Patroclus by Jacques-Louis David (1780)

Forget Athena, Aphrodite, Hera,
their bickering that led to war.

Forget the voyage, the wine-dark sea,
foreign tides on a foreign shore.

Forget Agamemnon’s arrant arrogance,
the stench of men dying like cattle.

Forget Achilles’s armored grace,
the glory of his skill in battle.

Forget the Trojans behind their wall.
Forget my name, my deeds, my death.

Forget Achilles’s wrathful grief,
he whom I loved while I had breath.

Forget he held me in his arms
before our burnt bones shared an urn.

Forget the past and let us rest.
Step up. Bow. Take your own turn.

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Mary Soon Lee
Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but now lives in Pittsburgh. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her book "Elemental Haiku," containing haiku for each element of the periodic table, has just been published by Ten Speed Press. Her website is and she tweets at @MarySoonLee.