Archives for posts with tag: mythology

klimt hygeia
by Joan McNerney

She thought of herself as a
modern alchemist. Fluent
in an arcane language
about the composition of so
many minute capsules.

The rest of the store could
be in a gas station or bargain
store. Filled with candies,
lipsticks, other frivolous items.

If you simply had a cough, syrup
could be found on aisle three.
Her area was sacred to patients,
those with serious ailments.

Filling prescriptions navigating
insurance companies, seeking
authorizations. Always aware of
side effects, multiple drug reactions,
possible allergic problems.

Austere yet approachable,
she dispensed heroic potions
from her prized domain
as chemical priestess.

IMAGE: University of Vienna ceiling paintings (Medicine), detail showing Hygeia, goddess of health, by Gustav Klimt (c. 1900-1907).

NOTE: In Greek as well as Roman mythology, Hygeia was one of the Asclepiadae—the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and his wife Epione. Hygeia was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and hygiene.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Quite a while ago I decided to write about people at work. Particularly during the pandemic, we should be grateful to these essential workers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days, as well as in four Bright Hills Press anthologies, several editions of the  Poppy Road Review, and numerous Spectrum Publications. She has four Best of the Net nominations. Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on and

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

“At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;”
“Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

corot wounded eurydice
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.


Notice Me: A Poem of Aphrodite
(in the Spirit of Sappho)
By Linda Ann Suddarth

Inanna gathered all the me.
The me were placed on the Boat of Heaven.
The Boat of Heaven, with the holy me,
pushed off from the quay.

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth

Desire has shaken my mind
As wind in the mountain forests
Roars through trees.

Sappho, 15

I am a seashell
sing through me,
radiate scarlet
to the western sky.
Laughter’s darling
is the breeze
that lifts my hair
cools the sweat
on my neck.
I am the wind silvery
with glee,
the trees ravished
with desire,
bending bodies
as if they remember
some pre-tree time
and the motion of water,
leaves like hair
sweep the earth.
Centuries run round
circles of the sun
Inanna, Ishtar, me.
Beauty catches the poet
by surprise
notice me.
Notice the glow
of youthful skin
the playful glance
remember the giggle
that catches running
from each silly child
to the other
until no one is immune.
Though I shout “stop-stop!
My sides are hurting”
notice me rolling
from side to side
finally breathless
no laughter left
until eyes meet again
erupt into a giggle-dance
again and again.
Recognize what Beauty is,
I am the purple
interwoven into everything,
the silence between things,
the song, the cricket’s chirp,
the heavy stillness
of dead heat in Su(m)mer,
the quiet of snow falling,
The wee hours
when traffic dies away.
Remember in the desert
the sound of ocean waves,
remember in the mountains
the vista of the prairie,
remember in old age
the beauty of your mother
when she was young
her hair brown and soft.
Notice me
even in the pain of love
the absence of love
I am the presence
in what is not.
I am color—
what makes you
choose one over another.
A painting for this wall?
Or to leave it white?
Like the brrrrrr
in a man’s deep voice
or the delicate collarbone
peeping through a woman’s blouse
desire springs through
all things life-giving,
wonder at it,
this is me
this is yours.

IMAGE: “The Birth of Venus” by Odilon Redon (1910).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Notice Me” is about being present with the beauty that is available in the moment, and even in small moments and tiny details there is transformation as a result.


Linda Ann Suddarth
 sees the creative life as a vital expression of the psyche. Linda has been writing poetry for 30 years, and has published in many poetry journals. She has a BFA in painting, an interdisciplinary MA in Aesthetic Studies, and a PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. Linda is on the Board of Directors for the C. G. Jung Society of North Texas, and teaches English and Art at Richland College in Dallas. For more, visit her blog:

405px-antonio_del_pollaiolo_apollo_and_daphne Upon Revisiting the Account of Daphne and Apollo
in My Grandmother’s Copy of Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable
by Jennifer Finstrom

When I think of transformation, I don’t only contemplate the plight of Gregor Samsa, voiceless and changed on the wall of his room. I think too of The Metamorphoses of Ovid, of Zeus and Apollo, Io and Daphne, Europa on the back of the white bull.

In Greek mythology it is not safe to be a girl. I page through my grandmother’s copy of Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, read about Daphne and how “many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all,” read how “Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her,” and then—when I had always imagined her free though transformed—read how Bulfinch writes of the tree’s gratitude for the god’s regard.

