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AC Benus

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AC Benus last won the day on June 14 2017

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About AC Benus

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    Love, cooking, history, classical writings, Queer politics, chatting with friends, finding more in common with everyone than I thought possible, architecture, design, dogs, Airedales

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  1. I walked home from the station this afternoon, after a visit to the dentist. The margin lands adjacent here to the overpasses are planted with a lovely crinkly ivy. A few native/non-native volunteers share the space too.




    Ivy, blackberry 

    and fennel grow by the road,

    Asking as I pass

    Why man can't even grow up 

    Rooted next to his own kind. 



    1. Lyssa



  2. . Part VI. In the Cave of Man The marauding band of rogue kidnappers Had plied their assailant plans carefully, Tracking the route the pilgrim young ladies Took till a bend in the road and darkness Gave them opportunity to don fur And spring with the element of surprise. They had taken them to a secret cave Previously outfitted with the goods For the girls’ comfort, and their own vices. Blankets would warm females through the long night, While alcohol stood by to heat the men’s Potentially flagging courage with draughts From pendulously large goatskin bottles. Now most of them sat near the cave’s entrance, Pouring one another potable strength With loud oaths, laughter, and crotch-grabbing boasts. Their shifty eyes passed over the firelight Of a central pyre of burning flambeaux To ogle the young women held captive. Belches and tipped backsides to let rip gas Did the male of the species no credit – In the eyes of their lady observers. The girls huddled in groups of two and three, Conversing in soft, reassuring tones, That all would resolve itself for the best, That friends and family would rescue them. In mirror of their need for security, Most pulled their blankets near while they bunched close, Drawing the rough wool up to shoulder blades. Hymena glanced furtively to the men And watched the girls’ leader where she sat; The brutes had knocked the woman unconscious When they abducted them back on the road. Now the guardian priestess stayed quite still, Gripping trembling girls on each side of her And sputtering soothing sounds from her lips. Close to Hymen’s right side was Kathros, So she raised an arm and pulled the girl in, Resting a hand on Kathros’ upper arm. And shifting their shared blanket higher up. “Are you warm?” she asked, holding the girl’s eyes. “Yes, Hymena. I’m comfortable. Are you?” Drawing Kathros a bit closer, she smiled, Indicating without words she felt well. Hymena dared to lift her fingers and Lovingly caressed Kathros’ dark hair. The other girl sighed, letting her eyes close. Emboldened thoroughly by modesty, Hymena guided the girl’s head to hers, And gently kissed the pale flesh of her lips. Kathros then opened her eyes to a squint As if sav’ring Hymena’s precious gift. A moment later, she returned the kiss, Smiling her way through a fog of warming… But then the young girl stopped and drew away. Hymena trailed the sightline of concern Emanating from her companion’s gaze, And spied the causing source of her withdrawal – The abductors’ loutish top dog watched them, Wiping his goonish mouth after some wine With the grease-smeared, hairy back of his hand. “Don’t worry about him,” Hymena said, Pulling Kathros tighter to her again. “We’re safe as long as we stick together.” Eventually, Kathros relaxed again, Allowing Hymena to feel the girl’s Reassuring weight, once more as her head Came to rest upon her sturdy shoulder. “Hymena, oh, tell me it is not true.” “Tell you that what is not true, dear Kathros?” The young girl’s eyes tracked to their kidnappers. “That we in marriage must be given to Men no better than animals, like these.” As if on cue, from the distracted men, Belches couched in crude laughter rent the air. Hymena drew her belovèd closer. “Concern yourself not with such examples Of how low the male of our genus crawls, For some are noble and will surrender All to protect the ones they hold most dear.” “I meant”—Kathros hesitated somewhat, Turning her eyes to meet those of Hymena— “The love from woman to woman is sweet: It’s not belittled through competition, Not tested through prodigious feats of strength, Not garnished, chipped away by jealousy. It can stay pure, unchanged and unchanging Across the years and above many trials.” Hymena slowly nod her head. “It’s true, For your words contain great wisdom, Kathros, And I’d need to be a god to dispute What our eyes evidence to us daily: Love ‘mongst women is a beautiful thing.” “I doubt,” Kathros said with more conviction, “Men can feel this level of tenderness With one another, let alone a girl.” Hymena grinned. “You still have much to learn,” But changed the course of the conversation. “Speaking of love, Kathros, tell me about How relations are with your family. Have you siblings to love with your parents?” As if in hesitating slow motion, Kathros raised her head and sat very still. “I