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Canto I
By Scott Hubanks

A comet pierced the sky when last I wrote
That wandering ball of ice has not come back
No trailing tails of fancy dinner coats
Have blazed new paths; so I’ll take up the slack
Once more, Sweet Muse! Please hear the winding note
I sound when once again I trace the track
Of well-worn grooves now overgrown with brush
Those ancient fountains that no longer gush.

I want a hero. No—that line’s been done.
But find a better line to say than that
To start a poem, yet since it’s begun
I’ll make a bow to that aristocrat
Who said it first—I’m sure you know the one
With his advice I’m sure I won’t fall flat
So onward with this poem let us go
The violinist rosins up his bow.

Now who shall drive these lines from start to end?
Odysseus? Too busy last I heard.
His travels simply are too long to bend
Them to the service of this list of words.
His cunningness and craft might not offend
(It seems these days that art must flip the bird)
Odysseus is just a tad too tame
So let’s just look around for other names.

Heracles is drinking I’ll leave him be
I wouldn’t have him fumble all his lines
Like when he worked for Aristophanes
Or came in soused from drinking Plato’s wine
And made it clear he wasn’t drinking tea
Although they said his belches were divine.
So someone else I’ll simply have to choose
To grace these pages and to please the muse.

A touch of laughter, pathos, and sorrow
Perhaps a little connubial bliss
To fill this poem’s lines I will borrow
From Hellen’s youth a character I wist
Will help when I pay the rent tomorrow
Or what would seem a weirder twist
To help me in my quest for higher art
Teresias is who shall play the part

I hear a rustling in the audience
Do I hear someone asking, “Who is he?”
It should be clear enough to find out whence
He comes. If you consult Homer you’ll see
Our good Teresias without defense
From birds with brazen feathers. Sorcery
That came from divine quarters caused his plight
When Hera blacked his eyes he lost his sight

This tale begins with a rare occasion
Sweet Hera had caught Zeus’ errant eye
Returning from an Asian vacation
He saw his wife and with a startled cry
Regretted the previous evasions
Of his wedding vows—and the filthy lies
Perhaps he was bored with all the cattle
Or else was wounded in Trojan battle

Regardless, love had returned to the roost
Olympus was unclouded for a day
And Zeus regained a smidge of Hera’s trust
As she embraced him, he promised to stay
And clean his wedding band of all the rust.
He vowed he never once again would stray
His Hera would of all else be held dear
(Of course we see disaster drawing near)

But not at first—Harmony had her day
Olympic halls echoed not a quibble
For no one dares fight while Zeus’ truce stays
In effect—even the mice may nibble
At the dinner table’s feet. None will slay
Aught while Zeus and Hera taste the dribble
Of Ambrosian nectar. Mortals can tell
When this happens by the sybarite’s yell

Whatever that means—it sounds poetic
Sometimes the meter dictates what the page
Displays. When writing, often aesthetic
Concerns outweigh those of a lyric gauge
I think the source of many prophetic
Lines was expediency or the wage
(Five cents a word.) Perhaps the poet’s art
is more often caused by what fits the part

But please don’t think my aim is to dispel
Divine illusions that the poet’s pen
Can craft—there are things only poems tell
Descriptive verse describes more fully than
Can be related by a ringing bell
But then—some works composed by Beethoven
Say more in song than any scribbled words
But even so most art is for the birds.

A lot of movie dialogue has ruined
The picture that it was meant to enhance
I’d rather hear a guitar played untuned
Than songs with pithy cliches of romance
Prometheus’ nevermending wound
Is nothing to the cacophonous dance
Of commercials careening ‘cross the screen
But that’s enough. I’ll quit venting my spleen

Back to the story. Zeus entered the room
That bridal chamber Hera and he shared
Ever since he had become a groom
Though it had fallen into disrepair
Mold and mildew had made it seem a tomb
And only tempers had betimes been bared
But Zeus resolved this oversight to mend
He once again, his loving bride would tend

Warily, Hera sat upon the bed
Loosed the string that held together her robe
And as the robe fell, memories too fled
Vanished when Zeus’ hands began to probe
Her senses toward her nibbled earlobe
Away from violated wedding vows—
That forgetting only passion can rouse

The ardours of Zeus were certainly strong
Long was the list of his peccadilloes
It is not my place to say Zeus was wrong
To seek his bliss among fairer pillows
Or fall to the charms of a Siren’s song
Or to sleep beneath Hecate’s willows
Where secret liaisons occur in the night
How oft have I found myself in that plight?

But I’m not married I have not yet gained,
The experience to judge I have not.
Whether the scarlet letter left a stain
That darkened both the catcher and the caught
Or if social conscience is a steam train
That rolls without concern oer people fraught
With much concern with what the neighbors think
Maybe that’s why so many people drink

Lest I should judge and thus hypocrite be
I’m only the scribe, it wouldn’t be just
To assess the acts of a deity
So, I’ll only moralize when I must…
Tis true that many claimed paternity
From the Olympian’s fountain of lust
A hero could hardly be one without
A father who had Olympian clout

So let’s leave them to their connubial bliss
Your imagination’s as good as mine
The modern trend to invade every kiss
Tends to sully the force of love divine
What passes between a man and a miss
Is sacred to them—suffice that they dine
On nectar that yields a fragmented glance
Of the source that sparked the immortal dance.

