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have you seen

what I say

stripped away

all coverings

clear to the gods

the old man smiled

yes hippolytos

we are servants of divinity

yet hear aphrodite

for she is deity

as a sculptor

taps the peg

seeking likeness

in a mass of stone

we take on human attributes

such is cypris aphrodite

I saw her in my neighbours yard

I took her for a god

those heavy flanks

seemed cast in bronze

her white dress

careless in the breeze

like snow on Ida

she was setting beet

she used a switch of olive

to chase away the gnats

her animal eye

nut brown

fastened onto me

as a burning poker

brands an ox

I did not flinch

but let her search

my soul as an anchor

dropping to the ocean bed

plummets into murky depths

and spears of light

permit the deep

a glimpse at last

of helios

then coral lips

pronounced a name

as if persephone

were there whom

theseus has heard

now your father

walks in hell

to help a mate

procure a girl

from the bowels of pluto

all men dream of love

foiled in beauty

remember helen

or penelope

theirs was doting love

she was mine

like sea spray

on the face

the garland of our ships

no filthy persian

stood on me

but with a wink hippolytos

I was lost

could I argue

I was old

what did she care

with a whoop

we were in love

unstoppable and me

in the sack

not so lithe perhaps

so why

dont ask

what would reason

have with me

a stewed old prune

be careful boy

and not too proud

for see how venus

had her way

changed me from a crone

into a foolish lad

with hands all over

that greek dame

be mindful then


feel aphrodite

standing here and pray

as he sat


gathered his thoughts

as a fisherman his nets

to glean the harvest

of the old mans words

then as if a shocking mass

of weird sea creatures

met his eyes replied

where aphrodites dart coerces

the huntress brings productive thought

but she abhors those prophets

who would penetrate her mystery

her fecundity and motion lost

to any souls disdaining to admire her

self reliance is the path to artemis

she is running in these thickets

do not seek our lady

her dogs the arrows sharpened tip

may find you soon enough

not artemis but cypris

had long since

seized her prey


whose thin frame wasted

whose very bed was agony

her face as pale

as cloth

whose colour has bled dry

this is aphrodite

she had sown this illness

deep into her mind

through this woman


wife of theseus

stepmother to hippolytos

she will kill hippolytos

who boasts

her godhead holds no power

she cannot brook this arrogance

today shall this young man

through love of life

whose priest he is

perish of his effort

the nurse arrived

and phaedra

knowing she must speak or die

let the nurse

inside her malady

who knows my family

knows that love

has never favoured us

remember pasiphae

my mother was herself

until his form appeared

a massy white

inside the pen

poseidons bull

bellowing joy

a chuff of straw

idling on his jaw

pasiphae went in

the finches lighted

from his back

a spray of leaves

she gave to him

mindful of his body then

amazed at how it shivered

she distracted him with song

the music did not please him

and he trotted off

to find the herd

ancient laws dictate

we have relation

only with our kind

the while of loveless nights

convinced her they were wrong

the run of life belonged to her

if only she would bridle it

she thought to meet the animal

braced in a machine reluctantly

the sculptor daedalus

hammered out a wooden beast

into which my mother climbed

then mated with the bull

I feel sorry for their child

the minotaur

whose monstrous shape

was cruelly bound

inside the maze

human flesh

to sway her guilt

the food of this poor child

but my sister ariadne

read his pain

ariadne understood


in the shade

tastes the perfume

of the rose


on its mystery

bacchus laughed


his beard smelt awful

his penis wrung

with scars

a stretch of berries

hindered her she stopped

to free her body

but he had gone


a type of boy

though he had me

in my loins

his wife

his image dances

in the son

it landed like a dove

inside hippolytos

I stammer to pronounce his name


spawn of antiope

whose strange devotions

puzzled me

I tried to tear myself away

but nothing helped

the moon was fingernail

when I first saw

the bastard son of theseus

here to watch the mysteries

dressed in shining linen

garlanded as royalty

until the moon grew full

from a temple given

to the goddess aphrodite

peering through the myrtle

I watched hippolytos

the pain of love is terrible

if I cannot have him

this love will be my end

the nurse pretended fright

but was eager to hear more

for the god already

moved in her and to the nurse

such gossip seemed adventurous

why speak of him this way

a harmless crush

is one thing

but do not say

you are in love

my thoughts are all hippolytos

whose horses graze

the rivers coolest shade

they crop the sweetest stems

sprinkled with the morning dew

their ears pricked for their owner

expectant as my heart

as I wait for his return

the nurse let out a sigh

then why not ply

a stepchilds love

after all he is a man

a handsome man

who must see in you

