Imagine One Day Bring Able to Live in a Brick House, or Better Yet, Live Underwater (Translation of Ineptus, 2nd Century B.C.E. Alexandrian Poet)

I was convinced that if I could
just build a straw house
in a place where there was
no wind
or wolves,
I’d live happily ever after.

I found that place,
and I’ve built that house
but the cold air seeps through its straw walls,
and the straw is always wet and mildewy,
and I’m always having to repair the house,
for the animals come and graze on my house
and I’m the kind of person
who just can’t say no –
even to an ass.

If only my teacher in my youth
had only said “imagine one day being able to
live in a brick house, or better yet,
live underwater.”

And so it is with great peril
that the limits of the teachers
become the limits of the students.

I’ll Be Your Massive Arms (Translation of Ineptus, 2nd Century B.C.E. Alexandrian Poet)

I’ll be your
massive arms,
but where is your emergency?

where are your costumes?
where is your can of venison?

are you on a
space station that orbited the Earth
(as it was created)
out in the
starry blackness?

 
your face is like moist, unearthed clay?
you forget the practical use of eyes?
 

you think you are
the first race in the history of the universe to
crank
cat whiskers
eight hours a day?

 
if you want to get rid of
an unfresh odor,
do not ask for
anagrams of “troubled waters”

if you want to change
the radiator,
do not sit there
tuning your guitar

and if you want to grab the treasures
that lie in small, narrow spaces
do not ask for
massive arms!

I Kept a Vigil at Your Cow (Translation of Ineptus, 2nd Century B.C.E Alexandrian Poet)

I kept a vigil
at your cow.

I thought you would
come back for it.

I kept calling out
your name.

But it wasn’t
your cow!

Thieves came
and murdered me.

They took the cow –
which I had grown quite fond of.

Now, I keep a vigil
at the spot where I fell,

waiting for you to come
and offer sacrifice to the Gods

and shed tears that will
water the seed of my soul,

release it into a flower
that will rise through the ash.

With my death
has come wisdom.

You are no longer in my memory as
“the bitch who ruined my life.”

I should have known
it wasn’t your cow,

but all cows look
the same to me –

me, a simple barber
from the North Side of Alexandria –

and I should have had
a better plan

to win back
your love

than keeping a vigil
at your cow.