Archives for posts with tag: mythology

I’ll Be Ares, You Be Aphrodite (III)
by Katie Aliferis

We are but two stars
Two orbs of heat and fire
Like drawn to like, drawing
Ourselves much too quickly to supernova

In our wake we will leave
Nothing but smoldering ash—
Particles of ourselves—that will settle
On the wind and in the lungs of all who follow

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is inspired by the Greek god Ares, who is known as the god of war, violence, and bloodshed. I have written this tribute to reflect on a softer (and completely unknown) side of his persona.

IMAGE: “Field of Mars” by Marc Chagall (1955).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Aliferis is a Greek-American poet and writer from San Francisco, California. Her poetry has been featured in Visual Verse, Voices, Velvet Revolution Reading Series, and other literary journals and websites. Her favorite poems are Jane Hirshfield’s “The Lost Love Poems of Sappho” and C.P. Cavafy’s “Όταν Διεγείρονται” (“When They Come Alive”). When not writing, Katie can be found reading, traveling, sipping mint tea, and enjoying time with friends and family. Find Katie online via Twitter (@KatieA_SF) and at

by Ruth Foley

I swallowed my own heart for you;
there was no trickery, no pregnant
pauses while I drank. I’d say I knew
what I was getting into, but I can’t—
though if I repeat it, perhaps I’ll make
it true. Call it a choice, as much as
anyone can choose, or name it fate,
a lie, a decision cut in half.

I drank. My blood pooled gleaming in
the cup. I grew anemic, lost the will
to pulse or beat. I want to singe and cure
this current in my fingers. Lightning
won’t release desire, so spark until
I catch. When I look at you, I burn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Semele wants to look on Zeus—of course there’s trickery involved, with jealous wives and such—but even in his most minimal form, he is too much for human eyes to bear. Some versions of the myth say that Zeus cut up the heart of Dionysus and fed it to Semele in a drink, after which Zeus gave birth to Dionysus (that’s right—he was born twice) through a hole in his thigh. Another version has Zeus swallowing the heart. I certainly know the feeling of swallowing my heart for a man, and the belief that I am up to whatever challenge he may offer. Zeus gave in to Semele’s wish, but upon looking at him she burst into flame and died. I’m pretty sure I know that feeling, too.

IMAGE: “Jupiter and Semele” (detail) by Gustave Moreau (1895).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web an print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

by Sonja Johanson

Sif, how I howled
when the gold was gone.
The thing I loved you for,
the thing I held you back by –
how could you let him in?
That icy devil in my home,
red sneak-thief in my very bed.
Sif, how you shame me now,
bald and unafraid before them
all, more a goddess than a wife.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Goddesses held only minor roles in Norse mythology, and I could never understand how Thor was the one Loki had to make amends to. Maybe Sif knew exactly what she was doing – maybe she didn’t want to be her husband’s decoration, or be weighed down by all that long hair anymore.

IMAGE: “Loki Prepares to Cut Sif’s Hair” by John Charles Dollman (1909).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, and was a participating writer in Found Poetry Review‘s 2014 Oulipost Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

by Joan Colby

Snails, oysters sinuous as mucus
To prepare the palate for the roughage
Of peasant speech, red capped radish,
Arugula glottal with desire for the
Extraordinary, iceberg lettuce patient
As a nun telling her beads.
The lascivious tomato, sliced or cherry
As entry-level fireworks. Soothed
With oils, steeped in vinegar.

Wipe your lips. Ah Clio in chef’s hat
And a smeared apron, now you emerge
With your iron pots smoking,
Your braziers, your spits,
The carving knives, the tongs,
The great spoon of submission.

Deliver us. Bless us. We say the grace
You demand. Salivate as you spread
The white cloth with raw meat,
With blood. With the pale porcine lard,
The rubicund goat’s head. The worst and the best
Of our hungers. You know
What we want and you serve us.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began writing Clio poems about 30 years ago, starting with one titled “Ah Clio – Muse of History.” A number of the early Clio poems appeared in my first book Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve from Alembic Press. Over time, I added more Clios as they came to me, and recently I’ve written quite a number, of which “Clio’s Dinner Party” is one. Kattywompus Press will bring out a chapbook of the Clio poems next year. The notion of Clio as the Muse of History appealed to me as we are all “victims” of history, one could say.