a woman even owning

as he does

such religious ways

I will see hippolytos

and so she did

under pretext that her lady

sought a cure for loneliness


thinking she meant theseus

whose return was due

at any time thus hoping

to bring phaedra

news and cure in one

it was easy for the nurse

to lure hippolytos

from the hunt

into her ladys chamber

the sound his foot tread makes

causes her to bite her lip

wring her hands and cast

her glance toward the ground

she makes to go

but quickly turns

then lays herself back down

despite him having entered

she is waiting on her bed

her eyes stare hard

she follows a thought

to its end

a tear flows down

hippolytos is there

his left foot steps inside

his right remains behind

his arms hang by his side

his right fist holds a bridle

he is afraid to look at her

for now her eyes are hidden

her head is lowered

her face is dark

her dress unkempt

as if the twilight and the wind

had wrestled with her form

on the bed frame

a meander carved

his fathers path

inside the maze

then a sudden fantasy

lodges in his brain

phaedra rises from the blue

as the half moon

mushrooms from the sky

her peplos filled with rain

I have brought to you

these poppies

pulled from sand

this shell


the gods command

he smiles at her

but with the air of custom

then cannot hide a frown

when he sees she will not speak

she notices the bridle

and the bit

imagining the flock

hippolytos would guide

their rolling eyes

and coursing manes

the galloping steeds thrown

wide across the marshy plains

hippolytos would charge

his horses to press faster

the chariot clears the point

his fluttering tunic and his feet

grip firmly to the floor

still she cannot look at him

some illness mother

then feels she might cry

for she sees how far away

his good intentions place him

her sleeping pains awake

a silence grows within her

like the turning of a wave

how much she wants him

then she hears herself to say

it is not illness that has kept me

but worry over you

where have you been


I have not seen you

these past days

I was worried

just as theseus

had gone away so too

you had abandoned me

mother what can I say

what mother or relation

could be standing here

only phaedra who must speak

for love of you


you steer my sorrow into bliss

come closer here at least

you owe your love a kiss

could I be hearing this

to go this far and not convince

yourself  to check this whim

I am not sure I feel pity

or absolute disgust

the daring of a woman

who must have her way in love

beyond all law and decency

have you confused my graciousness

my innocence and quiet faith

with some place

where vulgarity and lust

would steal where love

would decimate

this sullen pathway

bent to god

the pious man

who will not damn

or violate

another soul

is judged a fool

by men

and yet he lives in fear

of god

but phaedra would not stop

if you deny your age

and youthful rights

this discipline

your daily prayers and abstinence

are senseless chores

if they deny your soul

what is your resistance worth

there is a time for that

in all of us

but if we open up and love

the greater we become

not reserve

but bravery

guards the freedom

of our soul

nothing less than love awaits


why are you sad

whom do you mourn

I will sing a song for you

the glinting waves

will carry you

while we are alive

your soul as quiet

and as peaceful

as a soul may be

if it passes by me

ill catch it in my hand

again restore your life

then you shall see me

through different eyes

not gaze on me as woman

nor blush to see my form

silver backed

we shall be fishes

you and I

as dolphins twine

the bosphorus

hearing this hippolytos

ran off in disgust

phaedra now

had gripped the jar

of life peered in

and found it empty

cypris made this lacking seem

heavier than anything

reserved for atlas

she takes the rope

knots it carefully

just as a serpent

its belly full of fire

curls into a ball

before it casts its skin

to pass within

and breach the flame

finding immortality

it slid in stops

as an adder

its poison stabbing

helpless prey

so it was done

what could be done

for this sad lady

what deeper green

than envy of the god

passion always bears along

a cruel attendant shame

offered it by those aghast

not knowing what to feel

question it a little

causing the advancing fire

to turn upon itself

bringing it to tragedy and death

no attacking force or rage

serves to challenge love

that multiplies its feeling

small doubts a brief wrong sign

will smash the heart of fury

strange knowing that the mouse

with a nibbling of gratitude

might save the royal cause

where opposition battles

with clear and honourable form

envy strikes through love itself

what cares once held now maim

the thorn brings down the lion

what sharper goad than cypris

for now the nurse

desperate to uphold

her ladys name

or through her mistress

dodge the blame

penned a note

to theseus

as if it came

from phaedras hand

stating callous lust

had moved hippolytos

to violate her trust

it is hard to think

such mindless guff

would be believed

but it was believed

which shows with what

mistrust hippolytos

was held by those

who cannot bear to find

