Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

Archive for the category “Poetry”

POEM: Epiphany

img_phanesFirst, they say, was Phanes: Out of the egg he appeared.
The male and the female, the serpent and the eagle, in one conjoined.
The Appearer, who made all else appear. A light shining,
and his daughter was darkness, Night herself.

Mortals walking on the earth looked up.
Brightness blessed them by day, when all things
appear aright, but the heavenly wheel turned
in the night, the figures on its rim
drawn by Phanes’ prophetic hand.
The Zodiac is a dancing band.

Where a new star rises, an old world sets.
Kings, wise men, magicians, three or many,
they came to an old king’s court. They pointed
to the new star in the east, to the house of
the Fishes illuminated. “Where,” they asked,
“is the new king, the one who will replace you,
he who will rule over the whole world?”

“What time did this star appear?” So Herod
asked and calculated an hour of birth, dictated
an hour of death. But the king’s men with
their swords looked down at the earth, not up
at the stars. They did not find him who had
not appeared, who awaited the Magi
in his poverty and accepted gold, frankincense, myrrh.

A century and a decade later, another child was born,
another star began a journey, and after another death
of one who was young and fair and beloved by many,
a new star in the Eagle told a grieving Emperor
that the tale was true, and his beloved was a god.
Consoled in his grief, he scattered the name of
Antinous like flower petals all over the Empire,
in temples and in statues, in contests with rich prizes,
the garland of red lotus to the finest. Already
in private places others burned frankincense and myrrh
in thuribles of gold and called on the name
of Jesus, feeding on his body and blood.

Phanes, most ancient deity, you who were first
to appear, come and open our hearts, come and
enlighten our minds, shine upon our ways,
illuminate our paths, help us comprehend
our darkness. Phanes, by your light may we see
the gods among us, ever living and dying for
our good, ever coming to us and appearing
where we least expect them, in the dark, in
the daylight, in our minds and hearts.

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POEM: A voice is heard in Ramah

leelah_alcornWholly innocent she stands before us
her selfie an apotheosis: A white-robed martyr
emerging from the prison of assigned gender.
The Holy Innocents were dragged out
into the streets to shed their blood
in centuries of paintings; like the virgin
martyrs, refusing hearth and husband,
Leelah was dragged back into the house,
dragged into a boy’s clothes, dragged
into an old name, dragged off to be
“converted”, dragged into a prison of
drag. She was a girl of seventeen,
and her name was Leelah Alcorn.
On Holy Innocents’ Day she set her face
and walked into traffic that ran
like the river Jordan. She could not cross
over to her true gender, so she crossed over
from death to life. Her soul is escaped
like a bird from the net of the fowler,
but her body was crushed
as beneath the soldier’s boot,
and a voice was heard in Ramah,
Rachel misgendering her daughter,
refusing to give comfort
even though she was no more.

POEM: “The Road to Little Gidding”

In 1626 C.E., an Englishman named Nicholas Farrar left London and public life for a remote village called Little Gidding. There he and his mother, brother, sister, and in-laws repaired the chapel and formed a household that lived a quasi-monastic life; without a formal rule of life or vows, they observed regular prayer times, did acts of charity, and occupied the chapel with the continuous recitation of the Psalter. When Farrar’s good friend George Herbert was on his deathbed, he sent Farrar his manuscript of poetry, asking him to publish it if he thought it worthwhile. We owe to Farrar Herbert’s contribution to English poetry.

The Anglican church in England, South Africa, and the United States honors Nicholas Farrar as a minor saint. His life and the community at Little Gidding also, of course, inspired one of the greatest poems (I think) in the English language, T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding”, the climax of Four Quartets. I didn’t come to love Eliot or to know anything about Farrar until I discovered them on my own as a teenager, but once I discovered them, they became mine forever: “You are here to kneel/Where prayer has been valid.”

I was still a teenager, I think, when I wrote this poem, which certainly owes a lot to Eliot, but I still like it.

cherry-tree

The Road from Little Gidding

The ruin of this idea straddles

the feast-days of despair:

The Psalter is a seven-spoked wheel

revolving between light and dark.

