1. Orion

    Far back when I went zig-zagging
    through tamarack pastures
    you were my genius, you
    my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
    lion-heart king in prison.
    Years later now you’re young

    my fierce half-brother, staring
    down from that simplified west
    your breast open, your belt dragged down
    by an old-fashioned thing, a sword
    the last bravado you won’t give over
    though it weighs you down as you stride

    and the stars in it are dim
    and maybe have stopped burning.
    But you burn, and I know it;
    as I throw back my head to take you in
    and old transfusion happens again:
    divine astronomy is nothing to it.

    Indoors I bruise and blunder
    break faith, leave ill enough
    alone, a dead child born in the dark.
    Night cracks up over the chimney,
    pieces of time, frozen geodes
    come showering down in the grate.

    A man reaches behind my eyes
    and finds them empty
    a woman’s head turns away
    from my head in the mirror
    children are dying my death
    and eating crumbs of my life.

    Pity is not your forte.
    Calmly you ache up there
    pinned aloft in your crow’s nest,
    my speechless pirate!
    You take it all for granted
    and when I look you back

    it’s with a starlike eye
    shooting its cold and egotistical spear
    where it can do least damage.
    Breath deep! No hurt, no pardon
    out here in the cold with you
    you with your back to the wall.


    By Adrienne Rich.

     
  2. Men and Their Boring Arguments

    One man on his own can be quite good fun
    But don’t go drinking with two -
    They’ll probably have an argument
    And take no notice of you.

    What makes men so tedious
    Is the need to show off and compete.
    They’ll bore you to death for hours and hours
    Before they’ll admit defeat.

    It often happens at dinner-parties
    Where brother disputes with brother
    And we can’t even talk among ourselves
    Because we’re not next to each other.

    Some men like to argue with women -
    Don’t give them a chance to begin.
    You won’t be allowed to change the subject
    Until you have given in.

    A man with the bit between his teeth
    Will keep you up half the night
    And the only way to get some sleep
    Is to say, ‘I expect you’re right.’

    I expect you’re right, my dearest love.
    I expect you’re right, my friend.
    These boring arguments make no difference
    To anything in the end.


    By Wendy Cope

     
  3. Circe’s Power

    I never turned anyone into a pig.
    Some people are pigs;
    I make them Look like pigs.

    I’m sick of your world
    That lets the outside disguise the inside. Your men weren’t bad men;
    Undisciplined life
    Did that to them. As pigs,

    Under the care of
    Me and my ladies,
    they Sweetened right up.

    Then I reversed the spell, showing you my goodness
    As well as my power. I saw
    We could be happy here,
    As men and women are
    When their needs are simple. In the same breath,

    I foresaw your departure,
    Your men with my help braving
    The crying and pounding sea. You think

    A few tears upset me? My friend,
    Every sorceress is
    A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can’t
    Face limitation. If I wanted only to hold you

    I could hold you prisoner.


    By Louise Glück