Category Archives: Poetry

Her Shadow in Wings

The sun, glaring down from a faded sky,
Finds me perched in a high place,
Hammer,
Nails,
Shingles,
Hot asphalt burning my knees,
As I kneel,
An unwitting pilgrim,
At the heel of a solar god.

Relief, unexpected and fleeting,
As shade passes over me,
Accompanied by a cool breeze,
My gaze drawn upward,
To a raven wheeling against the Sun,
The poetic impulse takes me,
And I am awash in a sudden flood of verse,
Until my balance wavers,
Dangerously…,

And the moment passes,
Eyes down and the sun on my back,
I return to the task at hand,
But a single phrase lingers still,
“Her shadow in wings.”

 

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Filed under Nature, Poetry, Spiritual Journey

It would be so easy…,

The sun sets and the fire is kindled.
It would be so easy to feel alone.

I think of my friends and family,
Of confidants and strangers countless,
And I know that for so many of them,
This is just another sunset, another night,
And my energies, to them, seem wasted,
Meaningless.

It would be so easy to feel alone,
If not for the fire.

All over the world these fires burn,
Each connected to the others,
One shared light against the darkness,
The warmth I feel against my skin,
Is the growing heat between young lovers,
The sparks which leap and crackle,
Bring wonder to the face of a child.

Separated by miles,
Yet close enough to touch,
All of them.

On this night and thousands more,
Both past and yet to be,
I feel them,
Generations of us,
Basking in the same flickering light.

I think of my friends and family,
Of confidants and strangers countless,
And I know that on this night,
It would be so easy,
For them,
To feel alone.

HornedGod(Detail)

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Filed under Celtic Polytheism, Holidays, Poetry, Religion, Traditions

The Blood on My Hands

There are those with whom I may not speak.
Not because I could not find the words.
But knowing they would not hear me if I did.

I.

The Evangelist is deaf to all but his own voice.
He pounds the cover of the book he holds.
And my voice shall never touch him.

I am a heretic in his eyes, honoring false gods and corrupt traditions.  I have failed the truest tests of righteousness, surrendering my flesh to the Whore of Babylon and my soul to the Flames of Perdition.  My words can only be lies, the frustrated mewling of a sinner, lost in the din of Heaven’s glorious trumpet.  The blood of the martyrs is on my hands, and in that blood I must either find redemption, or be lost!

II.

The Patriot hears only the fife and the drum.
She stands rapt with hand held over heart.
And no pledge of mine will move her.

I am a traitor in her eyes, placing individual truth above the great social contract.  In my contempt for the notion of Manifest Destiny, I ally myself with those who wish only to end the great experiment before the promise of freedom can be fulfilled.  She brands me “hippy” and “un-American” and “tree-hugger”.  If I will not stand with her, then I must be against her, my hands stained with the blood of heroes!

III.

The Vegan has ears only for those without voice.
He campaigns against the ongoing atrocity.
And nary a justification will satisfy.

I am a monster in his eyes, a modern Grendel, ravenous amid my unthinking carnage.  Is this vile consumption rooted in some religious pretext of dominance over the natural world, or do I simply not understand that animals are thinking beings, capable of pain?  No token moderation of these unseemly habits will appease.  No death, however gentle, should be tolerated.  How can I claim to honor nature and respect all living things when my hands are dripping with the blood of defenseless millions!

IV.  The Homophobe…,

V.  The Socialist…,

VI.  The Feminist…,

VII.  The Atheist…,

Did you think your cause was different from the others?  Better?  More noble?

There are those with whom I may not speak.
Not because I could not find the words.
But knowing they would not hear me if I did.

This world is filled with zealots of every stripe.  Their numbers seem to multiply with each passing moment and I am sure you must have noticed them.  But there is a secret that you may not be aware of: If you believe in one singular truth, whatever that truth is, so fervently that you are willing to denigrate or vilify those who think differently, without considering their arguments or perspective, you are probably a zealot too.

Call them fanatics, bigots, or dogmatists, call them by whatever name suits you.  I will call them dangerous, all of them, each one as dangerous as the others, when their cause is bolstered by numbers and hardware and a disregard for their supposed enemies.

They are dangerous because, in someone’s eyes, we all have blood on our hands.

I know I do.

Bloody Hands

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Philosophy, Poetry, Politics, Religion

Silver Hand

The room is darkened, with only a single candle burning upon my altar.

I close my eyes.

My breathing deepens and slows.

I allow the unruly thoughts of a busy mind to drift away like leaves in a stream.

The flow of the stream is gentle, the water almost silent as it glides past.

And in that silence, there is distant birdsong and the whine of passing insects.

In a room, in the dark, my eyes remain closed, my body relaxed.

In another place my eyes are open and my body is in motion.

I know this stream, this river.  I have walked here before.

The water swirls past me, downstream, as I walk carefully toward the source.

The ground along the riverbank is rough in places, and I want to be careful.

The least misstep could tumble me out of this quiet meditation.

I hold my worries out and drop them like pebbles into the calm water as I pass.

The ripples expand across the surface of the water.

They dissipate and vanish behind me.

