Tag: antinous

POEM: Dog Days

“Hermanubis, show me the way out of this valley.”

The dog-headed lord raises one arm and points

To where Sirius is rising with the sun.

Then he drops to all fours and nudges me with his snout

To get me moving. I climb to my feet and pick up

The caduceus where Hermanubis dropped it.

The god barks joyfully and trots toward the light,

Looking back over his shoulder to make sure I follow.

 

How long have I been in this valley?

The river has pooled and stagnated.

The flowers on the bank have withered.

All the steep hills to either side are still in shadow,

Slopes of broken rock that cut my feet.

At least I think they did. But the dog-god

Is making his way forward along the riverbank,

Leaving his paw prints in the soft mud,

And I think I can follow, leaning on his staff.

 

The stream gets wider as we head up the valley;

The water begins to move. Where did it come from,

Flowing away from us now, leading us the way

We were going? What are these red flowers,

Emerging from the mud as the water widens?

I can see my reflection in the stream, lit

By the twin beams of Ra and Sothis,

But I hardly recognize myself.

 

The further we go, the brighter, stronger,

Hotter the light gets. I lower my eyes till

all I can see are the faithful dog’s footprints,

Bordered by shoots of green, but still

I falter. I cover my eyes against the light

And grip the god’s staff more tightly,

But I cannot go on–until a shadow appears

And rises to engulf me. Hermanubis barks.

 

The sound of baying hounds and barking beasts

Answers the cynomorphic god. I stumble back

As the pack of them surrounds us, barking,

Panting, whining. But it is not their shadow

Which comes over me, cool and beneficent,

Softening the light so that I can see again,

I can lift my head to see him–my god,

Antinous, the master of the hounds.

He pets Hermanubis and smiles at me.

 

“Come on, we’re going hunting. Don’t worry

About keeping up. Your feet will be fleet

As Hermes’ if you run with us! Come on!”

Buskins on his feet, a quiver over one shoulder,

A bow with arrow in his hand, he is dressed

For hunting. The dogs prance and bark.

The wings of the caduceus flutter;

Its dormant snakes stir. Can I find

What I am seeking if I run with the hunt?

In the presence of the god it seems possible.

The divine boy turns, whistles;  the dogs

Lead off, and in the safety of his shadow,

I run forward, fleet as Hermes, I run, I run.

POEM: Protest March

Hosanna to the Son of David
Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord

Cut the branches
Go out and cut the branches
Willow and pussywillow
Palm and pine tree
Lulav and thyrsus and bunches of daffodils
It’s time for a protest march

The children of the Hebrews
spread in the way their garments and
cried out, saying

Black lives matter
Trans lives matter
Six million Jews in the ovens of Hitler
Black boys and men on the streets of America

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord
Blessed are those who march in the name of justice
in the name of Jesus, in the name of King,
in the name of Attis, in the name of Dionysus,
in the name of Antinous
Hosanna in the highest

Cut back the flowers
that are just now sprouting
cut back the new shoots on the old trees
make signs, wear hats, wave rainbow flags
blessed is the one who comes in peace,
riding on an ass and not on a stallion
riding on a donkey and not in a chariot
riding on an ass and not in a tank
Hosanna in the highest

The young man dies and the old ones go on
The King of Peace dies and the warmakers live
The beautiful youth dies and his blood becomes flowers
the black boys die and their blood flows in the streets
Poison flows out of the faucets of Flint
Where is the clean water out of the temple?
Where is the city that is at unity with itself?

Hosanna to the Son of David
Jesus went into the city
and threw out the moneychangers from the Temple
the buyers and sellers, the currency exchangers,
the dealers in doves, the gougers of prices
do you think that had nothing to do
with why they killed him?
Break out the palms and sing hosanna
This is a protest march

FLASHBACK: For the Treiskouroi and the Trophimoi

There’s a bunch of teenaged boys running around in my religion–
how did they get here? But this is their gym, so how did I get there,
middle-aged lady with bad knees and a bad back. Favorinus
of Arles, the Stephen Fry of his age, passes me a beer and says,
“Don’t worry about it: Just admire all this naked beauty.” There’s a God,
and a Hero, and a Sanctus; there’s a bunch of adopted kids–put down
that spear before you put someone’s eye out! It’s all fun and games
till someone gets turned into a tragic flower. Why do their parents
let them out to run around like this, there’s Antinous making eyes
at an older man, Memnon always has a bunch of bloody carcases
at hand, Lucius keeps meeting some odd-looking god with
an animal face and sticky-uppy ears. And the girls bounce around
with the boys and nobody seems to care–isn’t that anachronistic?
Does their mother know they’re out? Favorinus just laughs
at my consternation. “Here, have some chocolate. Have some
apples. Have some grapes. Go have a bath, get yourself
a massage, a good rub-down with olive oil.” Favorinus
never takes his clothes off, but he’s down to a loincloth,
and I’m a fat lady wrapped in towels. Polydeukion comes over
to give me a handful of flowers and a long speech about–
something, delivered so fast and with such mounting excitement
all I can do is shake my head. But the flowers are beautiful,
and they smell of spring. Of youth, and vitality, and a love
that can bloom for eternity.

