Gutted by flames, pyres
for houses mock our dark nights with burning
beds. Open the night. Let out the sky.

Fallen earth: we find no stale delight
without hours of darkness.
How hollow, how heavy to fall.
We plunge magnificently. God’s forsaken.
Lead us not into temptation.

A busy throng of voiceless echoes:
we are alone, afraid. We’ve misplaced
our God. No angels here to comfort us
when herds of icewinds shard
our breasts, the fires within our
empty chests extinguishing earth’s stolen

calm. Hourglass of water’s ravishing storm,
our boat had holes before we ever
set sail; there was never a sunset meant
for us trees. While our dust despairs,
our son came down to earth
and failed us. Beating the heart,
heart beating for us. Breathe.

Awake, awake the nightjar’s passed.
Mired in floodwater, we crab-claw
rooftops, makeshift rafts.
Dawn approaches. We cannot know,
will daylight dry our skins or scorn
our burns? Swords of plank stab our sin
and prick us in eerie directions.
The brine we drink to save our lives,
we thirst for more—that toxic gumbo.

Hummingbirds in our ears hum secret songs
we hadn’t remembered we knew. How blue
it’d be, falling back into oblivion
where battalions of charred angels hurricane
against the quiet rain.

Visit Jennifer Givhan online at jennifergivhan.com.

If only it worked for her
she could be satisfied with
the asphodel, its petals
and stem like bone and ash;
she could be satisfied
with his cold jewels
and colder love. Hell, she could
be satisfied with anything.
But the water slipped
down her throat without
touching her, and she was left
still aware of herself
beside the river’s whispered promises,
amidst the throngs of shades,
forgetful, faceless,
luckier than the gods.

As part of an overall site update and migration to a new host, the original published pages of Fickle Muses, January 2007 to June 2010, will become inactive in June 2015. The content linked from this page will accessible from category and archive pages (unless the content is removed at the creator’s request). The new pages should also be easier to find by search.

Volume 4:

3.28.2010—Dani Raschel Jiménez, “Cihuateotl”

3.21.2010—Taylor Graham, “The Devil and Saint Michael of the Rock”

3.14.2010—Kenneth P. Gurney, “Craftswoman” and “Wet Spot Drying”

3.7.2010—Amy Jo Huffman, “The Blood of a Believer”

2.28.2010—William L. Alton, “Persephone and her Pomegranates”

2.14.2010—Paula Kolek, “Mythology” and “There were two natures in her”

2.7.2010—Robert Arthur Reeves, “Bible Verses”

1.24.2010—John Grey, “The Usual Magic”

1.17.2010—Paul Fisher, “The Boat”

1.3.2010—Rosa Mundi, “Reunion with Obàtálá”

Volume 3:

12.27.2009—Buff Whitman-Bradley, “The Unhappy Prince—an opera”

12.13.2009—Ray Hinman, “Apollo Runs a Theater in Harlem,” “Whitman’s Ghost Takes a Tour of the City,” “Artifacts” and “The Shaman Considers His Craft”

12.6.2009—Susan Landon, “To Pharoah Cheops”

11.22.2009—Maura MacDonald, “Pandora,” “Orpheus Turns” and “Descent”

11.15.2009—Connie Vaughn, “Prometheus Unbound,” “The World and the Fall” and “Waking Up”

11.1.2009—Kathryn DeZur, “Stripped” and “Jocasta”

10.25.2009—Robert Brown, “About Hades”

10.11.2009—E. Louise Beach, “Daphne”

10.4.2009—Nicelle Davis, “Duende” and “Lotus”

9.20.2009—Sheila Kaveny, “Sisyphus”

9.13.2009—Shadwynn, “Tumbleweed Theophanies”

8.30.2009—John Manesis, “The Ascent of Icarus”

8.23.2009—Israel Wasserstein, “Conversation with Zeus,” “The Gods Play Poker” and “Stepping into the Woods”

8.9.2009—Robert Arthur Reeves, “Adam Expelled”

8.2.2009—Roberta P. Feins, “Inanna in Vegas”

7.19.2009—Alexandra Isacson, “Salem 1692”

7.12.2009—Nicola Fucigna, “Mark 8.24” and “Deconstructing Helen”

6.28.2009—J.V. Foerster, “Fairy Tales Simply Put”