choice and laughter

so fondly placed

inside a man

for theseus returned

and the boy

was brought to him

so theseus began

there is a law that states

not paying now

will cost you later

until the debt is paid

you must live exiled

from your nature

but do not think

your death will cancel

any dues for the debt

moves to your children

this whole world

if left undone

the further such debt passes

the greater interest it accrues

then at last assumes

the nature of a curse

a curse is real hippolytos

as fatal as the injuries

which tear apart the flesh

but they will never tell me

what part of you

brought the other part along

the gods alone

must know your wrong

they threw darkness on your soul

hippolytos unmoved

strangely calm replied

that old honest man and wife

the gods held in a cave

when their only child was born

this was their home

for thirty years

as for the child

a god had sealed his mouth

and in the dark

he was soon forgotten

by his own but not the gods

who fed him with their thought

then one day the god

held out the key

to this young man saying

you will leave this prison

for you have waited patiently

but now even though

they rail against you

you must eat your family

for you will need the energy

to pass away from here

the young mans tears replied

if that is what must be

why lock me up

so needlessly

beside such ignorance

to this the god replied

it only seems as such

for I have fed you all this time

this was the life of man

now you will see me as I am

it does not pay

to bend quietly

beneath the yoke

following orders

that seem awry

if one cries out

or waits quietly

one must grasp

to know the gods

means one finds

in suffering

beautiful necessity

I did not live as them

mine was the bidding

of olympians

they made the word my home

the sea road and the land locked

ways the wandering cloak

of ulysses was mine

how the years flew by

more than once I hoped to find

the mountains of my home

these men will vouch

for my sincerity

they will see my will is done

the punishments of law

now will never satisfy

say truly what was done

you will see right judgement cast

not from my hand or from

the laws of state but force

delivered by the gods alone

do women marry fools

by these buckskin boots

I will not spare my son

but you are scared

you hope to dodge

the dirty work

of bringing him

before me now

men of troezen

fond familiars of my son

speak or see

how innocence strays

to lawlessness and damns its soil

does baseless lust disgust you

the crowd was silent for they saw

the judgment rested with the boy

but hippolytos bowed his head

his argument was wasted

in such a place

with such a crowd

well shall I now condemn my son

we waste our time in argument

see that no one passes

until I bring a greater word

theseus raves

he legs the square

not knowing

who to blame

running through

the puzzle of her death

must he kill

better to banish

let him trail his shadow

along some foreign beach

along with this

poseidon wills

to grant my wish

and you will know

his punishment

the chariot

thunders in the shade

hippolytos insane

calling artemis

to bring down war on all

asking her to cure his fathers

crazy mind to free him

of jealousy revenge

of blindness in love

he veers onto the beach

but then he falters

he looks to sea

for suddenly

growing from the deep

a mound of water

bursts the ocean plate

the sea explodes

a roaring bellow

spirals from the waves

silver horns

a ruddy head

whose eyeballs bulge

and flick in spasms

the body of an ox

hung with kelp

a fishes tail

whaps the sand

it mounts the shore

with frightening speed

the coastline thudders


bolt to safety

trees draw back

who but hippolytos

to meet the beast

he drags hard

upon the reins

the horses now

terrified beyond belief

tumbling down afraid

to look around

tangled in the reins

a bloody spindle

dashed against the rocks

the body of hippolytos

but artemis preserved his mind

that he might hear her

one last time

as when after rain

the rivers form

the sun returns

and peace revives

the heart of things

so hippolytos

spoke to artemis

I am calm

knowing the gods

meet at this place

here is my end

artemis you see

my dear hippolytos

now you are destroyed

you sneered at death

as if it were a wrestler

but cypris has no counter

then your servant dies

just as there the wet moon lies

floating on its back

you must often hear such cries

across the ocean

from the human soul adrift

alone aboard self governance

grappling with the life force

on our own

shaping it at times

or bludgeoned by it

forming weaponry

and careful arts

to cure ourselves and others

of all sickness

they say that anyone

who has not been

a philosopher this way

governing themselves

above all else

enemies of conscience

alone like gods

that these reluctant ones

truly have not come to life

not seen their own divinity

artemis was there

blazing as the sun she said

thus you have lived

so you are my friend

I must not see your death

then artemis left

suddenly the sky

was bathed in colour

just as the painters brush

dropped in water

dyes it red

this was the message

of the virgin to the dead