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.


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.

Saturnalia: To the Mothers


Mother is a place to rest, a warmth, a tuneless song.
Mother is a voice that cuts.
Mother is a lady in a blue veil, a blue robe.
Mother is a lady with a baby in her arms.
Mother is a grandmother fixing hot tea and cold cereal on a school morning
Mother is a grandmother putting my clothes near the radiator
Mother is a woman who sleeps late while I rise early
Mother is a woman who smokes and drinks coffee
Mother is a May Day procession dressed in white
Mother is an ivory statue of the Virgin and Child with a Gothic sway
Mother is a possibly heretical vierge ouvrante
Mother is the goddess Isis with baby Horus on her lap
Mother is an icon with stars on the Virgin’s brow and shoulders
Mother is a Middle Eastern woman wrapped in layers of veils and shawls
carrying her child away from danger, shielding it with her body
Mother is my mother’s mother’s mother, who died when I was one
Mother is my mother’s father’s mother, was her name Louisa?
Mother is my father’s mother Grace, his adoptive mother,
and his mother Clara, his birth mother, whose last name was Gunsales
Mother is the woman who bore my husband a child
who bore her second husband a child
Mother is my sister, who bore my niece
Mother is my niece, who has borne a son
Mother is a link in a chain, a cell in the umbilical cord
Mother is the land I walk on, the nourishing earth, the turning planet
Mother is the night sky, spangled with stars
the brightness of the stars
and the darkness between
the beginning
and the end

Requiem for the trans dead, movement seven

VII. An ancient dirge

On this night, on this night,
every night and all,
fire and fleet and candlelight,
and gods receive your souls.

If shoes and stockings
were taken away,
at the first gate
put them on

If skirt or trousers
were taken away
at the second gate
put them on

If shirt or blouse
were taken away,
at the third gate
put them on

If hat or wig
were taken away,
at the fourth gate
put them on

If jewels or gauds
were taken away,
at the fifth gate
put them on

If cash and cards
were taken away,
at the sixth gate
take them up

If hungry and thirsty
you may be,
at the seventh gate
there waits for thee

food and drink
fire and friends
light and a guide
on this night

on this night
every night and all
gates stand open
for the trans dead
gods receive your souls

A new series of poems

It occurred to me yesterday that we need more Muses.

The traditional names and domains of the Nine Muses are as follows:

  • Calliope, epic poetry
  • Clio, history
  • Euterpe, music, song, and lyric poetry
  • Erato, erotic and love poetry
  • Melpomene, tragedy
  • Thalia, comedy
  • Terpsichore, dance
  • Polyhymnia or Polymnia, sacred song and hymns
  • Urania, astronomy

What about a Muse for science fiction writers? A Muse of Westerns? A Muse of comics, or of superhero movies, or of hip-hop?

There is no reason there couldn’t be Muses whose names we don’t know, who were unknown to the ancients but have been waiting in the wings for their domains to manifest. So I decided to invoke some, starting with the Muse I personally need most.

To the Unknown Muses 1: The Muse of Fanfiction
Sing, O Muse, of the stories that were never told,
the endings that turned out differently, the onscreen bros
who became lovers, the alternate universes of story!
I invoke thee, Muse of Fanfic, O comely youth,
beloved of many gods who dallies with Mary Sue,
you who take away superhero powers
and bestow werewolf or vampire status.
Handsomest of deities, master of all tropes,
who graces Wikipedia with the entries writers need,
come speedily to the writers reviewing their canon,
guide the hands of artists making portraits without references,
send rhymes to the lips of filkers, keep keen
the eyes of vidders, support us unpaid women
who bravely carry on the ancient traditions.
O Muse of Fanfic, hail!

Sacred Nights: The Death of Osiris 2015

Hail, Osiris, whom Isis laments!
Hail, Osiris, whom Set wounded and scattered!
Hail, Osiris, twice dying, twice renewed!
Hail, Osiris, whom the Nile made mortal!
Hail, Osiris, whom the Nile made divine!
Hail, Osiris, opener of the way to the West!
Hail, Osiris, lord of the Am Duat!
Hail, Osiris, green blade that rises!
Hail, Osiris, fruitful father of Horus!
Hail, Osiris, giver of good things!
Hail, Osiris, justified by the judges!
Hail, Osiris, ruler of the dead!
Hail, Osiris, god ever-living!
Hail, Osiris, benevolent and wise!
Hail, Osiris, one with Antinous!
Dua Wesir! Khaire Osiris!
Dua Wesir-Antnus! Khaire Osirantinous!

Hymn XXVII: To Antinous Homo Deus

Blessed are you, Antinous Homo Deus,
deified by the waters of the Nile:
blessed are you, man become god,
one with Osiris, mortal raised to
immortality. Blessed is the mystery
by which human becomes divine,
blessed the holy gods who welcome us
into their company; with Herakles, Semele,
Ariadne you take your place among
the glorious ones. Bid us remember,
O Bithynian boy, the lesson behind
this mystery: That no human becomes
a god without first dying.