Mere Myths

Mere Myths
Mere myths, you thought, old tales,
natural phenomena recast
by ignorant and superstitious primitives
as gods or devils mucking about
in royal adventures, virtuals
who conquer with thunderbolts and apples,
appear suddenly to roil or soothe the wild waters
or mate with a swan, a snake, a cow.

You dismiss sturdy heroes as cartoons,
laugh derisively as they descend
to earth or into the underworld,
brave the stinking cave of danger and despair,
and perservere with help from unexpected sources.
If they meet the challenge, they bring a boon for all.
Of course, you nod, it’s in the script.

Maybe you’ve curled up with novels of immortals,
elves with magic swords that pierce the fearsome dragon,
amulets that light the way, food that nourishes courage
for the vanquishing of evil. Or you hear your holy book read
where you worship, in a verse about a prophet
who offers the sacrificial child
or envisions the guarding angel
rolling back the stone to reveal an empty tomb.

You memorialize eternally burning lamps,
food that feeds a multitude, happy
the stories found their way
into fairy tales and movies for children.

And oh, you know the various creatures
that inhabit all those dynamic worlds:
coyote, wolf, consuming whales and giant squid,
minatour, chimeras, cyclops, medusa, balrog,
demons innumerable and attentive.

But look around with a clear eye: there are fiends
walking abroad today in broad daylight,
holding forth with forked tongues, worm tongues,
coming into our homes over cable news, AI born,
blaring from our radios, flashing through the Internet,
imprinted on our eyes in newspapers of record.

These evil ones hold news conferences,
sit on panels, tweet, conduct committee meetings
in the halls of power. They tormented the Buddha
long ago. He ignored them, “half bald;
with frowning or triumphant faces,
wasting one’s strength or fascinating one’s minds.”
Still, they are among us now, challenging our settled place
in the center of the universe.
And where are the immortals to save us?

What are you looking for?