Frostwriting

Two Fables from Aesop

by Jan D. Hodge

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The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox

Lion was ailing, laid
up in his lair, and so
all of the animals
came to condole,
visiting him with an
overattentiveness
worthy of sycophants
playing a role.

All except Fox, as the
slavering Wolf was in
haste to point out in an
effort to win
Lion’s eternal and
uncategorical*
favor by shaming his
creaturely kin.

*Apparently Wolf didn’t know that despite collo-
quial misuse, the correct term is ‘categorical.’


Fox, hearing word of the
backbiting, asked for a
chance to explain such a      
slight, if you please.
“Majesty, given the
unshakability
of my devoted con-
cern for your ease,

“I have been seeking a
way to alleviate
such of your pain as I
possibly can,
tracing down thousands of
pseudorestorative
bromides and curatives
since I began.”

“Only this morning did
I find a doctor who
told me the remedy’s
perfectly plain
if one’s a master of
physiotherapy.
Wrap him in fur from a
wolf freshly slain.”

Wolf was, of course, but a
vassal of Lion, who
saw fit to skin him right
there on the spot.
One can imagine Fox
apothegmatically
snickering as he set
off at a trot:

“If one should wish to win
majesty’s favor, I
offer this counsel (which
also just might
further more positive
interrelatedness):
‘Act out of mercy and
not out of spite.’”


The Cat and Aphrodite

A cat fell in love with
a handsome young man and
petitioned the goddess
to make her a lass
that he might behold her
appreciatively.
Perhaps even loving
her might come to pass.

And fair Aphrodite,
who favors all lovers,
transformed her at once to
a beautiful maid,
and he saw in her the
idealization
of all he had longed for,
allure unafraid.

Their mutual ardor
soon led them to wed, and
the goddess took pride in
the joy of the groom.
But had she made good in
denaturalizing
her votary? Loosing
a mouse in the room

would prove her. She did so,
and watched as the maiden
instinctively seized it,
forsaking her man.
Indignant, the goddess
retaliatively
took action. The maid was
a feline again.

Jan D. Hodge spends his retirement writing double dactyls, carmina figurata, and other challenges. His poems have appeared in North American Review, New Orleans Review, American Arts Quarterly, and many other print and online journals and in the 5th edition of Western Wind and the new edition of Turco’s The Book of Forms.

Issue 12 contents

Poetry