I wrote a poem about Daphne once, saw the woman in the tree growing toward the sun, in love at last with the pursuing heat. Now I would revisit that poem and tell the reader that there are clouds and storms, long cool nights when the tree stands alone and quiet. I would write that the sun is only a part of the story.

IMAGE: “Apollo and Daphne” by Antonio del Pollaiolo (c. 1475).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and all of the many transformations that take place there—it’s interesting to look at Kafka’s The Metamorphosis through that lens. I also like to revisit past poems I’ve written to get a sense of my own transformation over time.

Finstrom Metamorphosis


Jennifer Finstrom
 teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates a writing group, Writers Guild, at DePaul University. She has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine since October of 2005, and recent publications include Escape Into LifeMidwestern GothicNEAT, and YEW Journal. She also has work appearing in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology.

PHOTOGRAPH: Jennifer Finstrom in front of some of her bookshelves—and even though you can’t see them, there are many books on mythology there.

by Linda Ann Suddarth

I have waited up till very late
the quiet sings to me
ice and snow cushion my defenses
the leaves have frozen in mid-air
a diamond offering.
I will forever go to the dance
wear my shoes out in the underworld
and you are invisible still.
I dare you to bring
that diamond token back
to show my Daddy.
I waited up
with a night full
of conversation
on the tip of my tongue
whispering warmth
pillowed against the cold
once again—you never show yourself.
I put the feast away
carefully covering the pies
lock the door
peeking once more
out at white and shadow
a visitation of winter
to this sunburnt land.
I feel the mist on the window
know the frozen sight
somewhere deep inside
the stars have sent
their sparkle and chill
to my very landscape.
I think of you
on your journey to me
and of the great distance
you’ve had to travel by now.
I wish for you a magic cloak.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Ann Suddarth sees the creative life as a vital expression of the psyche. Linda has been writing poetry for 30 years, and has published in many poetry journals. She has a BFA in painting, an interdisciplinary MA in Aesthetic Studies, and a PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. Linda is on the Board of Directors for the C. G. Jung Society of North Texas, and teaches English and Art at Richland College in Dallas. For more, visit her blog:

IMAGE: “Dancing Shoes” by Helene Schjerfbeck (1882).

The Broken Promise: Orpheus and Eurydice
by Mary Kendall

If only he had kept his promise, she’d be there.
All it took was one glance, a quick turn,
a meeting of the eyes and then she vanished.

How long did he stand there staring at where she had been?
When did he realize that she was lost to him forever?

How sad the stars were that night,
tumbling through the black sky
in mournful arcs;
even the moon turned its face away.

As he lead her out toward the ledge,
did she gasp at her unsure footing?
She with her snake-born limp,
trying hard to keep pace through dark tunnels
winding up to the craggy precipice?
Was this what tempted him to look?

His glance came so naturally,
that of the husband who worried
his wife might stumble and fall.
His trust in her never wavered and yet
he looked back just that once.
That’s all it took.

That night the heavens froze for a minute,
the music of the planets and stars
coming to a halt: no sound, no movement
before they heard his cry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem will appear in my upcoming chapbook, Erasing the Doubt, which will be published on February 28, 2015 by Finishing Line Press.

IMAGE: “Orpheus Returns from the Pursuit of Eurydice” by Henri Martin (1860-1943).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Kendall has a chapbook, Erasing the Doubt, coming out on February 28, 2015 by Finishing Line Press. This poem is one of the selections. Mary is also author of A Giving Garden (2009). She is delighted to find the many excellent poets here on wordpress, and her blog is: A Poet in Time found at: She is a retired teacher and using her retirement years to indulge in a good deal of reading and writing. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Telemachus’s Sister Also Waits
by Emily Cruse

I used to imagine my father returning:
broad-shouldered, broad-smiled,
carrying me back a toy from his travels
like a carved horse, or other knickknack from some hotel giftshop.
But I stopped imagining reunions years ago,
ditto to playing with toys.
Now I mostly lurk in shadowed corners of the great hall,
watching mom’s suitors drink their way through our wine cellar
and try to set their farts on fire.

My brother hung out here too,
pimpled adolescent so desperate to belong
he mistook their hazing for friendship.
That was before he set off to quest for dad,
secretly hoping one of the old man’s friends will finally anoint him
man enough
that he can call off the looking.

