POEM: “Siren Song”

Siren Song”

      you've been warned
know where they live across open sea
know which sharp craggy rocks they perch upon
snaring sailors on their deadly shore
cracking the bones of sea-faring men
cleaning their flesh from teeth stained 
by a thousand extinctions, they sing
music of the spheres to lure and leech
the lives of enamored audiophiles

       choose another route
sail from those soul-sucking succubi
their heavenly voices and sanguine incisors
      stuff your ears with wax
or blast Bach through headphones
to cancel out their carrion call 
      better to cast eardrums into the Western sea 
than drown yourself in black oblivion

	who would not be tempted 
by them, to hear the complementary notes 
of creation and destruction? 
the voice of god vibrates in the music 
of spheres spinning through the void 
as well as the whisper of autumn breezes
each shimmering fish in the sea.
no need to risk all when 
beauty’s before you.

	resist the temptation
danger loses its allure 
when you’re a corpse: dead is dead. 
sex and danger cancel each other 
when sunk within 
deep ocean 
graves

and yet
      some things are worth dying for,

but
for some 
a simple mutilation will suffice,
or 

maybe something less
like--a pounding head,
    --an eardrum busted 
by noise-canceling BOSE,
    and an enormous credit card bill 





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*inspired by the following tweet by @sentantiq at 6:59am May 13, 2021
“Someone might escape the beautiful bewitchment of Homer’s Sirens by not starting at all, by stuffing wax in his ears, or by turning in some other direction.” #Eustathius

*common sense disclaimer: I am not disparaging BOSE earpieces, just commenting in the poem that blasting music too loud (to cancel out outside noise) through any earpiece could damage your ears.

*note: I am no longer using twitter for ethical reasons (link), but this prompt was written earlier, before I left the platform.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “Orpheus the Coward”

pompeii-statue-childs-lips

Orpheus the Coward

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I didn’t tear apart my broken heart,

show its bloody pieces to the world

 

unless you count my music.

In that I laid myself bare,

my grief as exposed as an infant

left on a lonely hill

for beasts to feast upon.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I didn’t choose to die,

to trap us both in that deep darkness,

breathe the earth above our heads

as we quake in Hades’s rich domain,

both doomed to finally drink

from that fatal river that makes us forget

each other.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I chose to run to hell

to bring my love to life,

to calm the viscous demon-dog’s rage,

to bring salt tears to the icy cheeks

of Hades and his Queen,

to rescue my wife of a single day,

to bring her back to that same day’s sun.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I chose to lead her back

from those cold depths,

feel her silent steps

behind me but never look to see.

The price of her freedom

my uncertainty.

 

But the Fates are bitches

that toy with human lives:

my feet touched earth,

yet still I looked back too soon.

She remained in darkness.

I lost her at the border

between life and death,

dark and light, fear and hope.

Her fading farewell,

as translucent as the hand

I reached for

but could not grab.

 

No second charm would work

on Hell’s cold denizens.

 

I did not kill myself for love.

I sat and thought and tried

to find a way through the fog

of my brain to win her back again.

None came, but as I struggled

to compose my next hopeless plan,

alone with my lyre,

just me and my pain,

I was torn apart,

my body as broken as my heart.

 

I did not kill myself for love,

but I was not sorry to go.

 

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Thank you for visiting my blog! The above poem was inspired by the Speech of Phaedrus in Plato’s Symposium in which Orpheus was dubbed a coward because he did not die for love like a more traditional hero. 

Wherever you are, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

 

*Image courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons License.

POEM: “Achilles, the Heel”

wellington-monument-in-hyde-park-1476431884x7m1144218186226525214.jpg

Achilles, the Heel

 

Greatest of Greek warriors that fought

upon the soil surrounding distant Troy,

you fought with the strength of a demigod,

yet what you are most famous for is your

weakest part.

.

 

 

 

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As always, I will post here again in two weeks, and my Patreon posts once a week. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know in the comments, and have a great couple weeks!

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*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Universal License.

 

Friday Flash: Blind Date Night Out

lightning-2a7z.jpg

The strikingly beautiful brunette grinned at her reflection in the magic mirror.  The low cut black dress was flattering without being too revealing; she adjusted her sheer shawl over bare white shoulders and quickly headed out the door.

She saw her target waiting in the downstairs bar, a glass of fine whisky in his hand as he looked at the crowd swaying to the slow steady rhythm of a blues ballad. He eyed the many women in the undulating mass, a gradual smile spread his lips slightly, a predator selecting his prey. Taking a sip from his drink, he stood up and turned into the brunette beauty, spilling whisky down his crisp new suit and nearly falling in the process.

“Hey, handsome,” she said, the predatory smile on her own face a perfect reflection of his own. “Oh, I’m sorry. Let me get that for you.” She ran one long, slender finger up his front; her red nail made a zipping sound as it scratched against the suddenly dry fabric. “That better?”

“Now, that you’re here, hon’,” he said, recovering quickly, “everything’s better.”

“Really? You sure? You wouldn’t rather go after that sweet young thing over there?” She gestured disdainfully at the woman he had been watching the moment before.

“No, of course not,” he said. “I thought she might be a good match for Hermes, because, you know–”

She shushed him with one red painted nail to his lips. “Hon’, no talk about the kids on ‘date night,’ remember?”

“Oh,” he said, then breathed, “you truly are a goddess.” He ogled her sleek form all the way up to her large brown eyes and full red lips. “See what you do to me? I lose my head when I’m around you.”

