Monday, December 02, 2019

The windy-wail


On the bitter wind of the bleak north
Rides the windy-wail, the air's own skeleton
The ghosts of all the birds whose wings froze stiff
And fell to earth as hail-sparrows, storm-chickens.

In the bitter hours of winter it comes forth
Demon of the ice host, wicked weather's son
The daughter of the glacier, the coldest riff
The windy-wail, it sounds as the storm thickens.

Blow's death, chills life, the windy-wail is frost
Firethief, wings of crystal-air ringing,
Colourless ice rainbows, halo it,
It is wind thin, wind visible, it stings.

It freezes joy, into the bones it settles most,
Dulls love, throttles fervor, ends singing.
Under doors through sashes, swallow-fit
Bone-bird the windy-wails' mistings.

Dreaming Spell

I did not find it deep in hallowed ground
But found it in the surface forest loam.
I stumbled on its sharpness, felt the edge,
That still was honed to wetstone severance.
Untouched by time, a wedge of ancient bone.
It had been made a thousand years before
Or even more, ten thousand years maybe.
Its surface bore the scratched deep marks
That might be runes or other antique signs.

And placing it beneath my pillow I, made
little rhymes to see what I might spy.

Old tool, cold tool,
Bone formed thing
Found in the forest loam
Bring dreams into my home
So they may sing.

Old stone, cold stone,
Ancient edged flint
Found neath the barrow
Give dreams by the morrow
And do not stint.

Old axe, cold axe
Meet to my fist
Found neath the earth
Give dreams without dearth
I will not resist.

Old soul, cold soul
That once spilled blood
Found neath the sacred ground
Give dreams as stars go round
Evil or good.

Take me, make me
All I have been
Free from the silt of me
The ancient ecstasy
The roots of green.

Break me, remake me
Age upon age
Whirl round the wheel of night
Dreams on my soul alight
Muse fill my page.









Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Devil's Kitchen Garden


They crept up from the graves on the east side
Beyond the plot of consecrated land
Such briars, unkempt, and heavy still abide
Untrimmed, uncared for, neither sown nor planned.
Beyond the plot of consecrated land
The village suffered the odd folk be laid
Untrimmed, uncared for, neither sown nor planned
Their lives were wild, their deaths too were not staid.
The village suffered the odd folk be laid
To rest in chains, or with a certain mark
Their lives were wild, their deaths too were not staid
Some had been staked, and all lay deep and dark
To rest in chains, or with a certain mark.
Who gathered brambles from the cursed plot?
Some had been staked, and all lay deep and dark
Wolfsbane lay on some breasts, and should it not?
Who gathered brambles from the cursed plot?
And was not cursed, as they were cursed therein?
Wolfsbane lay on some breasts, and should it not?
For none from hence were wanted back a'gi'n.
And was not cursed, as they were cursed therein
The first son sired by Cain, all Lilith's brood?
For none from hence are wanted back a'gi'n
Let them rest dark between Churchyard and wood.
The first son sired by Cain, all Lilith's brood
Those who to meet by night at the stones went
Let them rest dark between Churchyard and wood
Their ashes feed the mulch, their bones are pent
Those who to meet by night at the stones went
Let them sleep damned 'til Armageddon's passed
Their ashes feed the mulch, their bones are pent
'Til in that Lake of fire all such are cast
Where Satan writhes in agonies at last
Such briars, unkempt, and heavy still abide
'Til in that Lake of fire all such are cast
They creep up from the graves on the east side

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Four Keys

I had four keys made of moonlight
The first unlocked the doors of night
The second, the vaults of the moon
The third, the flower that's yet to bloom
Oh but the fourth key that I lost
Is the one that I cared for most

I had a key made of moonlight
It did not lock the doors of night
Nor yet, the vaults beneath the moon
It could not raise the time-lost bloom
It was the key that wound your heart
Since I lost that we now must part.

For you are colder than moonlight
More sealed to me than doors of night
Austere as vaults empty of air
For flowers unborn, you have no care
Away you pushed me, so I fell
I think the fourth key lies in Hell.

