Category Archives: Poetry
(I”ve been meaning to share this since I returned from my OR retreat but somehow with everything that has been going on offline, it fell through the cracks.)
In the darkness of a northern shore
Your razor crescent gleaming bright above,
I reached up and You reached down
And my heart poured itself out into Your hands.
There were no questions.
There was no need for them.
With maenads milling behind,
And the wild ocean full of Gods,
Waves lapping, a wine bottle
Full of offerings clutched tightly
In my hands,
I fell into Your steady comfort,
Sweet velvet enclosure of Your Presence,
And the scars of my broken spirit
Hail to You, Mani
And all Your winding ways
That somehow always manage
To lead me safely home.
Keep the Mask On…
On the other side of space a star is exploding.
Your fire got under it’s skin:
expanding, transforming, destroying.
Your brothers reshape the dust of disintigrated worlds.
You are the keeper of all secrets of destruction,
Destroying in the name of creation,
You unlock all doors of change…
Is that why you talked me into dying my hair red, silly friend?
Millions of years ago, a dim ape grasped a torch
born from the bright serpent of the sky
crashing lustilly against your mother: the leafy one.
It changed the ape forever, it changed you forever.
You opened his eyes, he made the ancient giant a god.
You are the enemy of ignorance,
You are the light of gnosis,
Burning bright within our skulls…
But what I really want to know is, what’s your favorite icecream?
As we walk unremittingly to your daughter’s door
ou fill us with the mad fire of life.
Every aching minute savored,
Every pleassure experienced,
Every risk taken,
Madly laughing all the way to the grave
Because anything less is a waste of time.
Your joy is wild, manic, terrible, wonderful…
So do you want to play Skyrim with me?
The chaos of revolution is your breeding ground,
Your spirit thrives in the fire and gunshots.
You give power to the the voice that has been silenced,
You shine light on our shadows of lies and corruption.
For good or for ill, transformation for its own sake.
Exposing every hypocricy,
Laying us bare before our harshest judges:
But I love it most when you tell me I’m right.
Loki, of course I know that you are all these things and more…
But it’s easier to love you when you’re wearing my favorite mask.
When they paint their nails
And gush about how sweet He is
And how He looks like that movie star
(you know the one)
how He soothes their egos
what pretty little snowflakes they are
that He stood with His brothers in that gasping gap
and slaughtered his own ancestor,
a sleeping giant who never did harm to anyone
(never did any good either, or so I’m told).
(tumblr makes forgetting easy)
that this is a God who rolled up His sleeves
whet the point of His spear,
took an ax
with forty whacks,
helped hack old Ymir up.
He split that oafish bastard’s skull
And sucked the marrow from His bones
and went about the bloody work
of making the worlds run.
When He was done,
He licked that ancestral blood from his lips
With a hearty smack.
People forget that.
They forget to Whom He is bound–
One –Eye bloods Himself for no one…
Save One as ruthless as He.
But Loki is pretty
And can be tender
And seduction is …
an entertaining pastime.
Gods wear masks.
It’s only when They remove them
That true devotion starts.
In terror and blood
In awe and trembling
Ecstasy is a crawling spider
Pouring wyrd from its ass
With glittering emerald eyes.
Tattered mask held in its claws.
Glamour is a game
Especially for this God
This Poison Eater
And one day
He might just show you
All those things You forgot
While buying tickets
To the next Marvel show
Or Spielberg wonder,
And gushing over
How beautiful He is.
Beauty is as beauty does
And Loki’s beauty
Is like a poisoned ax.
It glitters and cuts
And sears and burns
And through it all
I’d murder my own ancestor
To hear its cadence.
(but you won’t see me posting about it
He is so many things to me… words are weak in His presence and weak on this page as I struggle to shape them into something approximating His power.
He is a maw. That’s what started all of this, another poet calling Him a maw. And He is and we are ever being devoured in it. The whole initiation process into Him is a crushcrunching down between His predator’s jaws. It’s a good way to live, soaring within the storm. It sets a certain stage and we can run with that for now.
Endless shrieking hunger. Cold, calculating, yet searingly passionate in His focus. I hear it all the time, when He is near, that roaring in the brain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool
Or has not learned how to listen.
