POEM: Invocation of the Forest God

I invoke the forest god

In the midst of the city I invoke him

I invoke his deer hooves and his stag antlers

I invoke his bear pelt and his ivy crown

I invoke the forest god

In the middle of civilization I invoke him

I invoke the mushrooms growing in his beard

I invoke the blood beneath his nails

I invoke his voice

rising from a deep thunder in his belly 

to a cry like sunlight from his chest 

and the notes of bells from his brow

I invoke the forest god

where black citizens are gunned down by police

where small children are gunned down in their classrooms

where women are gunned down by the abusers they left

I invoke the forest god

I invoke his bear strength and his wolf teeth

I invoke his memory of the long winters 

and his running in the sun

I invoke his gentleness toward those who seek shelter

I invoke his ferocity toward those who kill without need

I invoke the forest god

to walk the city streets, impervious to bullets,

contemptuous of guns, larger and stronger 

than cars and SUVs, trampling over 

the monuments of war to gather flowers for a crown.

I invoke him, whatever his true name might be, 

whatever ancient language he speaks

I beseech him to bring his army:

oak and ivy, mushroom and lichen, 

wolf and bear, caribou and moose, 

fir, pine, and spruce, morning glory, 

kudzu, roots that dig deep, tendrils that tug, 

feet that run and prowl, antlers that smash windows, 

come, forest god, and bring the forest with you

I no longer desire the city 

I wish to be an animal again

We have failed–let us start over

bring back the ice and drive us to the caves

we will relearn how to paint in the dark

rediscover our voices in the echoes under stone

enter the underworld and climb the mountain to the sky

please, forest god, before the earth burns up 

in the fires of hubris, before the greed of the few

eats the lives of the many, forest god, 

show yourself and bring us home

 

8/17/2019

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POEM: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

molossian_hound2c_british_museumIt is always a curious incident when the dog does nothing,
when the dog that should waken sleeps,
when the hound that should bark lies silent,
when the watch-dog fails of its watch.
In the toilsome heat of August, the Romans punished the dogs
that failed to do anything in the night-time,
or the day-time, whichever it was,
when the Gauls came to scale the city walls
and carry away all that made Rome superior.
Piteous dog crucifixions baking in the heat alongside the road!
Juno’s geese strutting and honking nearby,
pleased with their own superiority: *They* gave the warning
when the dogs failed! Pathetic. Geese are large, loud,
aggressive, and not known to be trusting.

O Hermanubis, temper the ferocity of Sirius!
Hounds of the Dog Star, chase away the roaring Lion
burning up our skies! Gracious gods, protect the harvest,
send us rain and sun in due measure: The dog days
are over, the descent into autumn has begun.

(With thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

(Originally posted to Antinous for Everybody, 8/3/2016)

POEM: Beer and Bread

August. The fields outside of town
(where I haven’t driven, for I don’t drive)
are ready for harvest, wheat and corn
(and I eat barley, rice, and oats).
Lugus with his long arm, his clever hand
is ready to sweep the fields,
bring in the harvest. Time
to make beer and bread.

I feel my skin prickle.
I see a red leaf on a green tree,
a brown feather from a sparrow’s wing
on the grey sidewalk. Autumn.
The days are hotter, one by one,
but the sun rises later, lower,
day by day; one by one
the trees slow down, the birds,
the bugs, the flowers, slow down
toward their rest. A stop. I stop.
August. Lughnasad. Autumn.
Across the months, across the equator,
Lugus holds out to Brigantia his hand.
She hands him the knife that she forged
throughout the long summer,
quenched in the sun’s blood.
It’s time to bring it all home.

 

POEM: The apple (for Alan Turing)

The apple lies in your hand, round and sweet. It is all

the forbidden fruit that you have ever tasted: The loves,

the pleasures, the stolen joys. There is no hiding from

the one who walks in the garden in the cool of the evening.

There is no offering you can make to your god, your

country, to atone for what you are.

 

The apple lies in your hand, the bitter apple of

self-knowledge. In another time, another place,

it might be the apple of Iduna, whose fruit gives

life to the gods. It might be an apple from

the Hesperides, the gift of Hera to Zeus, or

that apple which Eris tossed, designated for

the fairest. You have known your fairest and

lost him. You have lost all the immortality

in your veins. It might be the apple that was

given to True Thomas, or was that bread

and wine? He lay with the Faerie Queen and

gained the gift of prophecy. You have taken

the fruit unbidden and it will give you only death.

 

The apple lies in your hand, heavy as all your

memories. With a last gesture of defiance,

you put it to your teeth and bite.

 

(For Alan Turing, computer scientist, homosexual, who died on this day in 1954, possibly of suicide. His codebreaking skills helped the Allies win World War II; after the war, he was arrested and chemically castrated for being a homosexual. Written in 2015.)

 

POEM: Lemuria III

The dead children are walking
I hear their scuffling footsteps
The dead children are walking
Victims of the father
Victims of the mother
The dead children are walking
Infants and toddlers shaken to death
Babies and children starved and beaten
The dead children are walking
The gay and trans children bullied to suicide
The girls raped by their fathers
The dead children are walking
The boys sent off to war
The black boys dead in a war at home
Shot by the father’s police
The dead children are walking
Those who died in concentration camps
In Germany, Austria, Poland
In Texas USA
The dead children are walking
I spit beans at them
Go home, children
There is peace for you
in the realm of the dead
There is no peace here

POEM: Lemuria II

There’s someone crying in the kitchen
I have heard that voice before
Someone shouting in the kitchen,
banging the pots and pans, brooding
over the lighted burners, the boiling pots.
Someone, something is in the kitchen
the ghosts of dead mothers, mother martyrs,
martyred mothers, the mothers who expect help
without asking for it, the mothers who smoke cigarettes
in their children’s faces, the mothers who flirt with
their daughter’s boyfriends. Someone is crying
in the living room, hunched in the corner of the sofa,
on the phone with a friend saying how awful
everything is, unfaithful husband, ungrateful child,
no money for jewelry, no time for herself.
Someone, something is clutching at me,
a cigarette in one ghostly hand. I spit beans at you!
Let the ghosts of unloving mothers be forever gone,
silent in Asphodel. Shut up, mother, you’re dead.

POEM: On giving roses as offerings

small_red_roseO Dea Rosa, you are the sacrificial daughter,
your bodies cut down and offered up
on the altars of Venus, of Jesus,
of Mother Mary. Your petals were torn
and scattered like the spread limbs
of the crucified Jesus by the dying
Little Flower, roses in her arms
and blood on her hands where
your thorns had pricked her, blood
on her handkerchief where she coughed
out her suffering. You beautify the coffins
of our dead and atone for the sins
of rich husbands, together with
the brilliant tears of Tellus Mater,
diamonds hard as an adulterer’s heart,
and the sparkling blood of grapes
gathered in champlains of Gaul.
I place on my shrine, lascivious virgin,
your body of red petals green leaves
and pricked stem and think of defiled
daughters and broken women
and holy mysteries.

(Originally posted to Antinous for Everybody, 5/14/2016)