POEM: Wolf Boys

The wolves tear apart the dog and the goat
and come into the house with bloodied muzzles.
Wipe their faces with wool dipped in milk
and they turn into young men, laughing
instead of panting. They run the streets
hitting women, but only the women who
step forward, hands outstretched, asking
for the ritual blow. A smack from the wolf boy
is good luck, helps you get pregnant.
What rituals do we have to turn our wolves
back into boys? When they come home
with bloodied muzzles, bloodied hands,
broken hearts, do we wash them clean
and give them work to do, or do we
lock them up, chain them down,
throw them out of the house until
they lie down and die on the street?

(For my friend Dwight, who died in January)

POEM: Theogamia

(For the marriage of Hera and Zeus, celebrated around this time in ancient Greece)

Cuckoo in the storm, poor bedraggled thing,

come here, trust me, and I will warm you.

Lady, your hands are gentle, and your bosom is soft.

I will rest here while my feathers dry.

 

Cuckoo on my breast, are you hungry, are you thirsty?

Water from my cup, golden crumbs from my plate I offer.

Lady, your cup is deep, and your food is sweet.

I will eat and drink from your hand.

 

Cuckoo on my hand, what a silly song you sing!

Yet it amuses me to hear you say your name.

Lady, your laugh is lovely, and your breath is sweet.

No other mate I have, so I will sing my song for you.

 

Cuckoo in my home, how you brighten my shining palace!

Your blue-grey wings, your striped breast, your jaunty tail delight me.

Lady, your halls are fair, your home is spacious,

yet I will always come back to roost near you at night.

 

Cuckoo on my bed, rest here upon my pillow.

Rest only lightly, that I may not crush you in the night.

Lady, to be near you, I would dare death and more.

I will even dare your wrath when we awaken in the morning.

 

Stranger in my bed, where has my cuckoo gone?

Whose arm is this, whose leg, whose rampant prick I feel?

Lady, it is I, your cuckoo and your brother,

Zeus son of Kronos, lord of sky and storm.

 

Cuckoo in my nest, how strangely you have wooed me!

Yet I am still charmed by your antics, nonetheless.

Cow-eyed Hera, lady of sky and cloud,

Will you not marry me? Let us rule together.

 

Cuckoo of my heart, yes, I will marry you,

but you must be faithful, for I am always true.

Lady of my heart, if you marry me,

you will be the queen of heaven and earth, the noblest goddess.

 

Cuckoo of my heart, that will do for now.

Come, let us marry, let us tarry together in love.

Lady of my heart, the spring is here, the birds are mating.

Our love shall be the rain that quickens the soft earth.

 

Oh, oh, oh, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!

Ah, ah, ah, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!

POEM: Devotion

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I want to set my heart on fire
and offer it like incense. I hope
it smells like frankincense
and myrrh. I want to throw
myself at a god’s feet, not
in subjugation, but in
adoration–because my knees
are too weak for this beauty.
I want to be gathered up
in arms that are stronger
than any mortal man’s could
ever be and cherished.
I want to bask in the sunshine
of unconditional positive regard.

I can stand up again and walk
on my own two feet. The heart
is a self-renewing organ,
the original phoenix, sweetly
burning till it’s consumed,
then rising from its own ash.
I can give it away again and again
and still have all the heart that I need.
I am neither a prisoner nor a slave.
When I offer myself, I know I am offering
what I have that is of highest value,
and what I receive in return is equal,
and greater, coming from the god.

Take my heart, divine one, this
renewable resource, this well of
mystery, the inner altar, the place
where everything is gathered and
distilled–eat me, drink me, burn me,
taste me, all that I am is yours
that I might live for you, from you.

(Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay)

POEM: The source of all your power

At its longest your hair
covers your shoulders,
the curls of it over your bones
like sea-foam over the rocks.
When you gather it up–
“Why is it a man-bun?” you ask.
“Why not just a bun?”–
it exposes the bones of you
and how fine the skin is
stretched over them; for an instant,
seen from the back, you might
be mistaken for a woman.
But loose and unbridled, half-
blended with your beard
(which has grown in ginger),
it makes you all man, Samson
or Hercules, its length and
thickness and heaviness
the very proof of your virility.
You smile as you undo your bun.
“Well, yes, it is the source of all my power.”

A look at the work I’ve been doing

I’ve been involved with online fandom for over twenty years. During that time, I’ve written, at a rough estimate, over 500 short works of fiction, from 200 words to nearly 20,000 in length. You can find many of those works here at the Archive of Our Own, created by fans for fans as an inalienable home for fan works of all sorts in any and all fandoms.

In the past year I’ve gradually moved away from writing fanfiction, although my “original” work is strongly influenced by the fan writer’s approach to literature: Nothing is original, everything is transformative, there is no canon, everything is canon. The person and music of singer-songwriter Hozier have inspired me to write fanfic, fairy tales, new myths, and analysis of his song lyrics.

For the past six years, much of my poetry has been inspired by devotion to the god Antinous, the lover of the emperor Hadrian who was deified by Egyptian custom when he mysteriously drowned in the Nile. Antinous has a growing number of devotees among contemporary pagans; much of my writing for his cultus can be found at the website of the Naos Antinoou, a queer, Greco-Roman-Egyptian polytheist community.

