Locke, Duane

United States, (b. 1920)

Circe, I on Sanibel, Think of My Former Life as a Pig

  1. Circe,
  2. when you called it was raining heavily
  3. Static came with your voice through the telephone.
  4. I could see through the plate glass
  5. the puddles in the yard, and the hibiscus opening for humming birds.
  6. It was a Noah’s flood, although there will be no new world.
  8. You ask me, with a loving, lonely voice, how I was,
  9. now that I walk upright and not on all fours.
  10. Was I happy since Odysseus destroyed your magic and
  11. charms, turned me from a pig back into a man,
  12. surrendered my curled tail for a desk job and hemorrhoids,
  13. exchanged my snout and hooves
  14. for a large nose, an old, wrinkled face, too tight shoes,
  15. my electric bristles for grey hairs that forecast my death.
  16. Do I feel I am a success,
  17. now that I have returned to the respectable life,
  18. help open your secret island for progress and cultivation,
  19. Dairy Queens, condominiums, tennis courts, and jewel robberies?
  20. You cried when you told me how all the pines were cut down;
  21. even the sea oats, sea plums, sea grapes were bulldozed to death.
  23. Circe,
  24. my darling, what could I say to you,
  25. a man who once had the happy, rapturous life of being a pig,
  26. rooting for acorns under ancient oaks,
  27. caressing my sides by rolling in mud, but who surrendered to an illusion, egotism,
  28. a lie in his mind that a man is more important than a pig.
  29. Now a man again I am divided from everything,
  30. even my words are trace structures and have to be erased.
  32. Circe,
  33. I will not ask you to forgive me for the mistake I made,
  34. letting Odysseus make me a man again.
  35. I will not ask you to forgive me for all the destruction
  36. I caused when freed from being a pig.
  37. What good is forgiveness when the crime is done.
  39. Circe,
  40. daughter of the sun, who touched me with a sprig of moly,
  41. I do feel guilty and ashamed, ashamed and guilty before you,
  42. for what I did when no longer a pig.
  43. I aided in the destruction of an erotic paradise
  44. to build a society that produced Playboy.
  46. Circe,
  47. you were maligned by Homer, a poet in hire
  48. of the military aristocracy, who wrote propaganda
  49. to favor the R.O.T.C., to praise generals and colonels
  50. who in sex were impotent or homosexual, and
  51. who would never become one with your body for transformation.
  53. Circe,
  54. Homer should have made you the ideal of Western civilization,
  55. not Odysseus, the killer, who went from island to island
  56. spreading the double standard, copulating princesses,
  57. and any other who sang a song, while Penelope,
  58. the Uncle Tom of women, weaved.
  59. Odysseus taught the West how to have dehumanized sex
  60. without love, without emotion, without involvement.
  62. Circe,
  63. I know this long distance call is costing you much money,
  64. therefore I will not talk about the other Homeric hero,
  65. Achilles, a trashy guitar playing rock singer
  66. who thought Briseis a trophy to put on an overcrowded shelf.
  68. Circe,
  69. my darling, my dearest, perhaps your magic will return,
  70. you will find another island
  71. not ruined by man as yours and Sanibel.
  73. Circe,
  74. even if you cannot, if all possibility of paradise
  75. has been removed from the earth by the sellers of real estate,
  76. if all decent values have been destroyed by the lower,
  77. the middle, and the upper classes,
  79. Circe,
  80. even if we must live among man’s pollution,
  81. his nuclear plants, his beaches littered
  82. with fishermen, speargunning, suntanning, and beer cans,
  84. Circe, Circe,
  85. take me back again!

© Duane Locke. Nightsun, #1. Friendsville, Md.: Acheron Press (1981).


  1. Out with the pigs, she had discovered
  2. Truffles.
  4. The pig’s snouts had scraped away the concealment.
  6. The truffles in the wild looked different than truffles
  7. In a trompe l’oeil,
  9. Although lacking in architectonic elegance and textural
  10. Exquisiteness and a fastidiousness, the wild truffles prevailed,
  12. Although the earth had tarnished their surface brilliance
  13. And social finesse, these wild truffles would elicit
  15. The praise of a robust aesthetician for their psychological
  16. And philosophical depth rendered in a style mystic and apocalyptic.
  18. The girl, disheveled from the excitement, left the truffles
  19. As the pigs had discovered, left the truffles for the pigs to eat.

© Duane Locke. A Hot January, “Truffles and other poems.”  badosa.com (2004). [http://www.badosa.com/]

My bones are not a white rose

  1. I turned my skull towards the girl
  2. Who said she was my wife for fifty years
  3. And was named Penelope.
  4. I thought it somewhat absurd
  5. Turning my skull to look at her
  6. When I had no eyes to see,
  7. But even when dead it is difficult
  8. To overcome lifelong habits.
  9. She said her name was Penelope.
  10. Was my wife for fifty years.
  11. I could not be Odysseus,
  12. For I would
  13. never have tried
  14. To find my home.
  15. I would have stayed with Circe,
  16. And lived a happy life
  17. Rolling in the damp mud
  18. As a pig.

© Duane Locke. Voices From A Grave: Homage to Edgar Lee Masters (a chap-book). Liverpool: erbacce-press (2009). [http://erbacce-press.webeden.co.uk/]

About the Poet

Duane Locke (b. 1920) is a US retired PhD. in English Renaissance literature, specializing in English Metaphysical Poetry, and also Professor Emeritus of the Humanities and Poet in Residence at the University of Tampa. He is also a painter and photographer.

Locke was the leader of a group of poets, mostly his former students, who practiced what Locke called “linguistic realism,” and known as immanentists. Locke received a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1958 and was on the University of Tampa faculty throughout his academic career. As of January 2010, Locke has over 6,500 different poems published in print magazines and e zines and over 20 books of poetry. [DES-01/11]

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.