have Father and Mother, and my nurse – They all love me very much, but it’s Nurse Who dithers and frets the most after me. I am sure this evening finds her worried, But hopefully she knows not yet I’m lost, Abducted, locked in a dingy cavern.” “It sounds that she is very protective.” A slight flicker of a grin played about The lovely lips of Kathros. “Oh, she is. I’m sure she’d want to separate us too.” Hymena felt a blush creep up her neck. “She would? And why would she seek to do that?” Kathros shrugged. “Because I am her baby, And especially…after…. Well, I mean, Nurse wants no harm to befall me, ever.” Kathros brightened a moment. “And with you, Hymena dear, what of your family? Tell me all about your domestic life, For your dear Kathros wants to learn it all.” Within her own thoughts, Hymena scrambled, Then she recalled how her wily best friend Was not only kith, but her kin as well. “Like you, I have Mother and Father too, But also, a twin brother, Myiscus.” “Oh, Hymena – brothers are a great joy.” Although her words were happy, Hymena Saw only sorrow on Kathros’ visage. Her instincts were to comfort, and reached out To bring Kathros into resting contact Within the bolstering circles of her arms. She did, much to Hymena’s great relief. “It is blessed to have a brother to love, And Myiscus is a dear friend as well – He and I harbor no secrets at all As unworthy of sharing between us; We have a love that cannot be questioned.” “Hearing this, Hymena, fills me with both Gladness for you and sorrow for myself.” “Yes, Kathros, but why should be that the case?” “It is so, because when you asked before If I had either sisters or brothers, I avoided answering with the truth. You see, I once had a younger brother, But he died in my thirteenth year of life.” “I am saddened to hear of that, Kathros.” “It was the moment I was invited By my mother and aunts – my relatives – To full womanhood and do our duties As a home bequeathed his sad obsequies.” “That is a young age to be called upon,” Said Hymena, stroking Kathros’ hair, “To function as a woman of the house. If you’ll permit an indelicacy, You can tell me what happened, if you want.” Kathros steeled herself to relive the day Tragedy stalked her entire family. “At a picnic held far in the country, The adults lunched under the olive trees, While Nurse, my brother and I wandered off. We found a shaded stream gurgling with life, And we two children went in for a swim. The water was too cold; too deep also. Eventually, my brother’s remains turned Up on a rocky sandbar in the river. It was the worst day I have ever lived….” “Oh, my Kathros, I am sorry for you. You are too young to have known such sorrow.” The girl turned her warms eyes on Hymena. “Treasure your brother. I miss mine each day.” Wondering if it would lighten the mood, Hymena asked, “Shall I tell you of him?” “Yes, please. It would be wonderful to hear.” Hymena chuckled. “Well, first, he’s quite brave; Will stand up to any bully out there, And he nurtures for himself honesty, Except in one area.” “Which is that?” “See, Myiscus is loved by a poet – One divinely possessed Meleager, Who never fails to fill the air with love For the boy he loves more than his own life. I speculate Myiscus secretly Returns the poet’s passion, but for now Is too proud to let himself be wooed thus. But my brother is a bit of a fool To deny he’s already fallen now.” “Well, yes. I know, brothers can be stubborn!” Both laughed, and in their laughter and sharing, Felt the bond cement and draw them closer. Encouraged, Hymena picked up her hand And nearly choked up, asking her Kathros, “Tell me, please – have you ever been in love?” Kathros slightly stiffened. “Laugh at me not, But you believe in love at first sight…?” “I do. I know it happens every day.” “I have felt it, Hymena. I felt it.” “Felt it for whom…?” “It was for a stranger – One who’s sure to be a demigod son Of brazen Helios, sun god himself.” Hymena began to feel her heart race. “And where did you chance to meet this bright boy?” “Selling his garlands in the Agora, And I confess, the moment he touched me, I felt sparks pass between our ling’ring hands, One I have only sensed one other time.” Kathros played with Hymena’s slim fingers, Confirming in seductive tones belief: “As good as the other may be, it is Same-sex love that’s nobler simply because It merges absolute social equals. It is not saddled with societal Hogwash about roles; it can simply be. Yes, Hymena, I envy your brother And the love he receives from his poet.” “But who, Kathros, was this one other who Inspired love in you at first contact?” Risen once more to face her, Hymena Could see a bittersweet expression rise Upon the features of his kempt Kathros. “Actually, Hymena, you remind me Of that youth at the flower stand a lot.” “I do…?” “Oh, yes, and much more than that too.” “Too? And too, what?” “And you too make me feel…” “Make you feel love?” “Yes, you fill me with love.” Such news should have wakened Hymena heart, But instead, she felt the weight of the lie Come between them, and must rectify it, Despite potential, dire consequences. She held Kathros’ eyes. “Though same-sex love Is indeed nobler, love twix the sexes Can aspire to the same high level; It can