Category Archives: Neo-Classical Poetry

The Web of Helen

Achilles did not stand

before the loom of Helen

as Hektor did, you, Hektor,

who would so shortly after

feel the inexorable hand of Thetis’ son.

Nor did the Achaean warrior

trace in his mind’s eye

his own destiny there,

there amid the figures

etched upon my crimson weave-

some strewn out of battle array,

some routed, vanquished,

others triumphal, pursuant-

arranged like constellations in the astral plain

according to an order

prescribed in the annals of fate

by primordial gods

newly born out of

the chasm of creation.

Achilles had his own reason

to pick up sword.

Agamemnon, the pretense offered

by the corrupt prophecies of Chalcas.

But the gods, the gods had their designs.

Still, I am a guilty meditation

on the miasma

festering far beyond

the craggy landscape of a forsaken land

transported by an armada

launched in blood

and sunk into the sand

before the walls of the Scaian gates.

Forbidden desires

loosened her limbs, her mind,

and the unrestrained libido

of the warmongers,

who needed but a pretext

to issue forth

a cosmos engulfed

in a pandemic of bloodshed.

Indigent desires

they turned out to be.

Now, the winged deaths

of multitudes unsung

have found voice in me.

Shuttle in hand,

she paces to and fro,

like a phantom,

love burnt out of her eyes,

passions dried up

by an excess of their own thirst,

vaporized into nothing

like pearls of evening dew

evanesced in the harsh morning sun.

All will soon be ablaze

as if this scarlet web

were to bleed

into the cramped streets

of a beseiged city

and dye everything

in a wash of fiery red.

What on the broad back of black Earth

will escape the mesh

of these threads

untinged by the incarnadine

of cataclysm and carnage?

They say she will live in infamy

as the cause of all.

Pandora. Eve. Helen.

The names men give to their suffering.

Even she calls herself whore.

But, if she had a tongue and heart of bronze,

could she express so vividly as I

the daedal entanglements

wrought in the aftermath

of so reticulate a fate

that bears the name,

Helena?

*My day job is being a Professor of Classics. I teach ancient Greek and classical mythology, and, on occasion,  I write poetry inspired by Homer and the Greek tragedians.

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