The Great Ulysses by Jeff Burt

Bound to the mast–it’s not so much about Ulysses
hearing a deathly hum or a seductive sexual whisper.
It’s more about how the man in power ordered the sailors to not listen.

It’s a division of labor story, it’s a story of the elite
with the opportunity while the poor men slave away.
The insurance executive with his secret Bieber versus

the cubicle workers hearing only the click of their keyboards.
The union lawyer with death metal deafening
and his anvil and stirrups thumping versus

the metro drivers tuned to the drone of tires,
the unknowable babble of different languages
of the patrons in their seats, the hiss of the brakes
and the shush of the door every two blocks.
It’s the pastor taking in the prostitute
while preaching purity to the parishioner.

It’s money buying the attacking screeches of macaques
while the lack of money buys the zoo glass
and the chimps masturbating behind it,

the mountain-echoed call of an elk in British Columbia
while the sailors hear only the echo
of their oaring hearts in the labyrinth of their ears.




Jeff Burt lives in California, and works in mental health. He has work in Atticus Review, Across the Margins, Per Contra, and The Nervous Breakdown, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review.

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