Carey Scott Wilkerson
I wish that you, Theseus, hadn’t killed the Minotaur, half man, half bull,
wielding a knotted club in your strong hand:
and that I hadn’t given you the thread that marked your way back,
the thread so often received back into the hand that drew it.
I’m not surprised that victory was yours, and the monster,
prone, lay groaning on the Cretan earth.
His horns could not pierce your iron heart
—Ovid, The Heroides, Book X
I see you counting the minutes on Crete—
your black hair scintillant in September’s
curved light—glamorous in perfect boredom.
You already suspect that Theseus
is a fraud and will leave you trapped again
on another island, another shore.
You know you’ll never be properly Greek,
see Athens, or wear incarnadine silk
to a hero’s bed. You’ll never be free.
Still, you have given him his only chance
to survive the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
And he’s down there, unspooling your thread
behind him, dreaming up a big parade
for the conqueror himself. But you
are holding the other end of that thread
and could choose simply to let go. What then?
For you, betrayal is unthinkable
even if his heart is an endless maze
of broken promises. So, wait for him
with the beach under you sluicing away.
Listen close to his fantastical tale
and its version of your future with him.
Pull the steel of his sword against your hip
bone when he holds you, when he declares you
his. Kiss him like the lover you wanted
him to be. And under the folding sky,
let him feel the grit of sand in your mouth.
Directions for Following Your Irrational Heart
During the Navigation of a Tempestina
Forget almost everything you believe
about the nature of the given world
and instead imagine here a blank page,
an inscrutable and silent machine
for dreaming, for documenting the names
of everyone looking up at the sky.
Because we can, let’s say that this same sky
is dense with winged poets—who all believe
in truth—pointing their fingers, naming names,
swooping in wild gyres and plotting a world
where parts of speech turn inside the machine
of desire and love spins out from the page.
Words, then, are no more phantoms of the page
than stars a cruel trick of the night sky.
We’ve noticed too that love is a machine
with many missing parts, lost, we believe
somewhere off the right margin of the world:
on an island of exiles with French names.
Back at the writing desk, our notebook names
all winged poets’ flight times on the first page,
every one departing for the same world.
Their stylized ambivalence crowds the sky.
On the final page, you better believe
there is a sketch for some flying machine,
made, surely, for those who need a machine
for reversals, slow erasure of names,
or anything a poet might believe
herself to have conjured from a lost page
that fell from an alphabetical sky,
tattered left margins of another world.
Yet, it’s clear that any world is our world,
that life has been good in our own machine,
warm under a clear canonical sky,
with our boring books, reciting the names
of poets who died far above the page
showing doomed Icarus how fools believe.
So, the given world is held in the names
of secret machines hardwired to the page:
hard to believe but then again: the sky!
Carey Scott Wilkerson is a Pushcart Nominee, author of two poetry collections, two poetry chapbooks, and is editor of a poetry anthology—Stone, River, Sky—from Negative Capability Press. His play, Seven Dreams of Falling, premiered in 2013 in Los Angeles, is published by Black Box Press, and will be staged in a new production by the Collaborative Theatre Project in September 2017. His plays, Ariadne in Exile and The Revised Diagnosis of the Minotaur’s Head are both published by Negative Capability Press. His operetta The Ariadne Songs will have its European premiere in Frankfurt in November 2017. He holds an, MA from Auburn University, an MFA from Queens University-Charlotte, teaches at Columbus State University, and is working on his PhD at Georgia State University. Carey Scott Wilkerson is online at CareyScottWilkerson.com.