Two poems about Hydra by Irving Layton:
PARTY AT HYDRA
The white cormorants shaped like houses stare down at you.
A Greek Chagal perched them there on the crooked terraces.
The steep ascent is through a labyrinth of narrow streets
Cobbled with huge stones that speak only Arvanitika.
A surfeit of wisdom has made the stars above you eternally silent
Many are ambushed by the silence and many never find their way
To the house where the perpetual party is going on.
If you are on the lookout for monsters or demons
You will not find their legs sprawled out in the terraces.
They are all assembled at the house threshing one another
With extracts from diaries whose pages fly open releasing beetles
That crawl along the grapevines and disappear into a night of ears.
Though only one head can be seen, several monsters have seven
And some have three and some no more than two. Beware of the one
Headed monster with an aspirin in his hand who'll devour you instead.
You know the number of heads each has by the small sucking winds
They make as they dissolve the salads and meats on their plates. So
Listen carefully holding a lighted incense stick for a talisman.
A rutting woman lets her smile float on your glass of punch.
You scoop it up to hand back to her on a soaked slice of lemonpeel.
A poet announces to everyone not listening he has begun a new poem
He hears a spider growling at him from a suntanned cleavage
And at once pierces it with a metaphor using its blood for glue.
A married man discourses tenderly on love and poultices.
It is almost dark when a goddess appears beside you.
She guides your hand under her white robe and murmurs:
"The sweat of invalids in medicine bottles is not love
And wisdom is love that has lost one of its testicles.
Desire is love's lubricant yet love is no wheel spinning in a groove
Love resides neither in the body nor in the soul
But is a volatile element reconciling spirit to flesh.
Love is the holy seal of their interpenetration and unity
When they come together in the perfect moment of fusion.
If you wish to know more about love listen to the crickets on the moon
And emulate the silent shining of the stars but do not become one".
When she vanishes your hand is a river you swim in forever.
STORM AT HYDRA
Blow, blow hard,
you ask no man's leave
Spit great mouthfuls of water
over the boats
whining like tethered horses,
and crack your long, green fingers,
Neptune, on island walls.
Cleanse me, gods,
of the insincerity
learned in cities
Batter the christian lie in my soul:
wash out tolerance and wisdom
fill my mind with power;
even as you flood
the spaces between the quay's
pour ecstasy into my breast
Ah, sullen gods,
hurl, heal me with your tempests.