The walk is going well.

More often than not, I topple and wake.

Or I falter under the weight of thoughts and concerns I could not leave behind.

Tonight I stroll along the riverbank and my pace is steady and true.

I breathe and I walk.

Following the river back through time and memory brings me to the well.

And now I stand on the outside of a ring of trees.

Nine mighty hazelnut trees have stood sentry here since before time began.

Finding the space to slip between these great trunks is no easy task.

Root and bough, they bar my way.

Frustration threatens to cast me back into darkness.

I gaze up into the sunlight which passes through the towering cage of branches.

That’s the key – become the light!

I pass through the boundaries between ignorance and knowing.

And find myself standing, at last, on the edge of the well.

This is the center, the beginning, the source of life and truth.

I look deep into those dark waters and there is movement within.

The Salmon of Knowledge is feeding again.

I crouch at the edge of that sacred pool.

I reach out…,

And there is a flash of metal on the mirrored surface.

A silver hand, gestures in warning, waving me away from the water.

I should have remembered.

Among even the gods, only Nuada and his cupbearers may visit this well.

Nuada, the first and fallen king of the Tuatha Dé Danann…,

Disfigured and made whole again, with an arm of pure silver…,

And maybe that is why he alone may touch these waters.

Not with flesh, but with the silver hand.

I can feel myself slipping now.

My journey has been for naught, a fools errand.

The wisdom held in this pool is not for me to have.

The vision is slipping away now.

I bow my head in despair, holding my face in my hands.

And in the moment before I wake, I feel cool metal resting against my cheek.

I open my eyes and the room is dark.

A single candle burns upon my altar.

In the dim circle of light it casts, I see an empty place that needs filling.

I will be looking for a new token to hold his place among the gods I honor.

I will be looking for the Silver Hand.

The Silver Hand

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Filed under Celtic Polytheism, Mythology, Poetry, Religion, Spiritual Journey, The Gods

Twelve Nights – A Poem for Yule

For twelve nights long we’ve rung the bell.
For more years now than men may tell.

Before Saint Nick was on the scene.
Before the baby Nazarene.

We dressed the hearth in green and red.
We kept the children long from bed.

And told the tales the wise men know.
And feasted through the deepening snow.

To wake the Sun from her long sleep.
To mark the oaths we’ve sworn to keep.

Now Yule from us is nearly gone.
Now starts the newborn year in song.

May our midwinter celebrations bring us closer to hearth and home and to those we love from across the miles.

Blessings to you all.

Winter Solstice

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Mythology, Poetry, Religion, Traditions

Listen

Bombarding me at work,
hear them clamor,
the voices,
rising.

A craven noise,
demanding,
selfish.

They need to,
listen.

Days off are absent rest,
every second,
is fleeting,
precious.

I grasp at them,
desperately,
in vein.

No time to,
listen.

Meditate

Listen,
to my heart.

Calmly,
I reach down,
and find my breath.

Forget,
the clamor,
the ticking clock,
and find that inner voice.

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Filed under Modern Life, Poetry, Spiritual Journey

…and the rent is due.

The Dingle Coast

I would bring him bundles of rushes from the waters edge.
Carry them by hand to the high place, stony Barrule, overlooking the sea.
For Midsummer Eve has come and Manannán awaits his payment.

Only, I am far from those shores.
Arid winds bend prairie grass like waves on an earthen sea,
I am stranded here, landlocked — and the rent is due.

Cliffs at Loop Head

Standing on the very brink of thundering wave and stone,
I have opened my arms, buoyed by winds sweeping from far Emain Ablach.
Lifted a moment, from the rocky cliff, like the Heron King taking flight.

I cling to memories of a rugged coast,
As I choke on the fumes of engines going nowhere.
I am stranded here, landlocked — and the rent is due.

The Tides of Kilkee

As the rising tide sends plumes of white foam into the air,
The sea god’s wife approaches, her soothing kiss, lingering upon my cheek.
They call her Fand, which means “teardrop”, and she tastes like the sea.

We carry the ocean, like a memory, flowing within us.
Weeping, we give it back again, carried home on the Summer breeze.
I am stranded here, landlocked — and the rent is due.

Nothing makes me yearn for the coasts and mountains of Ireland, quite so much as Summer in Texas.  Although this weeks solstice marks the longest day of the year, we know all too well that the hottest days are yet to come.

There has been a tradition on the Isle of Man (that small Celtic nation nestled almost exactly between Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales) that each year, on Midsummer Eve, the Manx would pay their rent (a token sacrifice of rushes or sweet grass) to Manannán mac Lir, the ancient Celtic god of the seas, to whom the island belongs.  I am told that this tradition survived well into the 19th century, if it is not still practiced by a few today.

I hope, one day soon, to make that pilgrimage myself.  I have languished for too long, allowing material limitations and self-imposed obligations to strand me, landlocked, in this spiritually parched domain.  I need only a strong current, a sturdy sail, and the blessings of the ocean god.

Let the tides take me where they will.

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Filed under Holidays, Ireland, Mythology, Photography, Poetry, Spiritual Journey, The Gods, Traditions