Yay, violence! A Canto from my Epic…

Canto 13

Pluton’s triplet Alsatians
skim the marshland
with their claws,
tearing up clumps of grass
and sending lizards and small
serpents scattering from their footfalls
like rats before a storm-front.

They heard Demeter coming,
they smelled her on the air,
the stench of her anger,
her murderous fury,
radiates from her skin
in a nacreous cloud
tinged red round the edges.

Tartarus, Hades, Dis,
the three dark dogs
hurtle towards the moss
-gowned intruder,
foaming at the jaws.
They will stop her progress
here, if they possibly can.

Demeter lies flat,
pressing her body
into the unbaked mud,
her shears gripped fast
in her strong right hand.
She anticipated trouble,
but never this.
She has given her heart
at last to Hecate,
and that is a goddess
never satiated with flesh.

The dogs pull to a stop
a yard from her body,
circling, planning their strikes.
Hades draw close,
head down, hackles bristling.
His black lips are drawn back,
revealing white teeth in strong gums.
His claws, his pelt, his snarling
muzzle all converge in tearing points.
Tartarus and Dis stalk beside
and a little behind him, guarding his flanks.

Demeter’s shoulders tighten,
the muscles bunch
beneath her flesh which casts
up sweat that itches horribly
under layers of lace and plant matter.
She ignores it, ignores the sting
of dust in her eyes, the smell of old rot.
She is looking only at a pair of hard cobalt
eyes that gauge her pale throat.

Hades leaps, transmuting
the force of his great weight
into energy, propelling
his brief flight. His jaws
open, teeth bared and thirsting
for the spring of her arteries
and he roars with a sound
more cougar than dog.

Demeter pulls herself
to her knees, raises her hands,
empty and full. The dog plunges
into her, his hind legs connecting
with her stomach, stealing her breath.
The white fangs snap an inch from her neck,
but she has him, her left hand digging
deep into the loose fur of his scruff.

He howls once,
but the shears give their answer,
slicing his trachea
with the sound of torn gristle,
reducing his cry to a whistle.
His head lolls loose on its stem,
Demeter tears it free from his spine
with a jerk; Sampson breaking
the jaw of the lion.

She lets the body fall,
so many torn rags,
and before it hits the ground
his brothers come running.
They set on her at once,
one on each side.

Tartarus attacks on her left,
his teeth for her stomach,
Dis leaps high, as did his brother,
targeting her throat.
Two dogs at once,
both raging and snapping,
both willing her death.
She will not oblige them.

She ducks Dis’ leap
and rolls beneath
the forepaws of his brother,
so that Dis connects
with Tartarus’ chest.

She thrusts her shears
between Tartarus’ ribs
while his brother lies whimpering,
piercing that noble heart
and bathing her face in hot blood.

Tartarus falls without drama,
a lamp snuffed quickly,
never restarted. Dis, always last,
forever cowardly, turns back
to the mansion, tail tucked, howling.
He will be her herald.

She wipes the blood
from her eyes, leaving
a flesh coloured streak
in a field of red, thinking,
he will know that I am coming.
No use hiding any longer,
I will enter straight, tall,
and in command.

She lets her improvised
moss cloak fall
from her shoulders,
leaving behind only
a few greyish threads.
It does not take her long
to find the road,
and the house is in sight,
growing larger.
She will enter
by the front door,
confront honourably
the massive figure
that she can already
see standing, waiting,
to try her hand.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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