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Southbound

Spring, spring.

Like fools we do sing?

Like Dionysus Zagreus,[i]

from the heart do we sing?

Nay, that four-chambered war drum

is too dark to let sing.

A heart like Persephone’s

six months before spring.[ii]

“The horror, the horror,”[iii]

the forlornness in spring.

The despair of Theseus

amidst a labyrinth of string[iv]

while the minotaur keeps charging,

charging…

its smart phone,

of all things.[v]


[i] Mark Morford and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999), 223-224. Hera, out of jealousy, convinces the Titans to devour the child born to Zeus and Persephone, and save the heart which is secretly returned. Zeus swallows this heart and Dionysus is reborn. Zeus then hurls a lightning bolt at the Titans, turning them to ash. Humans are said to have originated from this evil ash.

[ii] Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated by Mary M. Innes, (London, England: Penguin Group, 1955), 127-131. Persephone (Proserpine) is condemned to spend 6 months of the year, starting in Autumn, in the underworld with Hades. Logically, Persephone’s heart would be the saddest/darkest once autumn arrives, 6 months before spring.

[iii] Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. (Kindle Edition, 2012). Kurtz utters this as his last earthly phrase which is rumored to represent Kurtz’s acquired disdain for and perceived meaninglessness of life. The utterance may also be viewed as a condemnation of the pure evil that lurks within the hearts of humanity.

[iv] Ovid, “The Cretan Labyrinth,” Metamorphoses. 183. Theseus uses a spool of string to mark the way to the labyrinth’s exit. Consider the frustration and confusion one might feel when trying to find the way out of a maze in which one’s line to the outside world blends together with the walls of the maze. Such a situation might leave one to feel unable to ‘pull the right strings’ – a trope that refers to being able to exert one’s influence for a beneficial gain – and make an exit.

[v] Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays. Translated by Justin O’Brian. (New York, NY: Vintage Int’l, 1991), 157. Camus begins his essay “The Minotaur”: “There are no more deserts. There are no more islands. Yet there is a need for them…in order to serve [folks] better, one has to hold them at a distance for a time.” Smartphones, social media, and instant news access have given humanity the ability to, seemingly, hold one another at bay. Will this result in the betterment of humanity or an increase in social isolation and depression?