bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Tag: poetry

Month for Loki, Sixth: Ritual (poem)

Last month, I began reading Elizabeth Vongvisith’s Be Thou My Hearth and Shield: Prayers in the Northern Tradition, an excellent collection of prayers and poetry she edited for Asphodel Press in 2009.

I’d read some of the reviews on Lulu, and as one reviewer put it, ‘This book is excellent! It sits at my bedside as I read the prayers daily…..

As I have found myself doing that very same thing, I could not agree with zir more.

This is an excellent book, one which I would highly recommend to anyone who seeks to connect to the Norse Gods, let alone Loki.

And today, for my sixth post, I’d like to share this heartfelt prayer-poem by April Ragan, which resonated with me deeply:

Ritual (for Loki)

What need have I for chants

When every rise of my lungs

Breathes for You

A hallowed hymn.

What need have I for music

When every beat of my heart

Drums for You

A sacred tattoo.

What need have I for dance

When every gesture of my being

Moves for You

In a rhythm of devotion

What need have I for magic circles

When every piece of my soul

Burns for You

In a consecrated ring of flame

What need have for these accompaniments

When the essence of my being

Is a life-long ritual to You.*

Loki, Kalari Stance, uploaded to flickr, shivarea31

~~~

*Elizabeth Vongvisith, editor, Be Thou My Hearth and Shield: Prayers in the Northern Tradition, (Hubbardston, Massachusetts; Asphodel Press, 2009) p. 125

 

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A Thursday Throwback: Sometimes.

Here’s a Thursday Throwback – from 21 February 2013 – that I am sharing at the request of a dear friend.

Enjoy!

~~~~

“Sometimes, He is not pretty.
Disheveled, stinking of piss and filth.
A frightening homeless man
Shouting at me from the other side of the train station:
The face that you often see is nothing but a glamour crafted to be pleasing to you.
But, sometimes, I am tired of that
face, and you will see Me as I am
An ancient being, whose face bears the ravages of time, and what appalling marks
Grief, pain and madness have inevitably made upon Me.

While it may be easy to approach Me in a finer guise,
Silk cravats and topcoats, leather and flash, I am
Also this, at My core. This is also Me.
I am bloated with rage, and careless
grime settled in the creases, compulsively licking
The blood and the spittle that collects at the corners of My ragged lips.
My yellowed, broken teeth have gnawed and ground down upon the offal and
bones of My very long memory.

I call to you
but you must approach Me.

Would you kiss My mouth?
~~~
And I see Him across the room, and His voice is interwoven with the cacophony of noise that is noon at South Station, Boston.

I cannot will my feet to go forward, but I see His eyes, the intense clear blue of Icelandic water, His disheveled hair an awkward penumbra of red and gold, His face unshaven and streaked with the filth born of having slept in the elements upon concrete. He raises a hand, and makes a beckoning gesture. Oh I see you, little one, He drawls. I notice that His fingernails are dark with grime, and He smiles, a grin of wolfen teeth, and He licks His cracked lips, waiting.

For all that He looks, His voice is not unpleasant.

But I am afraid.

I am cold, I realize, and I hug myself tighter, as if my own arms could possibly warm me enough, and yet I know that I am holding myself in.  This is me putting up all my walls and fronts.

You have so much shame, He shouts, You have learned nothing….

The rumble of the trains pulling into South Station obscures His voice, His tirade, for several minutes.

There are too many trains, I shout, I cannot hear!

He begins to laugh, shaking His head. He tilts His head, almost menacingly, working out a crick in His neck, as He continues, Oh no, my dear. It is as it is always, with you. You are too cold. You cannot hear. You have a headache. You are afraid….

He glares at me.

He pulls a cigarette from the pocket of His shabby, unseasonably thin coat. Oh, spare Me the details of all of your excuses, He snarks at me, loudly, angrily.

He reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker, as He wipes His sore and tattered mouth with the back of His grubby hand, before placing the cigarette deftly on the edge of His lower lip, and lights it.

A lone ribbon of smoke curls and spirals ever upward over His head, strangely unbroken and unbuffeted by the crowd and activity that surges about Him, between us.

10031491-man-smoking-cigarette-over-black-background-low-key-light-image

 

 

Come. Kiss Me. I might believe you.

 

But I cannot will my feet to go forward. I will have to push myself through this crowd, I am thinking.

The air feels thick and heavy, my head rings with high-pitched buzzing anxiety, and my skin prickles with heat.

Poor little girl, is His singsong sigh, half a sarcasm, half a reprimand, to me, as He shuffles His feet, waiting.

Come to me, He whispers, more within my head than without, and His words seem to reverberate like a humming inward chant, in my head.

Come to Me.
Come to Me.
Come to Me
.”

 

(link here)

 

Month for Loki, Day 9: Poetry

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

 

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

Context is everything.

This quote has been sitting in a folder on my computer for at least three or four years now.

I never knew where it was from, except that it was from a poem by American poet, Louise Glück:

“…from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant I was not loved.
It meant I loved.”