6.21.2009—Barbara J. Williams, “A Tale of a Tree”

6.7.2009—Susan Koefod, “Turbulence”

5.31.2009—Donna Vorreyer, “Your Mind Wanders During the MRI” and “Reprieve”

5.17.2009—Dorie LaRue, “A Tale From Old Iona”

5.10.2009—Buff Whitman-Bradley, “The legend of unJim” and “In the myths of parrots”

4.26.2009—Sankar Roy, “Epic Lies,” “Extreme Makeover” and “Land of Lotus Eaters”

4.19.2009—Paul McCann, “Tereus in Texas”

4.5.2009—Martha Oliver-Smith, “Shrift” and “Teiresias”

3.29.2009—Charlotte Pence, “Loss and Attainment,” “Date Night” and “At Opry Mills Mall”

3.15.2009—Susan Slaviero, “Bluebeard’s Clockwork Bride” and “Briar Rose, In Cryostasis”

3.8.2009—Larry Turner, “Krishna and the Cowgirls”

2.22.2009—Sean Thomas, “Freidrich Nietzsche and the Birth of Tragedy”

2.15.2009—Kenneth Pobo, “Voice from Niflheim”

2.1.2009—Carolyn Adams, “Sweet Cybele” and “Building the God”

1.25.2009—Kathleen Kenny, “Eve Realises Her Purpose, Then Becomes Catholic”

1.11.2009—Jason Mccall, “Gioll”

1.4.2009—Stephen Bunch, “No Possum, No Aesop, No ‘Gators”

Volume 2:

12.21.2008—Donna Lewis Cowan, “Virgo”

12.14.2008—Anna Alexandra Isacson, “The Delphic Oracle”

11.30.2008—Kenneth P. Gurney, “Waiting to Cross”

11.23.2008—Annette Basalyga, “SLEEPING BEAUTY: in three acts”

11.9.2008—Kean Kaufmann, “Reverse Persephone” and “Clotho”

11.2.2008—Cynthia Belmont, “Valentine” and “Lady Godiva, Twenty Years Later”

10.19.2008—John Grey, “Underworld”

10.12.2008—Nicole Hanna, “A Poet Meets the Lost Queen of Egypt”

9.28.2008—James C. Burbank, “Cartesian Kangaroos”

9.21.2008—Jennifer Jabaily, “Not Even Wolves”

9.14.2008—Angela Maria Williams, “Waking the Beast”

9.7.2008—Alan Price, “The Minotaur Salesman”

8.31.2008—Jacqueline West, “Teenage Atlas, in the Kitchen” and “Life through a Black Net Veil”

8.17.2008—Doug Ramspeck, “Cocytus” and “Rhapsode”

8.10.2008—Romana Iorga, “Rip Van Winkle”

7.27.2008— James B. Nicola, “Ariadne”

7.20.2008—Joanne Lowery, “Rape Crisis Center: A Myth” and “Demeter’s Deal”

7.6.2008—Ki E. Russell, “Bedtime Story,” “Ivan the Sweet” and “Baba Yaga Gets a Student”

6.29.2008—Michele Madigan Somerville, “From Gods’ Mouths to My Ears”

6.15.2008—Jason Mccall, “Father to Father, Sun to Son,” “No Search Engines in Valhalla,” “Ulysses Discovers That His Son Wants to be Batman for Halloween,” “Homecoming” and “Scope”

6.8.2008—Michelle Lerner, “For Percy, a month short of her 20th birthday”

5.25.2008—Howard Camner, “The Man in the Moon for Real,” “Kismet” and “Bonus Eventus (god of happy endings)”

5.18.2008—Margarita Engle, “The Longing of Pegasus” and “Madre-de-Agua”

5.4.2008—Paul Hostovsky, “The Sneeze of Telemachos”

4.27.2008—Anca Vlasopolos, “The Eastland Daphne”

4.13.2008—Pamela L. Laskin, “Bare and Blistered” and “The Naked Emperor”

4.6.2008—Sheila Kaveny, “The Truth from Baba Yaga”

3.16.2008—Kenneth Gurney, “Glow,” “Patter” and “God”

3.9.2008—Susana Roberts, “Lethe-ward” and “Hades at Work”

2.24.2008—Donna Lewis Cowan, “Daphne & Apollo: Meditations”

