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?

Become a Patron!

a prayer that the memory of Charleena Lyles may be a blessing, and a plea to all white people

Hestia of the home,
Hestia of the home city,
Hestia of the homeland,
Athena Who defends the defenseless,
Athena Who girds with armor,
Athena who sounds the war trumpet,
Zeus of liberty,
Zeus of justice,
Zeus of all the people,
and any other Gods Who care
that Charleena Lyles was murdered
for being a black disabled woman
and that her unborn child died with her
and that her other children watched her die,
in the same week
that the man who murdered Philando Castile
before the very eyes
of his girlfriend and her child
was deemed not guilty in the matter of
the death of Philando Castile,
I call all of You
by whatever names You choose to be known.

Charleena was not safe in her own home.
Charleena was not safe in her home city.
Charleena was not safe in her homeland.

Charleena needed defense against those she called to defend her.
Charleena needed armor against the bullets of her saviors.
Charleena needed a war trumpet calling armies to her cause.

Charleena cries out for liberty.
Charleena cries out for justice.
Charleena cries out for all her people.

There is a fable told by Aesop.
An Athenian on a sinking ship
prayed to You, Athena, for safety.
A sailor swimming by called out,
“Pray to Athena all you like,
but move your arms!”
You tell us thus, O Gods,
that You will refuse to aid us
in gaining things that we ourselves
do not work to gain.

Charleena’s people,
Philando’s people,
Michael’s, Eric’s, and Trayvon’s,
Rekia Boyd’s and Sandra Bland’s,
have worked and worked and worked and worked
to gain for all the people
the liberty and justice
we the people of the United States
have been promised.
My white people
have attained these.
Charleena’s people
have been denied.

I have little to offer You, O Gods,
only incense, only wine—
only one white voice
who might perhaps be listened to
when black voices go unheard.
As Andreas Hale once said,
“We march, y’all mad.
“We sit down, y’all mad.
“We speak up, y’all mad.
“We die, y’all silent.”

So I pray this prayer in public
and I hope my voice is heard:

I ask You, O Gods,
to defend Charleena’s people,
to gird with armor Charleena’s people,
to sound the trumpet calling armies to Charleena’s people’s cause,
that Charleena’s people may be safe
in their own homes,
in their home cities,
in their homeland,

so that when we read the famous phrases
in the United States Declaration
“all are created equal”,
“life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”—
so that when we read in the Preamble
to the United States Constitution
“common defence” and “general welfare”,
“justice” and “blessings of liberty”—
so that when we proclaim
in the United States Pledge of Allegiance
“one nation”, “indivisible”,
“liberty and justice for all”—

we do not by our actions
and by our inaction,
by our speech and by our silence,
make these famed words
into lies.

For this, O Gods, I pray.

———

Dear white people:

When will it end?

When will we stop?

When will we have taken enough respect from them?

When will we have taken enough wealth from them?

When will we have taken enough blood from them?

When will we have taken enough lives from them?

When will we have taken enough from them?

When will we be satisfied?

When will we stop?

When will we make it end?

Athena Agon Entry 4

“Athena of Farmers”
by Amanda Artemisia Forrester

My Lady Athena
I have worshiped You for decades now,
Since my heart first lurched at the sound of Your name
When I was just a child.
I have followed You through many incarnations,
Chasing Your elusive form, Your armored head above a swirling skirt
From the shores of Greece to Italia
To the heart of sandy Aiegyptos,
Where the natives named You Neith
And You were n’ver there unveiled.
Now I am now in the midst of another transformation
To my life and my practice.
I am no longer a child of the city and the university,
But a tiller of earth, a grower of seeds and hunter of flesh.
You are named Lady of the City,
And in all incarnations I knew You as such.
I feared that I would not find You in the woods.
I know Artemis, that other Virgin of Olympos,
Huntress of the Wilds, and I love Her well.
But I have come to realize that You have many aspects,
And that Your lesser-known sides are just as great
As those that the poets sing so loudly.
So now I name those aspects that are so highly important to me
As a farmer, a homesteader, a woodswoman.
Greatest Athena, You are a cloud-gatherer, too, like Your great Father,
Who entrusts only You with His greatest weapon,
The lightening bolt crafted by Gaia’s children the Cyclopses.
Without the rains You summon, my plants could not grow,
And my family and animals would not eat.
You were named Anemôtis, subduer of winds,
By Diomedes in Messenia, when You calmed the wild storms
Ravaging his homeland.
The winds howl just as fiercely in the Ozarks.
When Your sacred Temple is built upon the top of a hill You are called Akraia
As are many Deities, Your Father bearing the male version of Acraus.
In Libya You guard Lake Tritonis,
And at Korinth You were called Hellotia
And worshiped in the fertile marshes.
So You guard both hill and lake, both water and land; may You guard mine.
You are Lady of Horses also, Athena Hippia, Inventor of the Bridle
Who bought Poseidon’s unruly creature to heel,
And so made the animal useful to mankind.
Perhaps strangest of all to modern ears,
You bear the name Kolokasia, “Of the Edible Tubers”,
May You guide me to forage in the woods where the secret bounty is hidden.
So, perhaps, it is not so strange for You to be worshiped by a farmer after all.

Athena Agon Entry 3

“To the Grey Weaver”
Jessi Robinson

I sing to the grey-eyed warrior,
You, who bears the Aegis of Your father
And the wisdom of Your mother.
Most-beloved of Athens, who is mother of the city
And bestower of the olive tree.
You, who are attended by Justice
Leads us to do good
And compete on the side of righteousness.
When challenged, You prove Your worth
Instead of raining down blows;
And mete out correct punishment when You win.
Creative Lady, weaver of Olympos
Giver of the skills of the loom,
Accept this prayer, insufficient though it is
In return and thanks for all that You have given.

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.