Trigger Warning

by Len Krisak (March 2016)

How was I to know?

There was no way to tell

That when we came to Philomel

Her tears would well up so.

The thought of Itys as so many shish kebobs,

And served up to his father in a stew,

Racked her with convulsive sobs

That sent her bolting for the door

And down the hall. Tereu, Tereu,

I thought, with nine books more

To get through.


I called a break, of course,

As twenty pairs of eyes besides my own

Followed the weeping mother in

Her dash to find a place where Ovid’s sin

Might lose some smidgen of its force.

She blamed me, too (I should have known

That myths like that were pure abominations

That no loving mom should be subjected to).

Ten minutes later, we were at our stations,

Ready for the rape and incest coming next.

“All right,” I said. “Remember—this is just a text.”




Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins ReviewCommonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Forthcoming: The Carmina of Catullus, Carcanet Press, 2015, Afterimage, Measure Press, 2014, Rilke: New Poems, Boydell & Brewer, 2015 and Ovid: The Amores and The Ars Amatoria, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.



To comment on this poem, please click here.

To help New English Review continue to publish original poetry such as this, please click here.

If you have enjoyed this poem and want to read more by Len Krisak, please click here.

Join leaders of the American Middle Eastern community to endorse

Donald J. Trump
for President of the United States

and spend an evening with his foreign policy advisors featuring
Dr. Walid Phares
and other surprise campaign guests.

Monday October 17th

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

cocktails at 6pm - dinner at 7pm
Business casual attire

$150 per person / $1500 per table

Sponsored by the American Mideast Coalition for Trump

Buy Tickets