About this Poem 

"I wrote this piece thinking of how easily we hold others accountable for their 'failures' against us without fully considering what it feels like to fail ourselves."
—Charles Jensen

Complaint of Achilles' Heel

Charles Jensen

Everyone’s so quick to blame my
tenderness. My wound opening like a mouth
to kiss an arrow’s steel beak.

A beautiful man, now, plants his face
in Trojan sand while I tell
the secrets of his body—

make the ground red with truth.
Red with the death of Achilles, felled
by an arrow’s bite when nothing—

nothing—could puncture his Kevlar skin.
Everyone skips ahead to the moral: don’t
be a heel. For just one day I felt

sun where the chafing bonds of sandal
should have been. Without me, he’d be
just more fodder for the cannon.

I made him a hero, Troy’s poster
boy. Everyone forgets I was part of him,
I needed him—that even as he died,

I tasted each pulse—
that I could not hold back its rush of red
birds or the season to which they flew.

Copyright © 2013 by Charles Jensen. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Charles Jensen. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Charles Jensen

by this poet

poem
        —The "Miranda Rights," established 1966


You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.

An attorney you cannot afford
will be provided to you.

You have silent will.
You can be against law.
You cannot afford one.

You remain silent. Anything you say
will be provided to you.

The
poem

My only glory was in beauty,
how I reached from her slender neck
toward the sky, ravaged by wind

the way a rough lover handles
you: dizzying, powerful,
unpredictable, but with joy,

joy in touching you,
joy in seeing you disheveled. The cool
night air ran its lips