i come from a long line of muses.
beauty contests won by bribery
and bravery. i was taught that the
way to a man’s heart is through
the fucking ribcage. there is no time
to play house. the daughter of dimitra,
i’ll take a pomegranate martini and
6 months in hell. you said you had a
nightmare that i would kill you in your
sleep. my darling, i only want to make
your dreams come true.
choke down pomegranate seeds
we all have needs
you had to eat
and hades put his hand over
your virgin mouth
and in the morning
demeter tried to follow
your footsteps in
the trail you left
through the dewey grass
she sits alone at her hearth
and sings to the bonnet
she had knit you
this will do
this ill will
not swallow you
March feels wintry
On the first day of spring
I am an abductee.
Hades' hunger for sexuality
His underworld queen
When spring isn't spring
And the grass isn't green
I am Persephone
When I looked upon Persephone
Lying next to the Styx,
My heart crumbled into pomegranate seeds.
I dug them out,
Smuggled them past the spaces
Of my ribcage,
And handed them over.
She swallowed them whole.
They took root in the pit of her stomach
And a branch grew out of her stained mouth,
A fat pomegranate at the end of it.
She plucked it before I could,
Pressed her fingernails into the skin
The juices ran red like the Nile down her wrists
And I felt the twist of a knife
In the center of my chest.
Spring blooming from her throat.
She had left
Before I could wrap my fingers around her sunshine.
In her place
She left only three
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be;
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee;
Say to her, “My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here.”
Life glows from the ashes,
Red and dead.
Rest assured I will not waste
My atoms. The sea
In which they swim is not
So fickle as life.
From the land Persephone is torn
Into the heat of hell-
But fire can serve a woman well.
In Spring she shoots forth
A million delicate souls.
Through flames, the willowherb of this
Barren body will take seed,
In its own way beautifying
My scorched scars,
My cauterized heart.
The fatal lick of a poison dart
Will take only me,
The tools remain,
They regain their power
And Persephone will rise through me.
I have seen it before,
This end feeds desire.
Life at its finest is paved with fire.
Faint as a climate-changing bird that flies
All night across the darkness, and at dawn
Falls on the threshold of her native land,
And can no more, thou camest, O my child,
Led upward by the God of ghosts and dreams,
Who laid thee at Eleusis, dazed and dumb,
With passing thro' at once from state to state,
Until I brought thee hither, that the day,
When here thy hands let fall the gather'd flower,
Might break thro' clouded memories once again
On thy lost self. A sudden nightingale
Saw thee, and flash'd into a frolic of song
And welcome; and a gleam as of the moon,
When first she peers along the tremulous deep,
Fled wavering o'er thy face, and chased away
That shadow of a likeness to the king
Of shadows, thy dark mate. Persephone!
Queen of the dead no more--my child! Thine eyes
Again were human-godlike, and the Sun
Burst from a swimming fleece of winter gray,
And robed thee in his day from head to feet--
"Mother!" and I was folded in thine arms.
Child, those imperial, disimpassion'd eyes
Awed even me at first, thy mother--eyes
That oft had seen the serpent-wanded power
Draw downward into Hades with his drift
Of fickering spectres, lighted from below
By the red race of fiery Phlegethon;
But when before have Gods or men beheld
The Life that had descended re-arise,
And lighted from above him by the Sun?
So mighty was the mother's childless cry,
A cry that ran thro' Hades, Earth, and Heaven!
So in this pleasant vale we stand again,
The field of Enna, now once more ablaze
With flowers that brighten as thy footstep falls,
All flowers--but for one black blur of earth
Left by that closing chasm, thro' which the car
Of dark Aidoneus rising rapt thee hence.
And here, my child, tho' folded in thine arms,
I feel the deathless heart of motherhood
Within me shudder, lest the naked glebe
Should yawn once more into the gulf, and thence
The shrilly whinnyings of the team of Hell,
Ascending, pierce the glad and songful air,
And all at once their arch'd necks, midnight-maned,
Jet upward thro' the mid-day blossom. No!
For, see, thy foot has touch'd it; all the space
Of blank earth-baldness clothes itself afresh,
And breaks into the crocus-purple hour
That saw thee vanish.
Child, when thou wert gone,
I envied human wives, and nested birds,
Yea, the cubb'd lioness; went in search of thee
Thro' many a palace, many a cot, and gave
Thy breast to ailing infants in the night,
And set the mother waking in amaze
To find her sick one whole; and forth again
Among the wail of midnight winds, and cried,
"Where is my loved one? Wherefore do ye wail?"
And out from all the night an answer shrill'd,
"We know not, and we know not why we wail."
