Hekatombaion

one hundred bulls for
sacrifice; not Pamplona:
Panathenaia

festive, celebratory!
meat for the city-wide feast

solemn in temple
speaking gifts for the Goddess
seeking Her blessings

today we have no temple
our voices ring awkwardly

breaking the silence
no sacrificial cattle—
do we bring enough?

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Silver Limnad

The sky is gray today, a patch of blue
reflected on the silver of the lake.
I note a current: nymph, it seems, awake.
I seek her friendship, but what do I do?
My lavender grows green, rosemary too;
a sprig of each I to the lakeside take.
There is no miracle, no mind’s earthquake,
and yet I know today I’ve seen her face.
My offering accepted: walk away,
the tiny lakeside pebbles pricking feet.
I don’t know how to speak to Queens of place.
I saw reflection; the sky is gray today:
I must have done—but have I done?—what’s meet.

Wind the Labyrinth

Begin with Ariadne’s ball of thread

You walk upon the bones of those
Who passed this way before
You roll the bones

You turn the game-show wheel of fortune

Each twisting path is all the same
You spin and spin and spin and spin
How often have you spun this way before?

Sweat stings and it’s so hot in here
A gadfly or a whip-cut?

Staccato dance
Surrounded yet alone

Shadow puppets
Who pulls your strings?

Wash the fleece and card the fleece
And draft the roving into strips
You spin and spin and spin and spin
How easily wool fiber snaps
How strong once spun to thread

Ariadne’s ball of thread
A ripe apple’s like in size
They tried to bury us
They didn’t know we’re seeds

A cross, four curves, four dots
Join each to each around and round
Two lines, one black, one red
The labyrinth winds back and forth
A spiral
A mirror at the center
Who are you?

Sponsored for publication by Elizabeth Barrette in barter for her poem “Until the Restoration

Athena Agon Entry 2

“Hard Lessons”
Jennifer Lawrence
© 2008

There are certain things I am not smart enough to
Figure out the first time, Gray-eyed lady;
Basic, elemental lessons that must be repeated many times
Before they sink into my thick and insensate skull:
Don’t go near crazy on the Internet,
Because you’ll get it all over you and it’ll never wash off;
You can’t help a rabid dog, and if you try,
It’ll only bite you, no matter how much you feel its pain;
What a person says isn’t always a good indication
Of what he does, and only what he does is a sign of what he does;
Fool me once, shame on you, and fool me twice—or thrice, or ten times,
Or a hundred—shame on me for being a fucking moron.

There’s wisdom that doesn’t come in books,
Only in getting kicked in the gut
Or in someone spitting in your face
Or people you once considered friends
Now laughing at everything you hold dear.
Ugly lessons, hard lessons, but valuable nonetheless.
Lady of wise counsel, Ageleia, Alcis, Amboulia, Paiônia, Soteira:
Protect me from my own stupidity.
Give me the strength not to turn away from these lessons I need to learn,
No matter how much they may hurt,
And heal the wounds my heart may feel
If and when I fail to learn from them again.

Athena Agon Entry 1

“Arachne Pending”
Shannon Connor Winward

Sticky cords spun around my wrists
and throat     wrapped

stuck
in the threads of the Weaver.

Her web a warm, snug prison
every time the wind blows, I sway.

It will all be
okay.

I am dancing
above the ground

my body pulses,     silk
gestating in my belly

pain is invisible     perfect
seeping from my

chastened fingers, humbled joints
blessed even to tie a knot

let alone a symphony, touch
a blade of grass

a telephone pole
waiting

to tell you I understand now
Lady     what beauty is.

This poem first appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer.

Sonnet to Athena Alea (that is, Athena Escape-to-Refuge)

“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Athena shouts, Her lightning torch aflame
In tarnished-copper green on New York shore.
Escape-to-Refuge is always Her name.
It matters not to Her from where you come;
What God, if any, you might answer to;
What talents, wealth, or skills you bring with you.
She cares that you are safe here; don’t succumb
To tempest tossing you and yours around,
Or rich men saying you are less than they,
More fearsome, and they’d rather you had drowned
Than found this world-wide welcome, found your way.
Come, weary one, whose journey’s at its end.
Be welcome, stranger, who might yet be a friend.

(hat tip Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”)

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