oft do and dare like the heroes.” Kathros merely appeared to be puzzled. “What if,” Hymena continued softly, “You could meet just one love-enamored boy Who’d risk all to be near the girl he loved?” “I don’t understand your words, Hymena.” “Do you think you could give your heart to this One, desperate, crazy boy who’d risk his life To sneak into – oh, I don’t know – an all Girls’ rite of passage in a borrowed dress?” Confusion turned somewhat curt, Kathros asked, “What on earth are you rambling on about?” “I mean, say this boy just wanted to spend A few, innocent, blissfully slow hours Merely to be by your side, just to hear – I mean, if I were…. I say, if I had…” Hymena stumbled in her own persona. “Oh, the gods be blessed, and just look at this.” She demurely opened her gown a bit, Exposing truth to her identity. Kathros was shocked. She pushed herself away And managed to stand in time to collide With the drunken leader of the kidnappers; His eyes were hazy in the film of lust. “Well, well,” he said, pushing Kathros back down. “Have our Sapphatic sisters had a tiff?” Hymena’s eyes sought the priestess for help; The woman rose, but the rest of the goons Followed suit, and restored the status quo. The top dog’s wine-soaked, gurgling words then said, “There’s nothing I like to see less than two Pretty young girls engage in a catfight.” He sat between them then, lifting his hands To lock each in place by smelly armpits. Hymena glimpsed fear in Kathros’ visage; She gestured to stay calm and play along. As expected, the lecherous man turned His sloppy attentions to Hymena. “What’s-a-madder, you stupid, sexy thing – You no-likey the interest of real men?” Hymena clutched her veil, slapping him hard, And before the brute could react, sang-song: “Heavens, no! I belong to Artemis!” The kidnapper, rubbing his now-sore cheek, Gave up and shifted his lust to Kathros. “What about you, honey, you ain’t like men? Believe me, you don’t know what you’re missing.” He gestured vaguely down. “I got the fella You just gotta meet. Let me intro you, ‘Cuz he just loves handshakes from pretty girls.” Kathros opened her mouth to reject him, But that proved to be too much stimulus. He yanked her shoulder and dove for her neck, Lips wetly groping the flanks of her skin. Her fists flew and started punching his chest. The thug brought ‘round his arm from Hymena And started to pin Kathros by the wrists, His panting slobber coming more quickly As the delicate girl struggled ‘neath him. Kathros let out a desperate scream, and then Got a shock, as the ugly man screamed too. He yelled again, writhing away from her; Stumbling to his feet, his hands feeling his back. Hymena stabbed again, this one finding And ripping open his heart. The dead man Dropped with a thud on the cave’s callous floor. With venom, Hymena addressed the corpse: “I told you, we belong to Artemis.” The other hoods came run towards her; Hymena spun, wielding the bloody knife, Commanding them “Stop!” with booming echoes. The ruffians halted like scared schoolboys. Hymena told them with ominous calm, “Artemis commands thee to halt thy course. Dare not to make Her angrier than this, Or She’ll quick turn you into female bears. Though only slightly more savage than now, You would have merely wild berries to lick And know intimately what brutal rape At the hands of some heartless beast feels like, Only your foul screams will be heard by you. As none but you can hear inside your head, You’ll have no voice to let loose your sorrow.” Hymena added with deepening ire, “Such things happen to men who dare to spy On Dame Artemis and Her young ladies.” The rascals felt their middle leg contract…. Hymena took deep breaths. “Out!” she shouted. The men screeched, tripping over each other To get out of the cave. Into the woods Each found his direction and ran like fire. In truth, they never looked behind to goad that prof,* Lest the Mighty Goddess should snip their manhood off. * Profanation – a defilement _
  3. I'm glad you discovered these, Molly. Thank you for your praise, and go your own pace with these poems. They are mostly strong medicine, but rewarding
  4. Thank you, Parker. With this poem, there is a turning point in the collection. I'm sure the morphing of the war into an protracted one turned Hans' mind to a spiritual seeking of "why." From this point on, many of the poems speak to a vision of a post-war world where democracy would fly its colors instead of kings. Thank you again for reading and commenting on this poem. I appreciate it
  5. Thank you, Lyssa. I agree that this poem in the context of all the others still speaks of a collective "we" on all sides of the conflict. Nevertheless, the switching of the war from a a quick series of moves and countermoves to a protracted game of Russian roulette had to affect all soldiers equally. Even though he derides the higher-up for the war in general, and the decision to dig in, I know he still understands the "other side" is made up of his classic "we" too. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on this challenging poem.