I climb'd on all the cliffs of all the seas,
And ask'd the waves that moan about the world
"Where? do ye make your moaning for my child?"
And round from all the world the voices came
"We know not, and we know not why we moan."
"Where?" and I stared from every eagle-peak,
I thridded the black heart of all the woods,
I peer'd thro' tomb and cave, and in the storms
Of Autumn swept across the city, and heard
The murmur of their temples chanting me,
Me, me, the desolate Mother! "Where"?--and turn'd,
And fled by many a waste, forlorn of man,
And grieved for man thro' all my grief for thee,--
The jungle rooted in his shatter'd hearth,
The serpent coil'd about his broken shaft,
The scorpion crawling over naked skulls;--
I saw the tiger in the ruin'd fane
Spring from his fallen God, but trace of thee
I saw not; and far on, and, following out
A league of labyrinthine darkness, came
On three gray heads beneath a gleaming rift.
"Where"? and I heard one voice from all the three
"We know not, for we spin the lives of men,
And not of Gods, and know not why we spin!
There is a Fate beyond us." Nothing knew.
Last as the likeness of a dying man,
Without his knowledge, from him flits to warn
A far-off friendship that he comes no more,
So he, the God of dreams, who heard my cry,
Drew from thyself the likeness of thyself
Without thy knowledge, and thy shadow past
Before me, crying "The Bright one in the highest
Is brother of the Dark one in the lowest,
And Bright and Dark have sworn that I, the child
Of thee, the great Earth-Mother, thee, the Power
That lifts her buried life from loom to bloom,
Should be for ever and for evermore
The Bride of Darkness."
So the Shadow wail'd.
Then I, Earth-Goddess, cursed the Gods of Heaven.
I would not mingle with their feasts; to me
Their nectar smack'd of hemlock on the lips,
Their rich ambrosia tasted aconite.
The man, that only lives and loves an hour,
Seem'd nobler than their hard Eternities.
My quick tears kill'd the flower, my ravings hush'd
The bird, and lost in utter grief I fail'd
To send my life thro' olive-yard and vine
And golden grain, my gift to helpless man.
Rain-rotten died the wheat, the barley-spears
Were hollow-husk'd, the leaf fell, and the sun,
Pale at my grief, drew down before his time
Sickening, and Aetna kept her winter snow.
Then He, the brother of this Darkness, He
Who still is highest, glancing from his height
On earth a fruitless fallow, when he miss'd
The wonted steam of sacrifice, the praise
And prayer of men, decreed that thou should'st dwell
For nine white moons of each whole year with me,
Three dark ones in the shadow with thy King.
Once more the reaper in the gleam of dawn
Will see me by the landmark far away,
Blessing his field, or seated in the dusk
Of even, by the lonely threshing-floor,
Rejoicing in the harvest and the grange.
Yet I, Earth-Goddess, am but ill-content
With them, who still are highest. Those gray heads,
What meant they by their "Fate beyond the Fates"
But younger kindlier Gods to bear us down,
As we bore down the Gods before us? Gods,
To quench, not hurl the thunderbolt, to stay,
Not spread the plague, the famine; Gods indeed,
To send the noon into the night and break
The sunless halls of Hades into Heaven?
Till thy dark lord accept and love the Sun,
And all the Shadow die into the Light,
When thou shalt dwell the whole bright year with me,
And souls of men, who grew beyond their race,
And made themselves as Gods against the fear
Of Death and Hell; and thou that hast from men,
As Queen of Death, that worship which is Fear,
Henceforth, as having risen from out the dead,
Shalt ever send thy life along with mine
From buried grain thro' springing blade, and bless
Their garner'd Autumn also, reap with me,
Earth-mother, in the harvest hymns of Earth
The worship which is Love, and see no more
The Stone, the Wheel, the dimly-glimmering lawns
Of that Elysium, all the hateful fires
Of torment, and the shadowy warrior glide
Along the silent field of Asphodel.
It's gonna get colder when you leave.
The ground will harden
And the trees will sleep
And the world
Underneath the snow,
The wind will search for you in every face
Biting and frantic
But find nothing,
And in despair crack across the ground like a whip
Stirring up little ghostly eddies of ice crystals.
The snow will catch the branches and drag them down
Why the silence,
None of that summertime laughter
To light up the ice and make it sparkle.
The days will pull darkness around them like a thick coat
And slink by
In a hurry to be elsewhere,
Still too long, and too strange.
Just when we've all almost given up,
Winter will soften, just a bit.
The rains will come, like a good cry you've been holding your breath against
And the snow will wash away
And the ground will be ugly and scarred,
But bare at last,
And the land will begin
In anticipation of your footsteps there.