~~~~

Today, I found the whole poem.

The poem is titled

First Memory

 

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was–
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.

~~~

 

Context is everything.

Sometimes I just need poetry.

As I have had company these last four days, I have not been able to post this lovely poem from The Daily Good, as sometimes I just need poetry.

(If you click in the link below, you can listen to the poet, John O’Donohue, read this poem aloud, along with some rather lovely imagery.)

Beannacht: A Blessing for the New Year

–by John O’Donohue, Jan 01, 2016

For Josie

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

[Note: “Beannacht” is the Gaelic word for “blessing.” A “currach” is a large boat used on the west coast of Ireland.]

 

 

Poetry: I need…a red dress.

BY KIM ADDONIZIO

I want a red dress.

I want it flimsy and cheap,

I want it too tight, I want to wear it

until someone tears it off me.

I want it sleeveless and backless,

this dress, so no one has to guess

what’s underneath. I want to walk down

the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store

with all those keys glittering in the window,

past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old

donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers

slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,

hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.

I want to walk like I’m the only

woman on earth and I can have my pick.

I want that red dress bad.

I want it to confirm

your worst fears about me,

to show you how little I care about you

or anything except what

I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment

from its hanger like I’m choosing a body

to carry me into this world, through

the birth-cries and the love-cries too,

and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,

it’ll be the goddamned

dress they bury me in.

(1954, from Tell Me)

Poetry: Margaret Atwood

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

From Selected Poems II: 1976-1986 by Margaret Atwood (1987).

Yesterday

I hemmed and hawed about writing this post, as yesterday was a meaningful date in my personal history.

On the evening of Friday, 19 October 2007, my father died.

I would not find out about until the next day – Saturday – as my mother called me almost 8 hours later, leaving a four-word message on the home answering machine, to inform me that my father had passed.

My husband, my sons, and I had returned from a local skate tournament to see that little flashing light notifying us of an incoming call that we had received earlier that afternoon from an unfamiliar number.

I had been estranged from my parents for several years at that point.  To put it bluntly, my mother had ‘disowned’ me in 2005 over something so incredibly petty that I am ashamed to admit now that I honored her wishes for nearly 2 years.  And, unfortunately, my father did, too.

But I remember that last conversation that I’d had with my father in early October 2005.

Cancer had returned – malignant melanoma – but my father had insisted that it wasn’t such a big deal.

We danced around the subject of the impending surgery that would require the loss of his right eye, and, in typical form, my father joked about his options upon coming to terms with the reality that he’d probably have to wear an eyepatch.

He insisted that he couldn’t decide if he should tell people that he’d become a pirate, or if he should tell people that he’d given his eye to Odin, for knowledge.

I didn’t know what to say; I was just pleased to be speaking to my father, and I told him that I would be delighted to support him in either choice.  In a  roundabout way, I was trying to comfort him, but honestly, I would have agreed to support him in any way that I could, even if most of the time my support of him simply required that I cheerfully go along with his jokes.

That was my father.  That’s the way that he coped best with adversity – through joking about it.

Though I didn’t want to discuss our own adversity — that elephant in the room — concerning how he missed me, and how he hoped that my mother and I ‘could somehow work things out’ so that he would be ‘allowed to talk to [me] again.’

I was inwardly furious that he felt like he had to sneak around – while my mother was not home – just to talk to me.  (Of course, I was too stubborn to look the other way concerning my mother’s obviously toxic and controlling behavior.  I was well aware of what a rare occurrence it was that my mother was not at home.)

Despite this, I truly thought that my father and I would speak again.

But we didn’t.

After my father died, my brother told me that the cancer had spread rather fast – but my father was overly proud man and it surprised no one that my father insisted on downplaying the debilitating effects on his quality of life – but as a result, my father refused to allow anyone to contact me concerning this reality.

I’ve no doubt that my father thought that he’d live forever, as long as he could joke about it, but he told my brother that he was even more ashamed to be seen as sickly or frail by anyone, let alone, his daughters.

Please let them remember me the way that I was was what I was told that he had said.

It turned out that my older sister -who was also estranged, also ‘disowned’ by my mother – didn’t even know that he’d died until two months after the funeral. While I am grateful that at least I had been informed in time to actually attend his funeral, I’m ashamed to admit that I was told that she knew but that she just didn’t show.

I regret that I didn’t question that further.

~~~

But, my dysfunctional family aside, I miss my father dearly, even now, even today, eight years later.

So what do I do to honor my father?

