“Persephone Suite” by Karen Henry

Today, Lise Quintana and Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner explore “Persephone Suite” by Karen Henry, submitted to Zoetic Press for the Viable chapbook series.

Persephone’s Report
For days before
I had sad dreams
of lost friends
betraying me.

That day I went out to win.
One flower led to another
fragrance of narcisus
led me on.

I turned to face
the cold shadow
looming over me.
There was no sudden grab.
Joy froze in me
then seeped out
in the dark.

Of course I ate the seeds
what else was there to do
in that empty space
exhausting beyond words?


Hades’ Complaint
It’s all chance.
I love the light
but my lot was the underworld.
I hone the point of my chariot
to rip through stone
dividing day from night.
I took what I saw.
When she was mine,
she took my bribe.
“What’s left for you?”

She loses color in the dark
and motion
becoming so still
with eyes half open
she looks like one of us.

So, she’s not happy here.
I’m happy when I see her.
Even the dead have to live.


Jove’s Answer
The high blue dome
and long shadows
tilt toward Autumn.

Time to move again
leaving a wake
of black basil.

Heavy scent
settles around her –
she’s already gone.

White smoke curls up
out of the crater
feeble thanks from my brother.

Frozen sleet
the curse of my erstwhile lover
who never forgives.

What was I to do?
Laws fix the world.
I bent – could not break them.

Girls fall into pools.
She’s lucky she wasn’t changed
into a spring of endless tears.


Pomegranate Seeds

my girl first
went under, I froze
rivers seeking her wan face. Where
was my joking darling, my 3-D checker mate?
Gatorade labels scratched off
and scattered like petals
a poor sign of

she landed
after her abduction by
unremitting sadness is beyond
me – Hades never took me anywhere.
But my rage at her lacerations
her brutal suffocation
raised the stony god
who gave us only
half life.

she survived
in that world of shadows
mystifies me still — makes me fear
she’ll go under again to eat more seeds.
He gave her six months for life
no possibility of parole.
I stole the harvest
starved men
gave in.

didn’t you find
me before I lost myself?
Lost from birth, I suppose, I
could only lose myself further.
Still, you owe me a whole life
someone does, someone
I can’t find no matter
how hard I

How you mistake me.
I want simply to save
our sweet girl. Here
in this rich dark all
her dreams are real.

the one
who made you
who loved you first
who left you on your own.
I have the whole earth to cherish
Do you think I can cut you cosmic slack?
Even I couldn’t hold all the pieces in place if I did.
I release you to your fate, to your love, to your hate.

go through
this harsh world
when in the end all
will fall away to ash?
I step in the meadow
the fragrant air sings
through me
I am


A Hummingbird in Hell
The whir and halt and tilt and swoop
to shoot across the green
to a new world of tubular blooms
takes all of me

but a small piece of pain.

I’m a creature in the sun
half my days.
The dark ice of death
doesn’t own me yet.

Why can’t I flit and stoop
hover and sip blooms while I may?
Yes, there’s the devil to pay.
Yes, I’m growing old in the dank underworld.
Yes, I cannot love my overlord.
Yes, I pity myself endlessly.
Yes, I am bored.
Yes, I miss my sunlit summer –
the long hours of azure and heat.
What of that?

I’m rising, turning, spinning, diving
in a thrill even here even now
the scent of salvia spurs me on
beyond the burst of strength
in my wings
beyond necessity
beyond even the thirst
to know why
I am here.

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