How I Lost the War

Cash Myron Toklas


You smell the abyss before you see him. Tartarus enters you like a truck
backing into your nostrils. Blink and he’s inside you. It wasn’t always like this.

When I was small, Tartarus was the primordial who sucked kites out of the sky
and hid lost toys in a hole drilled deep into the basement floor.

I peered up at him until the sun poked little holes around my retina.
I peered down at him until the basement walls closed in.

Tartarus was the one who helped me pin the one-eyed man beneath the floor
and the hundred-handed man under the bed. He was also the one who threatened to release them.

Later, Tartarus was the vice principal to whom the misbehaved were sent.
I looked the abyss in the eye. He stared me down, grabbed my shoulder, threw me to the ground.

Then he was a state of mind, the windowless prison that shackled me
from inside. Every surface became a mirror that reflects my shame.

I saw him as a bloodlessness about my face. The prisoner slope in my shoulders,
the sense of an unpleasant ending. The children saw him. The war was over before it began.

Finally, the abyss became a place, an assisted living facility across the water,
and I am waiting for my children to put me on the ferry.



Cash Myron Toklas is the pseudonym for an author, poet, and playwright who wishes to remain anonymous. He is new to literary publication, although three of his poems appeared recently in The Piltdown Review. His current project is a reboot of Hesiod’s Theogony from the perspective of Saturn/Kronos. In general, his work explores the lessons that ancient myth can offer for modern life.