Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The welcome scent of honeysuckle came to me one recent late afternoon as I sat on the front step petting Ginger and an unusually subdued Jazz. Earlier in the day, I discovered that I live about 40 miles from Styx, which is the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.
It's also the leftovers of a small community near the south central border of Kaufman County.

Last Friday morning, I drove to Styx. All I found was some scattered, occupied homes. No river. Not even the ruins of an old grocery store or gas station. Not really even a crossroads. Just one green road sign with white letters that seemed a little higher than those sorts of signs usually are.

In Greek mythology, Styx is where Phlegyas passes souls from one side of the river to the other. From, in modern terms, Earth to Hell. (The ferryman Charon worked the river Acheron, although that's been muddied by time, too. The story, not the river. Now, most people who have even a clue about such things believe Charon ferried – or ferries – people across the Styx.)

Styx, according to the sometimes reliable Wikipedia, also was the name of a naiad nymph "whose river was the most holy and sacred, and to swear on it was the most holy oath a god could make." Her name translated, literally, to "Hateful." (Answers.com identifies a naiad as "one of the nymphs who lived in and presided over brooks, springs, and fountains," and as the aquatic nymph of certain insects including the dragonfly.)


It seems to me that Styx relates to transition of one sort or another.

And the closest I could come to a river at Styx was the two-lane blacktop road that carried me in and out.

Transition. This time of year, that includes the scent of honeysuckle which grows in at least three places on the property.

Transition. This time of year, that also includes the dragonflies which have been, as a species, around longer than the dinosaurs. I see the dragonflies every day from late spring well into the summer.

Transition. Day, night, seasons. People, of course. Me. You. I cannot walk outside this door and levitate toward the sky, although I have very clear memories of doing that as a child. I don’t believe in levitation, but I believe the memories.

A recent AOL headline – "Dying Star Bursts in Near-Perfect Symmetry" – lured me. From the text: "If symmetry is a sign of splendor, then the newly discovered Red Square nebula is one of the most beautiful objects in the universe . . . Seen in the infrared, the nebula resembles a giant, glowing red box in the sky, with a white inner core. A dying star called MWC 922 is located at the system’s center and (is) spewing its innards from opposite poles into space . . . This spectacular event is the death of a star."

Transition. I see signs of it. A wasp crawling on the green ash tree near my door, where earlier I saw a cardinal.

I received an email from a delightful young woman this morning who mentioned "Graves' white goddess." Graves was Robert Graves. His basic concept was, if I understand it, that there was a female god – the "Lady of the Wild Things" – at the root of many European mythologies, and that poetry arose from the rituals of that worship. Okay. No problem with that as a theory. My own six muses certainly are women. Graves' book, published in 1948 when I was two years old and, possibly, beginning to contemplate levitation, also claimed that women could not be poets, but were to serve as muses for men.

Which is where I quit digging Graves, took another sniff of the honeysuckle, and hitched a ride to the sky with a green-winged dragonfly.


I've got some homemade copies of my edited spoken-word CD, 27 Pieces of Silver, as well as a variety of chapbooks available for $5 each ($7 with postage). Most of the spoken-word CD was recorded at Arsfilia Studio and the bonus tracks were recorded at Poor David's Pub when I opened for Tiffany Shea. Now that this one's done (transition), I can begin thinking about doing a second one. I'm tentatively scheduled to read again, briefly, at Poor David’s Pub as an opening "act" for Tiffany on May 6. To order a CD or chapbook: 7391 FM 773, Ben Wheeler TX 75754.