All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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Not Just the Flower Child

I am not frozen in time.

Too many of you do not realize

that gods, too, can change and grow;

we are not fixed and unmoving like our marble statues.

I was a child, once, a young woman,

playing in the field of flowers

with the nymphs who served my mother,

but in an instant, that all changed.

Why, then, do so many of you

see me still

—see me only—

as that innocent child?

Do you think that all I have seen,

done, endured, enjoyed

has no power to move or change me?

Evolution is a process

that not even the Deathless Ones

are exempt from.

My lord and my love Hades

brought me down from my mother’s sunlit world

to his dark and chilly realm

where there is only whispering and wails

when there is not silence.

A goodly portion of the year, I sit atop a cold marble throne

instead of warm earth crowned with spring blossoms,

and I see myself garlanded in gems

—or bones—

instead of fragrant blooms.

I am shaped by my home and those who are part of my life:

my somber, solemn husband,

the silent dead,

the shrieking Furies,

and occasionally, laughing Hermes,

who does what he can to lighten my mood.

 

 

I am my husband’s wife.

I rule Hades’ realm at his side,

and I am no longer an innocent child.

Just as humans can change, so can the gods,

exchanging old faces for new.

Our masks are not fixed, are not set.

Even a goddess of death is alive,

and this needs to be acknowledged.

I am my mother’s daughter, yes,

but I am also the Queen of the Dead,

and I have not been an innocent child

for a very long time.

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Streetside Prayer

Athena of the Polis,

watch over me, I pray you,

as I walk the byways of your city;

see me as I wander and keep me safe

as I honor you with my visits

to the libraries

the galleries

the schools

the museums,

and pray with the rhythm of my feet

against the sidewalks and cobblestoned street.

The merchants, the artists, the craftsmen,

they sing the litany of your skills

in the call to buy their wares,

the pounding of hammers;

the creaking of wheels against the road

are the instrumentation of your hymns.

O Athena, I exult in the richness

of this, your place,

this temple to civilization,

and thank you, grateful that I am so lucky

as to be allowed to share in it.

Io Athena!

The city, too, is your temple,

and gladly I worship there.


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Ode to Pan

Let me honor you with my fear,

o Lord of the woodlands and meadows.

Goat-footed god, great Pan, Hermes’ son,

there is wisdom in your wildness,

and ecstasy to be found at your revels,

but all the libations poured out to you

are less a fitting tribute than that primal terror

you engender,

setting the heart to roaring

and the skin to grow cold.

I taste metal streaking my tongue,

the song of adrenaline and cortisol,

a thunder in the ears akin

to the pounding of drums.

No matter how steady my feet have been

on the forest path,

when my mouth goes dry and

my breath comes quick,

I know it is reverence for you,

ripped from my bosom

even when there is no obvious cause—

no bear or wolf to menace with claw and fang,

no strange sound, sourced in silence,

no bolt of lightning or earth shaking beneath my feet,

only terror,

raw and relentless,

climbing up my throat from

my heart and my gut.

Great god Pan,

accept that offering that I bring you,

the gift of fear that you, in turn, give to me,

a gift for a gift,

given to the giver,

the respect and awe that I have for you,

and let my cries rise up to you.


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The Gift of Fire

Prometheus remembers.

 

Will Zeus ever forgive me, if I do this?

 

Probably not.

 

The coals glow on Hestia’s hearth,

casting their warmth outward in a living blanket

of bright radiance that calms and cheers

everyone that rests under that mantle of heat.

 

Below, on Terra, the mortals suffered,

huddled in their caves as a storm raged overhead,

casting down rain.

The winds lashing all who ventured out,

the thunder’s roars loud enough to penetrate

even down into the depths of the caves where they dwelled,

the children crying out in terror

even as they clung to their parents for warmth.

 

He was decided, then:

My brothers may languish in Tartarus,

but I am here, and I can act.

I remember the Golden Age,

when mortals loved us unconditionally,

and we, them.

 

I think of all the things this fire can be used for,

beyond the most basic:

cooking food, eating homes, and giving light, yes, but—

 

A sheet of wildfire races across a fallow field,

clearing it for planting.

