God of War

Safely arrived in Montréal after a very long and tiring journey! But totally worth it. I’m only here until Friday, and intend to make the most of it… thinking about a day trip to Québec City, as I’ve never been, but maybe I should just relax. And starting the morning write (I meant to type “right”, but I think I’ll leave the error) with an answer to We Write Poems‘ prompt about Mars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled about space exploration and going new places and the wonders of science, but I have to wonder what hidden sacrifices we make when we get all caught up in that. I think we’re perfectly capable of preserving our planet while we put out feelers to others, but then, I watched a lot of Star Trek as a kid. Anyway, mythology and science and caution braided together for this one.

I’m participating in Joanne Merriam’s Intermittent Visitors project, so perhaps you will see some collaborative journeys on here in the near future…

God of War

Who is
rusted through and toothless now,
all his arsenal expended on this long
empty plain:
dust devils come to make his bed,
flowers of ice peel away at his touch,
and every action is a process
of carving,
whittling away at this
frozen blood that cannot be called
earth.

A volcano
for his escutcheon. A chasm
where he weeps. Boulders
shaped like historical faces,
other wanderers
long since departed. History
locked into underfoot grit.
A vision
of how things used to be,
sending its tears to drip across
the pockmarked surfaces
of his cheeks.

What can he give anymore except
dreams?
He turns in the light:
he is a hard piece of carnelian,
odem and sardios ringing in his own
ill-gotten passage.
What an enchantment is his color
on the unpracticed eye:
what a spell
to echo his own forgetting.
What does destruction offer?
For the memory of all the fragile
greenery of a world, just this:
his own sorrow,
his murdered lessons,
that do not decay with time.

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4 thoughts on “God of War

  1. Your extension into a “new” mythology is intriguing. But with your slant in the mythic art, there’s little wonder I like this piece, Joseph.

  2. Irene says:

    You did a great piece, Joseph, connecting Martian to God of War.

    This line did hit me: What can he give anymore except
    dreams?

    While I’m kinda glad he came to grief, because what use is all the warring, I can only feel there is at least the terrible dreaming.

  3. neil reid says:

    Beautifully crafted, and it fits itself like a glove. It leans, it sways, but the thread is unbroken throughout; this poem remembers itself (a silly way to say, is consistent in its imagining).

    Not sure how Mars ever got that reputation of hostility (maybe one we more deserve). And I also remember the “Martian Chronicles” with its own past and future sense of this other world integrating with our own earthly home.

    A toothless god of war, great image that contains more image possibility than fingers on a hand. Good write, good read.

  4. Walt: I’m a big fan of modernist and post-modernist takes on mythology. Sometimes I think we get so caught up on the old stories that we forget they move through time, too.
    Irene: it’s tough not to feel a little sorry for him. Still, I wish he’d stop enchanting us.
    Neil: thank you! Swaying is a good thing, in my opinion, so I’m happy you thought so.

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