Category: poetry


Marsayas, After the Contest

(Inspired by ponderings of what Marsayas might have said while hanging on the tree after Apollo flayed him.)

You cut to kill, but I may yet survive
and if I do, you’ve given me much to consider.
Laid bare to blood-drenched muscle,
every movement, every slight breeze
sears my nerves with fresh pain.

If I die, surely it will be of agony, not injury.

I don’t think you will be wearing my hide;
such is undoubtedly well beneath you.
Though perhaps someday I will wear yours:
not in death- for you, there is none
but if someday you shed your skin
like you shed a tear, molting like a snake,
if I should come along at just the right time,
I would seize it up and wrap it around me-
could I then be you, for just a moment
before your essence is lost?

Yes, I am delirious.

You may think me a fool to challenge a god,
but even if I die today, I will be immortal.

(On a related note, I would like to point out this painting illustrating the flaying- this is one that I would love to have a print of one of these days. )

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Return

And now, it is time for your return

to your sanctuary high atop this stark-faced mountain

where curls of smoke from burning incense

drift and melt into a veil

and bowls of wine and honey adorn your altar.

I wait in your temple, a hymn on my lips;

a prayer hangs from my tongue,

longing for your presence so that it may fall.

Time stretches, then stands still,

holds its breath in anticipation:

your arrival never comes quickly enough.

(written in honor of Apollo’s return to Delphi)

Insufficient

To look upon the face of a god,
that is the great mystery,
to fall into such a vision…
to be fixed by the immortal gaze…

Were it that I could paint as I wanted,
I could show you the god who wields
a bow of fire to rain down razor-arrows
from the heavens,
whose touch burns as it heals and whose
sight is second to none.

Whose voice is menacing silk
to the ears of his follower,
uttering terrible prophecy and tossing out
impossible riddles as casually as one
might mention the weather.

And I could show you a god who shines, blinding,
and smolders darkly at once:
The ancient face of youth, perfected and placed on a pedestal
Who grieves as though the world were to end
and meets petty insults with death.

I could show you the god of gold
who dwells in a temple of crystal
perched precariously on a mountain of ice
high above the world.
The wolf and the swan, both,
heed when he speaks- he is one of them
their forms are his forms too.

And there are his eyes, a color you cannot see to name,
whose gaze you cannot meet- or cannot remember meeting-
shadows behind the light,
in the eyes which cannot be met, here he holds all the secrets,
the answers to all questions never asked.

If I could paint as I want,
I could show you every flippant proclamation,
every blatant riddle,
each death, and life preserved,
each wound healed;
the blinding darkness, the obscured light,
the burning touch of his flame-covered hands.

But I cannot paint in blood or fire,
cannot draw with crystal or death.
No canvas vast enough exists
to contain such beauty and terror
and rage and grief, such feeling, as his.
So this will have to do.

I must apologize:
it will never suffice.

(This was inspired mostly by my own ideas, but also a bit by the few decent depictions I could find when browsing around on deviantArt.)

Poetic Fragment #1

This is just a fragment…not sure if I’m going to add to it or no, I kinda like it as-is…I started writing more to it, but it ended up not working out as I thought it would.

Bleed me dry,
I am damaged again.
Oh God of My Nightmares,
This time you’ve done it-
ripped the pain out. Painfully.

A Good Thing

I am tired, I am dazed.
I am delerious, I am in pain.
These ties that bind my wrists
eat the flesh raw;

but shoot another arrow into my heart,
go ahead, drive another point
straight through my core

and when you’re finished, peel
back my skin layer by layer
until my skin is no more.

I shudder to think about it,
but your torture is comfort.

I won’t be going anywhere, don’t worry.
I don’t have the strength to think about escape,
and escape is not what I need.
Or want.

So it’s a good thing
these ties that bind my wrists
will hold me up.

Untitled

You: Dangerous.

A keenly-honed edge,
razor-sharp.

Ooh, shiny.

Menacing,
hypnotic.

Deadly,
like a wolf,
claws slashing
jaws snapping.

More precise
than microsurgery.

Burning like a fire,
Harsh as an arctic freeze.

As scarred as a man.

As perfect as a god.

Untitled

Do I make an offering in your temple
when it is I who is offered?
I lay my trust in your hands
as surely as you lay down my shredded body
bleeding on your altar,
its surface now streaked and stained
as red as life and death.
What you want of me, you don’t ask
but take from me violently.

Simple acts of devotion will never suffice.
You, I cannot worship by halves.

Willingly

My trust, you demand
repeatedly, constantly.
Don’t you know this hurts?
What do you want from me anyway?
Don’t you know I follow you willingly?
I sometimes wonder if there’s
something wrong with me,
that I let it go so far
and why I have no desire for it to end.
But your beauty is my incentive
and your touch burns, sublime.
The slice of your blade across my skin
is so familiar now
though the shock never wears off completely
and terror is new every time.
I know you know this hurts.
Now I know what you want from me.
And I know you know I follow you.
Willingly.

Untitled

Oh ancient face of idealized youth,
I’ve seen what lies beyond your
marble shell,
scarred perfection,
horrifying beauty,
comforting terror
of depths which I can barely
begin to conceive the vaguest iota
you protect the would-be victim
from your own destruction.

In you, contradiction contradicts no more.

You.

I come to you broken.
I come to you damaged,
cut and scarred by your own doing.
What will you?
Why do you do this to me?
Why do you call me?
Why do you hold me, claws digging deep
into my flesh?
You are the enigma.
You are the dream.
You are the nightmare.
You make me scream
in pain
and tremble with fear.
But you pull me to you
and hold me with an iron velvet grip
which I have no desire to escape.
You’ve given me freedom
(or the illusion of it).
All I want is to know
what lies in front of me.
But you tell me nothing.
And I only wait.
And follow.
You try my trust.
You lead me blind.
Your gentle touch burns.
Your cruel cut heals.
I bleed by your hand
and rest on your stained altar.
I, a crumpled heap, can barely crawl.
You gave me wings.