Already this year I’ve written a new cycle of devotional poetry to the deity I call “the Forest God”, which I’ll be posting here next month, and I plan to write another cycle in honor of the Greek goddess Melinoe, who is remembered in the Orphic Hymns. There will likely be more short stories about the Forest God as well.

I have had a Patreon for a few years, but I decided to unlaunch it for the time being. I’ve never been very good at writing to deadlines or producing content on any kind of schedule, and that was true of my Patreon as well. If you’d like to support my work, feel free to buy me a Ko-fi or three; as the old saying goes, every little bit helps.

POEM: Old man in a bar

I wandered into a bar and heard an old man singing.

He was an old man disguised as a young man,

playing blues riffs on a guitar and hollering along.

 

I wandered into a bar and heard an old man singing.

I knew by his eyes that we had met in a previous life,

perhaps more than one life. His eyes were wells,

sunlight and green leaves floating on water so deep

there was only darkness at the bottom.

 

I wandered up to the bar and ordered something to drink.

I don’t know what I asked for but what I got

was the mead of inspiration, water of life, nectar of the gods,

light playing on the surface as it did in the singer’s eyes,

smelling like peat moss and well water and memory,

and the singer came up next to me and ordered the same.

 

The singer came up next to me and ordered the same thing

I was drinking. He lifted his glass in salute and I saw

his young face, his curling hair, his beard-bordered mouth.

The face of the youth who is ancient in heart though

eternally young, the first voice that sang the first song

with a human voice, but also the voice of a god,

the Muse, the Apollo, the genius within every human spirit.

 

I drank with the old man disguised as a young man

who played the guitar in a bar and hollered the blues

on a rainy spring night and came home with this poem,

a leaf floating in a glass of whiskey as deep as a well.

POEM: Heartfire

In the sky above us, in the infinite sky,
Sol the light-giver, life-giver, all-seer,
a flaming fusion furnace 93 million miles away.

In the depth below us, the ineffable depth,
Vulcan the forge-beater, artificer, fire-maker,
a core of molten nickel spinning in the heart of the earth.

Between Sol and Vulcan, between sun and earth,
between globe of flaming gas and globe of molten metal,
our earth, our home, our houses, our hearths.
In our hearths, in our hearts, the fire in our spirit,
the link between gods above and gods below,
the priestess, the hostess, the fire-tender, the focus,
Vesta. Vesta. Vesta. Ave!

POEM: Hekate and Hermes

Neither virgin nor crone but a mature woman
firm breasts that have not suckled
strong arms and strong legs
she runs through the night to meet him
at the crossroads, this place which they share:
Hekate Trioditis, Hekate Enodia,
Hermes Psykhopompos, Hermes Trikephalos

And there they lie down, when the moon is dark,
when the moon is full, Hermes laughing,
eternally youthful, his winged sandals kicked off,
his hat tossed aside, his wand planted in the earth
as he makes the lascivious joke about his other wand
rising up, ready to plant between his lover’s moist thighs

and Hekate eager, biting her lip, raising her skirts
with no fucking patience, no waiting whatsoever
as she rolls him beneath her, her torches to right
and to left, her wet cunt his heaven, his sweet seed
the fountain jetting up, splashing down

and the witches dance and the dogs howl
and the hounds bay and Hekate groans
and Hermes laughs and he rolls her over
and they do it again, and again, and again,
until the sun comes up and Hekate,
laughing under her breath, walks home
with the first rays of sun drying her gown

and Hermes flies away like an arrow
from the string, Zeus’ messenger boy,
and the dogs and the hounds roll over
and go back to sleep, and snore.

A Prayer for the Dead

My only sister died suddenly last Friday. She went to the emergency room on Thursday for severe stomach pain, went into cardiac arrest while being examined, and was resuscitated. After being on life support for about twenty-four hours, she was released, authorized by her daughter and her husband. She died soon after the machines were turned off, in the presence of her husband, her daughter, and her five-year-old grandson.

My sister and I were never close, partly due to the eleven years between us (she was the older). This still comes as a blow, in a year full of blows. A number of people close to me lost family members in the past ten days. As it happened, I had an invitation to a dinner party for Saturday night that included a brief Remembrance Day ritual. This had been planned and scheduled weeks ago; the friends who hosted it were friends of my ex-husband also and had sung for him. So we had this dinner, made offerings to the dead, told the bees in my friends’ hive, and sang some choral music in memory of my ex. I wrote this text for the ritual.

The dead are neither present nor absent.

They are neither near to us nor far from us.

They live in us, in our speech, in our hands, in our memories.

We die in them, the parts of us that go with them into the dark.

If they are hidden from us in the shadows,

we are hidden from them by the light.

Yet from time to time we come together

and join hands across the great divide.

They remember us no less than we remember them.

If they are forgotten, they, too, may forget.

Let us not forget our forefathers and foremothers, grandparents and parents,

children born or unborn, spouses and friends, mentors and teachers.

Let us take hold of what they left to us

that we may pass it on before we go.

Let us say their names and offer them our continuing love.