Sarah Sarai

Buñuel's Magic Arrow

Place thumb and forefinger on a baby's ankle. So pudgy!
Obtuse Rex-es and the gods plague my self-esteem.
Hard to keep them separate: gods; Rex-es; me.
Penelope was tricky herself. Laura primped for
genteel callers while a thousand putti wept.
Job loved too much, perhaps, and was bewared of gifts.
Philoctetes needs a good talking to.
I'll escort him to a showing of Simon of the Desert.
Simon stood on a pillar in a bright Bibley landscape.
Philoctetes is a study in shadow puppetry.
A lot of people are forsaken then learn a craft.
The Greeks don't have “that goddam Bide-a-Wee Home
heart of [Franny's]” do they.
Life would be gentler if gentlemen wore make-up.
For the discothèque, St. Simon Stylites and Philoctetes
might rub a Hercules beetle exoskeleton before
its blue is black. Is everything subject to change?

Sarah Sarai's poetry collection, The Future Is Happy, was published by BlazeVOX in 2009. New work is forthcoming in Boston Review, Parthenon West Review, FRiGG and others. She blogs at and lives at home, which is currently New York City.


  1. I wrote the above in response to a direct request from Fortunato Salazar for poems on Sophocles' Philoctetes. So I read the play. Without that background, not presented here, this poem loses some of its luster (if indeed you find it lustery). Since no one else is presenting the background, I will: Philoctetes was a Greek warrior whose was wounded while the troops were on their way to Troy. His foot oozed pus; his howls upset the men; he was abandoned on an island--alone for almost the full ten years. Then word came--to Odysseus, that trickster--that Philoctetes had a bow given to him by Hercules. Without that bow, the Greeks couldn't win the war. Achilles' son (Achilles is now dead) was recruited to get the bow. Much trickery on Odysseus' part. Philoctetes has been oozing pus and in pain the whole time. It's very strange. Not a great play though it raises interesting questions. And it IS by Sophocles. THAT's the background to this poem. Yours--Sarah Sarai

  2. very interesting poem! i read it when it was first posted and it has haunted me (in a good way).

  3. philgrimsoultoo . . . thanks! i am pleased to haunt in a good way. visit my blog. or don't. but thanks, again.