poem for vulcan/hephaestus

you remember every tumultuous fall
ankles over earlobes
weightless and directionless
yet always an illusion of circumstance.
as you never fail to discover,
your body has weight,
and your descent has a destination —
everyone else can track your plummeting form so easily through the sky
the stone of a fruit unceremoniously spat
from a mouth already well-fed.

and so you fell.
a crime of perspective
is that this is often considered your foundation
the earth and water from which you were given shape.

yet although you can relive every vivid moment
if you recall it to your conscious mind,
it is such a distant memory to you
that you hardly think of it even on your worst days.

a meteorite propelled down to earth from the heavens
may have been rejected by the celestial bodies
but it is an awe-inspiring miracle to the eyes of man.


sand burns raw the heels of your palms
cupping a just barely glowing ember
but barely is glowing even still.
you secret the coal away back to your home,
unsure of why you feel the need to hide it,
yet entranced by the ensuing flame
after your doting attention nourishes its hungry flicker.


there is such a lack of heat here it almost becomes searing in its own right
there is such a lack of light here that you are just as blinded as if you had stared into the sun.

you sit within the kiln of your own creation
forged by divine fire and quenched by the world's ocean
a work of art began and abandoned by god
then glorified by the hands of his children

just as a plant cannot take root in sand
just as it alone cannot be the foundation for clay
just as time shapes and changes all things
you were not eroded
only drowned and reborn
in a shape they could not recognize
so radiant they could not look directly upon you

nor could they look away


i was lifted out of the ocean

for a long time, i had only remembered the tumultuous fall.
falling gave way to floating
the darkening of the night became the darkness of the sea
and i drifted
only a passive entity in the natural ebb and flow of the universe
either flotsam or jetsam
though which one i was, by my own reckoning
it no longer mattered.

excerpt from poem for vulcan
(text description of image: the following lines are intended to be arranged in a way that visually resembles a mountain:)
it was then
i found myself being lifted
by one who had fallen before
in a steady ascent
in soot blackened hands
like tephra launched from volatile olympus)
but who still took the time to track my descent through the sky.
and when i stopped struggling against the current
lifted my still form from the waves
just as he had been retrieved
time and time again.


there is a special type of fire
not born of sun or lightning
nor any figure governing above
but from the lifeblood of our planet
so combustible and elemental
erupting from within
for no other reason than it cannot be contained
for it is a force of nature all its own


you looked at me without surprise
not a recognition made by appointment, but one of routine.
it was as though you were inspecting someone else's craftwork.
the same hands that shaped pandora
turned me over and gestured towards my broken body
which had crumpled when it hit the sea from such an incredible height
which had been dragged along by the tide and dashed against so many rocks
and with every point from one of your massive craggy fingers
foreign and familiar pain erupted.
i wonder if it pained pandora when she was shaped
if she felt the destruction and reformation of her being
as she was crafted and perfected by the fires of holy creation
i wonder if it pained her artisan when man betrayed his intentions
when divine love was perverted by man's need to control
when the wilds of nature were spurned in favor of a desire for tamer blessings
it is the character of the worldly man to prefer his own hearth to a wildfire
but only one can bring to bear the destruction of the forest
while by the same hand fertilizing it for new life


reverence for what is not aesthetically ideal
for craft regardless of beauty
if a tool is merely ornamental it will serve no purpose
if a mule is laden down with gold finery
how would it bear any man
(god or mortal)
up the mountainside?


over and over again,
the deity rockets over the cliff side,
tearing through landscapes of cloud and
crashing into the rocky outcropping and
losing all form
to become clay


the volcano signifies sudden explosive danger
conjuring up images of lava coursing down its tremendous face
to wreak catastrophe on what lies below
burning up the lives and foundations of man and nature alike
you were present when romulus founded rome
but they had to place your temples a fair distance from the city
lest it go up in a monumental bonfire erected in veneration of your cataclysmic power.

and yet your worship persisted.
from the volcano's perspective
most days
it is just a mountain.

from the fisherman's perspective
an extinguished coal was just more refuse
flotsam and jetsam
crowding the shores

i felt the soothing waters of the nereid thetis wash over the glowing ember of my heart
i felt the connection from divine to flesh
i felt the rush of air past my ears as i hurtled down from heaven
and i felt the moment when my body connected with the horizon
i felt my skin being torn away
like a cloak ignited by the gaze of a transcendent eye
i felt the raw blistering heat of the furnace of the world's creation
and i was shaped by the loving hands of god's children