red berries covered in frost
Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

Persephone in January: A Chant Royal by LindaAnn LoSchiavo


It's basic January's thirty-one.

The winter air grows bald without that touch

Of holy, bold-brimmed harvests overrun.

Gold apples underground have gone. So much

Once sweet has turned acidic, black, or bare.

Honed branches aim for birds quick in pale air

That seems fresh seeded with defeats possessed,

A storm of chords now rocking trees undressed.

Surprised by sudden chill, forget-me-nots

Desert those once loved, a Ceres now distressed

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


In January, Dis thinks he has won.

Infernal Hades's harvesters so much

Exceeded expectations seers spun

For pomegranates underground. As such

Diversions of desire share his stare,

His throne-mate, pale Persephone compares

This red fruit, scrotal plump, intent unblessed,

With orchards fruited up above, suppressed

Because her mother wept, planned not, forgot

Old love untutored by a loss, depressed

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


Past January, fasting lasts, begun

The day Dis kidnapped Ceres's daughter, clutched

Persephone, unwilling, from her sun,

Her mother's surplus grace, her world re-touched

With shades of gray. No place to love in there.

It's carne vale, farewell to flesh, she swears,

Intending slow starvation's comfortless

Protection. Thin as a shade, she fades, digests

Nothing that's Hades-grown...except this blot:

Six pomegranate seeds bled "no" to "yes"

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


It's January still though June is done.

Spring's miracles have slipped. Earth needs her crutch:

The structured touch of Ceres spinning sun's

Contentment into healing greens. With much

On his agenda, Zeus thinks she's unfair

To gods and men, sad Ceres. He declares

Some compromise is due now nonetheless.

"Return Persephone!" he orders Dis.

But pomegranate pips sweet six allot

To a husband—a mother, too. Three win much less

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


The earth grows things unlike itself, outdone

By Ceres, making matches, shades touched up

On flowers partnered with her hopes full sunned,

Unlooked for love on their home soil, dew-kissed luck.

Persephone plies arteries aware

Of sub-plots titled root and stem, her heirs,

That legacy of marrying success

Between what's light and dark, spliced East and West.

Each phoenix can embrace forget-me-nots'

Returning blaze. Joy's whys are repossessed

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


Love fortified can multiply redressed.

Belligerent with light, a Persephone

Remembers darkness, too, deserves a shot.

New things to love arrive although accessed

By death's familiar turnings of a plot.


Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo, a Pushcart Prize and Rhysling Award nominee, is a member of SFPA and The Dramatists Guild. Elgin Award winner "A Route Obscure and Lonely" and "Concupiscent Consumption" are her latest poetry titles. Forthcoming books: a chapbook by Cerasus Poetry and a full-length collection by Beacon Books. She has been leading a poetry critique group for two years. Her Texas Guinan documentary won "Best Feature Documentary" at N.Y. Women's Film Fest (Dec. 2021).

LinkTree links:

Link to another poem on Persephone, read aloud on YouTube:

Author's note

Why Persephone? Since Carmina is a journal of writing inspired by myths, I focused my Chant Royal “In January” on the agricultural myth that explains nature’s balance between six seasons of growth (due to Ceres) and six seasons of decay (due to Persephone’s abduction).

Persephone stands out in male-oriented mythology, where unfortunate events often befall vulnerable females (e.g., Daphne becoming a tree or Leda assaulted by a swan-Zeus) whose storyline fizzles before Act II. Typically, damsel-in-distress myths are all “inciting incident” and no follow-up.

In contrast, the daughter of Ceres goes through a traumatic transformation that empowers her. She begins as “Kore” (i.e., maiden), a virginal unpaid assistant to her Mom. After her uncle kidnaps her, she takes on a new name, Persephone. Homer styles her as “dread Persephone,” the throne-mate to the King of the Underworld. As a realm ruler, she assumes formidable powers: aiding men damned by the gods, dispatching beasts to kill an enemy, turning a boastful nymph into a plant, helping souls adjust to Hades. Moreover, she retains her duality as a goddess on Earth as well as the lower precincts, one of the few who can exist in both realms.

painting of persephone
Persephone illustration by Leslie M. Troisi. Reproduced with permission.