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4. "Patron of the Mice"

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Apollo:

Mortals call me 
     God of Music,
     Lord of Sickness and Health,
     God of Far-Seeing Prophecy,
     God of Far-Shooting Arrows,
     Deputy Sun-Charioteer,
               but also,
          less frequently,
     Patron of the Mice.

On a supply ship,
          in a coffin-sized pithos of barley,
     they arrive,
          a few at first,
               but
     mice will be mice,
          in the filth and garbage of the Achaean camp,
and soon the plague is everywhere.

The mules
     sicken and die.

Agamemnon orders men to pull more weight,
     and chores around the camp grow harder.

The hounds
     sicken and die.

Agamemnon cancels the hunts
     into the Idaean woods
that bring fresh game to the officers' tables,
          and orders emmer porridge for all.

The men
     sicken and die.

Agamemnon orders
     quarantine flags
          for stricken tents,
     pyres
          to burn the bodies of the fallen,
     trenches
          for mass graves.

The men grumble,
     unable to defend
          against
               tiny,
               long-tailed,
               furry arrows,
     as I stand by,
          gleefully,
with my bow.

THE EPIC CYCLE:

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