Poor Hylas | Jason Primm


Skilled and quiet in the daylight, I thought Hylas
Would drink the way he tied a knot or worked a knife.

Deep in the night, the wine skins heavy as our eyes
He said, I’m going to follow the moon to the waterside.

I am going to lie on my back in the water’s dark
And for once, touch the deceitful stars.

We cheered that the sea had made this drunk a poet.
Hylas took his cup and left.

In the morning, how like a scene of love
Piece by piece, on the way to the beach, we found his clothes.

The next day, his naked eyeless body came with the tide,
Scrubbed and ready for the pyre.

Under that uncertain fire’s smoke,
I asked Orpheus to sing and he wouldn’t play a note

What would you have me sing,
A sad man drowns too drunk to swim?

You think I have it easy because I don’t row?
You think it simple to fashion these lies that ring true?

He came back on the third night.
He knew we’d wait.  A hero without a poet just dies.

The wearied hosts looked up and we stilled our cups.
Orpheus beat the floor and sang of poor Hylas falling in love.

Her hair was wave, her bosom the earth’s breathless stop.
She held him, and in her lap, he drowned.





Jason Primm

Jason Primm lives in Brooklyn and works on the casino cruise ship of Manhattan. His poetry has most recently appeared in Seltzer, Heron Tree, burntdistrict and the Southern Humanities Review. He blogs at jasonprimm.wordpress.com. His most prized possession is his slice backhand.







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