Ars Mythos



Like women, birds

          are bad news.


They come with cutting

          vanes and steel


rachis. Hercules

          shot the Stymphalian,


but not before

          they’d shed their swords


and wormed their beaks

          into the farmers’ lush


bodies. Here every

          suffering will be made


visible or at least

          not written out.


Consider how after

          Procne’s husband


rapes her sister,

          she serves him their son’s


flesh. One body

          entering another


in reprisal for the same.

          All characters of this myth


live the remainder

          of their sufferings as birds.


Sister as nightingale—

          symbol of scored


silence. The husband

          under the tarnished crown


of an orange crested

          hoopoe. Procne


transformed into a small

          swallow, the act


of consumption. This punishment

          requires she draw


into the cavity of her body

          foreign pieces


of the world and let

          them live. I reject


that I can either consume

          or want to be


consumed, but I

          admit I admire


the raptor that desires

          another’s body


to keep beneath

          her glowing field

                    of iron feathers.




Madeleine Wattenberg’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in journals such as Fairy Tale Review, Hermeneutic Chaos, Mid-American Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Ninth Letter. She regularly writes reviews for The Bind and is a PhD student in poetry at the University of Cincinnati.