The Male Muses

They’re long forgotten, really.
They didn’t have their sisters’ press agents.
The Greeks, who named the gods like Adam named the animals,
Forgot about them. A great injustice.
But what do expect from a bunch of men,
And Sappho? Their sisters, the famous Muses, the ones with names
Were great teases. Still are.
A hint of laughter from across the bay,
A flash of thighs vanishing beneath the water,
A shade of nipple under diaphanous cloth,
And some unfortunate man’s heart would enflame itself
And demand to be poured out in poetry, in song, in painting.

Longing—that’s what they’re all about.
The haunting emptiness. The promise.
The burning that maybe someday, somehow, could be relieved.
For a little while.
And so the poets, the artists, the would-be lovers
Parade their arts like peacocks.
“Look at me. Look at me. I am so talented.
Look at what I will do to win you.”

And the girls, the Muses, do they even like poetry?
Who knows? I’m sure they find it amusing.

But the male Muses are quite different.
They like their anonymity, I suppose.
It gives them room to work their magic.
Solitary creatures, attractive, comfortable—not stunning
They like to hang out in beautiful places,
Canyons, mountaintops, waterfalls—that sort of thing,
On days when the weather is perfect.
They want you looking at the scenery.
They’re waiting for you there.

They don’t do longing. They don’t do emptiness.
They come to you at those moments when the colors are just too bright,
When the crashing water is so loud you can’t hear your own laughter.
They come to you when all your words, all your gestures,
All the things that you do, that people like you do,
Are not enough.
To smile, to say, “Hey, that’s good”
Would be a desecration.

The male Muses are about fullness.
You’ll know they have come
When you are about to explode from your fullness.
When you have to sing, you have to dance,
You have to do something that you (or people like you)
Couldn’t possibly do.
Then you’ll know them.

The Art inspired by the male Muses
Comes after the magic moment, not before.
It is not the wooing, it is the Child.
And who can blame the mothers
If they lose themselves in their children?
Who can blame them if the Muse, the man,
Vanishes from memory like the morning mist
In the strength of the summer Sun?

Doug Muder