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Fickle Muses an online journal of myth and legend

Two poems by Paula Kolek


Once my father, a real boy, stole
his ball home, burned ants

under glass, put his fist
through a window, cracked

his head in two against the steering column.
Once my father was boundless.

Balloons in his mouth, bare
bursting and bashful pink, lungs to climb

a universe. Then he was grey dust
willing itself to die.

Once my father was myself
years before I was utterance

on his tongue. Once my father, painted coyote,
carried me
                 on his shoulders, nourished me

grinned and tore
my silver voice from my throat.


There Were Two Natures in Her ,  ,

                                     Swans fly in an oblique line, Cranes in the form
                                     of a triangle: Hans Christian Anderson



both the roses and book of psalms spoke only the truth:

                                                                                         the avenging angel drew back
                                                                                         the veil from the flaming ocean, the sun
                                                                                         very quickly; she sank at once,
                                                                                         the alder stump after her—it was no
                                                                                         than a star, but her feet
                                                                                         touched solid ground

                                                      the scent of the flowers said
                                                      they are corpses, the sun will bleach their bones

                                       a tame bird, she must bend
                                       her head to the corpse, kiss it
                                       and press it to her heart, though it struggles
                                       and bites like a wild kitten

                                                                                  [ she pities herself bitterly/it’s all nonsense ]



each flower stood in the sun, dreamed their own reverie:

                                                                 three coffins glide from the wood
                                                                 in them, three maidens

                                                                                 in the pond there is a little dead baby
                                                                                 dreamed himself to death

                                             the best people appear hideous or else
                                             are upside down and have no bodies

if you press a kiss upon my lips, paradise
will sink deeper
into earth and be lost to you 
                                                 you shall fly like birds without voices
                                                 you shall dance till your skin shrivels, until you are skeleton
                                                 you shall dance so they will see and fear you

this has been won and achieved by love


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