Sun worship

word count: 108

in antiquity, the sun was said to be
a god (shaped like a man) who ran all day,
cooled his burning feet in the western sea
& came home with his rays docile & dim
to his beloved, waiting there for him.

he’d give her anything in his peerless power,
which is what turned their romance sour
when she made a simple, devastating wish:
“stand before me, Sun, in your true form.”

in horror, he begged, “anything but this—
i’m too strong, even at the break of dawn!”
but she wouldn’t hear it—so, he turned on.

what she saw must have been magnificent;
she was immolated in an instant.

one vision

word count: 67

cresting over the hilly horizon i saw
a man’s shape, noble, strong and… bald?!
as he came close, lo & behold, i saw
a hundred silent, blinking eyes scattered
like stars around his head! hazel,
blue, brown, green, albino red—all represented!
this, i knew, was God, whose fearless sight
has no behind-ahead-front-back-left-right,
an all-envisioning giant whose great soul
can take the world straight in & not let go.

In Sparta (a true story)

In Sparta, in general, lived men of few words.
However, whenever they used one, it burned.

One day a tyrant, fresh conquests in tow,
threatened Sparta by asking, “Will I come
friend or foe?”

Unamused, Sparta’s leader said:

Neither.

That’s when the conqueror’s patience wore thin.

“If I ride in,” he warned, “with my brothers in arms,
they will ravish your women & ravage your farms.
Surrender! I might leave your children unharmed.”

Once more, the reply came, pithy & swift:

If.

With that, the invader gulped down his pride,
spun ‘round & feared Spartans till the day he died.

word count: 97
(story source here)

Superman

word count: 109

possessed by the curse of being the best,
he couldn’t help but help people in need.
power like his was easy to use wrong,
but Superman’s heart was bigger than greed,
too big to let him sleep around or rest;
he could barely go an hour without
putting himself in harm’s way for a stranger;
he chased danger, reined in fear & doubt, warmed
like the sun & quenched like rain in drought—
he was Superman until the day
he died, paralyzed on his deathbed
when, at last, the reaper struck him dead.

but, to this day, there’s no grave to be found:
no one can put Superman in the ground.

Minotaur

word count: 217

Braced on all fours, sweat-soaked thighs spread wide
inside a huge wooden cow’s belly,
the Queen waits, shaking, for the mad, blind,
grunting bull to force her full—screaming
pain just might drown out her shame.

Fast forward. She bore a mutant child
(a boy from the neck down, with its horned
father’s head) but she pressed it to her
breast, fed it & called it her firstborn,
wholly ignoring the fact that it could gore
her thin, porcelain white skin to death,
which it did.

Then, instead of avenging her brutal death,
her cowering cuckold King confined the thing
in a winding maze of underground
passageways that all met in the middle,
& every year—by law—some dirt-poor,
luckless kid would feed the Minotaur.

That is, until a young man faced this fate
& decided to survive.

He took a spool of homespun thread,
tied one end to the entrance door
& let the rest unwind behind him
while he hunted the Minotaur.

In the dark, he heard its roar,
speared it square in its bare chest,
followed the thread back out the door
& you know the rest:

deep underground, with no more Minotaur,
the labyrinth was reborn as a work of art,
& when people, free from fear, explore it,
they find a journey that leads to the heart.

on the 6th day

word count: 100

on the 6th day, Adam and Eve were made,
hot-tempered, pessimistic, & each cursed
to find the other irresistible;
the Lord God cued this drama unrehearsed.
his 2 creations met as strangers meet
(neither had seen a human being before)
& God leaned back in his seat with his feet
up to watch which one would win the war.
Adam was gruff. Eve couldn’t take a joke.
nakedly feeding each other’s disgust,
they shamed, attacked & punished as they spoke;
yet, neither one could crush the other’s lust.
so, in place of the tidy tragedy
he’d planned to see, God got a love story.

Spider-Man

word count: 162

crawling up the side
of a dark skyscraper with
his back to the night

at the top, he aims
& shoots his web with a tap
tap of two fingers

& glides across the
stars like a giant, silent
spider on its thread

he’s racing to fight
the villain who kidnapped his love
& closing in—flash!

light!

the sight of her
hero is enough
for her to hope—no,
not hope—know there‘s zero
chance he’ll let her go

the chase quickens
Spider-Man speeds across
walls roofs spires telephone wires
until he meets his grinning enemy face
to face on a huge steel-cabled
bridge with the girl dangling
above certain death

in slow
motion, he watched the Green Goblin let go

his ears stopped hearing
she braced for the blow
then
just before the ground, his web (a desperate
extension of his arms) shot out
& caught her
her body relaxed
she broke the silence with a CRACK—
stopping so fast had snapped her neck.

