hesiod-and-the-muse-1891
HESIOD’S MYTH OF THE FIVE AGES OF MAN
by Brinda Buljore

From the moment I roll up
My eyes as a new day dawns
Waking from idyllic dreams
Of Golden days, Hesiod’ s Works and Days
Pop up on the slate of modern days . . .
“Which Age are we in?” I ask myself
As the radio gives the latest number of victims
From Ebola or of those massacred and slaughtered
On the Holy lands, distraught by wars
And cruelties between brothers of the same blood . . .
I log onto the Social media and find the latest born
In the family or counting the candles, celebrating
Upon the first steps of colleagues’ children
This, certainly, is not those of the eternally young
Of the Golden Race, gloriously radiant and strong
Neither the ones of The Silver race
As I watch the 3-yr olds line up at museums’ workshops
Or sending text messages with their ‘Tom-thumb’ digits
Latest news get us alarmed and I tell myself
“This is certainly not the Bronze Age!”
A new ad got my attention
We will shift to GMO’s latest cornmeal
Bread soon for breakfast
Or is there a number of Heroes
Who are just and compassionate enough
Standing up for “Vote For Change” yet? . . .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our times are times that are constantly changing, completely revolutionized by technology and the Internet, more or less demanding and challenging us to look closely into our thinking processes and beliefs, as well as our visions and the way we see and interact in with our daily world. Myths and stories are great mirrors where we can and have the opportunity to play the different roles and adapt our views and understanding of cycles of man’s evolution.

IMAGE: “Hesiod and the Muse” by Gustave Moreau (1891).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brinda Buljore‘s main interest is in the arts, and she has  an absolute passion for colours and words, with a special reverence and love for haiku and tanka, regularly contributing to various Facebook pages. Her interest in myths & stories started when she was a Kathak dancer at the beginning of secondary school, relating stories from Indian mythology and famous religious epics. She studied myths and fairytales at The C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, and has since studied works of Joseph Campbell, James Hollis, and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes.

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Urania the Stargazer
by Britny Cordera Doane

With dewish wand, I point
to the unborn words of wind-
driven ballerinas.
I knew their stories before
my star-dotted lyre gave flight
to the fledged songbirds and carrions.
I make sure time does not pluck
your crown and quill, but
you refuse my globe on palace walls.
My cut-out eyes find home
on fountains of blue-backs where
quince trees know no lore filled
more with woe.
I placed clap-nets where grottoes
roofed your flared arms,
no brighter than my wonder
for sky beyond blue.
You live, now, in space
where a hoot, tweet, caw, coo,
and broken trill, flood images of
swans who die for Elysium–
through small white frames, my
feathering fingers lure the tizzy
of wings to clear stage; empty curtain.
Now, fauns and flat-foots can voyage
alone, but hear your mummed whispers.
The common raven will make them marvel
for his yearning din.
My name is Urania.
On my cloak lie your runes.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mythology has always been my passion. My upcoming book, Wingmakers, is about the bird constellations and the myths that surround them. “Urania the Stargazer” is inspired by the muse Urania. Since Urania is the muse of my book, this poem holds many images of birds.

IMAGE: “Urania, Muse of Astronomy” mosaic ceiling (Vatican) by Raphael (1483-1520)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Britny Cordera Doane resides in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a student of creative writing and religious studies at the University of Nebraska. She has been published twice in the university’s 13th Floor literary magazine, and was featured in the Women for Women international publication: Forget Me Not. Known locally as the Old Market Poet, Britny is often set up with her typewriter in Omaha’s Old Market district, sharing her work with others. She has recently been interviewed and featured in The Omaha World-Herald. Britny looks forward to having her maiden voyage, Wingmakers, published by Pinyon in 2015.

atlas-and-the-hesperides1-1925
ATLAS’S WEIGHT
by Mark Allen Jenkins

What did I do to deserve this weight?
Everyday, it pushes my shoulders past
the point of thought. True, I led the Titans
in spinning planets away from Zeus’s grasp.

