Alabaster Arms

Painting: M. Caravaggio, 1601. Oil on canvas 91 inches x 69 inches. Located in the Saint Maria del Popolo Church, Rome. (Detail)

Michael’s chiseled hands have 1
not formed me as Adonis
and yet Medusa’s writhing’s 2
have made me as cold as stone.

Alabaster arms,
alabaster lips,
a cold and lifeless form;
Pygmalion’s infant 3
breath lies ever stillborn.

Yet, I sculpt my life for all to see.
Display it, set it in museum-free.
Wait for all to come critique
my jaundiced eye, my hobbled knee,
and pray they not nail me to a tree.

But if they do,
I pray they see fit
to rest me by my top.4
Then with Peter I’ll
cringe at our thrice told tale 5
and wrest not glory
from The Ancient Story.

Let me not efface the face that sculpted I.


© rl busséll 2021 – All rights reserved.

  1. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo.
  2. In Greek mythology, Medusa was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazers upon her face would turn to stone.
  3. Like many do with Frankenstein and his monster, I’ve conflated Pygmalion with his creation. : )
  4. Church tradition has it that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down. Origen says: “Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer”.
  5. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. — Matthew 26:75

Sonnet four

For my mind is filled with remembrance for:
four and twenty blackbirds baked and pie’d;
Pied Piper piping, gathering his corps;
Corpse of a miss ‘for a spider spied,
Spied, in the throws of the sun; tumbl’in,
Tumbling Icarus — the very one;
One boy, one dame, one lord, one black sheep kin;
Kin and king cursed with golden fingers won;
One hero with Golden Fleece in open hand;
Hands waking our John-a-late-for-matins;
Matins’ bells ringing, ringing through the land;
Land shaped, formed by Blue Ox and Bunyan’s,
Bunyan’s mighty ax taming dirt and sky;
Sky, set to call, storied list to mind’s eye .

© rl busséll 2018 – All rights reserved

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash


“Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten” — G.K. Chesterton

The stories of our childhood stay with us forever. They are our companions, our boon, and the boon we give to others; by them we are shaped. Tell stories to your children and write upon their souls.

Better for the Course

Today lies in darkness still.
Still I hear the shadow’s call,
call with caressing voice,
a siren’s soothing voice.

So strap me to the mast.
Mark this journey down.

Round the horn.
Let the fiercest fires flare.
Stuff my calloused ears.

This ship is all I’ll ever know;
all that marks my mark,
all that sets for place unknown.

So I know, I should take
care to care. I should know how
to knot, how to tie with flare
and with surety of eye and hand,
know how to set a course
and guide by star and verse.

And yet this course is coarse.
Full of uncharted isles, isles
of cyclops, titans, and villains worse.
So I’ll fly with wings of wax,
and so soar and never lax.
And if I tumble, I’ll tumble
and be better for the course.

© rl busséll 2018 – All rights reserved.