Some devil whispers, "Forged anew
A fifth key will the love renew."
But I must face the certainty,
Your heart is closed, at least to me.
And mine lies underneath your feet,
Such keys can not be counterfeit.



Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Raven Dream


I dreamt I called on Baron Corvus
In his sleek black evening dress
Slighter of build than his crow soldiers
At home in his Castle Nest
In his sleek black evening dress
Where his brightest eyes agleam
At home in his Castle Nest
Pick the diamonds from a dream
Where his brightest eyes agleam
Misted o'er with prophesy
Pick the diamonds from a dream
In the Courts of Treachery
Misted o'er with prophesy
Each enacted with a jest
In the Courts of Treachery
Unkindness teaches what is best
Each enacted with a jest
As a fool dreams he's a priest
Unkindness teaches what is best
What constrained and what released
As a fool dreams he's a priest
Cawing with a raven's croak
What constrained and what released
From the feather darkened cloak
Cawing with a raven's croak
That anyone may yet be Pope
From the feather darkened cloak
Comes the studied blasphemy
That anyone may yet be Pope
In the Nightmare reliquary
Comes the studied blasphemy
And bird's bones may be sold as saints'
Where merchandise the churchyard taints
Slighter of build than his crow soldiers
(And bird's bones may be sold as saints')
I dreamt I called on Baron Corvus...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pantoum of the Hanged Man



The hanged man, waited on the gallows tree
His lolling head slumped broken o'er the noose
His eyes - bird pecked - left sockets emptily
Open to rain by bitter wind shook loose
His lolling head slumped broken o'er the noose
Weathered to bone, in tatters, void of hair.
Open to rain by bitter wind shook loose
This bone-turned marionette that danced on air
Weathered to bone, in tatters, void of hair.
The caliban thief to brother ariel
This bone-turned marionette that danced on air
Came not to cut him down for wholesome burial
The caliban thief to brother ariel
Earthy with all the needs of mortal lands
Came not to cut him down for wholesome burial
But from each wrist to cut the murderer's hands
Earthy with all the needs of mortal lands
His brother would make magic for his crimes
But from each wrist to cut the murderer's hands
Is harder than he thought, the tree he climbs
His brother would make magic for his crimes
To gain the hand of glory of dead bone
Is harder than he thought, the tree he climbs
His heart he first had hardened like a stone
To gain the hand of glory of dead bone
To make the candle-fat from brother's thigh
His heart he first had hardened like a stone
To betray his own kin and let him hang and die
To make the candle-fat from brother's thigh
And round his neck to wind the rope begins
To betray his own kin and let him hang and die
The smiling eyeless face behind him grins
And round his neck to wind the rope begins
His eyes - bird pecked - left sockets emptily
The smiling eyeless face behind him grins
The hanged men waited on the gallows tree

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Face

The face was woven high up in a tree
From strands of straw orange against the brown
Had it been hoisted up for us to see?
The suns it had for eyes were beaming down
Its cheeks were broad as pumpkins plump and round.
From strands of straw orange against the brown
Woven in place or raised up from the ground,
It had been formed as naturally as a gaul.
Its cheeks were broad as pumpkins plump and round.
Its nose hung like a woven gourd or ball
A single woven flower from forehead bloomed
It had been formed as naturally as a gaul.
Its smirk and gaze out of the treeline loomed
The woven goatee twisting to the right
A single woven flower from forehead bloomed
We saw it in the golden autumn light
The face was woven high up in a tree
The woven goatee twisting to the right
Had it been hoisted up for us to see?

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Yersinia Pesta


There  was an old woman wrapped up in a shawl
(When the wind blew long, and the thin rains did fall)
If she had a broom it could carry many men.
(So pray that she stays o'er the border in Sweden)

There was an old woman whose head-scarf was black
(When the lightning flashed and the thunder did crack)
There was an old woman whose name was Yersinia
{So pray that she stays in the village of Kongsvinger)

There was an old woman whose name was Yersinia
(When the rats swarmed in Oslo men said that they'd seen her.)
She bore there her rake, so some people were spared
(In Asker and Drammen they prayed when they heard.)