The sun will hold its line in the battle against the night
For just a sliver longer every day.
The first flowers will shoot up through
The last little patches of snow,
Light green and fragile.
The world will wake
Yawn and stretch,
Is she back yet?
Is she here?
The cherry blossoms on the tree in my backyard will unfurl
White and delicate and frothy on tough, leathery branches
And we will all see that maybe
Everything is going to be alright
Is she back yet?
Is she here?
And summer will stroll in, laughing,
The moment you set foot on this soil again.
Bleak is the mourning dawn of love,
the sky is red with tears.
Some day you will rise from the ashes,
Oh! Aphrodite of the Underworld,
sweet Persephone. The French call
it 'the little death.'
I call it the eternal one.
Never will I drink the sweet nectar
of death again, without tasting you there.
How rude of you. Hades! To keep me
Bound to the sunlight for six months,
when all I crave is darkness.
I want to crawl inside your skin
and eat you from the outside in.
Like a devout maggot on your corpse,
devoted to your decay.
In the dream, I am Persephone
in the badlands. A cinnamon girl
standing where the Zephyr sways
sage and coral gullies gasp
for one more drop to drink.
I am plucking pizzicato
with saguaro needles
and prick my fingertips.
Ten split figs
thicker than sap.
In the dream, you are with me
as Hades wearing a Zeppelin tee.
Your mouth opens
lips surround my slick fingers
sliding through the hollow of your breath.
My blood. A nightshade, a moon flower,
Toloache. You drink until you reach
the bedrock of my bones.
The desert is lonesome
now that I am gone
and you are delirium
with blood in your gums.
In the dream, the universe cracks
open like yolk from Cronus’ head.
Night spreads her dark cape
across the sky. Hades among the stars,
thin-hipped muses glittering like Aladdin Sane.
It is night and you are alone
in the badlands. Nothing to soothe
you but sonorous yips by coyotes
howling like Johnny Cash.
Two girls there are : within the house
One sits; the other, without.
Daylong a duet of shade and light
Plays between these.
In her dark wainscoted room
The first works problems on
A mathematical machine.
Dry ticks mark time
As she calculates each sum.
At this barren enterprise
Rat-shrewd go her squint eyes,
Root-pale her meager frame.
Bronzed as earth, the second lies,
Hearing ticks blown gold
Like pollen on bright air. Lulled
Near a bed of poppies,
She sees how their red silk flare
Of petaled blood
Burns open to the sun's blade.
On that green alter
Freely become sun's bride, the latter
Grows quick with seed.
Grass-couched in her labor's pride,
She bears a king. Turned bitter
And sallow as any lemon,
The other, wry virgin to the last,
Goes graveward with flesh laid waste,
Worm-husbanded, yet no woman.
There was something heartbreaking in his gaze.
Looking into his eyes
Was like watching every good and perfect thing in this world
It was as though
All the stars had fallen out of the sky
And splintered into glittering fragments all over the ground.
It was as though
The sun and the moon had collided,
Raining shining pieces all over the earth.
Looking into his eyes,
I felt my very being
Being pulled asunder by his loneliness.
And it was exciting.
I felt my heart quicken,
Pounding fast with the prospect
Of watching the world end over
And over again.
I knew this was the kind of loneliness
That gnawed at the world from its foundations,
Prowling like an un-mourned soul
And, in its brooding solitude,
Whipped up the howling winds that keep children up at night.
In all my sun-drenched life,
I had never seen a darker being.
I had never been this intoxicated by a mere gaze.
I had never known a bitterness so strong.
My world was all sweet harvests and smiling flowers,
But when he touched me,
It felt as though I'd stuffed my mouth with dandelion greens.
My taste buds protested but my body thrilled,
Reveling in his Armageddon eyes.
His fingertips were ice,
Trailing down my goose-pimpled skin,
And I knew I was the first hot-blooded woman he'd held.
I wanted to add fire to his shattered soul.
I wanted to watch the fragments of the world
Smoldering when he looked at me.
I wanted to feel his fierce loneliness grab me by the hair
And set my heart aflame.
And he did.
As I watched the heavens colliding,
I offered all the heat of my veins,
And he drank it in like the gods guzzle nectar.
He slipped his arm around my waist
And ferried me across the River Styx.
So I watched the world end,
One soul after the other,
Cooling slowly from revelry
As he burned with borrowed flames.
I dreamed about supernovas,
Stars exploding out of the sky.
I'd been so quick to trade sunshine for his eternal night,
Never considering that I'd be getting nothing in return.
I wondered if my gaze had begun to shatter.