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Poetry Night: 3 of 3

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

too mythic,

In You I am a

small blue miracle.

I sit counting syllables like Midas gold.

In You

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].

Poetry Night: 2 of 3

The Work of Memory – A Cento

synchronicity, twisting
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
the creator,
the lion-hearted.

Unraveling language is a redemptive liminal space.

You are being continually
tattooed, inked

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].

Sale on Poetry book

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). 

poetry book

Playing with Words

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.

Mani I



Mani II





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.]

Poetry book for sale

I’m putting out a small chapbook of Nine Centos for Odin. Folks can order it directly from me at krasskova at, or I’ll shortly have it up on etsy. This is a limited run.

poetry book

Cento VIII

Torn fire glares,
the barest rune of ruin
on a stretched out throat –
No loss is token,
this charade of not-death.
All of me is ancestor.
Let us resurrect!
Let us resurrect
free now to move forward.
We cannot live on cold blood alone.

Ancient, iron-grey King of Glory,
King of warriors:
without Him I scarcely breathe.
I offered Him all that I am.
All fire passes through me.
Brutality blossoms into something beautiful.
Light wolves and dark wolves howled through the day,
Taking in the storm,
Doing holy things to the ordinary.
There is a holiness to exhaustion.

My own mouth is dreamed to thirst the long desire-ways;
now barefoot I tread on shards,
so mastered by the brute blood of the air
and madness, madness,
the space of a sigh.

I carry Your heart with me.
I am never without it,
Heroically lost, heroically found.
I have lived in the midst of Gods.
I am content.
I am content.

I am proof of the power of the Gods.


cave painting hand

[With respect to Monica Youn, Brenda Shaughnessy, Louise Bogan, Annie Finch, Kay Ryan, Ezra Pound, Beowulf/Seamus Heaney, Mirabai, Cecilia Llompart, Geffrey Davis, Alma Luz Villanueva, Elizabeth Willis, Pamela Spiro Wagner, Carrie Fountain, Natalie Diaz, Vera Pavlova, W.B. Yeats, Angelina Weld Grimke, e.e. cummings, W.B. Yeats, Book of the Coming forth by day/Normandi Ellis.]

Cento VII

We harden like trees, like rivers grow cold.
I roamed with my soul.
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Not a whisper, not a thought,
The divine intoxication…
Can you love something distant and strange?
I would empty my soul of the dreams
That have gathered in me.

He spoke; He reached out:
“Every part of you that broke
I carried in my throat.”
Break me broken.
Leaves like feast-day offerings
Wind an altar,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between,
With voices sad and prophetic.
I’m here with shadows.
Over those fires no one could walk.

It came to me we had resumed.
What was written in blood has been set up again,
Half deathless, half mortal,
Crown’d with warlike fires and raging desires.
You will follow the bare scarified breast.
It is noble to die of love,
And honorable to remain.
Some dull cowardice called a world vanishes.
Into the ragged meadow of my soul
Like a diamond
The nectar of the divine name,
The scar of this encounter like a sword —
Like a sword be without a trace of soft iron.
That is how You came here.

I too can go into a grave made only of air.
I celebrate our old, eternal custom.
Passion has brought me to this clearing of the ground.
The name of the Dark One has entered my heart.
This roaming killer came in a fury.
Dreams! Adorations! Illuminations!
I boil my tears in a twisted spoon,
Trembling with fear.
Oh sweet cautery,
I abandoned and forgot myself,
where the desires of two come together.
I am Your reflection.
You are Master of the Hunt.

Our backs gleam
Shards in a tender torrent.
A fight is a kind of dance,
Beautiful rebellion
Of bat-shit particles meant to scatter.
Our deaths keep us company
when nothing else would.
We hurt.
I surrender
I surrender
I surrender.
Worlds collapsing.
You are Master of the Hunt.


[With respect to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, E. A. Poe, George Herbert, W.H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, Cait Johnson, Sara Teasdale, Ada Gold, Vergil/S. Lombardo, Joshua Davis, Marilyn Hacker, Elizabeth Akers Allen, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Agha Shahid Ali, Elizabeth Bishop, James Fenton, Catherine Tufariello, William Blake, Louise Glűck, Ezra Pound, e.e. Cummings, Mirabai, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rumi, Reginald Gibbons, Euripides, Wendell Berry, Beowulf/Seamus Heaney, Allen Ginsburg, Etheridge Knight, St. John of the Cross, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Monica Ong, Cathy Linh Che, urayoan noel, Douglas Kearney, Sampson Starkweather].

