local_library Vulcan & Venus

by LindaAnn Loschiavo

Published in Issue No. 36 ~ May, 2000

The first time he saw Venus Vulcan loved.

She was a flower, petals arching back,

Intent on showing off its pollen tease.

Without her in his life he”d be a dead sea

That”s drying up. Without her as his wife,

The god of fire suspects he will amount

To merely supervisor of the clowns.

His smithy”s flames were never this intense.

Those passions of extremity, he knows,

Have rendered subsequent existence pale,

Her image driven into him hard nailed.

Rejected by his mother at his birth,

Young Vulcan learned to prize what she despised

About him most: a lack of perfect form.

All unappreciated metals shine

With application of attentiveness

From a loving smith who”s known as
Juno”s son–

Without her panic of the unconvinced.

And beauty undetected, iron-bound,

Excites his sense of possibility,

Creator of the shield of Hercules,

And fatal necklace of Harmonia.

But genitals are tools men use to forge

Their future with. Unused, this tool becomes

Another artist who let talent waste

By vacillating till all models died.

The author of his sorrow Vulcan”s hands–

his craftiness–could be as what”s ignored

Inside awaits repair. By day he works

Impatient hoofs” new shoes–for Pyrois,

Eous, Aethon, Phlegor–ordered

By a busy god, the Sun. His hammer seals

What”s pried apart by clarifying dark.

The first time he saw Venus in the sea,

He focused on her unreflective side.

Like sparks, she seemed: so dangerous
to the eyes.

With specks around her, he identifies.

Perfection outlined her physique as if

Someone hung “Seek No Further” on her chest,

And Jove”s unloved lame son adored such form

That would need nothing from him to convince

The world of its tremendousness. He who

protected others–with their necklaces, arms,

Shield, scepter–finds himself ablaze, disarmed.

The first time he held Venus in his arms,

This god of fire felt her stylish flesh

Was unencumbered by a conscience, not

Unlike his mother with her unused heart,

Who”d never know the worried pounding, know

His sorrow stuffed with silence and dark wind

Like a stomachache that doesn”t quit. The gods,

He knows, can”t die. And yet her busy womb

Is certainly the tomb of harmony.

His body rocks foundations of the

Struck anvils baying, “Cuckold!” in
his brain.

The last time he caught Venus in their room,

Another lover riding anvilled hips,

Lame Vulcan felt fenced in by fate, lovestruck.

Unloved, his heart had rooted easily,

With childishness that parented his

The goddess who is love loved him perhaps

No better than all else. Their partnership

Had seemed in ashes till she comes with news:

Their son is due–winged Cupid.
He”ll create

Arrows, equipping hands too young to have

A conscience. Forger Vulcan tools revenge.

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Dana Gioia selected LindaAnn Loschiavo to be a "Featured Poet" in the journal Italian-Americana. She is a native New Yorker, journalist, and reviewer.