Tis time to trace another story thread—
Teresias—the hero of these lines.
The legend says he was in Thebes bred
That place with green hills filled with Bacchic vines
The fountain of many a wizened head
Cured with the wisdom caused by Theban wines
Teresias lived an idyllic youth—
He lived ere the birth of Socratic truth.

Coming of age, he took a trip abroad
Idyllic youth creates a dull adult
There is more education from a bawd
Than can be gleaned from any test result.
One learns more surely from the fleece of fraud
To hold the purse strings tight and shun insult.
With this in mind his father cast him out
To seek his fortune and avoid the clout

I think the ancients were on to something
When they sent teenagers into the world
To try out the strength of their fledgling wings
To seek for glory or perhaps become inured
Early—to sometimes for one’s supper sing
And to learn that in life nothing is sure
Perhaps it isn’t clever to shelter
Too long from those biting rocks that pelter.

Teresias—but where are my manners
I’ve neglected to describe my hero—
That can happen to the best of planners.
He bore dark curly locks—a Greek Nero—
Just like the statures, but somewhat tanner
Brown eyes, long shanks. Nearer ten than zero
Were his looks, his charm was keen. His fame
Was stronger than the fortune of his name

Of elegance! He knew the brave pursuit
Of pleasure that was the Attic ideal.
So early an Epicurean recruit,
He treasured the trove that kisses conceal
Between lips. He savored delicate fruit
Amid promises to never reveal
And keep the semblance of purity chaste
Since he wasn’t molded to Attic taste

Yes! He liked girls—a shame in those old days
Before women went with wine and a song
And poets would craft their eloquent lays
For those who had something behind the thong
Even Homer reserved his highest praise
For Men. To praise a girl was simply wrong.
Those maids on Grecian Urns were transvestites
Real women would find those dresses too tight.

But I am not an arbiter of taste
My job is to tell the truth—more or less
At least the Greeks lived mostly without caste
The Spartans, for example, would impress
Anyone into their army. Dour faced
Women marched with men and I must confess
It was awfully hard to tell the difference
Between the sexes—a daunting inference

So Teresias sallied forth alone
His father sent him off to find his fate
To find out whether marble tomb or throne
Would he be quick at thirty or be late
For an early funeral, skin stripp’d to bone
And plead a pauper’s case at pearly gates
Fair Teresias was impelled to roam
To find his own fortune—to build a home.

Bear in mind that he was an innocent
Unversed in lays of love or tricks of men
In many ways he was reminiscent
Of Phaethon, or paper ere the pen
Touches it, or the nose before a scent
Graces the memory with a hint of when—
Like amber shedding smells of long agos
Well after the pine tree no longer grows.

Then, when he went away from Theban earth
And clacked his staff against the pebbled road
He heard bold peals of laughter; songs of mirth
Escaped the woods, lyres played in foreign mode
So strange that it was hard to judge its worth
He stood amazed, when from out the woods strode
A dancing band of women wearing ivy
Wreathes but nothing else, according to Livy

Surrounded, Teresias felt his arm
Grabbed by so many hands he couldn’t see
They proclaimed him a captive, threatened harm
Should he resist their strength or try to flee
But soft sensations in has back had charm
And secret smiles proposed a mystery
So he went with them, struggling not at all
The forest closed around him like a shawl

Cords bit his wrists. A blindfold closed his eyes
He was tied to a pole, his legs apart
His spirit shivered as he heard the cries
Of a hundred voices, his beating heart
Nearly burst when soft hands explored his thighs
His clothes removed, he felt sensations start
To course their urgent way along his spine
More potent than a cup of Theban wine

Strange lips caressed his own, he protested
The invasion—vainly, no heed was paid
To his claims of innocence. Molested
Nipples were thrust into his mouth. Waylaid
He heard dice being thrown as they contested
Who would pick the flower first ere it should fade
A virgin staff of oak would be the prize
For she who won first pick to mount his thighs

Now Teresias waited for his fate
Gagged by breasts, he could not mutter a word
Not that it would have mattered much, the gate
Opened and closed, the encounters all blurred
Until the night seemed like one drawn-out state
Of being—all the night the kitty purred
They milked him well; they milked him dry and then
They woke him up and milked him yet again

And so, that’s how his innocence was lost
At least that’s what he said. I believe him.
He limped for nine days after, that’s the cost
He paid for drinking deeply from the brim
Of Hecate’s cauldron, for he had crossed
Paths with the Bacchae, maenads of the dim
Forest’s pockets and few have lived to tell
Of their exploits with the daughters who dwell

All right. I exaggerate a little.
They weren’t as bad as I’ve portrayed above
Maenads didn’t pose a fatal riddle
Like the Sphinx. They wore no fetters of love
Their one flaw—sometimes in the middle
Of an embrace they were unlike the dove
But like the tiger—under passion’s sway
They’d tear the guy apart in pleasure play

But Teresias found himself alone
The next morning. The frenzied maidens were gone
His hands were free, but oh—his aching bones
Gave brand new meaning to the rising dawn
And echoes of the past night’s raging moans
Tickled his ears as he sat on the lawn
Gathering strength to renew his journey
But how he wished that he had a gurney.

So let us leave him here for now, we must
Compose more lines upon another day
For quaking caffeined fingers threaten rust
If I don’t rest them soon they’ll turn to clay
And then my poem will never grace a bust
In Westminster nor keep creditors at bay
So in due time will come the second part
Of Canto One of which this is the start.

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The following comments are for "Teresias, Canto One, Part One"
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