Two Poems


Carey Scott Wilkerson





Dear Ariadne,



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