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‘Tales of Brave Ulysses; the Cyclops of Cancer’ and other poems

By: Alex Stolis 

Tales of Brave Ulysses; the Cyclops of Cancer

Odyseus leaned on Athena’s soft shoulder, bright eyes
aflame defying her father, the Fates; the lesser deities
on Olympus trembled. He knew the Gods could be
unpredictable, drunk on power

and truth is the ability to keep light while enduring pain;
trials by fire, by song, kidnapped by one-eyed monsters,
seduced by witches, and descending into Hades
all brought him home to Ithaca.

I lay in a dark room, machine whirring ‘round leading
the assault; Scylla and Charybdis ready to swallow me.
People say they keep me in their thoughts and prayers
as if death was some far off land visited in dreams.

It’s raining again, my gut is clenched tight, everyone
calls me a man of wisdom-resourcefulness-courage
-endurance-and-eloquence. All I feel is cowardly,
weak; ready to put down my armor and surrender.

Postcards from the Knife-Thrower

May 28 Everett, WA

I’m punctuated pure by white noise,
this bar is filled with women
all eye-shadow and undertaker make-up,

everyone boring as fuck, not worth
a first glance. I’m feeling rag doll
perfect, breathing in truth,

every exhale a silent prayer,
a want a need to get half-liter
lit on cheap beer.

You pour me another drink, lay down
the tarot; you’re the Queen of Cups,
I’m destined to be King.

We’ll do without happy endings;
scatter our scars like breadcrumbs,
glide silent and empty into stillness.

Postcards from the Knife-Thrower

May 26-27 Seattle, WA

She scrubs the world clean of magic,
we drift and slide and hustle and flow,
born with nothing to lose.

If she were a man they’d call it swagger,
if she were a man they’d call her cocky,
she’d be an apostle; Chairman of the Board.

I wasn’t made for anything but being alone
but she blooms under milkwater moons
untouched by the walking wounded,

all the idiot saints, hard cases, and foolish
virgins vying for attention. She’s batshit
foxy crazy and when she turns on the charm

it creates a wholeness out of our disappointed
lives; we’re as painful to contemplate as useless


Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis; he has had poems published in numerous journals. The full-length collection, Postcards from the Knife-Thrower was runner up for the Moon City Poetry Prize in 2017. Two full length collections Pop. 1280, and John Berryman Died Here were released by Cyberwit and available on Amazon.  His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Piker’s Press, Jasper’s Folly Poetry Journal, One Art Poetry, Black Moon Magazine, and Star 82 Review. His chapbook, Postcards from the Knife-Thrower’s Wife is forthcoming from Louisiana Literature Press in 2024. He has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize.

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