Turning Over the Reins

Helios steers his sun chariot daily east to west across the cerulean sky.
His son Phaethon pleads to pilot alone his father’s majestic carriage.

Helios, wanting to protect his son, warns that not even Zeus,
the supreme god and protector of humankind, would dare to drive it,
as the chariot is fiery hot and the horses breathe out flames.
But Phaethon is adamant and Helios reluctantly hands him the reins.

Phaethon gives a quick snap to the restraints and the immortal steeds
lunge forward, obediently continuing their solar orbit.

But Phaethon cannot restrain the power of his father’s horses,
plunging the chariot and rider toward earth.

Zeus, sensing the danger, hurls a thunderbolt, slaying Phaethon,
saving earth, and preserving the fiery carriage to continue
its unalterable journey across the sky.

Like Helios, I tried to protect my son from hazarding himself
in the world, fearing cosmic forces would plunge him to earth.

But unlike Phaethon, he harnessed the power of his impulsiveness,
now coursing his own orbit, bringing joy to his father’s heart.

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After closing his practice of 35 years in 2011 as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and with the publication of his first collection of poems, “A Heart on Fire, Poems from the Flames,” in 2014, David C. Weiss has been devoted to writing poetry and leading workshops for new poets. He is on the faculty of OLLI College at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting instructor of poetry at Sera Jhy Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in South India. David plays the “shakuhachi,” a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute used by monks of the “Fuke” school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of “suizen” (blowing meditation). He earned his Master of Theology and Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology degrees from Boston University. You can follow David on his website.

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