It’s quiet in the residential hall with my brother gone.
Only me and mom left, and that crowd of ladies-in-waiting
she keeps to help her run the scam with the weaving and unweaving.
Not like mom and I ever talked much—
just her lectures about the importance of keeping my legs crossed
until she and dad had picked themselves out a son-in-law.
Even those stopped, once preserving her own chastity
became a full-time job.

Sometimes I fantasize about crashing the party downstairs:
getting hammered and singing bad karaoke at the top of my lungs,
or maybe leaping onto a table to do some standup routine.
My comedy’d be really raunchy, too—
like grabbing my crotch and snarking, “I’ve got your axehead right here
to shoot that arrow through!”

Instead, from time to time, one of the hundred-and-eight finds me in the shadows,
grabs my arm, and pulls me with him to some back staircase
or unused storage closet.
As I feel his hot and hasty fingers unthread my private tapestry,
I close my eyes and drift out across my own winedark sea.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I borrowed the idea of Odysseus and Penelope having an unknown daughter—and of wondering what her life might have been like—from Virginia Woolf’s musings about “Shakespeare’s sister” in A Room of One’s Own. In The Odyssey, Telemachus clearly struggles with his own issues around manhood and coming-of-age in his father’s absence. What issues might a young woman have faced in the same household, with not only her father unavailable but her mother also, preoccupied as Penelope was with her own pressing concerns? It seems to me that growing up surrounded by 108 young men all competing to marry your mother (and largely ignoring you because you represent less of a material prize) would be terribly difficult, even if the suitors were not disrespectful freeloaders and your mother a paragon of virtue and fidelity.

IMAGE: “Psyche Opening the Golden Box” by John William Waterhouse (1903).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Cruse is a Texas transplant to Philadelphia, whose interest in mythological retellings dates back to a chance encounter in high school with Jean Giraudoux’s 1935 play, The Trojan War Will Not Take Place. She has spent her career in education, including as a high school English teacher, adjunct writing professor, tutor in remedial math and reading, and producer of educational videos. Her current focus is on how survivors of trauma can use writing as a tool in their recovery. Emily shares her home with two aging cats—who would both much prefer if her cooking experiments involved more cheese and less lemon curd—and blogs as “Alice Isak” at

The Crane Wife
–a Japanese Folktale
by Sayuri Matsuura

When you shot me down
did you mean to wound
or kill? For a maimed wing
is kinder than
a splintered heart.
I was a love-struck beast
sprawled in the crimson snow,
pierced by your arrow.
Under the haze of moonlight
I mistook the glint
in your eye for tears.
In your home, I wove for you,
stripped my feathers,
silk for the loom.
My suffering,
an act of worship,
that you brushed off like ash.
Husband—you drew back
your bow and poached
the stars. Now, I spread
my newly feathered wings
and plunge into the night.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This Japanese folktale centers on the themes of sacrifice, suffering, and relational fidelity. I wanted to give the crane a voice in this poem while preserving the tone of the original tale.

IMAGE: “Grace of Descent” by Bill Searle. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sayuri Matsuura has been a lover of poetry since her undergraduate years. She earned her MA at The Ohio State University and has taught English as a Second Language at the community and college level. Her work has been published in an anthology, The Santa Clara Review, and Relief. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and son.

by Apollo Papafrangou

In this corner
Hailing from the big-book-of-medical-conditions
more commonly known as the Bible-of-all-Things-That-Can-Go-Wrong…
weighing in at an immeasurable amount of agony and anxiety
with a record of A-whole-hell-of-a-lot-of-wins, and zero losses
Named via the Greek words “ηδρο” for water and “κεφαλος” for head
Is the mighty crusher of craniums

And in this corner…
Hailing from Oakland, California
via an arrival two-months premature
Weighing in at a mere three pounds
and two ounces
Kicking and screaming
through the blood of his birth
despite his current record of
zero wins
and zero loses
is baby boy


So, what do you think about this match-up, Carl?
Well, Dave,
“Water on the brain” is the condition
Baby Boy Apollo is facing here…
Most likely contracted during his bout with
Hydrocephalus’ power lies in its jab

It wears you down blow-by-blow
inflicting throbbing pain to the head

The knock out punch, that one that lands you in
the hospital for another surgery,
can come at any time.

