A Fractured Triskelion

Spent the day (survived the hours—) on only one cup of coffee. Now the weight of afternoon lingers in all of my limbs, my joints. I even skipped bathing, rolling in the scents of my own skin. Finding that inner self, bottom core of being human.

As well: reworked an old, old project, at least twenty years old, a poem sitting in a file drawer waiting to be revived, exhumed. In its beginning stages I simply titled it “Triskelion,” referring to the Ancient graphic symbols showing three tree branches or three human legs emerging from a central core, forming a wheel shape. Various cultures used the design, from Ancient Greeks to the Celts.

From the recent changes a new title emerged: “Triskelion: Herakles to Antaeus”— one more poem to add to my re-interpreted Herakles cycle. Even now I am not fully satisfied with the results—the initial concept dealt with braiding three modern sonnets into one form, cycling and repeating into itself. Or in other words, a short orchestration of three movements. Capturing the seconds before Antaeus, a son of Poseidon (Water) and Gaia (Earth), dies in Herakles' arms during mutual combat. I wanted the three sonnets to be presented in a visual knot of phrases, mimicking the notion of the graphic pattern. At the moment, I have the full work presented with the lines centered on the page, rather than flushed left, my standard format. The awkwardness of using centered text, with limited punctuation, seems to justify the rough phrases themselves.

By playing music composed by Austin Wintory, The Banner Saga, actually helps. In particular, the track “Thunder before Lightning” uses militaristic tones, heavy use of drums and brass instruments. It matches the drama unfolding between the two figures of Greek myth: the (im)mortal Herakles and the demigod Antaeus.

Here is the opening section as it stands at the moment. Comments? Suggestions?

Fractured Triskelion: Herakles to Antaeus

afterwards, you lie as a dying Gaul
of knotted desire, still locked in my arms

as a remote angel, with an uncalm
body taking in air, winded, a scrawl

in the margins between heaven and earth,
between what you have and what you are looking for,

leaving me distant, a blur in a photograph.
This last time, your face turns away, your mouth

opens, a wound, like the sprain in my thigh
from your careless touch—and it’s odd, even though

I am aware of someone else in your life, how
he holds close your shuddering form during those nights

you allow him over you, allow his cast out
touch as replacement to mine, even this does not—


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