Should defeat surprise me,
to hold sky and seas together?
Once I had it off
for moments that felt like never.
A braggart’s trick.
Forever I bear the world’s weight of not mine.

I long for some hero
who will let Medusa’s twisted, serpentine
head enter my godforsaken
garden, transform the mountain of me into
forested cliff shoulders. I would no longer think
heaven and earth anything but places beholden to someone else.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came initially as a kind of lurid dream of large hands holding a globe. It only seemed natural to then think about Atlas and take up the pity heroes have for those punished for disobeying the Gods.

IMAGE: “Atlas and the Hesperides” (detail) by John Singer Sargent (1922).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Currently a PhD student in Humanities with a Creative Writing Focus at the University of Texas at Dallas, Mark Allen Jenkins is the former Editor-in-Chief for Reunion: The Dallas Review. His poetry has appeared in Memorious, Minnesota review, South Dakota Review, and is forthcoming in Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio.

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THE DEATH OF NARCISSUS
by Ken Craft

October, and the glen
resounds with want,
wind, yellow rain of birch leaves.

The face and body wander,
driven by disdain,
downhill where earth
and echo
hold their breath.

From a distance, silver
eye lashed by dying buttonbush.
At its flanks
the warmth of moss
pressing palms and knees.

Hemlock, sky, clouds
above and again in the depths
frame first the face,
then two deltoids of desire
tensing as he leans hard
over the stillness of self,
sensing a virgin desire.

Lowering his lips, he
feels the coolness of this first
kiss, never noticing the shadow
his beauty casts
over these violated waters.

IMAGE: “Narcissus” by Caravaggio (1599).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Craft is a writer and teacher living in Massachusetts. His poetry has appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Petrichor Machine, Grasslimb, Amethyst Arsenic, and other print and online journals. He finds inspiration in the smell of black coffee unsullied by “flavors” (like hazelnut and pumpkin); the cheerful sound of chickadees in pine trees on zero-degree winter mornings (how do they do it?); the taste of maple syrup in everything (except coffee); the cold, salty slap of the Atlantic on hot August afternoons; and the welcome sight of the Maine state line sign on the Piscataqua River Bridge (read: “You have arrived!”). His secret to happiness is not owning a cellphone.

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A LOST ECHO
by Sheikha A.

The night haunches on its elbows
and pretends to look towards me,
like a favour bestowed;

he probably doesn’t know of the numerous
times I have pedestalled him by starting
my sentences with ‘this night’.

This night doesn’t know his ego is
gartered to his palsied ability
to respond –

he probably doesn’t know he wears
the crown of Narcissus; unable
to see through simple equations,
sitting by a pool of illusions.

The night doesn’t know he has been traded
for sunlight, (and which is why) summers are
not guests but squatters here;

he probably doesn’t know his (self-assumed)
ingenious tendencies have become gaunt
of amusement for the wing-bearers now.

The night should know shadows
do not reflect in his gold-pecked
mirrors of falsity;

he should know
his broad, muscular back
is too weak to shoulder
my naivety.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem is based on Narcissus and Echo. Echo falls in love with Narcissus, who rejects her love — causing her to pine away in the mountains, becoming the echo buried between the rocks. Narcissus, while quenching his thirst from a spring, falls in love with his reflection — and he withers away by the water waiting for his love to embrace him. Myths fascinate me because each holds a story of love that is relatable to our present situations. For instance, in this myth, both loves are unrecognised and unrequited, causing each to turn into an object reflecting the traits of the other — he becomes a flower, and Echo becomes stone.

IMAGE: “Metamorphosis of Narcissus” by Salvador Dalí  (1937).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. currently lives in Karachi, Pakistan, after moving there from the United Arab Emirates, and believes the transition has definitely stimulated a different tunnel of thought. With publication credits in magazines such as Red Fez, American Diversity Report, Open Road Review, Mad Swirl, Danse Macabre du Jour, Rose Red Review, and The Penmen Review among many others, and several anthologies, she has also authored a poetry collection entitled Spaced, published by Hammer and Anvil Books, available on Kindle. She also edits poetry for eFiction India. Visit her blog sheikha82.wordpress.com.

