Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Homeric Greek by Denise Low

Zeus (Re-) Orders
The Firmament

Phaëthon barely hung onto the shredded reins
as Sky’s menagerie threatened. The Olympian Bull
raised shining horns and stomped the stardust.

Orion drew his sword. Boötes raised his cudgel.
Pegasus the Horse strafed the ground and charged.
Bears of the North Pole prowled to the southern void.

Into the starry chaos at last came Zeus.
With a thunderbolt he struck Phaëthon dead
and dropped him into the river below, Eridanus.

The river turned to flames and rose into the sky,
a meandering path of lights, the Milky Way.
Zeus restored Hours, Days, Months, Years.

He positioned Phaëthon in a constellation,
The Charioteer—with arms raised, always ready
for a fool’s race against the gods’ god—Fate.  

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