Fascinating, Carl, fascinating…
So, what are Apollo’s keys to victory tonight?
Well, Dave, they’re giving him a 50/50 survival
rate at this point
but even in the best-case scenario
the risk of brain damage is high

Given Apollo’s minimal punching power
He is just a baby, after all, despite his godly name
I’d say his best bet is to
dance around that squared circle
for as long as possible
Take full advantage of that
incubation tank
Get in a couple good shots
then get the hell out of the way

Fascinating, Carl, fascinating…
Yes, well, Dave. Whether or not
our hero can actually pull it off remains to be seen.

Yes, Carl?
Oh, wow… Dave?
Yes, Carl?
I think…oh, wow…I think…
Dave, I think this baby’s gonna pull
He’s putting up a hell of a fight…

A full-fledged
adult now
though the fight lives on

Has it been 20 years
since the last
time I was called into the ring?
The last time I was taken
to the task
of defending my title
against mighty Hydrocephalus
Illness of goose-egg biceps and iron fists

As a child I endured a surgery every two years
got used to the squeal of waxed floors
beneath my tiny sneakers
The rush of wheels over tile
My hospital bed took corners like a race car
on its path to the operating room
where the medics would stand over me
Angels in white
their surgical caps
haloed by the yellow iridescent glare
of florescent lamps

I breathed the sweet bitterness of
in my ascent
to some place between sleep and death
Heaven would have to wait
and thank God it was patient

I was just an innocent patient
scared of not knowing what was wrong
Not knowing why not even being a good boy
the best boy I could be
could spare me from the headaches
the vomiting
The pleas to please make this stop as I clutched my
action figure tight

Mama, please, mama
Why, mama?

But mama can’t come with you
where you need to go now
Mama’s boy
you have to fight alone

There is no cure for this

They now say my case isn’t a severe
Though it certainly felt like the end of the world

I’ve stopped growing
I mean I’ve stopped getting taller
less need to replace
the catheter

The catheter
and the bulb of which
under X-Ray
looks like an eye
an eye that sees my fate like an oracle
an eye I wish to blind like Oedipus
while I
it’s seen me through
the problems this affliction has caused

In school my thoughts often swam
my brain awash in fluid
I was sometimes slow
to get the answer
to overstand
Slow to persevere
Though I’ve had to

I may never again have to pick up my trusty gloves
but trust I keep them close at hand.

The beast is dormant
The beast is invisible
which is to say
you can’t spot it while looking at me
but look me in the eyes
just long enough
to see what I’ve endured.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though I have been writing fiction since I was twelve years old, poetry has been a fairly recent endeavor. Only within the last year or so has it become an art form I’ve really started to explore. To me, poems are just distilled thoughts. I’m drawn to the form because there are certain ideas I may have that don’t lend themselves to the narrative structure — concepts I want to express that wouldn’t necessarily be able to carry an entire story. The concise nature of poetry is a perfect outlet for these ideas. Greek mythology/and tradition has a tremendous influence on my work. Greece is a land of poets — from Homer and Sappho to Cavafy and Seferis. As a writer you can’t help but be inspired. My Greek heritage always finds its way into my work, whether fiction or poetry. That cultural experience is so rich, and I think Greeks naturally want to share it with other cultures. Our food, language, and customs — they all seep into the sentences and stanzas.

IMAGE: “Apollo” by Will Baumeister (1923).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Apollo Papafrangou is a writer of novels, short stories, and poems from Oakland, California. He is a 2010 graduate of the Mills College Creative Writing MFA program, and is the author of Concrete Candy, a short story collection published by Anchor Books in 1996 when he was just 15 years old. More info can be found at his website,

Dreaming the Shadow-Self
by Paula J. Lambert

When I dream the shadow-self
I wake with a whisper: Remember.
Houses, stairwells, basements and
sub-basements, labyrinths all divine.
Attics bright with light that isn’t there.
Neighborhoods familiar and unfamiliar.
Darkness. Doorways. Once, a lake:
I stood on the shore with a wolf,
watched a woman, lovely, nude, silver
as moonlight, walk into the water,
stopping so far away she should have
drowned. I saw the back of her head,
her hair, the full white moon. She was
the water, the moon. I am the woman,
the wolf, that silver light. I wake
with a word wrapped round my neck
like a scarf, like a whisper: remember.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Crescent Moon” by Paul Albert Besnard (1849-1934).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert is the author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). A residency artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies. She is a past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her MFA is from Bowling Green State University. Lambert currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.