Friday, January 16, 2015

Stymphalian Birds

for KJS

Zeus,
reduced to a fairy story,
his powers a parlor trick,
is told a joke by the Stymphalian Birds,
themselves now kept by old ladies who clip coupons
and attend Mass on Wednesday,
scattered like matrix dots around the pews.

Zeus laughs,
frothing around his too-fat lips.
This froth falls as snow flakes, here,
on the shoulders of our wool coats,
colored charcoal and navy blue.
Isn't that just like a man
to leave a mess?
And why this place, this park, this January dusk?
Why us?

"Stop bitching, sweetheart," you tell me,
turning to face me, slow as a blizzard cloud.
You place one black-gloved hand in my pocket,
the other over my heart,
and kiss me quiet as midnight.

"I want a Stymphalian Bird," I whisper,
later,
in your ear,
my tongue as careless as grandma's Siamese.
"You have one," you say to me.
It's true,
and isn't that just like a woman
to love such hard sharp feathers,
trusting her heart to a matchstick nest
balanced in a tinder tree?

Zeus,
you has-been, you local character,
boring the birds right out of the sky--
behold my darling, your daughter, your headache from the start--
with beak of bronze, bolts of fire,
and her pretty owl--
my heart.
________

for Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads.  

17 comments:

Björn Rudberg said...

Reduced to a parlor trick.. that's what happens to all the old gods isn't it.. The deep dive into mythology made made me glad as I was pushed into google..

T

Sherry Blue Sky said...

How absolutely gorgeous, as are all your poems of love. I love the "isnt that just like a woman?" Too true. And your closing lines are just spectacular. Sigh. A wondrous poem.

Mama Zen said...

If this isn't a perfect love poem, I don't know what is.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Loved the title.. and the whole set up for the story. I also thought the recognition of the woman as a goddess at the end was very empowering.

hedgewitch said...

This is like the proverbial best stuff wrapped around the second best stuff, etc etc, and all turned out into something beyond each element. I love the contrast between Zeus and his offspring and the way the King of Gods is made to seem powerless in the hands of his women, as indeed, we all are in the hands of those we bear and who bear with us for love...and I also feel that Hercules would never have finished his twelve labors if this particular Stymphalian Bird had been around at the time. Singular and magical piece, Shay.

Kenn Merchant said...

There is a wonderful element of love in and compassion in this poem that is uplifting. I also greatly enjoyed the wonderful comparison of the greek god Zeus because in legend he often took the form of a bird, kind of a metaphor for wisdom and someone who is always watching over us. Really lovely poem Shay.

Sadie Tagabayan said...

Alas, poor old Zeus. But what a wonderfully told story at his expense!

http://poetryofthenetherworld.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-heart-thawing-in-sub-zero-temperatures.html

Margaret said...

…and if you did get an actual Stymphalian bird, what would you do with it? Sounds like the lovely woman herself can defend against or take on any man - let alone a 'has-been" . Loved the imagery of him being a "parlor trick". "Quite as midnight" is rather lovely too.

Sioux said...

This is pristine and perfect. Those final two words--so sweet in their simplicity.

Susie Clevenger said...

Even a god can't handle women..love that second verse. (I have the title for my next book and a few poems. Last year took the wind from my sails, but this year I will publish another book.)

blueoran said...

Zeus dude and bros Ares and Herakles understood conquest with bolt and spear and club, but were all clueless inside the nest. None of that clout has any real power to defeat the heart. In such regions you need an Athena, an owl whiter than winter. Rocks.

Susan said...

I love so much about this! First the form, sort of a light dialogue like the owl an d the pussycat--but with three characters--one like Athena, daughter of Zeus wih an owl pet. Second the mythology, reduced as all gods in America have been, ref. Neil Gaiman. Third, the imagery--this collar edge! Snow as the spittle of laughter-consumed gods! Can it get any better than that? Yes! If the Heart is te bird she desires, already owned, already part of the irony of this day. And no Hercules of any gender to be found! It's just as well. We women are enough to deal with.

my heart's love songs said...

magical, SP! what more can i say?

Outlawyer said...

Such wonderful contrasts here between the traditionally mythic and the very personal (and seemingly quotidian) but also mythic--like grandmother's siamese--a super wonderful flow--very readable, and poignant-Thanks, Shay, K. (Manicddaily)

Hannah said...

Love the way you rally up with a modernized mythology. Fun poem.

... said...

There's so much to love about this, but here are my favorites:

"scattered like matrix dots around the pews.

Zeus laughs,
frothing around his too-fat lips.
This froth falls as snow flakes, here,
on the shoulders of our wool coats,
colored charcoal and navy blue."

"And why this place, this park, this January dusk?"

"You place one black-gloved hand in my pocket,
the other over my heart,
and kiss me quiet as midnight."

"and isn't that just like a woman
to love such hard sharp feathers,
trusting her heart to a matchstick nest
balanced in a tinder tree?"

"your daughter, your headache from the start"

"and her pretty owl--
my heart"

Gorgeous, and melting.

Daryl said...

i read your blog posts/poems whenever you publish, i even read the comments others leave and wish i could be so clever in telling you how much i like them ...