Tag: apollo

Three poems about Apollon

The crow speaks of Apollon

Look at me: My feathers once were white,

Purer than the dove’s, and drenched

With goddess Iris’ colors. Now I am

Black as soot, with only a flicker

Of iridescence, my song changed

To a squawk, my food carrion and

Scraps. Why? Because I told the truth:

Koronis lay with Iskhys when already

Full with Apollon’s child. The Far-Shooter

Sent his sister to punish the guilty,

In spite withholding his own arrows.

He punished the messenger, too,

And changed my colors and my voice.

Yet still I tell the truth, even when

Nobody asks it of me, and in that way,

Unthanked though I may be,

I am Apollon’s faithful servant still.


Kyrene speaks of Apollon

He never asked me to be anything different–

He alone, the god, not my father, mother, suitors,

Not my sisters, not random passers-by–only the god

Was pleased with who and what I was.

Shepherdess, huntress, princess

Who refused to weave and spin

Or bear the cup and flatter visitors

Or stay indoors while wind blew and sun shone

And the river swelled its banks

Between fields of flowers.

With one end of my spear

I nudged the sheep along,

And with the other

I drove off lions, wolves, wild dogs,

Yes, and two-legged thieves,

Men, and the crows and eagles

Who can carry off a new-born lamb.

He came to me in the wild, away

From the stifling palace halls,

Where I stood in a coarse tunic,

My hair unbound, leaning on my spear,

And shone into my darkness

While the sheep grazed in peace,

Untroubled by theophany.

Proudly I lay in Apollon’s arms,

Proudly I bore his son, of whom

I am also proud: My Aristaios,

Hunter, shepherd, and friend of bees.

To me the bright god was as sweet

As the honeycomb in my child’s hands.


The votary speaks of Apollon

He is a distant god, and my instinct

is to keep my distance from him.

Too close an approach to the sun

And you’ll be blinded, then burnt

To nothing. His love is a laser,

A concentration too fierce to bear.

Yet he allures, playing and singing

So that the Muses dance, and mortal

Creativity stirs to the rhythm

Of their pounding feet. Yet he allures,

Golden and flawless, wiser than

His youthful looks, not only a poet,

But a prophet and philosopher, too.

I stand aside, even as I mean

To draw closer to him, and admire

Others’ devotion even as I fear his regard.

The Opening of the Mundus on Election Day


In the name of Ceres,
goddess of the grain, giver of food,
protector of the poor,
defender of the rights of the plebes in Rome,
in the name of Ceres,
let the mundus be opened.
Let all the spirits fly out.
Let the dead come forth and have their say.
Let the privileged and the disenfranchised,
the rulers and the oppressed, speak their words today.
I call out the Founding Fathers,
Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Hamilton,
Franklin and Madison, and all the rest,
whose words carried greater ideals than they could embody.
I call out with them their wives and their daughters,
the black men and women they enslaved,
Abigail Adams side by side with Martha Washington
and with them Sally Hemings, equally our ancestors.
I call out the native peoples of this land
who saw guns and pestilence,
gifts given and treaties broken,
whose sons and daughters hold the line
against greed and lies to this very day.
I call out the Africans brought here as slaves,
worked to death with less care than animals,
raped and tortured, their sons and daughters
still walking in danger every day.
I call out the Chinese immigrants
who helped build the railroads,
the Irish and Italians who shaped New York,
the Jews who fled pogroms in Russia and
fled again when Hitler came to power.
I call on all the immigrants who came
to this continent looking for freedom,
whether they found misery or success.
I call on all whose labor made money
for greedy men. I call on the children
who worked in factories, losing limbs
and losing life. I call on the women
who held hands and leaped from the Triangle
building to escape the fires, because
the doors were locked to prevent them from stealing.
I call on the women who built guns and bombs
and cars and trucks while the men were at war,
who crunched the numbers and broke the codes
only to be shooed away into the kitchen
when the men came home from war.
I call on Martin and Malcolm and Muhammad Ali
and those who stood with them and marched with them.
Now at last let the disenfranchised dead have their say.
Now at last let them speak against the oppressor.
Now at last let their deaths be seen for what they were,
the spending of human lives to make money,
more for those who have much already,
profit for those whose greed knows no slaking,
power for those whose contempt makes them ugly.
Let the mundus be opened, let the dead come forth,
let the spirits speak freely, and let justice be done:
Let us atone for our past with a better future
where Ceres and Jove together bless the people
with good harvests, clean water, good weather,
abundant food and drink, where Minerva and
Apollo bless education and medicine for all,
where Mercury distributes information and goods
wherever they are needed, where Bacchus
is welcome and Antinous is lauded,
where all gods are honored, but no cult is privileged.
To these blessings I pledge my vote,
I ask the help of the gods, I ask the help of the dead,
I ask the help of the land itself on this Election Day.

Prayer after a blizzard


The earth is covered with snow, and the birds are starving.
Our cars are buried and frozen, our walkways are two feet deep.
O Sunna, shine on us! Melt the blanket of snow
into refreshing waters for the earth.
Helios, linger overhead, till the bare boughs drip water.
Apollo, sing, and charm the winds into blowing the drifts aside
so that the small birds and the wild deer can feed.
Grannos, heat the earth from within,
make safe our sidewalks and roads.
Vertumnus, turn the wheel, soften the earth
to be sown, encourage the snowdrop and the crocus,
and clear the ground for the birds’ mating dances.
Thor, drive away the frost giants, and protect us
when we burst outside, driven by cabin fever!

A letter from the underworld

I’m not quite ready to resume the 30 Days meme, but I’m happy to share with my readers an unexpected poem:

Persephone writes to her mother

Dear mother, if you are well, I am well.
My lord is well, too, though I know you will not ask about him.
You do not want to hear about our life below,
yet it is of that life I must tell you: It is my life now,
as divine and immortal as the life we lived on Olympos
or in the flowered fields of earth.
Once I thought that I might want to marry Apollo.
He was so bright, so beautiful; his voice was as fair as his face,
his hands as skillful on the lyre as on the bow.
He never once drew near me or offered me any intrusion.
Now I know that brightness can also be cruel
and that dead flesh stinks in the sunlight.
I know that mortals need shade in which to rest,
night in which to sleep, and earth in which to dwell for afterlife.
It is cool here, and dark, and most who come are content to rest
in the earth. For those who have the instructions,
there are pleasant trees and flowing waters,
fruit that does not rot, views that do not pall,
a joy of the mind if little ecstasy for the senses.
But things need time to rot, mother. Without rot
they cannot grow. And I, like fruit fallen into the ground
uneaten, like bread gone stale on the shelf,
I needed time away from you to rot, and then
to grow anew in the cool shade of the deep earth
and the quiet steady light of my husband’s gaze.
I know you miss me, mother, but do not resent my absence.
The woman who comes back to you will love you even more
because the girl she was has died.

Hymn VIII: To Antinous Apollon

You shoot from afar, but your aim is true,
Antinous Apollon, master of the hunt.
You speak from afar, but your words are true,
Antinous Apollon, giver of prophecy.
You sound the harp and the notes ring true,
Antinous Apollon, leader of the Muses.
Where your light shines, we can see what is true.
When you have spoken, we can hear what is true.
When you lead the dance, the harmony is true
between body and mind, soul and spirit, self and other.
Ever-shining one, brilliant by day or night,
let your light shine in me and through me;
let your voice sing in me and through me;
let your truth ring in me and through me, truly.