To the Korybantes

For Petros.

Hail to the crested Warriors who dance
with brazen shields the ancient dances that send
hate, filth and malevolence to flight, guardians of the seed
that sleeps in the soil and bulging fruit on the branch,
protectors of those who have undergone the rites
of enthronement and sweeping off, preservers of
sacred stories, venerable customs, science and smithcraft
which you impart to the soul that has been tested in fire
and proven itself worthy to join your spear-rattling ranks
by completing the cycle of man-making ordeals.
O Korybantes of bastard ancestry,
always first among the host of the Conqueror Dionysos,
frenzied and fearless, caring not for glory and gold, but rather
it is the press of bodies, sharp blades that cut deep, the stink of gore
and ruptured bowels, the crunch of bone giving way to superior force,
blood gurgling up over broken teeth and parched lips,
light departing frantic eyes and pitiful cries that heaven hears not,
fading to nothing – that is what you hunger for, you martial powers
born in the storm, when fire mingled with flood
and the great cavern of the Cretan Bee-Nymph
echoed with your infant cries. Make this home and all who are in it,
I pray, safe that we may conduct our Orphic ceremonies together in peace
and may you and the whole noisy throng that surrounds King Bacchus
ever be remembered, and rightly honored.

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