There was an old woman and where er she treads
(Then the people start coughing and take to their beds).
With broom or with rake she will winnow their pain
(Oh, pray that she comes not south here to Skien!)



Trans from trad Norwegian:

Det var en gammel kvinne pakket inn i et sjal
(Når vinden blåste lenge, og de tynne regnene falt)
Hvis hun hadde en kost, kunne den bære mange menn.
(Så ber at hun holder seg over grensen i Sverige)

Det var en gammel kvinne med hodeskjerf var svart
(Da lynet blinket og torden sprakk)
Det var en gammel kvinne som het Yersinia
{Så ber at hun blir i landsbyen Kongsvinger)

Det var en gammel kvinne som het Yersinia
(Da rottene svermet i Oslo sa menn at de hadde sett henne.)
Hun bar der sin rake, så noen mennesker ble skånet
(I Asker og Drammen ba de da de hørte det.)

Det var en gammel kvinne og hvor hun trår
(Så begynner folket å hoste og ta seg til sengene sine).
Med kvast eller med rake vil hun vinne smertene deres
(Å, be om at hun ikke kommer sørover hit til Skien!)

The Wolf Woods


The firs and fur are the same black
Against the snow line.
Three bushes detach their roots
And blind eyes spring into being,
Leaves folding into ears aquiver.
Teeth the colour of stripped wood under bark.

The orphans in the snow have half turned back
Do they see wolves or only bushy outlines
Spiked hair or pine needle shoots?
Something to fear, something they should be fleeing,
Or trees with murmuring leaves beside a frozen river?
Is that the wind, or the first howl, oh hark!

The choice will be made by the forming pack,
The choice is always theirs, not yours nor mine.
Nature it is that watches our disputes
Weighs up our tastiness within its seeing,
We do not even choose what makes us shiver.
We can not see the wolves within the dark.




Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A Slight Slip Of The Tongue


Hello is that the spell-caster's helpline
I really think it would be quite divine
If you could help  me out of my distress
A tiny error has caused quite a mess
I wanted to transform myself into a poet
(I thought I had no talent then and now I know it).
I gathered all the bits and pieces needed
The length of Longfellow, by no yawns, impeded
The gruesomeness of Poe, of Browing love,
From Shelley nightingales' wings, Wilde a glove,
From Wordsworth, a verdant wood's impulse
And many other things both new and used.
But oh, the nightmare from a slip of diction
My tongue in saying "AXALOXYPHUS" lost friction
Slipped and said "AXALOTOPLPHUS" and on to me
Fell the dread curse of ironical metonymy.
Not transformed into a poet I, but by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggeral
I found myself this self-same piece of Doggeral,
Doomed to live out my life in 20 lines,
With many awful forced and half-done rhymes.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

What is a witch?


The woman mused
"Well King James has said
in the Second Book of his Daemologie
That a witch is a detestable slave of Devil.
Do you find me detestable, Sirrah?"

The man, King James had sent, looked quite amused
to find this beauteous goodwife was well-read.
He'd looked to find no fine philosophy
Among these uncouth folk that some thought evil,
Upon the lonely windswept Isle of Bharraigh

"Your Piratical MacNeil's must come to court
So Roy the Turbulent can make his peace at last
King James 1st of England has no mind, to wink
At sinking of the English ships, as once he had
When he was James the IVth."

"Am I the wife of Roy MacNeil, that I should bear him your thought
I the wise woman of these isles, these long years past
Here in this grotto on the shore, with but this spring to drink
You'll take a cup I trust, to make an ancient woman glad?
Before you set out once again to travel forth."

Ancient! He thought, sure she made mock in that
Who was so fine of skin, so blue of eye,
Had he been younger, less stiff in his age
He might have set to woo her, at a shot
Forgot the court, and settled there to die.

"The King is wrong to say we are slaves, that
Is but the word men use for women spry
Enough to avoid husbands or the church's rage
To be a witch is to hear spoken, what
No voice of Man nor Woman speaks, and to reply."