IMAGE: “Clio” by Charles Meynier (1798).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010).One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books, including Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize,  Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press, Kelsay Books), Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press), and The Wingback Chair (FutureCycle Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press. Visit her at

The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone circa 1880-1, cast 1950 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917
Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone
by Shari Zollinger

They think I simply bear the weight of courtyard
talk like any good girl would, with silence.
They think I don’t see them catch my
burnished body in its soft contortion
only to claim it a pose of pity.
A girl taken down by a block of stone.
I do not open my eyes. I alone
know the reason for infinite sitting.

What happens when you listen to a stone
for a bronze age? You finally make out
its language. Each weighty measure and tone
so paradoxically soft—what’s not known
is that I am poised to stand and shout
that I have found my name. That I am home.

IMAGE: “Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone,” sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).

EDITOR’S NOTE: A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column or a pillar.

Bio Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Native of Utah, Shari Zollinger has a BS in History from Utah State University. She spent six years living in Taiwan, part of that time spent attending the Stanford Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taipei. Her love of language has directly inspired her work as a poet. Her poems have appeared in the Sugar House Review, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, and The Desert Voice. She is currently working on a manuscript inspired by the works of Auguste Rodin. This poem  comes from this work.

Hades Rising from a Cleft in the Earth
by Paula J. Lambert

Hades came to claim a wife.
He had that right.
A woman turned her back
on a child, and lost her.
It happens, that sort of thing,
when flowers are blooming.
Children leave.
And selfish grief—
all that gnashing and keening—
leads the world to believe
you want them to starve.
Children, not knowing the rules,
will eat where food is offered.
What the girl-child did
was only this:
she buried a seed in her belly.
What was that but cause for celebration?
It took Hades
rising from that cleft in the earth
to teach a mother to let go,
to give things time to rest,
to remind that simple, faraway sun
that even he must set
to rise again.
The lesson is this:
A cleft is always a wound.
Wounds heal
though opened again and again.
That’s the loveliness of wounds
what they offer
what they forgive
what they call young lovers to do.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a reinterpretation of the story of Demeter and Persephone; I suppose here I want only to say that young women have a right to make their way in the world however they see fit, and that there’s no tragedy in that. That love and romance, marriage, childrearing, are all lovely and valid choices . . . and that love of all kinds involves wounded hearts, which is itself not such a bad thing. I hope the poem says this: We grow.

IMAGE: “Demeter Mourning Persephone” by Evelyn de Morgan (1906).


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.

Why Isn’t There A Tenth Muse Named Margie?
by Joan Jobe Smith

Forgive me Erato, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Calliope,
Clio, Thalia, Urania, Polyhymnia, Melpomene,
when I don’t listen to you. You know I love you,
all of you, but today my mother Margie talks to me.

I tried not to listen to her today while I thanked you all
for what you’ve meant to me since I was a child and
heard your whispering knowledge of music, poetry,
tragedy, history, dance, and the stars but you’re all

so Grecian, ancient, while Margie talks to me of Texas,
still sings to me Cole Porter and Artie Shaw, teaches me
boogie-woogie and the world too much with us as she
explains god, the stars, my sun sign of Aquarius, Leo Moon.

Margie sings, weeps, prays, dances and soars like a comet
in the dark universe of my blood, just as your mothers do
in yours, dear Nine Muses. Who were your mothers, your Eves,
sweet beauties? I hear them crackle starburst as they breathe

sugar and fire around me and you, to tell me they know well
my Margie.

IMAGE: “Les Muses” by Maurice Denis (1893).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .”  won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize.

by James Walton

Slipping from the cylinder masts straightening
Quietly we abridge the floats of ice
Embarkation only a hint in the stop bottle moon
Our science is too primitive for this
Leave it to the Renaissance flummoxed oceans
Wrap their capes indifferent to journey
The long haul pulls incessantly knows its strength
In the blink of eclipse penguins ride polar bears
Boundary markers sparkle shifting spheres
Alternating helix bubble in the pharmacist’s jar
The finger’s tug in mizzen circumnavigate a myth
In deep water dreamy fluorescence makes it possible
To see the waves tumbling shoulders slipways of chance
Anchor over the palette of waxing awakening


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Walton has been published in a number of magazines and journals and The Age newspaper. He was shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize in 2013, and Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition 2014.