 

A torch is used to sear closed the stump of an arm

that a lion has bitten off, keeping a man from

bleeding to death.

 

A young boy chars the tip of a stick in a cookfire,

then begins to draw upon a wall.

 

Fire is used to soften up logs, so they may be more easily

chopped to build a house.

 

Agriculture. Medicine. Art. Architecture.

And so much more.

 

My theft is not one gift, but a thousand gifts.

 

I scoop hot coals into the hollow reed I have prepared, and flee.

 

I will pay the price for my theft in time…

but it will be worth it.


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“Blood and Roses”

How in the world could he not love her?
No one else loved blood
as much as he did, but her:
scores of lovers, spurned,
opening their veins in despair
for what they could not have:
love and passion’s ultimate offering.
And millions of hearts
where love is turned to hatred:
such passion.
The opposite of love is not hate,
but indifference.

Beauty such as hers is deadly, always:
as bright as a sword’s blade,
fierce as Greek fire,
sharp as a sword’s point:
beauty to die for.

The Lord of War does not love much–
oh, passion he knows, war is all about passion,
but love? Blood and bodies,
weapons and wrath,
but that tenderer emotion is
all but a stranger to him.

Save for her.
Never has she asked him to give up his zeal–
never asked him to foreswear
the slaughter, the battles,
the bloodied steel, the corpses.
She understands the love of that
which makes one’s heart sing,
no matter whether it is her bourne or no.

That is her power, then:
that she could make even him know love,
of all those in the world–
he whose being is entirely devoted
to the ending of life,
rather than the act that creates it.

And in that, he acknowledges
which of them is more powerful.


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Ballroom

Down in the depths,
the Nereids dance—
Not the gavotte,
they all take a chance
To sway in a waltz,
to jig and to swing,
The Nereids dance,
and the sirens all sing.

The Nereids dance
while Triton approves;
Poseidon won’t laugh—
both gods like their moves.
The sirens all sing
as the waves ebb and flow,
The Nereids dance:
it’s all undertow.

The sirens all sing
while the mers play the tune—
The vision is bliss
in the light of the moon.
The light stretches far—
far under the waves:
The dance floor is made
of dead sailors’ graves.

The bones shimmer white;
with kelp they are bound,
And the Nereids dance
where dead men are found.
The sea never gives
up the bones of the dead:
The Nereids dance
when the waves all turn red.

The sirens all sing,
and the Nereids dance;
If you would sail,
you must take a chance:
Battles and storms
send the ships far below
And the Nereids dance
as the waves ebb and flow.


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Carry That Weight

“Give me a lever and a place to stand,”

Archimedes once said, “and I will move the Earth.”

But where do you stand to move the Earth?

And where do you stand to hold the sky?

Atlas tricked me, just for a moment;

not easy to do, as I am not the brainless

basket of muscles that too many take me for.

I had been sent to bring back

the apples of the Hesperides, his daughters–

an impossible task, given the dragon

that guarded both apples and nymphs;

and since he was their father,

he offered to go and obtain the apples for me.

I shouldered his burden,

lifting the weight of the All upon my shoulders,

never thinking he would not honor his word

and immediately take it back when

he returned, as he’d said he would.

I never gave a thought to where I stood;

perhaps it isn’t the fact that I carried the sky

that was so important;

perhaps it was that I carried all that the sky contained,

all it represented,

and all it meant to all those who looked upon it.

The moon with its dreams and fancies,

the sun that lit our every day,

the stars that led us in our ways both day and night,

by land and by sea.

Every bird that soars overhead to become an augury,

every insect, every torn leaf on the wind–

these things weigh so much more than you might ever dream–

certainly more than I did.

I don’t know how he managed,

bearing that burden day after day,

but for even a few hours,

I held it up, and it tested my strength

as it had never been tested before.

Does that make him the stronger than me?

I took it on voluntarily,

whereas he was forced to shoulder that weight

in penitence for his crimes,

and bear it forever.

Which of us, then, is the strongest?