He sees farther than we can ever conceive. He sees us too and our potential.
I know what it is like to be hunted down like prey. I know what it is like to fight a killer but I don’t know what it is like to walk away. Some knowledge isn’t worth having.
A vicious, beautiful Bastard and I love Him for it and sometimes I hate Him too but I never, ever forget the stench of my own fear in the woods when that first Hunt began or when His corpse creaked high in the Tree above me. I’ll never forget how He treasures my viciousness either.
a frenzied ravening Beast who has learned to wear a pretty mask to court the ladies (and some men too). He is brutal and wondrous and the ironsharp tang of His presence a joy my heart can barely hold.
the sovereign Power that has drenched the earth in blood and glory, the wailing wisdom of poets, the shivering terror of bards, and the enchantments that hold it all together swallowed and spat about by His flock of charmed women with razor tongues.
The Force that will use those women up until they seek any crevice in this world to avoid seeing into His.
Ho, ho, ho,
Who, Who, Who
But a God who knows the secrets found only in madness would do that? Let’s see which of us will be the last one standing, oh my darlings. Go ahead. Run.
the Architect of Worlds who loves His people and the pristine symmetry of the cosmos and will spit us all on a spear to see that it does not burn.
While we bicker and scramble and piss away our charms where the grass is green and blood runs blackest in the streets, He snakes His way ahead to keep it all from curling back into the Gap.
Devastation. Another poet warned about things like this: “Love comes with a knife, not some shy question” and so it is and so it was and if I’m lucky, so it shall ever be.
He is the frenzy that drives me and His the calloused hands that pick me up when His work drives me to my knees and I kiss the ground in exhaustion. He is the frenzy that inspires me, and with Him at my side I have seen I have seen the birthing of worlds and wonder. He is a monstrous Glory and He is my Salvation.
It is enough that He is.
(I found this image here. If anyone knows the artist, please let me know and I will amend this asap)
There is a very shy man who occasionally comes into the gallery. He is interested in learning more about art but is very self-deprecating of his own experience and interests. He’ll hover in the background until it is only him and either me or my colleague in the shop and then ask all his questions and share his ideas and opinions on art, literature, music, film, etc. The conversations are always delightful and I do my best to be encouraging because it seems as though this is an entirely new world to him, so I do my best to encourage his bravery as he begins (and continues) to explore it. He is thoughtful and often quite insightful in his engagement with art. I enjoy our conversations.
Today I dropped by the shop and ran into him. He was just coming out and he mentioned that he’d bought a copy of my cento book. We talked about that for a bit and he had picked up some of the references to Greek epic in the poems, and he compared me to William Blake and Ezra Pound (which made me smile. I am a fan of both of these poets and that was quite a comparison) and then he said something that quite frankly made my week.
He had been assuring me that he was only scratching the surface, that he knew he wasn’t getting out of my centos what someone stepped in poetry would (and I was quick to say, that people respond to poetry based on their own experiences, that it speaks to each person differently). He finally paused and said, “I can only read a few lines and then I have to put it down and I carry those lines with me for days. It’s like…something’s burning and I think it’s my mind!”
I looked him right in the eye and said, “You understand my poetry perfectly.”
He told me that if he’d encountered my work in his twenties it would have destroyed his world, or set him on a totally different life path. He talked about books he’d read then: Hemingway, Joyce, Pound, etc. and how their work was like looking into a completely unique world, so incredibly different from his own and my work was like that too, that he’d read about people having these incredibly searing and intense experiences but it was like staring into a completely different universe from his own and then it struck me:
This is why purity is so important. This is why it’s so vitally crucial that we carefully choose what we read, what we watch, to what we expose ourselves (and it’s a choice we each have to make for ourselves, not one that should be dictated by any external authority). When we feed ourselves with words and art saturated with the Gods, it builds worlds in our minds. If we’re not careful, we can let in anything at all indiscriminately and that also builds worlds within our minds, polluted ones, rather than the worlds hospitable to our Gods and dead. These things matter and it’s an area that we alone control. What are we going to nourish in ourselves? What kind of landscape are we going to create within ourselves – one that nourishes the holy or one diametrically opposed to it? That is what religious purity is: creating worlds within ourselves hospitable to our Gods and spirits, and it’s important.
Odinic Treasure – a Cento
It is mountainous.
It is a bird of fire,
late at night, saluting an unforgiving song.
Rushing River of Presence,
make us crack
like leaves of laurel
the brightness of ash
that has flowed and cooled,
though in the core
of a star.
In You I am
In You I am a
small blue miracle.
I sit counting syllables like Midas gold.
my soul can sing.
[with respect to Kathleen Ossip, Mark Nepo, Ishion Hutchinson, Sidney Wade, Miguel Murphy, James Richardson, H. Jeremiah Lewis, and Etheridge Knight].
The Work of Memory – A Cento
together as if on
the space between death and resurrection,
at once blessed and beautiful,
naked as a word,
feverish with bees —
even silence found a tongue.
Today I remember
Unraveling language is a redemptive liminal space.
You are being continually
with the skulls of
you’ve ever loved.
The light bleeds from them
and it always will.
Hearts are made to be crushed.
[With respect to Maggie Dietz, Marilyn Hacker, John Clare, Julie Carr, James Richardson, May Sarton, Kevin Prufer, Nick Flynn, H. Jeremiah Lewis].
Eating out of Hallowed Hands
I wish that I could be mild.
I wish that my world could unfold around me,
like flowers reach joyfully toward the sun.
But I am made of iron not of light.
My ancestors ate stone.
I am fierce in defense of my scars
and sometimes that ferocity leaves no room for mercy.
I stand alone,
a living cenotaph in brutal tradition,
and the dead whisper in my skull
reminding me of the bodies left behind.
There is no quarter.
There is never any quarter…
until I am quartered
my drawn soul lying in pieces,
sweet meats for the greasy-lipped delectation
of my ragged band of spirits
and furious, hungry gods.
I am like bone bleached in the fury of the funeral pyre,
covered with ash.
I am no longer hollow
I’m running a mini-sale at my Etsy shop:
Purchase a copy of my new poetry chapbook “Nine for Odin” and receive a free prayer card of Odin, and a surprise free gift.
Just let me know which Odin prayer card you want, when you order. We have several: two by Wayne McMillan, one by Lynn Perkins, one by Grace Palmer, and one by Sam Flegal.
The poetry book is available here.
All money raised is going toward two new prayer cards (one for the Lithuanian Goddess of the Sun and the other for the Lithuanian God of the moon).
April is national poetry month and I just got back from giving a poetry reading and teaching a workshop at Riverwinds Gallery in Beacon, NY. I read from my new chapbook “Nine for Odin” and taught three forms of poetry: the cento, the word sonnet, and free verse. We had a lot of fun playing with words and I discovered that all my participants were damned fine poets in their own rights.
To encourage folks to write (and not just to write, but to do so in the middle of a workshop, with strangers around) I threw together a few word sonnets off the cuff as a demo. Since two of them are about Mani, our moon God, I wanted to share them here. A word sonnet is a form of poetry first developed in the 1980s. Unlike a traditional sonnet which has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter with a specific rhyming schema, word sonnets are fourteen word poems, wherein each word forms one of the traditional fourteen lines.
Since I also taught them how to write a cento, I whipped off one very brief one to demo that as well:
Rage, rage, let thy flames feed on me.
The earth is a mistake and a rifle butt.
You will fill the frail shell’s rooms
To a pyre’s golden blaze.
Dark night renders.
Deep in my soul there lies a treasure,
Like the roar of thunder after lightening.
It is the soul I fling.
It is the foul I fling,
Enthroned by storms,
With pleasure that shivers:
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.
[With respect to Andrew Bely/C. Bowra, Osip Mandelstam/R. Tracy and E. McKane, Marina Tsvetayeva/D. McDuff, Aleksandr Blok/J. Stallworthy and P. France, Aleksandr Pushkin/D.M. Thomas, Fyodor Tyutchev/C. Tomlinson, Velimir Khlebnikov/P. Schmidt, Catherine Tufariello, W. H. Auden.]