I will hold a ‘silent supper’ for him this week, wherein I provide him offerings of his favorite foods.  Steak and potatoes.  Blueberry pie. Sardines.  Figs.

As well, it is likely that I will go to McDonald’s today.  I will order – and mindfully consume – a Big Mac and a strawberry milkshake.  It was the meal that my father loved, the ‘last meal’ that I was told that my father would often insist that he wanted – and then insist upon eating – even though I’d imagine that his body could scarcely have handled digesting such ‘junk food’ towards the end of his life.  (Though that wouldn’t have deterred him, however.)

But I will enjoy it, as he would have wanted to enjoy it.  (I mean, what the hell, I can imagine him arguing, I’m dying.  I don’t worry about nutrition now.  Fuck that.  I want McDonald’s.)

As well, I have a playlist of his favorite songs that I will allow myself to listen to, and it is very likely that I will have a good cry over this one:

Perhaps I will read him Philip Levine’s poem, ‘Starlight’

(This is the poet, Philip Levine, reading ‘Starlight’)

~~~

Dad&mebooth

This is a photo-booth photo of my father and I from 1974ish or so.

It is one of my favorite photos that I have of my father.

davidmooerspainting

This is a photo of a self-portrait that my father painted in early 2007.

~~~

I miss you.

I love you, Dad.

 

 

Month for Loki, Day 15: A Monstrous Manifesto (poetry)

Edited to add: Please note that this poem was not written by me; it was written by the extremely talented sc-fi fantasy author, Cat Valente.  

I had the pleasure of hearing Cat read this poem aloud at a sci-fi fantasy convention quite some time ago.

I’ve always loved this poem, and I thought it perhaps fitting to share with my readers today, as I found it again recently, saved within some of my old LiveJournal files from 2010.

This poem immediately struck me as appropriate in honor of one of Loki’s heiti, Father/Mother of Monsters ❤

~~~~

If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams
Come stand by me.

If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone
If you have been starving, a creature of bone
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.

If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.

A poem by Cat Valente

11 October 2010

Tangled Up in Blue

Concerning Petrarch, poetry, and a question from a reader:

I read a lot of poetry, and I listen to a lot of music.

Often these two habits will intersect in my life in strange and delightful ways, especially where and when my Gods are involved.

One particular song that I have always loved is Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue.

And I came to love it even more when the Indigo Girls released their cover of that song on their live album, 1200 Curfews, in 1995.

As you may or may not know, it was not until 1997 or so that I started getting specific spiritual nudges again.  And sufficed to say, this song came up a lot on the radio at that time, and as a result, I heard the Indigo Girls’ cover several times a day.

But as much as I knew the lyrics, there was one particular verse that always baffled me, however.

This one:

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue.

 

All I could think of was…what sort of words were those?  And even more so, who wrote them?

I mean, as a person who loves poetry, I could absolutely agree that poetry, in all its forms, is the highest form of word-alchemy.

As well, I would be the first to agree that good poetry certainly can and does transcend time.

But I had to, absolutely had to… find out who was that ‘Italian poet from the thirteenth century’?

And no, I don’t think that anybody really knows.

As far as I can tell, Bob Dylan has never identified any particular poet as being the poet that he references…so I began to wonder if Dylan was just simply trying to convey some universally profound fact about love and human relationships, as well as something similar to what I just wrote up there about poetry being word-alchemy.

~~~

Cut to three years ago, I was in a large retail bookstore chain, just browsing, as I often do.

If you must know, I wasn’t even in the poetry section.  Because, as much as I love poetry, I hardly ever buy books of it.

So it was more than likely that I’d been skimming a Kingdom Hearts graphic novel with my kid, or trying to choose between two or three sci-fi/fantasy anthologies, or whatever, when ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ came up on the in-store music system.

I remember looking up from the book that I had been browsing, to see that someone had left a copy of Petrarchian love sonnets on the floor.

…and that exact verse – with line about an Italian poet from the thirteenth century – was the verse that was playing when I noticed that book on the floor.

And no, I didn’t buy the book.   I brought it back to the poetry section and left it there.

If I bought anything, I probably purchased an anthology of short horror stories and a comic book for my kid.

But when I got home, I Googled ‘Petrarch.’   Having been an English major in college, I did know that Petrarch was an Italian poet… and just as any English major who studied poetry, I was familiar with the Petrarchian sonnet.

What detail that I didn’t know, or likewise remember, was that Petrarch wrote most of those sonnets about love and loss…in the 13th century.

In that next week or so, I hemmed and hawed about this whole thing being  a ‘universal sign’…

 

But eventually I did purchase a book of Petrarchian love sonnets a few months later.

 

So.

Yes.

You may take it however you will, but that book of Petrarchian love sonnets is on my altar because of one particularly sneaky incidence of pandoramancy coinciding with a misplaced book.

🙂