IMAGE: “Birth of Venus” (after Botticelli), photomosaic by Robert Silvers (2006).

Farmwoman’s Initiation (after the style of Sappho)
     In memory of Bessie, Kathleen, Addie, and Cora
by Linda Ann Suddarth

When you were young, Bessie,
with golden hair tumbling to your knees
you caught rain in a magic bowl
and washed your hair there.
The goddess knew what you were about.
Then rain and mystery you gave my mother,
she the sweet one of silvery laughter’s darling
and then to me, the uninitiated.
I was brought to rain’s softness
and you called me to be brave
go out and walk barefoot in the dew
with nothing on but my nightgown
made of pale moonlight
now diaphanous in the morning sun.
Is there no relief or understanding
of the pain in my womb, mothers?
These nymphs have dug up
the sacred sassafras root
boiled it and blessed it
given it to me to drink.
A potion from mothers to daughters
from that sacred thicket
and all is well—only good has come of these things
since Aphrodite blew her kisses.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  It occurred to me after I was grown that my grandmother Bessie, though she was a sensible farmwoman from the Ozarks of Missouri, was like an initiatrix into th mysteries of the feminine and nature. She did indeed dig up sassafras root and mail it to my mother, so that it could be boiled and made into tea. It was evident to me that some herbal knowledge had been handed down through generations. This and her encouragement to walk around barefoot in the dew in my nightgown, was a kind of coming of age for me. Without any fanfare, she made it feel comfortable. The message was that Aphrodite was just part of life. The dedication is to her, my mother, and my great grandmothers.

IMAGE: “The Garden of the Hesperides” by Edward Burne-Jones (1877).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Ann Suddarth sees the creative life as a vital expression of the psyche. Linda has been writing poetry for thirty 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. Her blog is

by Anthony DiMatteo

Slipping out though forbidden,
past the barbed wire of the German
villa, the rusted gate, down a street
of no path, a lone car rushing
past, flat and dark on all sides,
I stumble ahead towards some
dream I can never visit but there it is,
rising ahead, fenced off, Neolithic,
guarded by yaping Mafioso
dogs prowling private domains.

Beyond the meadow of myriad graves,
olive trees twist in the black where
the hewn rocks of the temple rise.
The smell of the sea stirs
the giddy air. I have arrived,
phone booths, an abandoned parcel,
Birra Peroni bottles, the dogs still
barking as if to ward off
an abomination from the ground.

I am one soul before the sacred way,
heart and mind swelling with fear,
no words to say, exposed but not
pious, nothing to bring to these
chiseled stones and stairwell down.
I cower in my shallowness,
hide in a pool of disbelief.
What was once threshold to the dead
darkens now only with a night
like any other, quarter moon
rising over the sleeping bay at Cumae.

The next day, the official visit,
the drone of guides in different
languages, the nervous polizia
fingering his machine gun
as I look away from the carefully
aligned sun behind the temple.
I wait for the crowd to thin
and weep to myself a little,
the mystery lost, the emptiness
I brought last night to this
hole of the infinite sealed off
forever from modern eyes.

Even so, I am a bit different now,
when common stars proceed
and each sunset brings
an intimate chill
out of an ancient silence
only the living can feel.

IMAGE: “The Cumaean Sibyl” (detail) by Edward Burne-Jones (1877). The Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy.

dimatteo at tetons

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony DiMatteo‘s recent work has appeared in College Literature, The Cortland Review, Smartish Pace, Tar River Poetry, and Waccamaw. A new book Beautiful Problems: Poems is out from David Robert Books. He often writes on how mythology and politics sleep with each other, with wilderness exceeding the human will to sovereignty (as in his photo where havoc has been wrought upon his hair by the winds off the Tetons). His translation of Shakespeare’s allegorical guide to myth, Natale Conti’s Mythologies: A Select Translation, was publishedby Garland Press. Feel free to leave a trace at his e-tent