Monday, March 19, 2012

Some More Poems from the Past

I'm feeling sorry for Greece right now--such a lovely, hospitable, proud people, facing who knows what for a future. Will their precious heritage be sold to the highest bidder? I sure hope not. I'm not likely to visit Greece again in my lifetime, but I have very fond and pleasant memories from my visits there over the years. My pictures from Greece are all on slides, mostly put away in binders, but one of these days I'll have to dig some out and scan them for the blog. But for now I will have to illustrate my poems with other things.

Collage with leaves and transfer

At Delphi, 1971

When we had climbed,
stumbling on the loose pebbles,
struggling up the high steps,
the long path to the place
where his Pythian priestess sat
dispensing the future suitably
in ambiguous hexameters,
there was nothing for us to see
but weathered memories.
Our guide unequivocally announced
the irrefutable fact:


I found it was not so.
I knew why I had climbed:
to hear, still echoing
across these sacred stones
the music of his golden lyre.

Collage with transfers.
Clytemnestra Speaks her Mind

Beetlehusk I
who was once iridescent, expectant of life
stood in my robe of soft folds of love
enveloping, caressing,
waited to be drawn into the net
of a bride's veil, a prized catch
to grace some royal house.

Treasure of the House of Atreus
you came in gleaming gold,
Agamemnon, Marshaller of Men
to court my sister, Helen. She,
daughter of Zeus or Tyndareus
went home to Sparta with your brother
while I, of no less age and worth,
followed the greater King to Mycenae.

You, like that warrior-laden horse,
were beautiful and strong to look upon,
but full of sharp and deadly little things
to strike the color from my folded wings.
Without complaint I bore all that was
to be borne.

Then, wretched day at Aulis!
the fairest flower of your house
I watched you pluck
and dash against the altar of expediency;
and in my grief and rage I swore
if you lived through your stupid war
a second sacrifice.

Ten years now I've waited wrapped
in the hard shell of hate
keeping your kingdom's keys
winding, spinning, weaving,
bringing honor to your throne,
dishonor to your bed,
preparing for the day of your return.

Now, come, in gleaming gold,
step out into this blood-red trap I've laid:
step out, march forth
into the thick enveloping folds
of my vengeance.
Let me hack this lump of vengeance out
with a two-edged sword:
One edge for her who never shall return
and one for me who never was.

You shall feel the sharp edge
of my beetle mouth, caught in my jaws;
for this have I waited expectant of death
and I shall not let go.

Digital collage; texture from my photos and scans,
clip art from Dover, colored in
Menelaus Tells the Truth About the Trojan War

The poets say we went to war
spent ten years on a foreign shore
because some cockamamie kid
ran off with my wife.

That's my Helen, over there,
the pretty one with yellow hair
throwing weft threads on her loom
quite content with life.

She insists it was a hoax,
says she visited some folks
in Egypt, pure as driven snow
avoiding all the strife.

Her royal hosts will surely claim
that she alone and blameless came
to them, and took no part at all
in her supposed rape.

My friend, what difference does it make?
My honor's never been at stake
when gods take part and interfere
with history's true shape.

We monarchs didn't go for her--
we marched away because we were
young and strong and brave and ready
to play at war, escape

the mundane and the nine-to-five, 
because it made us feel alive.
The glory of the battle won
excitement and comraderie--

that's why we went!
Our names and deeds from hearth to tent,
in triumph sung, we laugh and cheer.
We weren't the ones who had to die.

That's all for now---Nan

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