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Fickle Muses an online journal of myth and legend

Five poems by Jason Mccall

Father to Father, Sun to Son

Apollo is laughing as he watches the other gods
search the earth for this little spot in Bethlehem,
where he sits hidden with the young couple
and their child. He told the others this day would come;
the day when one man—a mere collection of flesh, blood
and bone—would usurp all of their titles and their temples
and push the old gods into nothingness.
Shake the earth while you can, Poseidon, Apollo muses,
and have fun throwing the last of your lightning, father.
It is all in vain now.
Apollo can feel himself growing weaker
by the moment—a pain akin to the sting left by Daphne’s
rejection or the grief he felt watching his favorite Hector
mutilated by Achilles. But he knows, as he always does,
that this pain will not be washed away with a cup of nectar
or a bowl of ambrosia. This is the touch of Death,
that hand his kin have feared forever. He pats the cold hand
on his shoulder and smiles. Apollo cannot determine
why the newborn can see him, but he can, and Apollo winks
at the beaming boy. He almost reminds me of myself.


No Search Engines in Valhalla

Me and my friends are having another one
of those “Which came first:” arguments
and we finally decide to turn to Google
for the answer. As I point and click
my way to the knowledge that I need
I feel more than a little bit guilty. I know
somewhere, in some long forgotten and dusty
part of heaven, Odin is looking down on me
and scowling with his remaining eye, the eye
that he did not give up as payment to drink
from the Well of Knowledge.  I guess it took more
than a LAN line to keep the nine worlds in order
and the Frost Giants at bay. How often does he watch
us today and he reach for Gungnir,
his magical spear that never misses its mark,
when he sees the little boy misplace his library card
for the tenth time, or the high-schooler who uses
the internet for nothing more than ogling
Scandinavian models? I imagine he is sitting
in his throne, and using his infinitely expensive
wisdom to gather up whatever old magic
he can find in order to push through the barrier
between his world and ours, and throw down
as many “404” errors as he can conjure.


Ulysses Discovers That His Son Wants to be Batman for Halloween

…O.K., I will admit that he is a pretty crafty guy;
but how hard is it for him to be resourceful
when the guy has unlimited resources:
Bat-plane, Bat-phone, Bat-shark repellent.
And no, it is not a matter of jealousy.
Hey, I never needed an Amazon to watch my back
in a fight or some fancy Kryptonian alien
to help get past all of those sea monsters.

It is more than that, bigger than that.
Imagine how Elvis must feel when he sees
Lisa-Marie moving her hips to a Justin Timberlake
song. Or what does Michael Jordan think
when his kids walk out of the door in Lebron James’ shoes?

No, I do not want the boy to be like me;
I never told him to go cross the seas
and match his wits against the gods.
But why could he not choose Hercules?
Every boy wants big muscles.
Even Bacchus would have been acceptable,
at least the guy knows how to have a good time.
But why bother dressing up like someone
who does nothing more than dress up
like me?

And when was the last time Batman
stabbed a cyclops in the eye?



Only the dog recognized me when I came home.
Athena swears by the Styx that it was because
of the disguise she gave, but I know better
than to fall for one of her Goddess of Wisdom
mind-fucks. Even the gods forget who I am
sometimes. The wandering years I wear on my face
hide me better than any mask or shroud from Olympus.
When I wake up in the mornings and my body creaks
and groans louder than the old wooden bed,
I find it hard to believe that I was an equal to Ajax,
that my name once caused men to shudder in fear.
Penelope still says my name as a question:
Good Morning, Odysseus? I love you, Odysseus?
She is waiting for the day that I reveal myself
to be just another unwanted suitor
who has invaded her home. In the evenings
Penelope still watches the sea, waiting for her husband
to return. I await his arrival more eagerly than she.



All of space is viewed in the past tense. There is an astronomical theory that proposes that if one created a telescope powerful enough, the telescope would be able to see far enough into space to witness the big bang, or creation of the universe.

Start here:
Lightning bolt stabs the earth;
Mother Earth opens herself to Father Sky.
Use any cosmic-sexual reference and follow
it until you find a man. You might recognize him
as a bored creature in a garden or an ape
that has learned how to talk. Either way, follow
him as he bangs rocks together to make fire
and discovers that he can bang these same rocks
against the head of his fellow man. Follow this man
as he crosses the oceans that some would name
as his birthplace; follow and watch the storms drown
him, the plagues cripple him and the droughts
starve him. Watch and wonder what keeps the man upright.

Watch man mate with woman to make more
men and more women. Watch this and learn
the origin of mathematics: multiplication, div-
ision, addition, subtraction.

Watch this man become mankind by interacting
with other men. Watch this and learn
the core of the sciences: some elements can be mixed,
other elements must not be mixed,
some elements are strong,
some elements are weak,
some elements are poisonous.

Watch this man grow taller by standing
on the backs and bones of other men.
Watch him become so tall, so proud
that one day he learns how to grab lightning
out of the sky and use that lightning to add,
subtract, multiply, and di-
vide mankind as he sees fit.
Watch the man who was born of lightning
take the lightning for his own and flood the world with light.

Cran Herlihy The Maiden Lay Dreaming

“the maiden lay dreaming” by Cran Herlihy

Cran Herlihy Palmleaf With A Twist

“palmleaf with a twist” by Cran Herlihy

Get Cran Herlihy’s art and poetry from Great Mystery Publishing, http://www.greatmysterypublishing.com/index.htm