All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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The Pythia Speaks

I sit where you bade me, Lord,

feeling the vapors caress me

feeling myself lift like the coils of smoke around me

feeling you slide your hand into my soul

like a puppeteer’s hand inside the puppet,

and I hear your voice.


It comes out of my mouth

answering the questions

of the ones who stand before me

as I sit shrouded in darkness.

I can see the worry on their faces that they try to hide,

here in this cave sacred to you–

the tripod in its place,

the scent of the mountain underneath me in my nostrils

and I give myself over wholly to you,

not knowing the words that emerge from my lips

before the moment that they do.


It is not my voice but your voice

not my words but your words

not my sight but your sight

and in all things, my lord,

I am only your servant, your tool,

and overjoyed to be able to do

this task for you.


Delphian, Manticus,

may I always hear Your voice

whether I gape my jaws to speak to others

or listen for You only for myself;

may I never cease to listen

may I always wait,


heart pounding,


for the least of Your words

is as gold and rubies to me,

and Your trust in me to do Your will

the greatest treasure of all.

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Five Day Poetry Challenge: Elgin


So, I got tagged by Galina Krasskova for the Five Day Poetry Challenge. I had to look it up to figure out what it was (not being the sort who is often challenged, or challenging). The challenge is to post five poems, one per day, and to nominate someone else to do it also. (I have to think about who to nominate.)

The rules I read for the challenge didn’t specifically say it had to be a new poem every day, but I’m going to try to go with that, at least until the well of inspiration dries up. And, since I’d been thinking about doing a villanelle, that’s what you get.

I wrote this over the last half hour. Hope it suits.


The theft still stands; they show it proudly now,
Though years have passed since stones they took away.
The country mourns, bereft of their gods’ gaze.

Phidias threw his heart into his work,
Spent years at birthing gifts of piety:
The theft still stands; they show it proudly now.

Apollo, Zeus, and Hera graced the walls;
Hermes and Poseidon watched from on high;
The country mourns, bereft of their gods’ gaze.

Unmoored from where they stood for centuries,
And shipped across the sea to foreign lands:
The theft still stands; they show it proudly now.

And for his crime, the burglar revered was:
Though enemies had lied to let him steal;
The country mourns, bereft of their gods’ gaze.

And to this day, these stones sit far from home;
They bear the name of their thief: him, alone.
The theft still stands; they show it proudly now.
The country mourns, bereft of their gods’ gaze.

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There is sickness in the air:
a pollution of the spirit,
hanging over the cities,
hanging over the pastures where the herds graze,
hanging even over the temples where offerings are brought.
Do not mistake me for that other One;
Lambs are light, easy to carry,
for all they may kick and bleat
or shit down your shoulder.
Shepherds may revere me, but I am no shepherd;
The burden I carry is no lamb newborn
or shaggy ewe, udders swollen with Spring’s milk.
No, what I carry is the flock’s guardian
— not the shepherd, no beardless boy with bark-stripped staff —
but the flock’s true king,
crowned heavy with horns,
fire in his eyes at the merest whiff of wolf or bear;
fierce his shout and fierce the thundering beat of his heart,
fiercer still the courage he shows as he charges those
who would do the ewes or lambs harm.
This is why he makes the perfect sacrifice;
this is why I carry him, heavy and struggling,
across my shoulders, around the city walls,
high enough for all to see —
the shepherds in their fields
and the priests in the temples,
the children playing in the streets
and the merchants in the city square.
He is no mewling babe, easily controlled;
it takes determination to hold him,
and the certainty that bringing the blade to his throat
to spill his blood and then lower meat and fat and fur to the fire
will bring on the favor of those who sit so high above
and send that sweet smoke unto them.
After you have washed yourself with water
of sea salt and bay leaf smoke,
after I have borne the ram to the place of sacrifice,
after all the proper rites been conducted,
then — and only then — has that spirit-sickness lifted,
has the miasma been purged,
and then and only then will the herd rest safe once more.

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My mother, deathless Rhea,

must have loved me best;

why else endure the devouring of three daughters

and two sons

before finally deciding “Enough!”

Why not act sooner?

Cronus’ pattern, it can be said,

was clear from the very first–

or, at least, having swallowed Hestia whole,

from the second,

when he swallowed fair Demeter as well.

I never understood that, to be honest;

the prophecy was plain–

he would be overthrown by a son,

not just any child,

so why gorge his ravenous hunger

on the girl-children at all?

Unless he could not tell the difference,

at first,

and then had gotten the taste for it.

No matter.

As I said, my mother must have loved me best:

not to stop those awful feasts at once,

nor simply to let me be eaten also,

and any who came after me, as well.

I never had to dangle by one foot

over that wide and gaping maw;

never had to slide, whole and unchewed,

down the dark and tight-clutching

tunnel of his throat

to drop into his gullet.

No — I was meant for greater things,

hidden in a cave by my mother,

as one of my own clever sons later was,

fed to fullness on goat’s-milk and honey,

and grown, in time,

to the strength of hands

and might of thews.

I must give thanks to my grandfather,

glutted with a surfeit of rage at his maiming,

and the outrage of my grandmother,

whose fury at her son’s foul meals

deprived her of grandchildren.

They aided my mother in her deception,

and I grew to adulthood

with the sound of spears clashing against shields

ringing in my ears.

When I was ready,

I knew I could not defeat my sire alone,

so within his food was hidden a bitter herb,

and one by one,

my brothers and sisters were vomited forth,

full-grown in his belly over the years,

and ready to take umbrage

–and vengeance–

for his deeds.

To be fair, my father was not stupid;

he understood the inevitability of the prophecy,

even as he strove to defy it,

and he knew the danger in those brethren of his

whom mother-Gaia made:

the one-eyed ones,

the hundred-handed ones,

even his own brothers and sisters,

cowards though he must surely have thought

those last to be,

since they would not take up,

any of them,

the flint sickle their mother had made,

to rid her of Ouranos’ unstinting attentions.

I was not stupid, either,

and though I enlisted my deformed uncles

against my own father,

I was no fool to allow

any such monstrosities

to walk free when the battle had ended,

and my father had been chained up

to languish in Tartarus.

I have spawned my own brood since then,

maidens of flower and battle and the hunt,

sons of war and cleverness and revelry,

and I will not make my father’s mistake.

I will not devour any of them,

for such is abhorrent to me,

but I will always remember

that the one most likely to strike me down

is more apt to come from within the family

than without,

and I will keep my eyes open wide,

and be wary,

and be ready.