Hercules Demented 


He develops a weakness for sailor’s
hide-and-seek, poses for buck’s night
with paddles, crisp short-sleeved shirt
accentuating biceps, iridescent teeth
flashing. Distraught, his embarrassed
grandchildren conspire to secure the
rumpled refugee some place safer,
bundle him up and haul him away
telling him Simon Says it’s all OK.

He fades. Thinner, bad-tempered,
withdrawn, he remembers how
as a child, while his twin brother
cried, he’d strangled the snakes
sent to kill him. He’d even played
Cat’s Cradle with their limp corpses.

His past becomes uncomfortable,
his calendar no longer rational.
Days flake away, again he learns
to play his lyre, practises with tone
and pitch; again he kills his teacher.

Time’s machine misfires,
hiccups and shudders through
an invented firmament, descends
but never alights. Affixed to the sill
of his cell, a celluloid pen with blue,
green, and cream barrel, a souvenir
from the future.

Around him, children surf
spaghetti timelines, hide-
and-seek Peek-a-boo
I see you


Mercedes Webb-Pullman completed the MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2011. Her work has appeared online and in print in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Spain, and Palestine, in Turbine / Kapohau, 4th Floor, Pure Slush, Swamp, Scum, Reconfigurations, Main Street Rag, Otoliths, Connotations, The Red Room Company, Midnight Circus, and Cliterature, among others, and in her books. She lives in Paekakariki, New Zealand.