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by Mary Gilliland

As early as I remember I was reading books, and re-reading—most frequently Charles Kingsley’s The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales. It was a Victorian retelling of three stories about Perseus, Jason, Theseus. Later, reading Mark Twain, I would exult in adventures of Tom and Huck, not Becky. Kingsley’s Andromeda, Medea, Ariadne barely registered as accessories to the drama—yes, even Medea. A vicarious hero, I rescued them, felt a little thrilled, and then moved on as a hero does to the next adventure.

In my world once the book was closed were all sorts of bondage and conventions to be rescued from, though at that time I did not admit their pictures.

‘Down from the height of the air fell Perseus’ captioned my favourite of the coloured plates in Kingsley’s book. With a great sword he will slice the chains from Andromeda's wrists and ankles before the approaching sea monster gets a chance to swallow her. I was 9 or 10 years old and the life that I was in could not be rescued. Households in the hopeful white U.S. suburbs circa 1960 held their own stories tightly. Dad being helped up the stairs to bed, and we were not to speak of this. Or Mom driving to pick him up, passed out in a seat on the train, because he had missed his stop coming home from work, and she got a call again from the end of the line. Or learning forty years later that my friend Kate's father, who made stacks of pancakes for us after Mass every Sunday, had been abusing her after he got home.

Myth is longing. I lose myself in myth. When I would re-read the texts, or re-imagine them, myth led me out of family problems I could do nothing about. It contextualized the martyred strivings of Roman Catholic indoctrination. In adolescence it was a springboard as I discovered the Beat poets’ world of orgiastic Zen, their lives larger than mine. When one of those heroes gave me a booklet by H. D., myth let me absorb her transformative poetics through my inner as well as outer ear. I don't know whether Gary Snyder realized that the contents of that booklet were penned by the perfect choice of writer for me. Hilda Doolittle published under her initials, and was critiqued as 'wearing a Greek mask' because as an Imagist poet she wrote of and as figures from classical mythology instead of everyday people walking past on their way to the subway.

Myth also sent me to a rocking chair with whisky many nights, until Dionysus showed me his bright face. It helped me through heroic daily efforts until I remembered a true hero does not depend on effort. For I am granted the winged sandals, I win the Golden Fleece, I slay the Minotaur. Though I am not the god.

Time has whiled its way from backbends and handsprings in the grass on humid evenings in one of the first New Jersey suburbs, from my right foot propelling a red scooter along a newly installed macadam road. Myth has been fleshed out. In Colchis, Medea outmaneuvered the machinations of her father. On Crete, Ariadne solved the maze; in the 1990's as a brother of mine was dying I made labyrinths so that people could walk in a container for their grief. Before Perseus came flying by there was Andromeda, naked and adorned. Like the figure on the Tibetan thangka in a room where I meditate. Her right leg raised, wearing only a few jewels, the white dakini’s left leg extends in the dancing posture. The sky in the background symbolizes absolute rather than relative mind. And she dances across it.

Mary Gilliland
172 Pearsall Place Ithaca, NY 14850
607 273 6637 mg24@cornell.edu


(You may view the complete print version here)
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• David S. Warren -
Editor's Notes

• Georgia E. Warren -
The Test

• Sue Ryn -
I Never Imagined This

• Mary Gilliland -
Sky Dancer

• David S. Warren -
Poem to Archie

• Don Brennan -
Take Me To the River

• Peter Fortunato -
Surreal Really

• Peter Wetherbee -
Sinister Ballad of a
Middle-Aged Man

David S.Warren -
We are Nuts

• Rhian Ellis -

• Garriel Orgrease -
Evening Out

• Daniel Lovell -
One for Miriam

• Nancy Viera Couto -
Margarida, Jose,
and the Queen

• David Rollow -
Your Stuff

• Franklin Crawford -
When I Have Thoughts
That I May Cease to Pee

• David Rollow -
Review: A. R. Ammons
Complete Poems

• Chris MacCormack -
Packages (an excerpt)

Evening Out

by Gabrial Orgrease

The running joke had become that I was being passed off as Billy Gibbons from Zee Zee Top. I wandered the streets of the French Quarter with family and friends of family. Whenever anyone of the group shouted, “Billy Gibbons, everyone, Billy Gibbons!” I was to go “Har har har.” (go to story)

When I Have Thoughts That I May Cease to Pee

by Franklin Crawford

My brain, which I am very attached to even though we’ve never met, is doomed to liquefy and bubble out of my ears, nose and mouth, shortly after I am as dead as the DNC.
It’s not the most pleasant thought my mind ever conjured, given that I suspect my brain doesn’t like to imagine its post-mortem condition any more than whatever this self – this symbiont with whom I share my weathered hide – wishes to dwell upon. (go to story)


The Test

by Georgia E. Warren

As soon as I got back to my dorm room I remembered. There was no textbook, we were supposed to research the famous artwork of Milan. The test was to identify and discuss the Italian Renaissance art was located in Milan. It was late. The library was closed. I decided I should go to bed and try to get to the library before class.

But I was exhausted: I sat on my bed ready to take my shoes off and fell asleep in my clothes.

Within a minute a very nice Catholic Nun shook my shoulder and told me I should not sleep in the pews of the sanctuary. I told her the problem about my class. I did not tell her it was thousands of miles away
(go to article)________________________

Reiki: Just The Facts

"Take Me To The River"

by Don Brennan

“Whoa! Where did you come from?’’ I set it down on the picnic table as fragments of memories washed over me. It was an old friend that I had found as a child, on a family vacation, somewhere one summer. Even though it was still covered with bits of soil, it was easy to see that it was loaded with interesting minerals. “I’m going to have to hose you off.”
The next two mornings, I spent more time staring at the stone than reading my book. The words were creating images not from The Celestine Prophecy, but from the day this stone first came into my life.

I had glimpses of it sparkling
in a shallow pool of water at
the bottom of a riverbed.
(go to article)



Chris MacCormack
excerpt from
Packages (visit)

by David Rollow

The Muse came knocking at the writer’s window on a night of wild weather. Her skin seen through the windowpanes was luminous and pale, except for her flushed cheeks. Her green eyes glistened. Never had she looked more beautiful. Gladdened by this unexpected visit--for the page lay empty on his table and the pen lay untouched by the page--the writer stood and unlocked the window, his heart surging against his ribs as if they, too, somehow, were to be unlocked and his heart set free. (go to story)


by Mary Gilliland

Myth is longing. I lose myself in myth. When I would re-read the texts, or re-imagine them, myth led me out of family problems I could do nothing about. It contextualized the martyred strivings of Roman Catholic indoctrination. (excerpt, go to full story)


Margarida, José, and the Queen

by by Nancy Vieira Couto

Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria Julia, had just arrived in Ponta Delgada, having said good-bye forever to aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, the living and the dead.
(go to story)

The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be "Memory." (see full size)

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