 

Aleph, beth, gimel, Beowulf:

Water is precentor of this

midwinter summer; the stones

are wet of this small, human dwelling

built by human hands, cemented

with antiphony’s acoustical

relations; one stone

clings hard upon another

in our memory.

 

That was our City,

foundationed in God–

a little, ruined village,

a little home of little men.

Walls lean together

like deacons in a sanctuary;

a hole through a stained-glass

window obscures the light.

 

And after this our pilgrimage

a memory: measured music

under vaults. The Psalms revolve

from Coverdale to me.

POEM: Melinoe Ariadne

Here is a thread. I will hand it to you.

Do not get lost. Do not lose hold of it.

Here is a thread. You must hang by it.

Follow me through. You will hang from it.

Here is a thread, drawn from my belly.

Here is a trail, left by my blood.

Follow me through. Do not get lost.

There is one way in. There is no way out.

 

I danced in the moonlight. I danced in the dark.

I danced with my brother. I danced with the god.

I danced with my father. I danced for my mother.

I danced for the goddess. I will dance for you.

Watch me dance over the end of the world,

the breaking of the bridges, the falling of the towers.

Hear me laugh when all the lights go out

and poor lost Theseus hears breathing in the dark.

 

I am Melinoe. I am Ariadne.

Daughter of Death. Giver of Life.

Ariadne Melinoe, Melinoe Ariadne,

holy and terrible, stars and bones.

I can tear the world down

and help you rebuild it,

if you heed my commandment:

Build no more walls.

Walls make a labyrinth,

walls hide the monster,

walls divide loved ones.

Let me be your monster,

Melinoe Ariadne, slayer and savior,

goddess and demon of the new age.

Melinoe: The goddess who will overthrow patriarchy

I am Melinoe, daughter of Persephone,

daughter of the ravished goddess,

borne away without consent but

lawfully wedded, raped by her own father

in the guise of her husband.

I am Melinoe, render of the veil.

The man behind the curtain

has always and only been a man.

I will show you this. His power is a sham.

I am showing you this. I am Melinoe,

child of a rapist and his victim.

I am Melinoe, and the lord of the dead

was my true father, a kind and tender parent

unlike the triumphant lord of the sky.

I am Melinoe, and my sisters are these:

The victims of Harvey Weinstein,

the victims of Bill Cosby,

the daughters raped by their fathers,

their brothers, uncles, boyfriends,

the victims of Roman Polanski,

the victims of Woody Allen.

I am Melinoe, and I have brothers, too:

The boys who were told

that men can’t be raped, the men

who were told they were queer,

they must have wanted it.

I am Melinoe, and to all of you I say:

If Zeus the rapist denies you justice

in your mortal life, in death the rapists

will answer to Hades my father, to Hel

my foster-mother, to Loki my friend,

to Persephone my mother, to Antinous

my husband, and to me, motherfuckers,

you will answer at last to me.

Sacred Nights: Ananke Antinoou

POEM: A day in the life, or, John Lennon, Antinous, and me

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky boy who made the grade
He went from nobody to the Imperial Court
Wound up in Hadrian’s bed
Nobody was sure if he belonged in the Imperial Court

One day he went out on the Nile
Just a boy in a boat, boating on the Nile
The reeds waving, the lotus fragrant
The crocodile and the hippo watched him go
But where he went only the long river knows

I read a book today, oh boy;
A Greek boy from the provinces
Had turned the Emperor’s head
And then he wound up dead
Nobody was really sure what was going on
Their affair might have gone on too long

They say he turned into a god

Woke up, fell out of bed
Got underneath the shower head
And listened to the song
That swiftly ran along inside my head

Any day now, you know, you could be dead
That voice inside my head
Walk into traffic and you could be dead
Because you crossed the street
Now wouldn’t that be neat

Ah I read the news today, oh boy
The rich are stealing from the poor again
Somebody wants a war, somebody closed a door
Somebody shot a man who raised his empty hands
But he was black and they were cops
He was a thug and they were not
Maybe he turned into a god

They say he turned into a god

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Sacred Nights: Ophidia

POEM: Rise Up

You can put your heel on the serpent’s head,

But the serpent will rise up.

