Culture & Society

Poems: The Gods Are Too Loud

These poems sit by you, wear no mask, and crawl inside readers’ minds.

The universe is porous and osmosis creates bleeding...

“In his hands Hercules took his shield, all glittering: In the center and upon the shield Proioxis (Pursuit) and Homados (Tumult) were wrought.”
—Hesiod “The Shield of Hercules”

The Gods are too Loud

The Gods are too loud
and I cannot hear them

They wail from my pipes
and screech from my ductwork

I am trapped by the sound
into deafness. Left

to worship Homados
Noise speaks danger

Crouching beneath
whistling metal

Bursting silence

The Universe Is Porous and Osmosis Creates A Bleeding 

You locked us in our attic bedroom 
on nights when you wanted to have sex.

We had to pee in the toy box.
I blamed it on the cat.

We all leak slightly. We all
resist looking at the stain.

At fourteen, I stopped your swinging
stinging slap.

As I caught your wrist in my palm
mid-swing, I saw in your eyes 

what you thought you had made.
The punished child becomes 

every man who has ever struck you.
Your blows had won, you thought.

I dropped your hand.
I was not your sin eater.

I would not be your sin.


The ten old men sit side-by-side comparing death.
Say, we grow warm—the planet now is sharing death.

Say, with each new storm and flood the wounds grow deeper.
While neighbors turn their heads away—just daring death.

No masks—no shots—the death toll just keeps rising, so
these men know, there’s no point to try despairing death.

They make their peace in any soil that they find.
And know there is no stake in us foreswearing death.

The ten old men (begin to chant) their Kaddish now.
Lament to face a stern and quite uncaring death.

They sing to all the things that we are losing now.
A song of faith that brings us to unerring death.

The old men call to bees— and to the buffalo.
They chant (for all the things) that will be wearing death.

The content of old men’s hearts—inform their prayers.
They try to guard themselves from known impending death.

They wish for all, and pray for each, escape from death.
Pray—(add my name) to chanting for lamenting death.

(Rick Christiansen is a former corporate executive, stand-up comedian, actor, and director. His work is published or forthcoming in As It Ought to Be Magazine, MacQueen’sQuinterly, Muddy River Poetry Review, Oddball Magazine, Stone Poetry Journal and WINK Magazine, among others. He lives in Missouri near his eight grandchildren.)