Hephaestos, with a range and spread of tools
Unparallelled by men, though lame prepared
To work all day and work the next,
Saw Hyperion’s horses tiring, blinking,
As a child of state who traversed all day
And cannot stay awake, but longing
To drop his head and nodding – their heavy eyelids
Cannot help themselves – night begins to swim
While soporific daisies and rue
Descend from dewy weights around their manes.
Yet as his Olympian chambers beckoned,
That sometime blissful sight now waiting his return
By his nightmares were unreckoned.
A moment later, underneath the bronze he stood
Which separated well from door and roof,
Willing to attribute his fatigue
To the vision as it appeared, like a wraith
Wearing a garland of dark forget-me-nots, a wreath.
Could sleep deprivation burnish the bed
With an unbecoming view
Of his brother’s muscular buttocks resting there,
Attached to Ares himself, who sleeping now
Held a wealth of the Hephaestian wife in his arms askew,
Herself from Elysian exertions asleep, and naked too.

Pride is not an immortal’s concern.
Hephaestos, as if struck by his own
Home-made handiwork,
Staggered enraged across the portal,
Rampaged through the moonlit courtyard,
Between these great gates he made himself
Where seventy cranes were carved in marble,
Unsubdued until many earthbound men –
Grandfathers, sons, unborn boys
Were martyred, killed for reasons their souls ascribed
To war, and famine, and genocide.
More should thank the heavens
That his homeward steps were thwarted
For five mere mortal years by untied lace –
An earlier return and he would have seen
The other side of Ares.



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