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"Ball of Woe" By Barb Jennes, Instructor


Sisyphus rolls his ball of woe
up the hill of eternal hell,
over the police car that took his son away,
the damning drug test,
the blocked plumbing pipes
and begging dog with no food on the shelf,
over the leaking roof, the burnt-out lightbulb,
the children whining to lick the batter spoon.
He picks it all up as he shoves his Herculean heap uphill;
he adds to his load, just as he added to his sins in life.
It hasn't rained for weeks and the elephants are going extinct,
he sprouts grey hairs like ash from an angry volcano,
there's an itch he will never reach,
he's plagued by insomnia, obesity, angst,
hair grows where it shouldn't but none appears where once it sprang,
the candidates are all crazy and the police steal black lives,
the IRS and bill collectors fill his mailbox with reminders --
he rolls over them, too, and the weight grows unbearable.
The mirror that once fed his hubris mocks him now;
he wants to crush it under his burden but only adds it
to his agglomeration of anguish.
The house needs cleaning, the dinner needs cooking,
Zika virus threatens the next generation while
ISIS taunts this one with beheadings, bombings, barrages of hate.
Sisyphus adds them to his collection:
war is waged in the name of Allah and oil,
but there's never enough money for peace,
airplanes fall from the sky and disappear into unknown oceans,
the joke is on him when a rival plants a pillow
filled with noisy farts on his chair;
the numbers don't add up, but his birthdays do --
up, up, up,
up the years, up the hill, up the futility
and the only way to be freed from his torturous sphere,
to pack up all his cares and woes,
to be unleashed,
is to release his albatross, his onus,
to let it go, only go to roll back down the hill,
bumping and bouncing and shedding all manner of millstones
until at least it reaches the bottom,
a place he knows too well,
and slows to a stop...
only to begin again.

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