His wife’s smile was secretive and seductive. “So, handsome,” she purred, “let me get you another drink.” A glass of champagne suddenly appeared from nowhere. She offered him the glass with one hand, her own pina colada in the other, and they entwined arms before sipping from their drinks. “Now, where were we?”

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com
*I’ll admit, Hera has been on my mind a lot, ever since completing my 2016 NaNoWriMo, so I thought it’d be fun for them to have a date night where Zeus has to pick up Hera at a bar. I think she was tempted to impersonate a mortal to catch him in a dalliance, but she resisted on the advice of their marriage counselor.

Friday Flash: Trapped

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

Trapped

From my pilot’s seat, I watch the contents of the aquarium tank strapped to the plane’s inner wall. My cargo’s withstood shipment far better than I anticipated. Mermen bodies are less valuable dead than alive, so I’m glad I took extra precautions to ensure this package is cared for properly. Thank the gods I took him to the vet and had him sedated before shipment. Though the tank is shatter-resistant, I wouldn’t want to test it, because if he becomes violent, he might damage himself.

Usually, men alone track mermen, but their rarity coupled with their ferocity makes capturing them almost impossible. No one expects a woman to bag such a vicious creature. But it pays to know the science. By synthesizing mermaid pheromones, I’m able to use them to my advantage. I’m actually surprised how easy it was to lure the thing into a cage.

Still, he is a handsome beast. The way his emerald hair floats in the tank’s water, the way his sea-green eyes sparkle–

He’s watching me.

He’s watching me, capturing me in the depths of those startling eyes.

I feel myself change course, away from land and back towards the sea. My hands are moving; I feel the plane’s weight shift now that the nose is aimed for those beautiful, calm waters.

The merman lifts himself from his tank. I smell salt air and realize just how wrong I’ve been about everything.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

** I used a random word generator to get the three words I used as prompts: trap, weather, runway.

Friday Flash: Sea Life

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

lightning-2a7z

The blue dress uniforms co-opted from the Navy were itchy. The sailors imprisoned within them were tired and hot and couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. The captain looked across the water at the setting sun. At least this would soon be over, and they’d get some respite from this day’s infernal heat. But yet…

He looked down into the cool depths of the ocean waters surrounding the metal monstrosity he had called his home for the better part of three years. The setting sun glowed gold and orange upon the waves. He shuddered.

“And do you, Mark Wallace, take this mermaid, Jasmine Petals, to be your lawfully wedded wife? In sickness and in health… forever and ever, by Neptune’s salty bits?”

The young sailor looked down at the mermaid clinging to the ship’s side, gulped, and nodded his head. The red-haired beauty in the crystal blue waters smiled in approval, exposing sharp incisors in her delicate, full-lipped mouth.

“By the eternal laws of the sea, by Neptune’s trident and Amphitrite’s coral crown,  I now pronounce you mer-man and mer-wife. The bride may now—”

With a stupendous leap, the new bride pulled her husband over the edge of the warship, dragging him along with her as she splashed into the waters below. Soon, not even the emerald green of her tail could be seen as she brought the new merman to her lair in the deep, dark waters.

The men and women shook their heads in wonder. There was a reason humans steered clear of Neptune’s children. The mermaid’s kiss might cure their fellow sailor’s cancer, but the cure might just be worse than the disease.

Captain Deadly allowed himself a rare sigh of pity for his former crewman before ordering his crew to hoist the Jolly Roger. Fresh plunder lay ahead, and he might need the gold. Who knew? In his own future, he might need to hire an oncologist.

*originally inspired by a photo prompt from Six Minute Story, but has since been edited and extended. You can find the original here.

**I wrote this today, so I didn’t have time to let it simmer as much as I like before posting. Please be kind. Polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

****Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Friday Flash: Tempting Fate

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

lightning-2a7z

Clotho inhaled, enjoying the heady aroma of roasted beans and caffeine that permeated the small coffee shop. The temptation to step inside and grab a cup was irresistable. She didn’t know if mortals could actually smell caffeine, but it gave the goddess a deep sense of satisfaction–almost like the burnt offerings humans used to offer the gods in the past. But not now. Now, if they burned her coffee? Well, she’d be pissed.

What’s the worst that could happen?

A little chime sounded on the Fate’s cell phone. In the old days, there had been an actual tiny bell that would appear and disappear, but she savored the advancements that came with the passage of time, just as she savored a good cup of joe. She also liked the little bell sound. Best of both worlds, really.

And why not? She wasn’t trapped by linear time the way mortals were, but she enjoyed watching its passage from their perspective. She sipped her coffee, sighing with pleasure. The little bell chimed again.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Long ago, she’d put a filter on the alert, only taking note of those “great ones” who tempted Fate with those fateful words. Great ones? Ha! Just another term for “more fun to mess with.” As if politicians and celebrities held more sway over the tapestry of life than she and her sisters–or even wandering beggars in the right circumstances. Just pull the right thread, snip another, and whole swathes of cloth would unravel, only to be rewoven in the pattern of their choosing.

Even the gods themselves knew not to tempt Clotho and her sisters, for while they could be generous, they also found a challenge hard to resist.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s see. Buddha and Christ had both been beggars who changed the world for the better. Would she be that generous this time? She checked her notifications to see who had tempted…er, challenged her so often in the past few minutes. Upon seeing the name, she scowled and decided that perhaps this time, she and her sisters would not be kind.

She texted Atropos and Lachesis about their latest challenge. Their reply?
This will be FUN.
Clotho chuckled to herself. Two more mochaccinos suddenly appeared on the counter in front of the startled barista; the goddess grabbed the white styrofoam cups, tucked her cell back into her earth-friendly tote, and headed out the (now) automatic doors.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.