All My Muses – from the archives (never made it to the blog)

All the Muses

The first muse was my father.
Polyhymnia. He’d wake me up
in the middle of the night
to slur his way through a poem
he had memorized as a child.
It was torture, pure, but the
seed was planted.

Our muse mother, also Polyhymnia,
taught us early to read and write,
made us write.

My fifth and sixth grade teacher
kept us two years, she loved us so.
Her name was Terpsichore.
I still recall the dances she taught us
and the poems she had us memorize,
some her own.

My scoutmaster. Urania.
Taught us the value
of building a camp fire strong enough
to resist a cold wind, cooking over embers,
map-making, compass reading, hiking,
poetry of the forest and woods.

My ninth grade English teacher,
Calliope, showed me the value of grinding
through the classics, the epic works.

My eleventh English teacher, Euterpe,
was a performance artist who shared
with us her first hand experiences
as a young college student in New York
during the Harlem Renaissance.

That first kiss.
A muse-full experience.
Rushed back my room
each night to write poems
about the new high I had found.

The bakery where I worked
was one big collective muse.
All my big brothers and sisters:
Nelson, Alvin, Floyd, Ralph,
Carl, Charlotte, Robin, Lawrence,
James, George, Melvin, James,
Linzell, Jeffrey, Darnell, Richard,
Charles, Michael, Dayne.
One big collective muse.

The sea became my muse,
the vast and boundless sea.

A kind friend taught me
the sonnet form.
She was my Erato,
my Thalia,
my Melponeme.

And the Beloved Community
was my muse.
My peaceful port,
shelter in a raging storm,
my restore point.
My Polymatheia,
my Cephisso,
and Borysthenis.


Author: Raymond Maxwell Librarian, archivist, retired foreign service officer and Navy veteran.

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