Ephialtes

(Ephialtes of Trachis  betrayed his homeland in hope of receiving some kind of reward from the Persians by showing them a path around the allied Greek position at the pass of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.E.)

Ephialtes, he
who sold his birth to Xerxes
and whose name now means
traitor, he
became in treachery and greed
central to a founding myth
that winds from goat path
to Salamis and Issus, Tyre and Gaugamela,
from Xerxes and Leonidas to Darius and Alexander
back to Ephialtes, he
who sold his birth to see
his greed drown in the Aegean Sea,
and by his treachery
set a story free.

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The Heart’s Desire

(On hearing a young poet dismissed as ‘only a foul-mouthed rapper’)

                 And how am I to face the odds
                 Of man’s bedevilment and God’s    
                 I, a stranger and afraid,
                 In a world I never made?
                                          A.E. Housman

On its face, Housman seems to have stated the existential quandary we all experience, but he did so as a man and a poet.  We universalize at our own risk. Was he perhaps trying, and succeeding, to define the poet as an outsider? Continue reading

Birthdays

The problem with birthdays, of course, is that they keep occurring.  At three, you sight a birthday as a festival wholly unearned but entirely appropriate.  At five, you are already adding age in months or fractions to speed the process. Continue reading