Tag Archives: Tereus

‘Spindles and Webs’ Thread 4/4: Transformations Poems (Book 6)

12 Sep


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 6


Rebecca Audra Smith, Sadaf Fatima

and Karin Heyer



Act 1

‘The king in his guilty passion often took pleasure with the body he had so mutilated.’

by Rebecca Audra Smith


She let fall a string of no’s

so I took her tongue.

What use was it to her, to speak?

She was making too much fuss,

stressing me out. I ran for miles,

going nowhere, treading

old ground. I thought of her,

silence between four walls except

for the noisy mess of her hands

-now untied-

my fists dragged the air.


 A man looks good with a sister each side,

  she shadows my wife’s gilded days,

a limbless knowledge.

I keep them both safe as babes.


I grilled her tongue, decorated with

 a molar or two, and tenderly

 consumed with an asparagus side;

 butter and blood.

Act 2

‘While his limbs were still warm, the two sisters tore them apart’

by Rebecca Audra Smith


The kitchen’s a state.

Every knife used for the job,

each chopping board bears the hacks,

crimson staining their wood

and the floor is wet,

slippery wet, with a smeared

litre or two of blood.


The water in the sink is bubbling pink,

fly’s eggs hatching in the mop,

a cat delicately sidesteps a large puddle

then laps at spilled drops.


The servants don’t know where to start

with the family all eaten or feathered

shrieking in the rafters,

and a crime scene lingering

in the cupboards.


A serving girl scours and watches

herself in the slick, gory

bronze of a pot.



by Sadaf Fatima


Where there’s so much wrong in the world,
Art helps make things all right,
Your pain becomes beauty,
Tears shape into touching words,
Hands knit miracles,
You see the unseen,
Feel the splendour many eyes miss,
And create a world of your own.
You create a world within a world.
When the sorrow rains on you,
And the storms shudder,
You make art your shelter,
And it makes things all right.

Rhetoric: Violence breeds Violence

by Karin Heyer

(Inspired by Pandion, Procne, Philomena, Tereus)


Imagine, the most lovely girl

you have ever seen….

innocent, young, gentle and caring,



daughter of Pandion, aged King of Athens.

For a long five years

her sister Procne had lived far away,

bound by marriage,

To the rich King of Thrace, Tereus.

She had become the loving mother ot Itys,

their only son.

Procne longed to embrace her sister

family bond wanting bonding,

talking about melodies past…

She begged Tereus to sail for Athens,

bring Philomena to their kingdom,

so that she could cradle Itys in her arms

and wile away hours

in happy chatter.

Weaving, weaving a tapestry

of contented family life…

Tereus obeyed her wish,

a fateful wish!


Tereus set eyes on Philomena,

hot fire shot through his veins,

his only thought:

to possess this girl!

He won, he raped, gorged!

He cut out her complaining tongue



-impossible to believe-


he raped, again her speechless body,

hid her in a high-walled steading

where his atrocious crimes were committed,

telling trusted Procne her sister is dead!

She was violated

In utter desolation Philomena

was weaving, weaving a tapestry

of her betrayed, silenced life,

telling her plight,

this tapestry was sent to her loving, mourning sister,

who understood



-enraged turned to revenge-

her husband’s foul deed,

this unspeakable crime.

The sisters meet,

transformed by rage

their furious minds turned

to an inhuman plan,

intent to hurt most!

Violence breeds violence

in finest hearts,

it provoked profoundly!

Gentle Philomena, too,

schemes heartless schemes.

The sisters madly murder Itys,

adored son of Tereus.

The father eats his own son’s flesh

at their princely, planned feast,

where once kindly women,

now bend under blinding hate;

where Philomena, crimson with Itys’ blood

throws his severed head towards the gorging father.

Thereupon, unhinged by rage, Tereus,

tomb of his own son,

raised his sword

towards the brain-sick, wild-eyed women;

fleeing, they hovered in sad air,

growing weeping wings of sorrow;

became birds in flight.

One flew off to the woods alone,

the other rested under the eaves of the roof.

Tereus turned into a bird too.

All three hurt beyond repair,

never to love again.



You can find out more about Rebecca, Sadaf and Karin here: 





Rebecca Audra Smith



Sadaf Fatima



Karin Heyer, as yet, does not have a website





‘Spindles and Webs’ Thread 2/4: Transformations Poems (Book 6)

20 Aug


George Braque Metamorphoses

February 2013-March 2014

17 poets, 15 months, creating 1 contemporary reworking of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

See the Transformations Page for more details or the ‘Present Collaborations’ Tab


Poems Inspired by Book 6


Kate Garrett and Nell Perry



spider bitten

by Kate Garrett 

(After Ovid’s ‘Arachne’)

yes, weave these tales well:
webs of gods, men, heroics.
misjudge the goddess,
race against her loom. spindly
creature, hanging from a thread.

Revenge Englynion*

by Kate Garrett

(After Ovid’s ‘Tereus, Procne and Philomela’)

Tereus must pay the price
Procne makes her sacrifice
After Bacchanalian rites.

Itys nursed at Procne’s breast,
At her hands his gruesome death –
Buried in his father’s chest.

Sister’s ruin beat mother’s care:
Philomela’s life is spared –
Nightingale upon the air.

*“Englynion” is the plural of “englyn”, or various short, rhyming Welsh verse forms. The form used here is the englyn milwr, or soldier’s englyn: three lines of seven syllables each, with end rhymes. I put three of them together to make one poem, hence “englynion”.

 Leto & Niobe

by Nell Perry


…………. …grief is arrow-shaped,
turning flesh to
something blunt,
in the light’s filmy

reckless language is
formless like foam.
Unfastened words
are violent
nymphs, each
electric with exquisite
chaos. Salt

water can be both
a teardrop or a
mighty sea; what

……………remains is
bereft, a petrified
stump that may once
have been
something motherly…

The Swallow

by Nell Perry


………….…is it with its silence that

the swallow

bothers you, whefting swoop-

threads over

the clouds’ upturned hooks? There is

recognition in the songless


but not peace. And embellishment;



murmurations, as in all

embroidery. A tongue is a fanciful thing, but

without it there is only



on which to tether weightless thoughts

………. …and this the swallow knows

more than most, entwined, as she is


………….with the sky’s slub yarns. In

spite of everything we ingest the ones we

love, unknowingly. Split strands are

interlaced, like those


……. …..blithe

loops whorled across the fabric of the air…




You can find out more about James and Richard here: 



%d bloggers like this: