Deep in the valley of memory on the altar of Ares we sacrifice them, always young each generation we are Abraham unrestrained, the pardon always moments late. We are Olmecs, relying not on the sun’s passage but on a mainspring tightly wound. Our gods hunger and must be sated lest we lose favor and their image change.
In our boneyard priests and victims slowly decompose fade into earth washed deep by tears of Gods powerless to intervene.
First published in The Peninsula Review, Vol. 5, (1998)
He had been there for days although he’d stopped counting since it didn’t ultimately matter. He would leave when the time was right although he had no idea how he would know when that moment arrived. Some things you do on faith he assumed, and this had to be one of those things. He wasn’t sure why he came but he knew he had to be there, And he knew that the cave provided him shelter and there was an allegory hiding deeper in.
The truly sad thing is not that billions were spent on the voyage to our most distant planet only to discover, on arrival it wasn’t a planet at all, merely a dwarf, a near planet and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade. Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.” No one asked Charon what he thought watching it all as he wandered about knowing he will remain moon for so long as there is someone, somewhere assigning names, unless he grows bored, breaks free and wanders off into being a dwarf planet all his own, after all it’s not like Styx would give a damn – better to be a moon of the first order finally and as for those billions, if you can’t leave the solar system every now and again there’s not much purpose in escaping the atmosphere.
So Androcles, how did it feel when, in the pit, the lion sidled over. You saw his paw finally healed and no doubt remembered the thorn you had extracted. Did you rub his mane as his jaws snapped around your thigh his teeth tearing into your flesh. As you saw the blood spill out did you curse the fabulist for his detachment from reality?
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019
It is her time and she knows she is ready for this moment, has been for eons, knows it will come again but none here will remember this day. She stares at them, but they ignore her, and she grows angry, her visage reddens as she slowly retreats, know the interloper will move along, hoping that her return later will provoke the sort of interest she deserves, the sort she know she should command. She teased them weeks ago, but this moment must surpass that, and will, if only the clouds play along with her. She knows clouds are fickle, but even mother nature usually concedes if only begrudgingly, and tonight should be one of those occasions. She will not see them gather, but her arrival will be heard in the collective sigh and the memories she knows they will carry into their eternity.
As we walked slowly through the Forum
the Coliseum receding into the late
afternoon, the Virgins stood patiently
as befits a priestess trained to avoid
the stares of passing men, even tourists
such as we were, the columns staring
down reminding us of our youth
despite the birthdays that we celebrated
with the joy of togetherness, and
the nagging knowledge that we were
another year closer to that moment
we refuse to acknowledge, aware
always of its growing proximity.
We stare back at the Coliseum,
as the sun slides behind its walls,
and as the vendors selling all manner
of items the buyer will regret
in mid-flight home pack up for the day,
I imagine Caesar pausing in thought
then, sneering, turning his thumb down.
He is worried, he says that we will be leaving on a full moon. I remind him that he leaves in two weeks, that this morning’s half-moon will be gone then replaced by its now absent other half. He says it should be full if it’s half now and half a month passes. His statements seem logical enough But the moon and stars have their own logic and don’t care what we think, that’s why I say, Luna never turns her back on us so she’s always half unseen, and she and the stars are willing to remind us they were all gods and goddesses once and could go back to that with very little warning.
They clearly don’t get it and odds are they never will. They think perhaps prayer will work or youth will provide some sort of immunity, maybe an executive decree, good luck with that given the swinging there to that old White House, with the ridiculous spiked fence in the middle of an avenue named first state that’s actually a Commonwealth. They can’t imagine I have a list And all I do is make pickups and drop offs, no thinking, no planning just show up, tie up to the pier and then it’s off down and across the River all day and night, in and out for a payment you ‘llonly make begrudgingly, as if I care, for I have a family to feed too, remember.
The vines cling to the hillside, the small buds soon yielding fruit but now simply soaking up the spring sun. You dream the grapes are fat, the deep purple orbs holding in their Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and you only wish it would wash down the hillside and stain the sometime fetid River. The boats flow up and down river with a metronomic regularity The guides March their charges along cobbled streets hoping some will retain the great wisdom they impart, by long, practiced rote, hoping for the few euros measure of worth. Along the seawall in the ancient town the swans stare at the spectacle parade and offer blessings to the sky God Cygnus that they are fortunate enough not to be human.