Geof Huth

Telegram to Telemachus

I understand your quest, how you must sweep the earth in search of your father,
who is little more than a symbol now, left open like a book to interpretation. It is
a hard life, wandering—a hard life, wondering when you will find something you
never quite knew you had. The Mustang you drove out of Ithaca that day glistened
with sweat, the mist accumulating like your warm hot breath against his neck
each night, the shape of the metal like the muscles that might pull you and it
up the gorge and into the only night, the night of our imagination, the dark cold

night of hidden things hidden well. What is it about your father you want? What
could he bring you that you could not take yourself to? Before he departed, he salted
every acre of corn, hoping to leave forever fallow his fields, your birthright. The fields still
don’t produce. So few weeds grow that the second year of mullein seems the foreshadowing
of a forest. You cannot remember the tractor and the blades of the plow spinning
toward you, yet stopped just before your blood nourished the earth, but what can you
think of that? A man pulling these slender slicing teeth toward you, who sat in your diaper

in the mud, in your diaper’s warm wet mud as you held a fat muscular earthworm up
to your hazel eyes? There is nothing there for you, you cannot go far enough away to find
anything, and what could you find anyway? Your father is not the mayor of Ithaca anymore.
He does not reign on Court Street. Your father never lost his mind, just his heart, lost
it to music. He can hear those steel drums playing now, each hollow clang of each clear
note a calling to pleasure—for pleasure is all he knows, all he can know. I am flying
to Atlantis now, though the city is underwater. I should be diving into the murky sweat

of the Gulf of Mexico, looking for that city, but I am flying because we always fly.
To find your father, you abandoned your mother to her own race. Penelope, with her
Isadora Duncan’s scarf about her neck and her loose red curls, she can turn her auto-
mobile into any curve and fight off every man who follows so close behind. Do you see
the shudder at the turn? how the engine strains as the tires try to hold onto pavement?
Do you know what you have done? How can your mother remain faithful when every man
has abandoned her for some vision quest of the perpetually blind? Are you deaf to screams?

The stewardess on this flight, who may prefer to be called a flight attendant, resembles
your mother so closely that I call her Penelope Pitstop, and she laughs as she kicks
my swollen left foot and asks me how I push in the clutch with a giant Styrofoam foot.
I remind her that Telemachus has left her, too—both her men pulled away because of Helen
and the city of Troy, resting as far north on the Hudson as a boat can easily reach—that that
trip of three and a half hours might last a lifetime, that Odysseus may lie dead on the banks
of the Schroon River, that some fat or bald man come after her might be her life’s best end.

She laughs and kicks my swollen left foot and asks me how I walk with one vein pulled out
of my leg like a wormy string of snot from my nose. At least you have a guide, a mentor,
with you, someone to navigate as you turn the twisting highway of the Keene Valley. Let
that companion keep you whole, even as we are all half-people: half-woman and half-man,
half-man and half-boy, half-living and half-dead. I can see past your eyes to the sockets
of your skull, and I see you are a skeleton, bones held together by tendon and flesh, that
you are losing your will to continue, that every desperate thought you drug from your closet

is strapped to your body, that you can barely move against the weight. Yet we all must wait,
for the life we wanted to live, for our hearts to start beating and the blood to move again, for
the sweet hereafter, a glass of wine the color and fragrance of honey. You cannot be
a man until you murder the boy you now are. Your tiny bristling pubic hair must grow into
tumbleweed, and your cock must grow fat when you think of the Greek man beside you.
When you smell him, do you recognize the acrid smell of a man sweating beneath his arms
and into himself? or do you smell the sharp alluring scent a woman creates between her legs

when her body is preparing itself for yours? It may, eventually, make a difference to you.
You must learn from your nose where you want it to be. When your father returns, he will
be prepared for your mother, prepared to prove his sanity once again, to mount her and slip
back in between her legs, slick with potter’s slip, he will ride her until he comes in the waves
he rode away from her and the rocking roadways he drove back to her, and then he will
ask you to help him kill any man who wondered how Penelope felt, anyone who desired
her skin, any man who asked her to turn away from her faith in her husband’s constant

absence. Yet how many children will he have sired over those years gone from home? How
many times will he have snuck into the sleeping room of a maiden by taking the form of
an incubus? How many women will he have entered and, entering, filled and, filled, exited
through all those lonely years of his eponymous odyssey? In the face of this, what do you
think your father is? How many brothers and sisters has he planted across the state? Did
you ever meet that child in Syracuse with the same hazel eyes as you? And that man you saw
in Schenectady, the one who so resembled your father, do you still believe that it was

merely a coincidence that he appeared just as your father did at that age? We are all
deceived by experience, by people, by ourselves. If the world were clearly the world,
we would not try so hard to leave it, to slip that pentobarbital into our own drinks
and drift away to death. But death has its appeal, sweet and forgiving as it is. Some day,
you will visit a pig farm, the whole complex encircled with a moat of feces and a cloud
of flies that resembles the swarming of your thoughts, and there you will find your father,
tending to the pigs during the day and coming inside the white-skinned swine maidens

at night. He will still be a large man, and strong, and he will choose one maiden each night,
he will carry her over the small of his back to a small room, where she will groan and scream
as he slides in and out of her, thinking of Ithaca, remembering his farm, and plotting revenge
against those who merely considered doing the same with your mother. Some day, you will
understand the world and the people in it, and you will grow weary with it all and marry
a woman you will associate with nausea, and you will be happy. You just can’t believe it now.
I hope this telegram finds you well and that your travels show you where you are going. Stop.

Geof Huth has lived in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and North and South America, all the while using language for his own purposes. His interest in language turned him into a poet, a visual poet, and a thinker on words. He works words in many media: crayon, object, paint, pen, pencil, pixel, pollen, sound, type, and video. He writes almost daily on visual poetry and related matters at his blog, dbqp: visualizing poetics. His most recent books of poetry are Out of Character (twenty-five typoglyphic visual poems), Longfellow Memoranda (366 tiny poems incorporating the vocabulary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), texistence (300 pwoermds co-written with mIEKAL aND), and a book / of poems / so small / I cannot / taste them (78 micropoems around the topic of winter).

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