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Fickle Muses an online journal of myth and legend

“Hovering” by Kimo Pokini

“Hovering” by Kimo Pokini



Two poems by Kean Kaufmann

Reverse Persephone

This morning,
for the sake of a metaphor,

I got out of bed
with you and the cat

and “the warm thing”
(which we say the cat calls the hot-water bottle)

and went back to work
for the notebook I’d left on my desk.

Winter is coming,
but of course it wasn’t as cold as I thought.

The leaves were on fire.
On the bus I found myself sweating

and smiling, taking the coins
from my fellow passengers’ eyes

and handing them back
with interest.

Too many have died;
the underworld is overcrowded.

The bus driver didn’t know he was Charon,
and Charon didn’t know it was a return trip,

or did he? Pulling away from my stop
he honked; I looked back; and he waved.

Anyway, love, I’ve got my notebook back
and it’s time to go home

after I get pencils for me, and for you
the 2% lowfat milk of paradise.


Thrice upon a time,
there’s these weird sisters.
They’re the daughters of Night
with no father.
And Night, as you can imagine,
isn’t much of a mother.

As the middle child, Lachesis
tries way too hard
to take up the slack:
Measures everything twice,
knows what everything costs,
has to be everyone’s mother
and father, too,
hates being called bossy.

Atropos, the oldest,
mostly ignores Lachesis
or cuts her off in mid-nag
with a tongue as sharp
as her shears.
She wears socks that don’t match
and never starts anything
that she can’t finish:
just another old crone
who talks to herself
and the holy spirit,
not giving a damn
who calls her a bitch.

So Clotho gets most of the flak.
Lachesis is constantly telling her
she doesn’t know how long things last.
Atropos, when she notices her,
says she doesn’t know when to stop,
or just tells her to sit on something and spin.
So she does.
She spins all the stories
we tell ourselves.
She’s a maiden,
still mostly a child
who doesn’t know everyone says
she’s a bimbo.

She knows she’s the heroine,
the natural daughter,
the princess in disguise.
The others are her ugly stepsisters,
or Lachesis is the wicked stepmother
betrayed by the mirror,
which will tell her someday soon
who’s really the fairest;
and Atropos is just an old hag
who keeps saying the end won’t be happy.
Clotho wants her ever-after.
She’s eager to suffer
and get on with the story.

She feeds birds and small animals.
She French-kisses frogs
and gets her tongue tangled.
She’s polite to any lady old enough
to be her fairy godmother
(except, of course, Atropos,
who’s no lady anyway).
She’s sweet to any old man
who might be the King—her true father;
and she humors all the foot fetishists
who could be the Prince—her true love.
She doesn’t know the difference,
not having had either.

The prick is inevitable.
She gives a little shriek and bleeds
three drops like pomegranate seeds.
She sings “Someday My Prince Will Come”
until he does at last. The spell is cast.
He falls asleep, and so does she.

That is, she falls for, and sleeps with,
the first guy who kisses her
and says he’s a prince.
The first time,
she asks him to be gentle.
He isn’t,
because he wants her so much.
However, he’s hurt that she asked,
which shows that he’s sensitive,
so she stops asking.
He’s not handsome, either.
That proves that she loves him.
She puts the right spin on everything.
She calls it fate
(hey, that’s one of her names).

She believes he’s rescued her,
and now it’s her turn.
She believes she’s awake,
and his heart
is just sleeping.
She sees all the thorns
around his high castle.
She sees all the birds
and knows that they chose
to impale themselves.
She sees the thorns watered
by tears and by blood:
Because some of it is his,
she believes he didn’t plant them.
She believes he’s enchanted
by the wicked witch, his wife.
Clotho believes in him,
and in herself.
She believes that her kiss
can wake him and make him
all better.

It happens every once in a lifetime or so:
the youngest is the one who falls in love;
the one caught in the middle loves and hates;
the oldest doesn’t care much either way.
Nobody can help Clotho up.
Lachesis rages, helpless, while she waits.
Atropos just watches, and plays with the scissors.