A woman has to shop with one for care,

looking hard and sparing no expense,

and yet, having found, hooked up, and mated

with the best of what’s available,

catered to his whims and mothered his children,

she is yet not safe from twists of fate;

bored, he might turn to her sisters,

or else turn gay and run off with a man,

deserting her as my Jason has—

after everything I’ve done for him—

and in revenge for that I must make

his life a living hell far worse than death;

he deserves it, the cheating faggot slut!

Creon enters, appearing concerned, perhaps a bit frightened, but with an air of firm resolve maintained, but with difficulty.

Creon. Medea, I’m afraid of your rage.

I mean you no offense but must insist

that you quit my kingdom this very day.

A vengeful bitch can do great harm when left

to her own devices, her fury unchecked.

Medea. What you ask is cruel and unfair,

though to avoid trouble I will comply,

but for the children’s sake I ask one favour,

that you’ll give me a day to pack and plan.

Creon. Going along with your wishes would be stupid,

but I will risk it to prove my good intent.

Exit Creon.

Medea. Damn these fuckers, I could kill them all!

I’ll start by poisoning Jason’s boy-toy, Glaucus,

and his father-king, this pompous Creon.

Enter Jason, maddeningly cheerful, apparently oblivious to his mistreatment of Medea, somewhat full of himself.

Jason. I’ve heard you’re banished and I’m really sorry.

I think you hate me, but I still care for you

and will do what I can for you and the kids.

Medea. That’s a lie, you cock-sucking bastard,

and you’re a cheating pussy, not a man.

You know I saved your fucking life, goddammit,

and destroyed my family to stay with you.

And what do you give me in return? You run

out on me, and not even for a woman

but for that faggot fairy-princess Glaucus!

Faithless husband, you’re not worth a shit.

Jason. The way I see it is that the goddess saved me.

Still it’s true that you did render aid,

though in return I have rescued you

from your barbarian roots and brought you here

to Greece, the most cultured land on earth.

Though I can’t say I’ve ever truly loved you,

I care about you and appreciate

the role you’ve played as mother to my children.

What you need to see is that my marriage

to Prince Glaucus will be good not only

for me, but also for you and our kids.

Right now we don’t have resources

to support ourselves and raise the children,

but with the wealth I acquire by means

of advantageous marriage to a prince,

I can provide for you and for our sons,

maintaining you in the style befitting a woman

who grew up as the daughter of a king.

You seem jealous because I am attracted

to Glaucus, but there’s more to life than sex,

and anyway, it’s not like you and I

are exactly burning up the sheets.

Medea. Get out, you bastard, I curse you all!

Exit Jason, enter Aegeus (from opposite directions)

Aegeus. (with traditional cheek kisses) Ciao, Medea, it’s good to see you again!

Medea. Ciao, Creon, what brings you to Corinth?

Aegeus. I’ve just been to the oracle to ask

what it will take for me to have some children;

so far, my queen has not borne even one.

And how have things been going with you, old friend?

Medea. Not well. My pathetic excuse for a husband

has abandoned me for a rich prince.

Now I haven’t anywhere to go,

So, Aegeus, please, will you let me go

back home with you so I can live in Athens?

I know what drugs to use to ensure

that you can have the children that you want

with the aid of my love and magic.

Aegeus. That sounds to me like a good, fair deal.

The catch is that I can’t get you out

of Corinth, but if you make it to Athens,

then I will welcome you and we’ll make babies.

Exit Creon.

Medea. All this planning’s been really tiresome,

but now it’s time to get down to business—

to take my revenge on Jason and his crew.

I’ll poison a wedding suit and hat and send

them by the kids as gifts for Glaucus,

as if I’m trying to be conciliatory,

but they’ll be steeped in a vat of lethal poison,

so that when the boy-bride puts them on,

he will convulse and die a painful death,

and Creon, coming to his dear son’s aid,

will touch him, absorb the poison, and also die.

For now, I’ll let Jason live, so I can

watch him suffer insufferable grief.

Enter Jason and Medea’s two boys, aged 12 and 14 or thereabouts. They look like they’ve been wrestling in the grass.

Medea. Boys, what exactly have you been doing?

Boys (in unison). Each other, Mum; we are gay like Dad.

Medea (to audience, in the falsely calm tone of shock). Bloody hell, a goddamn queer conspiracy.

Medea (to boys, suddenly raging). If you are gay, then you are fucking dead!

Pulling an impossibly large kitchen knife from the folds of her dress, she kills them both—like a professional, with one perfectly aimed wound to each.

Jason runs in just as she drops the knife and it clanks on the floor.

 Jason. What have you done, you crazy murderous bitch?

Medea. I’ve shown you what happens when you fuck with me.

They’re all dead—your queer lover and his dad,

and now your precious kids, both fags like you.

I thought about putting an end to you as well,

but I decided to let you live and suffer,

all alone, just like you left me.

(While she is speaking, a Centaur enters).

You’ll be stuck in Corinth mourning and licking your wounds,

but I’ll be riding the hell out of Corinth

on the back of this centaur my granddad sent;

as half a man he’s still twice the man

you are, and hung like a horse, I hear.

Jason falls to his knees in grief as the unrepentant Medea rides off on the Centaur.

 The Nurse (male) enters and rushes to comfort Jason.

Nurse. Jason, I know you must be suffering terribly,

having lost your lover and your sons

to a vengeful psychopathic bitch,

but I’ll be here to comfort you and help

you heal, and besides my medical training…

(whispers something in Jason’s ear).

Jason (perking up a bit in curiosity). It’s actually eleven, are you serious?

Nurse. I could never lie at a time like this.

Jason (ambiguously). Well, fuck me, mate.

THE END.

 

Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper