Cento V

The mysteries are not for the unbeliever.
We destroy the paths of rivers to make room for the sea.
This dancing took many deaths.
My ecstasies changed to an ugly cry,
and the loss of things desired.
We hushed the ancient glory.
Fear is a house gone dry.
The violent space cries silently.

He led me trembling cold into the dark forest,
Taught me the secret rites—
a cautionary tale for whoever knows how
to read the clues.
What we used to be is gone.
Shadows grew in my veins.
The blackness rose before me like a wall,
Wound infected to the bone.
This is the barrenness
Of harvest or pestilence.

The scavenger crow knows.
Make them dead white and dry bone bare.
You have to fight magic with magic –
Marry a monster.
The first slaughter is for victory,
But the second slaughter is for grief.
To Him my other life.
I am broken at last,
Grown colorless
with razorblade eyes.
This is what it means to die amongst barbarians.

I once lost track of the medicine I held so blithely,
after I died forever in the river.
The battle is there, the inevitability of it all.
Shadow of darkness over the enemy field,
This hunger bewilders me.
There are grotesques who shine a dark light that lures us,
like how the sirens tried to lure Odysseus.
Night, like dead water, sows together
The tattered contours of the past.
The dark God broke out of the earth,
A ghoulish guard of love.

I accept this covenant, this way of life as true.
I prayed under His cloak
A voice from the distant past, an evocation,
(the sweet honey of the old cadence,)
In the hour of its agony, render;
one scarlet flower is cast on the blanch-white stone.
(their ten years’ war had ended.
It was an adventure much could be made of.)
Good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument.
I wasn’t myself in a kingdom of unnamed animals and totem trees
But never wished to unsay my vows.
Violence stands like a blaze at our doors.

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[With respect to Euripides, Robin Robertson, Adam Clay, Daniel Schoonebeek, Siegfried Sassoon, Leah Umansky, Etheridge Knight, Anthony Madrid, Ciaran Carson, Muriel Rukeyser, Tom Sleigh, Carolyn Kizer, Louise Glück, Fiona Sampson, A.E. Stallings, Lucia Perillo, H.D., Seamus Heaney, Barbara Jane Reyes, Solmaz Sharif, `David Perry, Lia Hunter, Matthew Sweeney, Traci Brimhall, Grigori Dashevsky, Jennifer Moxley, Stephane Mallarme, Ezra Pound, James Doyle, Brian Culhane, Mark Strand, Czeslaw Milosz, Yusuf Komunyakas.]

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Posted on March 24, 2016, in Odin, Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ugh. Beautiful, but somehow bittersweet. Sounds like a warrior recalling a battle that was doomed from the start, but they’d still do it all the same given the chance to do it again. Maybe my interpretation is too pessimistic.

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  2. Reblogged this on Happy souls in Hell (enjoying mental difficulties) and commented:
    Well wrought.

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