All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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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?


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Brauronia

They dance for you, clad in

the gold of crocuses.

They dance for the bear that was killed,

and honor it—and you—accordingly.

Singing, celebrating,

cheeks aglow with joy under the masks,

under the false faces of the bear that died.

Every girl-child born in that place

grows from infancy knowing

that some day, she will go

to your temple, first racing through the woods,

arktoi in name and face,

wild as the bear is wild,

before coming with the others of her kind

and dancing those slow and solemn steps

that show how the great beast

once walked those same ways,

sleeping and hunting and playing,

your children now

as he was then.


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Finding Athena

There are many kinds of wisdom,

but I have always felt closest to you

in the library,

surrounded by tall stacks of books,

the scent of gently aging paper and ink in the air,

words of wit and wisdom in frames on the wall.

This is not your true home,

no more than any earthly temple can be,

for it is not Mount Olympus.

But nonetheless, I feel you here,

just out of sight,

browsing, running your fingers

over the spines of many tomes:

history, archaeology, strategy and tactics,

languages, arts and poetry,

the science of the polis,

government, and the care and feeding of human devotees.

The quiet here, the respect for learning,

these strike me as things that would please you,

and the reverence for knowledge

seems to me as its own sort of offering

in your name.

Many times while visiting,

I fancy that I might meet you face-to-face

if I just step around a corner,

or around the end of the next stack,

and then, if I were very lucky,

very blessed,

we might sit down with cups of tea,

and enjoy a long and enlightening conversation

about all the topics

which we both long to know more about.


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Mercury Retrograde

(I never do humor in poetry. Never. Well, never until now. But if a poem came to me that was mildly humorous about something connected with a deity, at least I know that the god in question DOES have a sense of humor.)

 

I suppose, dear Hermes,
that I should look upon these crises
as challenges meant to help me grow,
but I would really just like to know
what happened
to my wifi
and
my bus.