(Originally posted at Antinous for Everybody in 2015)

POEM: The Eagle's Star

Antinous rises tonight
Tonight he bestrides the constellations,
bridging Aquarius and Aquila
Heralded by Muses and poets,
he ascends the heavens
to claim the Boat of Millions of Years
The archons of the underworld are defeated
Their perversions no match for his terrible beauty
Fear and hatred, greed and lust
flee from the light of his countenance
Hail, Antinous! Star of beauty in the night sky!
Hail, Antinous! Navigator of the celestial Barque!
Hail, Antinous! You are the journey, you are the guide,
you yourself are the destination!
Hail, Antinous! The beautiful boy rises in the east!

POEM: A hymn for the winter solstice

The longest night, the shortest day
Each year it comes and goes its way
The bleak midwinter blest with feasts
To joy the greatest and the least

The newborn light becomes a boy
His mother’s pride, the whole world’s joy
The gods immortal come to earth
In mortal flesh for mortal mirth

Here Jesus sleeps with ox and ass
As one by one the shepherds pass
To worship him the angels sang
On whom the coming centuries hang

Antinous puts on the crown
That Dionysus handed down
Of ivy, grape, and fragrant pine
And bids us to the feast with wine

While Hercules, the victor strong,
Cries, “Io, Io!” with the throng
And Angerona has the right
To keep us silent for a night

So let us keep our flames alight
Through shortest day and longest night
And hold each other, heart and hand,
Till spring spreads forth throughout the land.

Requiem for the trans dead, movement six

VI. Libera me

O Antinous the Liberator, deliver us.

Deliver the living from transphobia

and the trans dead from their fears.

Deliver the living from the fear of Eros

and the trans dead from their unrequited loves.

Deliver the living from the tyranny of gender roles

and the trans dead from the tyranny of the body.

Deliver the living and the dead alike from all evils

that would harm the body, that would assault

and deform the soul. O Antinous, liberate us!

 

May Panprosdexia free the minds of the living

and the souls of the trans dead.

May Panhyle free the bodies of the living

and the remains of the trans dead.

May Paneros free the hearts of the living

and the hearts of the trans dead.

May Pancrates burn the bonds of the living

and likewise of the trans dead.

May Paneris contest with all hatred among the living

and defend and protect the trans dead.

May Panprosdexia succor the living

and find all the trans dead, wherever they may be,

and lead them home to the light.

In the world but not of it

I don’t talk about politics much. It’s not interesting to me as a topic, unlike religion, or space exploration, or birds. That doesn’t meant it’s not important to me, however. After yesterday’s election here in the United States, I am dismayed, I am angry, and I am afraid, not so much for myself as for friends who are more obviously not the white cis hetero norm than I am.

What has dominated my thoughts this morning, oddly enough, is a phrase from my Christian background, the phrase I chose for my title: In the world but not of it. By “the world” Christian theology properly means not nature, the created world, the cosmos, but the human-created world, society and its distorted values. Early Christians lived in a society that cherished very different values from their own, so much so that they were identified as atheists, dissidents, terrorists. A good deal of the ethical teaching in Paul’s letters is his reminding his audience of that, mixed with a certain amount of respectability politics.

The first two or three generations of Christians refused to identify themselves as Jews or Gentiles, slaves or masters, citizens or subjects of Rome. They called themselves citizens of that kingdom of heaven that Jesus had said was within each person; they imagined a new Jerusalem, a perfect city, an ideal community where their values were the norm.

That’s how I’m feeling this morning. I am in this nation, but not of it. I do not belong here. My black friends, my gay and lesbian friends, my queer and trans friends, my Jewish and polytheist and pagan friends don’t belong here. That’s what the election results say to me. Never mind that the very real problems of our country were caused not by any of them, not by Mexicans or Muslims, but by rich and still greedy white men like the one who was just elected, men who have nothing but contempt for women, for people of color, for people without wealth. We are in this nation, but not of it; our true citizenship is somewhere else, someplace we imagined was implied in the founding documents of the United States, however little the Founding Fathers may have realized it. Perhaps someday we can build our city here; I have not entirely given up hope.

In the meantime, I see my job as a writer as imagining alternatives. Other people can write the dystopias that now look like prophecies; my work will continue to celebrate possibilities. I’m calling my new Jerusalem, my kingdom of heaven, my true citizenship, Antinoopolis, the city that Hadrian built at the place where Antinous’ body was found. I am no longer pledging my allegiance to a divided nation where liberty and justice are available only to those who have the right gender, the right color of skin, and the requisite bank balance. I pledge my allegiance to Antinous and to the city where he is worshipped, a city open to all races, colors, creeds, genders, and sexualities where love, friendship, wisdom, and creative endeavor are cherished.