A prayer for this moment

O Antinous, beautiful, just, benevolent, look upon our nation.
Hear your people who cry out to you for help.
While the rich and powerful profit, the poor and powerless are killing one another.
Here, police have killed Philando Castile and Alton Sterling like rabid animals.
There, police who protected peaceful protestors have been killed.
Your queer and trans people are threatened everywhere;
in Orlando, forty-nine have been slain.
We sorely need your help.

Liberator, stand with us, help us shake off the chains
of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia
and deliver us from all oppression and tyranny.
Navigator, guide the dead safely to their eternal homes,
and guide the living, the grieving to wise action.
Lover, comfort the mourners, strengthen the protesters,
and bring us all together in equality and love.

O Antinous, may your beauty, your justice, your kindness
be a beacon for us in our anger, our fear, our despair:
Haec est unde vita venit!


A ballad of spring flowers

Flora wears a pretty gown
but her feet are in the mud.
Her hair is twined with flowers
but there’s shit between her toes.
Without manure and mud
her flowers will not grow.
She waters them with blood
if nothing else will flow.

You may dance with Flora
but she’ll outlast your art.
Her feet can never tire
unlike your mortal heart.
But she will not forget you;
she’ll bring flowers from your grave
and wear them when she dances
in her next immortal rave.

Do not curse the goddess
for she is not the cause
of deaths that have no answers
and anger without pause.
The Fates ordained that flowers
should come from shit and mud;
but Flora will weep over them
when they have sprung from blood.

Dead boys and pretty flowers

If dead boys still became flowers,
every sidewalk in America
would be split with roots.
In Baltimore, Freddie Gray;
in New York City, Eric Harris;
in Ferguson, Mike Brown.
Brown skin and black hair
and white, human bones
lying everywhere, and not even
a chalk outline: Execution
is no murder. O goddess Flora,
is every flower a death?
is every bloom a tragedy?
Narcissus, Hyacinth, Crocus
joined by Michael, Eric, Freddie,
Trayvon Martin standing with
Polydeukion, young Memnon,
young Achilles. O goddess Flora,
help us make sense, help us
to mourn as well as rejoice
in a world where every flower
is an open vulva, is a dead boy.

There are race riots in my city tonight

A Prayer to Memnon in the midst of civil disorder

Speak to us, O Memnon, son of Tithonos, son of Eos.
Speak to us, prince of Ethiopia, son of the Dawn.
Speak with the voice of your colossus, raised in the land of Egypt.
Speak with the voice of a black-skinned man
who was not known as black, as colored, as a negro,
but as a prince, a warrior, a hero.
Speak, warrior who fought beside the Trojans in defence of their city,
who fell at the hand of Achilles after a mighty combat.
Speak, and tell us how to make peace.
Speak, and tell us how to make justice.
Speak, and tell us how to dismantle the lies of race and privilege.
Speak, and give us the wisdom of a true hero.
I pray to you tonight from the middle of Baltimore,
from the heart of a divided city, from a city in fear of violence,
from a place where just anger has turned to riots
that harm the harmless, that do nothing toward the good.
And yet the anger is justified. And yet people are in fear.
Memnon, I have not prayed to you before, but I pray to you now.
Hear the plea of one who is a lover of Antinous and send help to my city.