Before Babylon was synonymous
with sin, what she sold was holy,
the closest we got to paradise
when the dead went nowhere but down,
jealous of ritual meals and scant libations.

Now, she paints her mouth
redder than nightshade,
sweet poison.
For $40, she’ll siphon bitterness
from seed, and take it
unplanted to her belly
and call it sustenance
because, like what’s dead
she is always hungry.

There is no temple here,
in this city that soils
what was sacred.
When heaven
had its queen,
sex was worship;
a divine marriage
returning Spring
to the desert,

Go ahead,
call her a whore.
Where she comes from,
that used to be
the highest compliment.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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81 Responses to Inana

  1. Mary says:

    A thought-provoking poem here, Susan. Interesting that at one time to be called a whore was the greatest compliment and what was sold was holy. (THAT I had not realized about Babylon, just knew it was an evil city. I wonder if it could be compared to some of the Asian cities today which are destinations for ‘sex tourism’!

    • Hmm, interesting point, but not exactly the same as sexual tourism. The people of Uruk, which was under the rubble of Nineveh, believed that when they died that was it–they stayed underground, cold and lonely. Sexuality was their one way of connecting to the divine as they saw it–so temple prostitutes were honored and respected by their service to the goddess (that is at least according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, as precious little remains from that time). Love that story and mythology, although the recovering baptist I am knows exactly how the God of the Hebrews felt about them… Hah… I think we all know.

      • Mary says:

        Thank you for that additional information, Susan. I had not realized about the temple prostitutes of Uruk. I should read the Epic of Gilgamesh, I suppose. Yes, for sure, the God of the Hebrews would not have approved!!!!

  2. That second stanza is killer.

  3. oh my god, i love every fucking line of this masterpiece, hungry like the dead and compliments. YES!!!!

  4. claudia says:

    temple prostitution…wow…you chose not an easy topic but you mastered it with bravour… what a thought provoking write susan

  5. brian miller says:

    For $40, she’ll siphon bitterness
    from seed, and take it
    unplanted to her belly
    and call it sustenance….dang…what a vivid and intense descriptor…that used to be the highest compliment…dang…wicked close…really well done susan

  6. Wow…brilliant…the mythic and the modern, the changing in cultural imperatives…everything, brilliantly portrayed here..a great tribute to this goddess…wow. 🙂

  7. Sometimes you gotta do what you’ve gotta do to survive… excellent choice for the prompt and so well done!

  8. Great lines here. Not to familiar with the story behind, but works great anyway

  9. This, what you describe, is the problem with altruism. It is a challenge to Christianity today. According to some Bible translations Moses condemned it (see an example here). But the thing is not thoroughly discussed in the Bible.

  10. tinkwelborn says:

    I like it. stark, bare, and gutsy dare-you.
    the poem has ‘balls.’ and the story is nice to be reminded of.
    nice rhythm here, too. but the end stanza, sinks the poem.
    good job.

  11. Alice Keys says:

    I’m glad the muse got you to write this. Good one.

  12. Rowan Taw says:

    It’s how we continue the cycle of life, so it’s understandable that sex should be seen as sacred and life empowering. I think I’m going to have to read the story, given how your poem has engaged me.

  13. zongrik says:

    for $40 she’ll siphon bitterness —- ooooooo —- Good ONE!!!

    Cinderella Limerick

  14. Grace says:

    An interesting tale, I learn something new today ~ Good one Susan ~

  15. I never understood the commonly used reference “The whore of Babylon” used by Protestants to describe Catholicism. Now I do. Very informative and interesting poem.

  16. ManicDdaily says:

    A fascinating poem; well done. k.

  17. This is informative and reflective – and your use of language makes it sing.

  18. nelle says:

    This, I can feel, and somehow identify.

  19. Wow! What a masterful poem. Beautifull.

  20. A real tour de femme force. Echoes of Gilgamesh, the fertile crescent, and the birthplace of written language. Bravissimo!

    • Thank you, Paul. This is the second of my poems inspired by EOG. The first is linked to higher up in these comments, if you want to read it (in the conversation with Shrinks). So glad you liked this!

  21. The enigma of the Babylonian whore – mistress to divine cravings – is beautifully described in your poem! Now I wonder about the “other side” of the Roman vestal virgins???

  22. Sabio Lantz says:

    i see you thought of a topic

  23. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …look how one once a holy offering became a dirty act of evil as time passed by… you had me with the last two stanzas Susan… this is an excellent write & i think one of my favorites so far… smiles… happy easter…

  24. This speaks volumes! Nicely done, Susan.

  25. aka_andrea says:

    like what’s dead
    she is always hungry.

    there is such an ache here a longing for something pure. great write.

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  27. Tony Maude says:

    So basically, in making everything in contemporary society about buying and selling and sex, we’re just returning to the roots of civilisation? Strong writing, Susan; the second stanza is particularly punchy.

    • Tony, thank you. Yes,we are returning to our roots but you also have to add prayer/worship in association with that sex to that list too 😉

      Happy Easter.

  28. mobius faith says:

    Oh this is wonderful Susan. Too often we understand things only as they are labeled not what they were before they were labeled (or libeled).

  29. Myrna says:

    Susan, you’re a master. Not only did you inform, but wrote this in such a beautiful way. I love so many of the lines here. Thanks for the explanation you gave to Mary.

  30. janehewey says:

    A brilliant piece, Susan. Your opening stanza feels incredibly strong and the imagery throughout is courageous and human… Siphon bitterness, no temple here, returning Spring to the dessert. great stuff!

  31. hypercryptical says:

    Superb write Susan. I must admit to have no knowledge of the Epic of Gilgamesh and will endevour to give it my attention soon.

    Anna :o]

  32. My goodness! This is beautiful. Blew me away, every line of it! Now, was $40 the going rate for…..(the strong catholic hesitates and hesitates)…..for ? just checking remembering inflation and the time value of money!
    This is poetry, this music, this is wow!

    • Noel, thank you so much! Hmmm. As I have never charged for anything, it was a number I made up 😉 But I imagine that is the going rate for something oral…

  33. Yes, Susan temple prostitution dates back to well the beginning. And yes what we are taught is very silent on this fact. But I dare say Christianity and Jesus stress on holy and purity. And there may be nothing holy or pure about prostitution, temple or otherwise, no matter how you look at it. But for pete’s sake any woman, me included would want to be labelled a whore in the bedroom 🙂

    That said, you’ve churned a masterpiece my beautiful wordsmith. 😉

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