Tag: dionysus

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

POEM: Snakes, clover, and beer

“I’ll take those snakes please,
if you’re finished with them,”
said Dionysus, “and
the little green plant with
the three-lobed leaf that
is everywhere abundant,
food of cattle, source of milk.
If you won’t drink wine,
I’ll press your vines
and make gallons of the stuff,
stain your black beer
with the green of the earth
and spill it on the streets
of asphalt. Call it Mardi Gras
when women bear their breasts
for beads and men cavort
in women’s costumes, if
it makes you feel better,
call it St. Patrick’s day
when the drinking won’t stop
weeks later, call it sin
when the thirst for life,
for joy, is never quenched,
but it is I, Dionysus and
Bacchus and Liber, to whom
those thirsty drunks call.”

FLASHBACK: For the Liberalia

Liber et Libera: A Dialogue

You are my brother.

You are my sister.

You are my husband.

You are my wife.

Your sister, your bride.

My maiden, my tragedy.

You went down into the underworld.

I raised you to the stars.

I thought I had lost you.

I thought I would never find you.

I am parthenos and hetaira.

I am the lover of women and of men.

You have ivy in your hair.

You have wine in your lap.

I have never loved anyone else.

I have only ever loved you.

Every one you have touched has been me.

No one touched you until I came.

Every one that I wanted was you.

You are every soul that I have desired.

We will make the flowers bloom.

We will make the seeds sprout.

We will make the cocks rise.

We will make the grain grow high.

We will pour out wine for everybody.

All the revellers will pour out wine for us.

I give you my heart and soul.

I give you my joy and madness.

I am your sister, your wife, the starry-crowned goddess of the heavens.

I am your brother, your husband, the ivy-crowned bull of the earth.

I am Ariadne, Persephone, Libera.

I am Dionysus, Asterios, Liber.

Liberation for All

From the opposite ends of the world they come together,
brother and sister, mirror twins, husband and wife.
Sometimes he is a bull-headed man
and she is the only one who knows how to find him.
Sometimes she is trapped on an island
and he is the only one who can rescue her.
Sometimes she watches from the stars
while he wanders the underworld and sleeps
in the arms of its goddess. Sometimes
he takes her hand and reminds her that she is
the underworld goddess, white-armed,
dark-eyed, implacable.

They are siblings who have never met.
They are spouses who are never separated.
She has always been here; he has always been there.
The grain and the grape, the myrtle and the ivy,
the bull and the princess who leaps between his horns.
He presides when boys stand up and put on the garments
of manhood; she whispers softly in the night as girls,
dreaming, become women, and hands them the key
to the labyrinth and the clue that will guide them through.

A cup of wine for Liber! A sweet cake for Libera!
Raise up the sacred phallus and honor it
with a wreath of flowers! Father Liber makes men
of boys, and Dame Libera opens the labyrinth
and sets all its prisoners free! Liberation for all!


(Originally published on Antinous for Everybody in 2015 & 2016)

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.

Hymn to Dionysus VI: Mirror

I am afraid of you, Dionysus, for I am afraid of myself.
I am afraid of your anger, for I myself am deeply angry.
I am afraid of your lust, for my own lust seems boundless.
I am afraid of your masks, for I hide my own truth constantly.
I am afraid of your wine, for it blurs my anxious mind.
I am afraid of your chains, for when you break them, you destroy,
and I have wanted to destroy and clutched my chains instead.
I am afraid of your freedom, for what will I do if I am free?
I am afraid of your love, for you loved both Pentheus and Ariadne.
Yet if I love a god, how can I empty that vessel?
Can my thirst be too great for you, Dionysus?
You only smile and offer me the cup.

Hymn to Dionysus V: Not a tame lion

Ben Whishaw as Dionysus in the Almeida production of The Bakkhai, 2015

He comes from somewhere else, at a time when he is unlooked-for.
He doesn’t wear the right clothes; his hair is too long or too short,
his walk is too butch or too femme. Women love him, but men
know better than to trust him; women crowd around him, but
right-thinking men back away. He smells of women’s perfume
and new leather and animal fur. He takes drugs and sings
lewd songs and women are always at his feet. He has no
permanent address, no stable job, no steady girlfriend.
He carries a club, or is that a parasol, or is it a stage prop,
or is it a weapon? He smiles too much; he doesn’t smile enough;
he doesn’t make sense, isn’t predictable, why won’t he follow
the rules? Rules keep us safe, and you are whatever makes us
feel unsafe, God of Nysa, stranger from far away. You are
sex to the prude, violence to the upright, drugs to the sober,
dance to the rigid, theatre to the boss man, religion to the atheist.
Yet you are also chastity, gentleness, mindfulness, stillness,
silence, and the closed mouth that has tasted the Mysteries.
Bull-horned, bull-footed, complicated god, no one is safe from you.

Hymn to Dionysus IV: Thyrsos


Take a stalk of fennel, tall enough to bear with pride.
Wind it about in one direction with ivy, ever green.
Wind it about in the other direction with grapevines,
which stiffen as they dry.
Crown it with a pine cone, bristling with hidden seeds.
Adorn it with ribbons, splash it with wine,
honor it with kisses, water it with tears or blood or come.
Carry it, wave it, shake it for attention,
lean on it when weary, pray to it when alone.
Sleep with it beside the bed, near to hand.
Watch it grow in your dreams; see it cast its shadow
over your life, spread its roots into every place.
Find the god waiting there, by his sacred tree,
the thyrsos: Dionysus, Bakkhos, Liber, euoi, euoi!