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LEARNING TO DANCE
by Carol A. Stephen

There’s something elemental in the odour of death,
each myth dissected, the way boys dissect frogs,
then wash hands in the pond’s fog. Each remembers
the veined legs, the death-croak, wonders
what to tell mother when she asks
What possessed you?

It’s a boy thing, a tradition, this call down to the river.
Answers mothers have forgotten:
how to balance on a log, counting to thirteen.
Things children know:
The call of the desert, summer wind, dancing silent.
Sacrifice at the oasis, the offering of young bulls.
Their death songs recede into sand, drift into
each mouth, the labour of their last breath.

Children burn through days believing nine religious things.
Whisper secrets. Escape from prayers, their auras
clear and hollow, drawn always to water, to riverbed.
Every child learns to walk at an angle, to memorize
the mysteries of ancestors kept in a yellow box
buried in a pit under the oldest tree. Each year
they grow away from fairy tales, forget how the sky sounded.
Its old echo twists through rock as they climb to the edge.

Boys speak the language of nowhere,
rough and guttural, tell of visions seen when they
hunted on the edges of their days. They strut round the fire,
muscles sinuous, hard, youth slipping off with the flames.

In the midst of the dance, one trips over a stray bone,
nothing else remains, no word to name the spirit of the dead.
Grit rises in his belly. He writhes to music from the pipe
of a red-haired boy. Drum falls silent. They begin to circle.

Euphoric faces lift. They remember
the struggle to clear ground for their fire. They remember
how their leader held the amulet close to the amber flame,
then placed it around his neck.

They remember the scent of burning.

Painting by Odilon Redon (1840-1916).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at The Light Ekphrastic and in videos. Twice shortlisted, in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of two chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, and Architectural Variations. Visit her blog at quillfyre.wordpress.com.

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FABLES FOR CHILDREN OF THE NORTH
by Roy J. Beckemeyer

Water Nymph

Wreathe with ferns
your brow, child,
before you wash your hair,

for Rusalka sings
from larch boughs
to entice you to her lair.

Toll Collector

Avoid the shade beneath
the bridge; seek daylight
as you come home,

for trolls in shadow
can bewitch, but
trolls in sun are stone.

Bone Cruncher

Stay hidden in
the timbered depths
of Beowulf’s retreat

when Grendel stalks,
through halls of night,
those of us who sleep.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved Dvorack’s opera, Rusalka. I came across an old Russian tale of children being told to always wear a wreath of ferns to keep the water nymphs from taking them when they went to the stream. That gave me the idea for a short set of nursery rhymes or fables of the kind that might be taught to children of northern countries. This small work is the result; the poem may grow in the future.

IMAGE: “Water Fairy Sisters” by Ola Design. Prints available at etsy.com.

Roy Beckemeyer Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roy Beckemeyer is a retired aeronautical engineer who lives in Wichita, Kansas. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals including Beecher’s, The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, Straylight, Mikrokosmos, Coal City Review, and The Bluest Aye, and in anthologies such as Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (Woodley Memorial Press, 2011), and To the Stars through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga (Mammoth Press,2012). He has also participated in multi-media art projects such as artist Jennifer Rivera’s “Between the Lines” series of abstract paintings inspired by poems (Albrecht-Kemper Museum, 2013). He was the Kansas Authors Club poet of the year for 2013, and won first place in the Beecher’s 2014 Poetry Contest. His debut collection of poems, Music I Once Could Dance To: Poems, is available from Coal City Review Press. Walter Bargen, the first Poet Laureate of Missouri, has said of Beckemeyer’s poems, “I hear a voice as uplifting and insightful as Mary Oliver’s…unique and powerful as that of Hayden Carruth.” Visit his blog at phanaerozoic.wordpress.com.