Cento VI

There is no armour against fate.
You are near me once more,
A corpse with streaming hair,
A graveyard shudder,
Dread, unwearable fire.
His shadow falls on mine.
Nought stands but the valiant heart to face pain.
There is no armour against fate.

Scarlet banners rush through the sadness of maples.
In the dusk of eternity meet,
Gaunt the shadow,
Disciplined in the school of hard campaigning,
Discovered new and strange.
There is no armour against fate.

A mightier pain nourishes this hot flame of the spirit.
The butcher-bird sings,
Doom is sealed in gold and blood,
Caught in the snare of the bleeding air.
There is a war between the mind and sky,
Such tasty honey oozing from the heart.
I am afraid to lose you.
There is no armour against fate.

Last night like moths burned on the moon,
The whole sky turned too hot.
Courage was mine and I had mystery.
First war resembles a beautiful mouth,
On the sacred, dolorous way.
Soldiers never do die well.
Hide that red wet –
Of ancient glory sweetly told.
All the dead kings came to me.
There is no armour against fate.

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon.
I hear the great drums pounding:
Death’s red sickle is reaping tonight.
I bled for You.
Conferring crimson shades
Set dead lips to talking.
Victor and vanquished are a-one.
When the burning moment breaks,
There is music in the midst of desolation.
There is no armour against fate.

A storm stopped on the place of tombs.
Somber the night is.
Good fury He may feel
Hallows a phantom ground,
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
The darkness crumbles away
What heart aghast
Helpless among the living and the dead.
Its silence I hear and obey.
It will be spoken of among half-forgotten,
Whished-to-be forgotten things:
There is no armour against fate.


[With respect to James Shirley, Guillaume Apollinaire/A. Hyde Greet, Edwin Muir, Georg Trakl/John Hollander, Homer/Tennyson,7th C. Arabic anonymous/Charles Lyall, Francis Miles Finch, Herman Melville, Horace, Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Charles Causley, Wallace Stevens, Robert Graves, Yvor Winters, Richard Wilbur, Keith Doublas, Wilfred Owen, Shmuel Ha-Nagid/Peter Cole, May Sinclair, John Cornford, Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, Ivor Gurney, Francis Ledwidge, Edward Thomas, Walt Whitman, Mark R. Slaughter, Robert William Service, Alice Corbin, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Julian Grenfell, Robert Laurence Binyon, G.K. Chesterton, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Henry Newbolt.]

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.



[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.]

Cento IV

Love has stained my body,
the holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
A terrible beauty is born.
Too long a sacrifice can make a stone
of the heart.

Oh Gods, if I have kept faith, please grant me this:
Purge Your spirits of slow reluctance.
The black cobra of love burns,
Ash for the cruel and merciful wind,
Who never lets go out
the procession’s sacred torch.

His words like a storm wind can bring terror
with a mercy that outrides
Glow Glory in Thunder —
You have come to be entirely a feeling for me.
Love shakes my heart,
Dreamslender exquisite white firstful flame.
That’s how people burn to death.
This blood has turned to dust.

Who even dead, yet hath his mind entire?
A broken bundle of mirrors
first must thou go the road to hell.
Like a small beast shaken from the moon,
Everything seems too large,
as red as terror and as green as fate.
Be on your mettle now!

Wait for the wounded to scream themselves to death.
Wonderful relic, all that’s left us of deserted greatness.
I saw battle corpses, myriads of them,
a conversation of 500 years.
Pay we our vows and go
with words imposing on my tongue.
Outside a May god moves His paws to alter wind.
He will return,
bringing me asphodel and a dark feather.

Redeemer of outcasts!
You reveal Yourself age after age;
and as one sees most fearful things,
You must know who I am, my Love.
Rock ribbed and ancient as the sun,
to the tally of my soul,
O sane and sacred Death.
Make for our searching: yes, in spite of all
Bear the brunt,
and the elements’ rage.
Your mouth’s a hook.
All this subdues me utterly,
a verdict wholly in our favor.



[With respect to Mirabai, Wallace Stevens, William Butler Yeats, Catullus, Michelangelo, Constantine Cavafy, Emerson, Sappho, Gerard Manley Hopkins, e.e. cummings, Tennessee Williams, Wendell Berry, Ezra Pound, Beowulf/Seamus Heaney, Ntozake Shange, Dionysios Solomos/Rachel Hadas, Marianne Moore, Robert Herrick, Seamus Heaney, Michael Ondaatje, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mary Karr, Oscar Wilde, William Cullant Bryant, Walt Whitman, John Keats, Robert Browning, Makedoios Hypatos/George Economou, Paulus Silentiarius/Edmund Keeley, Aeschylus/Aaron Poochigian].