Pandora

word count: 245

Pandora, the First Woman before Eve,
was released into a world of all men
with her ruby lips sculpted by the gods
& other endowments, mostly hidden—
sweet speech, easy to believe; a feel for
lullabies and healing broth; gentle
breath; she was delivered naked with
a sealed glass jar she was never to
open, clear as air but heavier than stone.

The men questioned nothing. The same
day they laid eyes on Pandora, she was
destined to be possessed by the one
who won her; so, riches poured out
of the earth and piled up at her feet;
men sang, danced and built machines
to provide her endless stream of joy—but still
by night, the strange glass keepsake called,
and weak from her sheltered life, Pandora peeked.

A torrential force exploded out, tore up
the roof and screeched through the air
with a caustic cry while, desperate, Pandora
pushed the lid against the flow
to get it close enough to
latch it closed—
but by the time she could, the jar stood
on the table, indistinguishable from any other.

The world was the thing that changed:
sickness, deceit and bloodthirst burned
men’s souls like acid; plagued by fear,
they squandered their strength on
vicious tests of power and justified it all
by woman, the measure of their hours.

Too sane to look inside the jar again,
Pandora never found out what stayed: hope,
the last of the great powers she
had all but released.

Medusa

word count: 284

Poseidon, Lord of the Seven Seas,
stormed ashore boiling with lust into
the temple where she was worshipping
him & his massive suffocating
body poured pushed pounded &
consumed her; his roar deafening,
she couldn’t hear but she could feel him
forcing out her screams.

What he left of her lay deathlike on
the floor for a long time, listening
quietly to the ebbing tide.

When she rose (alive, but not like before) her scalp was pulling against
itself, restless skin twisting, hissing
in her ears—
                    alone, terrified, she spat
venom & clawed at the teeming mass of
snakes that had replaced her hair!

                                   her invaded flesh
embodied her distress so deeply that
from then on, whoever met her eyes
became a petrified stone statue.
Even birds dropped mid-flight, paralyzed by the sight.

In misery & shame, Medusa hid away,
surrounded by the statues she had made
till a hero came to count her death toll paid.

He chased her through her cave, using his
shining shield to mirror around blind
corners—hunted like his prey, she stayed
in shadow, praying, stalemate!

At last, in a moment of unspoken truce,
the killer commanded: “Show me your back.”

What did she have to lose?

Facing the wall, she let the torchlight
fall on her gentle curves. Then, dangling
to her waist with their whispering faces
swaying
                the slenderly cascading snakes
transfixed the tired soldier by surprise.

Timidly, the female monster offered,
“Sheath your sword. Close your eyes.”

For some reason, the man obeyed, unafraid
as her footsteps & forked tongues came
close, lapping the air moist with his sweat—
then, all at once, his bare shoulders caressed
by her nuzzling heads, her warm
breasts heavy in his hands, the monster
was conquered.

Prometheus

word count: 269

My ancestors believed they were created
out of red riverbed clay by Prometheus,
a superhuman being.

What possessed him to breathe life
into us, just forgeries of himself, no one
knows, but our creation brought him pride—
so, the Lord Zeus let it slide.

One winter, under cover of night,
Prometheus climbed to the mountaintop
where the bright light of the gods burned hot
& held a torch between his fingers
until the heat sank in
& the embers could withstand the wind
& brought it to the people.

We called it fire.

But Zeus had an eagle known to fly
to sentinel the dark night sky,
& once Prometheus was done,
the shadow flew back to its master.

Later that night, Prometheus visited
the Divine Blacksmith and said, “My friend,
Zeus is coming for us:
for me, to punish me for what I’ve done,
for you, to polish up the tools of your
trade & use the finest iron known to you
to forge an indestructible restraint
& bind me to this earth, &
I want you to comply, for your sake & for mine.”

What a hostile time for mankind!
Disaster struck whole cities to the ground,
tyrants dangled the dead heads of their foes
under the noses of the deaf, pitiless gods,
& when the earth rose under your feet
to heave & purge, you felt the excruciating
pain of Prometheus, sweating like a flood,
titanic limbs thrashing against rock & chains
while the loyal & cruel eagle tore into his
liver with its vengeful beak,
& it was his red-hot blood that poured
from the volcano & became stone,
& through this upheaval, people
came together to believe this story.