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 releaased
As a fool dreams he's a priest
Cawing with a raven's croak
What constrained and what releaased
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."


Monday, August 05, 2019

Snakeheart Charm


My heart has the heads of seven snakes
One for each sin.
They whisper their hisses in my chest
To tell me to begin.

Bind the heads of the snakes
With love and joy
That their whispers be stilled
'Er my hopes they destroy.

Close the mouth of the slow-worm
Sloth,
Close the mouth of the viper
False witness,
Close the mouth of the adder
Greed,
Close the mouth of the worm
Coverting the things of Earth,
Close the mouth of the Garter Snake
Envious of the Powerful
Close the mouth of the Lamia
Lust,
Close the mouth of the King Python
Pride.

Make my heart whole,
Bound in the Ouruboros.
And not a nest of serpents.

The Black Witch and the Red Babe

What shall I do now my baby has gone?

Pray to the black witch and she'll make you one.
Born from the blood pool that seeps in the tarn,
Bonny and strong, safe from all earthly harm.

What would it cost me, the baby so red?

Naught but a price ye can pay when you're dead.
Surely a mother would bear any pain,
To know her sweet suckling babe's touch again?

What if as they say, such a babe has no soul?

Why better for him, in this world - on the whole!
Naught wins in this world but inheriting power,
Blessed be the babe who is born at this hour!

What if the Angels should weep at his name?

Surely that speaks of his Pride and His Fame,
Noble the babe that comes out of the pit,
For at the Left Hand of the Hooved God he'll sit.

But what if when grown in His Power and His Pride
He forgets his poor mother and sets her aside?

No, sure as my hands are as black as sea-coal,
Such ingratitude takes a Christian soul.
No, sure as I shape this red babe to your need,
He will always remember where first he did feed.



Friday, August 02, 2019

The Four Brooms

Four brooms hang in the long old hall
Unclaimed since fire and plague both came
Their owners were hanged by the witch-finders and nothing else of them remains.

Malkin Macall was a wise old maid, who gave advice and salves to all,
They had no course to curse her name (and yet her broom is on the wall)
What proof of witchcraft more than women's brains.

Four brooms hang in the long old hall
Unclaimed since fire and plague both came
Their owners were hanged by the witch-finders and nothing else of them remains.

Frieda Farrow was a feisty lass, they said she caused young men to fall,
Forgetting that they chose the game (and her broom too is on the wall)
What proof of witchcraft more than drooling swains?

Four brooms hang in the long old hall
Unclaimed since fire and plague both came
Their owners were hanged by the witch-finders and nothing else of them remains.

Griselda Gray was a grim-faced grandam, but age may sour as apples gall,
Her tongue was sharp to assign blame (Small wonder hers is on the wall)
What proof of witchcraft more when gossip reigns?

Four brooms hang in the long old hall
Unclaimed since fire and plague both came
Their owners were hanged by the witch-finders and nothing else of them remains.

Theresa Trask was a working wife, to family a hard-worn thrall
Worn down by care, and seared with shame  (How did that broom end on the wall?)
No proof at all of witchcraft there, when mere association stains.

Four brooms hang in the long old hall
Unclaimed since fire and plague both came
Their owners were hanged by the witch-finders and nothing else of them remains.

Sarah Sidelow was a shadowy wight, she laughed that maid, lass, grandam, and thrall,
Were treated by the fools the same, as those whose broomstick soared o'er all
The devil's own, the ones who knew the secrets of the hidden skeins.




Parfum Secret


Take 1 fifth powdered tannis root,
Distill through mummy wrappings
Boil within a narrow lipped alembic
And reserve the dew, thus reconciled.

Take 1 fifth aromatic triffid oil,
The pure Russian if it can be obtained,
Shaken not stirred, with 1 gill
Black powder from the Pirates' supplier.

Take 1 fifth ghoul slaver (that is saliva)
Allowed to dry upon a silver salver,
Scraped up and cut with razor by moonlight,
Avoid the urge to cut with heroine.

Take 1 fifth gin flavored with the fruit
Of that contentious Tree of Good and Evil
If unavailable try Sipsmith's lemon drizzle,
60/40 to Tanquerry Sevielle.

Take 1 fifth lymph extract from an adult
Dwarf tapir, admixed to taste with black pepper,
White nettles, elderflower, and rue, and
Not forgetting Rosebay Willowherb.

Add into one precipitate, and whirl.
Tapping homeopathically as needed until potent.

Voila!   Charnel No 5.