A getting to know you poem for Hermes.
An ancient coin depicting Hermes, source unknown.
Cover for Dexter Jones’ Circus Orchestra album of the same name
You can’t know me unless you see me,
you can’t see me unless you look in the dark,
you can’t look in the dark unless your eyes are burnished
to a brightness that shines on its own.
You have to break away from the herd
and follow the paths the mighty quake to consider-
you have to be willing to do what it takes
(giving all you have, taking all you can, sewing and cutting down
in temples and dark allies)
and suspend what you think you know
because *I* know
more than what you hear me whisper,
though I whisper with the tongues of the kingdoms of the dead.
The Souls of Acheron by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl
To *me* Brimo laid her virginity on the banks of the infernal river,
and for me she refused to leave-
it was no impurity or blood-crime, simply the natural mating
of ceremony and witchery, the moon and the rushing, restless air.
Would I lie?
To *me* the dead flock and we fly like wasps to the halls of hell,
and for me the Empress (married to the Raging Fires, blue-black tears
carving caverns on her face)
spares her smiles and laughter as we share gallows humor
and mirth in the black comedies of life.
Would I lie?
I wait for you at the crossroads,
for bloo-wine, for bon-stone, for fles-coins,
for the Herm to be built of the rugged blocks of devotion:
the essence of sacrifice will give you all my gifts,
for I can bestow upon you all the blessings of the realms in which I run.
Would I lie?
Relief of Hermes Psychopompous, possibly with Orpheus and Eurydice, source unknown
There is beauty you haven’t yet experienced, lonely seeker,
but the absence of it eats you alive,
and you are incomplete
without a trickster’s airy and indulgent guidance,
without a liar’s truth,
without the joker’s liberating laugh,
without the silver-tongued oracle
and the ability to communicate what is trapped within you
and awaits eruption:
divine volcanic catastrophe, honey-gold and terrible!
Like the light of the sun in a black and obscured sky:
If the legends of Pompeii evoke horror
I warn you that is only your beginning.
Death carrying off Alcestis by John Duncan
I will open your eyes for the peeling away of what occludes your sight,
and lull you into the veil of restful sleep.
I will teach you to run with the dead and the dogs in the samashan,
and ensure your sacred purity to duly serve the gods.
I will carry you down every road
even if I have to drag you like a spoiled child and tear the arm from your socket.
I will lure you with the music of the trees and whistling breezes
which will rival the strains of the most demented and sublime genius.
I will protect you, and give you agony,
and teach you to await the pain as a sword yearns again
for fire and hammer.
You will learn,
I am impatient.