Cupid ain’t a Putti

The little boy with wings
and a boy’s uncircumcised pecker
standing by mama Aphrodite
was the ancients’ way of weakening
the enormous power
of that child’scurving bow.
They feared his golden arrows
almost as much as the leaden ones,
and rightly so.
He’s a puissant archer, that one,
full-grown and in the prime of youth,
a swift runner and possessed of all the powers of a god —
Adonis, to be precise.
The sight of him makes the psyche tremble,
sends wax tumbling down the side of the candle.
Even dreaming, he moves hearts —
shoots arrows in his sleep.
You are powerless in his face,
as much as the old man in Iraq
who snaps his angry fingers
at Americans, but thinks of Alexander.
Two thousand years on,
we tremble at his name
even as we mock him,
and politicians in Washington
shudder at his adjectives
and rail against his appearance
as a sign of moral decay.

Cupid doesn’t care about that.
He is, every inch of him,
his mother’s son,
who put horns on her husband
with the god of war
when the world had not yet
seen too many dawns;
She seduced Enkidu
when men walked still on all fours
and ate grass.

Rail against the archer all you like;
he’s still got a golden arrow
waiting for you —
and a lead one, too,
for when you least expect it.

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