The gods have ceased to care about us, too busy with other more important tasks like fighting their pending evictions from Olympus and Asgard.
And the demigods have never given a damn about us, always preening and imagining their elevation, so we are left to muddle along and we know how that has worked through history, so we have turned away, anointed ourselves, declared we are holy and built a heaven and hell as a final middle finger to the once gods who can all go to hell.
Arising into night the departing sun tangos away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten.
Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods.
Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian casts’ final bows taken the theater will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.
Arising into night the departing sun tangoes away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten. Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods. Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian cast’s final bows taken the theatre will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.
Once they pierced your heels to hobble you, bound up feet and ankles to lash you to the earth, there weren’t angels then, no wings, just the pain of toes crushed inward, the silent agony of motion, a cruel joke played by gods starved for entertainment. But Terpsichore, hearing Erato’s song, set them free brought them to a pointe, allowed them to take wingless flight, and toes became a platform from which their joy rose up spinning, whirling, slashing until even the most jaded of the gods fell silent in awe.
This morning, I am certain the earth pulled me down more strongly, as though gravity needed to reassert itself, having lost someone in its grip to the virus, a common complaint as we stumble through still another year.
I fought it off course, the birds in the wetland at once admiring my effort and laughing at what they knew would ultimately be a futile gesture.
You belong to the earth, they said, you arose from it, are bound to it and it is a matter of time before it reclaims you as it does with all.
It was easier, they added, in ancient days, when the gods truly cared, for then you need only sufficiently irritate them before they would sever your earthy bonds to serve eternity in a celestial prison.
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)
Here, in these unmown fields where the morning mists gather once stood the ancient chieftain his clan assembled about him staring into the distant trees under the watchful eye of the gods. As the October winds blew down from the hills, they strode forward blades glinting in the midday sun ebbing and flowing until the moon stood poised for its nightly trek and they stood on the precipice of exhaustion counting fall brethren sacrificed to the blade of the claymore for glory of clan and entertainment of gods.
On these tired fields no chieftains stride and the mists no longer wrap the boulders left to mark nameless graves of kin. These are now ill sown fields, lying in the wasteland between chiefs who sit in silent bunkers, clansmen gathered to retell the tales of glory long vanished, to come. In these fields they till the begrudging soil and beg the gods for meager growth. As the moon begins its slow journey skyward they pause to count the craters torn into the rocky soil, and gather the bones of those newly fallen, sacrificed to the wrath of the claymores, the entertainment of the gods.
First Appeared in Main Street Rag, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2000.