  6. . This is the first poem (and perhaps the last) I feel needs an opening comment. It’s an angry and frustrated poem. Although we think of WW1 as a grueling contest of attrition, stalemated across trench lines, it did not start that way. On the Western Front, German infantry initially pushed to within 19 miles of their objective, within shelling range of Paris. The order to begin sieging the French capital never came, and soon British and French troops pushed the Germans back. Eventually the offensive ground to a halt and the British and French dug in with defensive trenches. For someone like Hans, fed the line that this would be a quick war measured in weeks, not years, the deadly degrading of the conflict to trench warfare raised feelings of resentment. This is the background you need to keep in mind proceeding into the poem. --- 10. Ihr dürren Plätze, grell wie Leoparden, Das gelbe Fell mit Flecken Wald besät, Schwefel- und Phosphorrauch sind eure Narden, Die Tag für Tag um eure Lenden weht. Und immer toben Schlachten über euch Mit schwerem Schwall von stürmenden Soldaten, Und immer schlagen zündende Granaten Die Zähne tief in Heide und Gesträuch. Ihr kleines Frankreich oder Englands Täler, Wo der verborgene Krieg schon hallend naht, Ihr Flächen Ödland ohne Vieh und Korn, Tragt schon die Ruinenschrift von unsrem Zorn, Der aufgerißnen Schollen brandige Mäler Und tief im Schoß die schwere Eisensaat. --- 10. Your straggly seats, do blaze like leopard spots, The jaundiced hide stubbled with pin trees, While sulfur- phosphor's your noxious unguent, Wafting day after day from your private parts. And ever slaughter runs riot over you With ponderous surges of smoking soldiers, And always bleat the firing of grenades From those teeth-deep in heather and shrubbery. Your "little valleys" of France and England, Where already echoes the entrenched war, Are barren wastelands not fit for cows or grain. Conceive in ruins then with the fruit of our wrath, The torn-open gangrenous clods multiply, Laid heavily in womb with iron seed-corn. --- _
  7. . Poem No. 41 Poem: In lovely sorrow I sink again, to the depths of a familiar deep, as fingers in aging glove descend, to borrow themselves a state complete. Around my decline the white shirts land, in lines as pure as bleach can render, while I ask if any understand, the soundless graft of my encover. Here where I stand is murky and loud, with other laughter swirling the air, as we the ever-damned of the crowd, must seek our diversion into a pair. For he who plummets to this depth of mine, Sorrow save him from the joy he’ll find. Postlude: Oh, to have heart and voice the same; Skill enough to bleed talent un-lame. Poem No. 42 To view a sorrow as a fact, is a precarious point to make; It negates room to enact a retreat from its mistake. Poem No. 43 I turn the pages and admire the loves long dead. I put on their eyes to admire the loves they longed. And with every word I hear them speak of you, and give form to my wont of expression. Poem No. 44 I’m sorry I cannot tame it And ever here retain it _
  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Parker. These later Brian poems were ambitious, and I'm sure at the time I had no idea if they were working. It's great feedback to hear that they touch people. As for beauty, I'll always gladly accept that compliment Thank you one again!
  9. Thank you, Mike. It's always enough for me to know you have read and gained something from poetry I post. Thank you, as always
  10. Awww, thank you, Tim! I love the idea of a poem to read with one's eyes closed. These larger-scale poems for Brian were me as a young poet "coming into my own," at least in my own mind. It seemed like all the years of study and practice leading up to them were coming to fruition; I was rooting my own poetic voice and finding freedom of expression. I think of these as turning points. Thank you once again!
  11. Thank you, Def. This is a tense poem, and part of that comes from the sheer not-knowing what is going on. I think the poet tries to bring that over to the reader, to share it, in a way with the soldiers in a do or die situation. Thanks again for reading and commenting. I always appreciate your take on things
  12. Thank, Mike. Again you summarize the poem perfectly. With the final three lines, I initially wondered if there were sent to the mud because soldiers behind them were standing to fire. But now I seem to see the soldiers coming through the stubble in clusters as being from the enemy position. I think the ambiguity is on purpose, as if Hans is wanting to instill this feeling of confusion and dread directly into the reader. Thanks again for reading and commenting. You're efforts are highly appreciated
  13. Thank you, Parker. Compared to similar poems coming earlier in the series, this one stays focused on the scene. All the feelings you mentioned are "left out" of explicit commenting on in the poem. There seems to be no room, as the action is fast paced. In this regard, the poem is remarkable. I've come to believe the ambiguity of the ending is on purpose. It leaves the reader abruptly, with the feeling of confusion the soldiers themselves must have been experience in this scene. There seems to be some highly subtle poetry craft going on here. Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts with us. Muah
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