2.17.2008—Eric Martin, “The Cross”

2.3.2008—Suzanne L. Frost, “Kali Puja”

1.27.2008—Gale Acuff, “Confession”

1.13.2008—Saba Siddique, “To be a goddess” and “Al Hambra”

1.6.2008—Paul Hostovsky, “Young Orpheus,” “Job” and “Pygmalion”

Volume 1:

12.23.2007—Liz Dolan, “A Kitchen Legend”

12.16.2007—Wesley Biddy, “Society of Icarus” and “Vesper”

12.2.2007—Stephen Bunch, “Five Retablos”

11.25.2007—Billie Bernard, “Little Red”

11.11.2007—Alan Morrison, “Ganymede”

11.4.2007—Jeanne Wagner, “Medusa’s Version” and “Penelope’s Song”

10.21.2007—Alex Galper, “Daring Winter Escape”

10.14.2007—John Dutterer, “The Bathtub of Proteus” and “Tantalus Sells Out”

9.30.2007—Kenneth Gurney, “Twenty-Nine July Two Thousand and …” and “Naming Names”

9.23.2007—Sherre Vernon, “Elijah Dreaming” and “Of Penelope and Calypso: ca. 1973”

9.16.2007—Joanna Sit, “On Fire”

9.2.2007—Felicia Mitchell, “Minerva at 48” and “Cerberus Revisited”

8.26.2007—Andre Monserrat, “Flotsam”

8.19.2007—Mary Langer Thompson, “School of Hard Rocks” and “Myth-Take”

8.12.2007—Wayne Crawford, “Echo Teaches Her Daughter to Sing”

7.29.2007—Annette Basalyga, “Two Wives,” “Fairy Tales,” “Blonde Burning” and “In Seclusion”

7.22.2007—Teresa Middleton, “Demeter’s Sunroom” and “Earth Mamas”

7.15.2007—Janice D. Soderling, “Centaurs” and “The Unicorn and the Rider”

7.1.2007—Doug Ramspeck, “TKE” and “Epimenides”

6.24.2007—Kenneth Gurney, “Poem for Cafe Tazza” and “Shedding Centuries”

6.17.2007—Billy Reynolds, “Rhea”

6.3.2007—Chuck Rybak, “Homer-Erotic” and “Atlas on the Stairs”

5.27.2007—Dale Harris, “Penelope”

5.20.2007—Maureen Seaton, “Venus Examines Her Breast” and “Pele”

5.13.2007—Jennifer Koiter, “Thoreau’s Last Hunt,” “Karna Waiting” and “God in the San Juans”

5.6.2007—David Wright, “The Three Graces Unite” and “After Myth”

4.29.2007—Bertha Rogers, “To Orpheus”

4.22.2007—Angela Maria Williams, “Artemis’ Rousing”

4.15.2007—Cassandra Labairon, “Hera Spies on Zeus From the Corner Booth at the Diner” and “Bodhisattva”

4.8.2007—Saba Siddique, “Ballad 2” and “Ballad 3”

4.1.2007—Carrie Cutler, “Cain’s blessing” and “Bluebeard”

3.25.2007—Cathryn McCracken, “[in the scrying bowl],” “hagging,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Sleeping Beauty 2”

3.18.2007—Andrea Potos, “From His Ribs” and “Cinderella Gets Smart”

3.11.2007—Taylor Graham, “Daphne in the Mining Claims”

3.4.2007—Tony Zurlo, “Still Without Rhyme” and “Household Disharmony”

2.24.2007—kat heatherington, “In the Wild Wood”

2.18.2007—Kevin Klein, “Orpheus at the Florist’s”

2.11.2007—Stephen Bunch, “News from the Ultra Deep Field”

1.28.2007—Margarita Engle, “Taino Petroglyph” and “Baucis and Philemon”

1.21.2007—Carol L. MacKay, “A Gift for a Gift” and “Three Poems of Kathlin Hermandsdottir”

1.14.2007—Robert Arthur Reeves, “The Last Ship from Atlantis”

1.7.2007—Jeannine Hall Gailey, four poems from “Becoming the Villianess” – “Little Cinder,” “The Selkie Wife’s Daughter,” “The Snow Queen” and “Persephone and the Prince Meet over Drinks”