Two Rough Poems

The Eumenides’ Revolt

© 2011 by Bob Litton

 After being pursued for years by the Erinyes
 and suffering pangs of guilt for having killed
 his mother, Clytemnestra, Orestes sought
 forgiveness from Athena. The goddess
 forgave him and persuaded the Erinyes
 to do the same. Their act of mercy changed
 the frightful aspect of the haunters so that
 they became the Eumenides, protectors of

               — adapted from Edith Hamilton’s
                    Mythology: Timeless Tales of
                    Gods and Heroes


We, the Eumenides, have grown weary
of coddling this massy slew of men —
and women, too — who blame Heaven
and Earth for follies they should own.
Now help change us back, wise Athena,
to the Erinyes we used to be,
all snaky hair and bloody eyes,
with a stinging shrill in our voices.

There, there, O Poseidon, keep still in your deep!
You have wreaked well with hurricanes.
Let the people now feel the pain of their lack*;
let your seas stink with islands of human offal;
let the fishes disappear and boats dry rot;
let sailor girls gurgle beneath their yachts.

You also, Demeter and Bacchus, forget
your healthy scales; just lure blind fools
to your cornucopia of sweets and booze.
Let their bellies bulge over their belts,
and then their brains will shrink to microns.
Perhaps they’ll adapt and learn to roll
to shady spots under leaves left brown,
which the seasons have forgot.

O Plutus!  How could we neglect you?
Dress the naked bankers anew in pinstripes;
reshoe their feet in tasseled innocence
(or what seems it).  Let the minor clerks
thirty floors below recharge their bosses’ wealth
with bundlings of mortgages, thinly writ
by lawyers bandying lies well-told.

Ah!  Dear Aphrodite!  Welcome to the caucus!
You’ve proven, in troth, how untrue
is the politician’s troth in zippable pants.
You’ve covered the comic books with porn
and sent little boys as presents to priests.
The magazines are filled with your recipes
for delight and lessons easy to learn…
and easy to forget.  Keep the good work up!

Alas, Athena!  Where is your polar today?
She whose services we wish to applaud,
for the Spirit of Stupidity is rolling
like a tsunami across the land.
Ah, such a lovely sight! If only the surge
can last till every citizen avoids his vote;
and long division overwhelms
each child enduring the umpteenth test;
and shoppers are hooked by nineteen ninety-nine.

Thank you all, you gods and goddesses,
for now we’re back on track to see
with what dismal days and sleepless nights
we can burden those who run away
from the sense and courage to do what’s right.  

*While tropical storms and  hurricanes can cause horrific damage to coastal communities, they also bring much needed rain to inland areas.


© 1995 By Bob Litton

            We’ve written enough of dying and grief,
            Of what’s in store the other side of pain;
            Once our teary dirges had dried, we were bound
            To find compiled redundancy setting in.
            A kind of shame,—we feel this blush at words
            As when we heard our maiden aunts retell
            Their easy, prideful spurns of lovesick men.

            Yet, every generation demands its lines
            Inimitable, its fresher look at Life,
            In terms of its own device and rhythms of the day.
            So much do old words die as the views they paint,
            And a new mystique of Death will cling like Hope,
            Essential, to the umbilicus of Birth.


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