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CHARTREUSE LEGENDS
by Chrystal Berche

A winter elf
With chartreuse skin
Sits beside a river
Of melting snow
Drawing in the powder
With the quill
Of a porcupine
The image of a ladybug
Captured briefly
In the melting ice
Image frozen
In oil and canvas
The portrait hangs
On the gray stone walls
Of a country jail
Where old men sit
With bloodshot eyes
Playing checkers
And dreaming of days
When statues were built
Of young men brave
And in pursuit
Of legends.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Chartreuse Legends” was inspired by photographs of frost patterns on ice that I had taken just as winter was starting to turn into spring and lace-like melting patterns were forming in the edges of the ice. Some of the patterns in the frost and on the edges of the ice looked like drawings, and in my mind I could see this frost elf just sitting beside the river, drawing pictures in the ice and snow and being frustrated because they were melting before he could get them just the way he wanted. But he had no way of realizing that he was a drawing, so this poem really took on a scene-within-a-scene effect, where if I were still taking animation courses, that would have been the moment when the camera pulled back to reveal the old men sitting beneath the moving image of the elf by the river, weary, jaded, tired, and never realizing that something magical was going on right over their heads — even while they sat playing checkers and talking about how everything worth doing had already been done and theirs was the last great generation.

IMAGE: “Blair” by Heather Gerni. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ChrystalBerche

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chrystal Berche writes. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs, and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters, and all the other things she knows and loves. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes it’s aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, she’s taking pictures or curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

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GENDENWITHA
by Patrick T. Reardon

Sosondowah was a silly man.
Yes, he was a stalwart hunter. Yes, he had been honored by Dawn to guard the heavens.
But, seeing me come out of the water of the River, he grew starry-eyed
and stupid with lust.

He should have stayed at heaven’s door.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a bluebird to visit me.
I welcomed the bluebird to my clearing.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a blackbird to visit me.
I welcomed the blackbird to my blanket.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a giant nighthawk.
I trembled when the hawk grabbed me in his talons and took me up to the sky,
up to the planets,
up to his bed.

Dawn saw this and grew angry.
She struck me with a pure ray of the Sun.
And, of a sudden, I was the Morning Star,
lodged on the forehead of Sosondowah.

He longs for me but cannot see me, ever again.
Silly man.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Gendenwitha and Sosondowah are figures of Iroquois mythology. She was a human being. He was the sort of human-like god who would have been comfortable on Mount Olympus. Like many stories of mythology across the cultures, Gendenwitha is the innocent one here and ends up paying the price for somebody else’s weakness.

IMAGE: “Surfacing” by Heather Gerni. Prints available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Patrick T. Reardon is the author of five books. His “Open Letter to the Archbishop-Elect” was recently published in the National Catholic Reporter and Crain’s Chicago Business. He writes frequently for the Catholic magazine Reality in Ireland.

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SUN AND MOON (A NIGERIAN MYTH)
by Nettie Farris

Long ago,
Sun and Moon lived

on earth.
The adventurous

sort, Sun
would often visit Sea,

while Moon,
more domestic,

stayed at home.
Finally, Sea

agreed to visit Sun
and Moon.

Moon was not pleased.
However,

she agreed
to be hospitable.

So, eventually, Sea
arrived. She arrived,

and she kept arriving,
bringing along

all her friends
with her: squid, whale,

porpoise, and octopi.
“Is there room for me?”

asked Sea.
And Sun replied, “Of course

there is.”
So Sea continued,

bringing along
angel fish and sea urchin.

“Are you sure
there’s room for me?”

asked Sea.
And Sun replied,

“Of course there is.”
(Though moon

was not at all certain.)
So Sea continued,

bringing along
piranha and starfish.

Soon enough,
Sun and Moon were up

to their attic
with Sea, but still,

she kept arriving.
And now, Sun and Moon

live far apart in the sky,
and Moon likes it that way.

IMAGE: “Moon Goddess,” Nigerian wood mask available at Novica.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nettie Farris lives in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, and is the author of Communion (Accents Publishing, 2013). In 2011, she received the Kudzu Poetry Prize. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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