Back in college I had carnal knowledge
of a woman who danced bare-breasted
and frenzied as a Bacchante, along with
her friends, to any music bad or good
while the men stood around, staring at the ground,
until pulled into the ring with the raving ones,
there to shuffle idly back and forth
unless they thought it would do them good
to join in the madness of the dance,
in which case they would prance on demand
and simulate convulsions without compulsion.
Me, I figured out after a while that a Maenad
goes for the frenzy and not so much for the
man at hand and so, standing apart
one night I noticed a nerdy girl, a
little zaftig, off to the side, not dancing, just
soaking it all in, taking the under on the bet
whether she should drink tonight
because tomorrow she might die.
And so I asked her to dance, and got her number
to the horror of the Bacchae who told me that
she wasn’t my type, she wasn’t one of the mad ones, the
bad ones, the creative ones; if you want to roar
like Dionysus the bull, you’ve got to spend
the coin of your talent in living,
like a sailor on shore leave,
they said, to which I replied it’s all well and good
to say that, you who follow the god of ecstasy and
madness but remember what happened to Pentheus.
What, they asked. He wanted to see the mad women,
I said. Dionysus disguised him as one and when
he was discovered, they tore him apart in their frenzy.
Moral: Shrinking violets aren’t carnivorous.