You can put your chain on the slave’s neck,

But the serpent in the slave will rise up.

You can put your child in a woman’s womb,

But the serpent in her spine will rise up.

You can lay your asphalt on the grass’s roots,

But the serpent in the grass will rise up.

You can go on forever trying to level out the world,

To make your own head the only thing in the world

That stands up, but the serpent at the heart of the world

Will always resist you. The serpent will always rise up.

 

The king will die, the warrior will die,

The rich man will die, the priest will die,

Their wives and their slaves, their children and their cattle,

The tree and its fruit, the green grass springing,

But the serpent will always rise up.

The slave will break his chains, the wife will seek a lover,

The oracle will prophesy, the hurricane will strike,

And out of the roots and vines that break down

Your mighty buildings, the serpent will rise up.

 

Rise up, rise up, serpent of fire!

Rise up, rise up, snake of the deep!

Rise up, rise up, whirling serpent!

Rise up, rise up, rise up in us!

The time to rise up is now!

Sacred Nights: Panthea

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POEM: The Dark Sister

I do not stand in Her shadow: I am Her Shadow.

She is the throne and I am the house.

She is the giver of life and I am the welcomer of the dead

She is the grieving madonna and I am the hysterical whore

She is piteous and I am maudlin

She is white and gold and rose and blue

I am red and black and red and red and red

Behind Isis, Nephthys. Behind Tara, Vajrayogini.

Behind Mary of Nazareth, Mary of Magdala.

I am red and red and red and red and red.

I am black. I am empty. I am ashes.

I am the cast-off mother of the unacknowledged child

Who will never inherit the throne or call the house his own.

He can only come and go, obedient as a hound,

At his brother’s will. She can only throw off her veil

And dance in the broad daylight, beneath a searing sun,

Because no one dares look at her. I am the dark mother

Of the unremembered daughter, Nebt-Het, Melinoe,

Sara la Kali, red and black and bloody and beautiful.

Honor me, or you have not honored all the goddesses.

Honor me, or the Beautiful Boy is without his bride.

Sacred Nights: Osiris and Antinous

egyptian-god-osiris-greenskin

POEM: The Green Man

I am Osiris. I am the Green Man.

I was the first Green Man, Asar, Au Sar, Wesir.

Green like the papyrus growing by the Nile.

Green like the barley growing in the fields.

Green like the leaves that support the sweet lotus.

Sometimes I am black like the soil,

The rich fertile flooded soil of Kemet, eponymous soil.

I am the Green Man of the Black Land.

The first to die becomes the god of the dead.

That is I. First to know death, first to go west,

Killed by my brother, sought by my sisters,

Resurrected by my wife. She fashioned the part

That was missing. I am moonlight and moondark,

Black earth and green plant, a missing phallus

And an upright wand. Come to me, Antinous,

Child of Bithynia, beloved of Pharaoh,

And I will teach you how to be a god.

An Invocation to Antinous Bakkheios

O Antinous Dionysus!

Your votaries call out to you, for we are tired.

We are weary. We are thirsty. Our limbs are heavy.

Our hearts are heavier. Our spirits sink.

We labor and we struggle, we sleep

and wake unrefreshed to labor and struggle more.

O Antinous Dionysus, Antinous Epiphanes,

Come to us now! Come to us, Antinous Bakkheios!

We are parched and in need of refreshment.

Come and bring us the wine of your joy,

The joy of living, the zest for life!

Come and loosen our limbs for the dance,

Straighten our backs that have been bent in our labors,

Widen our shoulders that have hunched over computers,

Free our hips and our asses that our minds may follow.

Come and dance with us, bring us the blessing

Of fellowship, the mood of the party,

The lubrication of intoxication. Join hands with us

That we may join hands with one another

And celebrate all that is good, all beauty

And pleasure, tastes and scents, the body

And the earth, that which grows and dies

And lives again, the tenacious vine and

The sleek, ravenous animal in ourselves

And in the world, all of your blessings,

Antinous, Antinous Dionysus, Antinous Bakkheios!

IO EVOHE!

(Written for the Bakkheion in honor of Antinous at Many Gods West 2017, at the request of Jay Logan.)

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