because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse

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second draft for a happy ending

snowy James from pipeline

so often pink
is used all wrong.
i dreamed of you last night, woke
up feeling as light as forgiveness, so
i sent a simple yes and you
answered back with a smile
and it was good, like a poem,
like moving forward, like scouring
the rust off lust poems
we wrote long ago. the snow

lingers, the sky gray but hopeful
of a spring that hasn’t yet
come so i keep looking
at the door, waiting
for you to walk through
it, all pink-cheeked and clashing
socks. if you think you
are the same you in all of this,
you couldn’t be
more wrong.

Today

your dragon purrs, earth-

quaking, scaly metaphor

made heavy flesh, a serpent

 

that circles your world. you,

its catspaw to bat and squeeze

and toss gray skyward

 

where you seek snow

to pillow the hard gorge of falling,

or a hero, a hammer-wielding

 

savior to break the cage of winter.

lift a cup with me, drain the ocean

of ache and illusion. every season

 

has its ending, every Goliath

its David, every snake its eagle.

 

 

 

This poem is the 3rd as part of a collaborative project at artipeeps. The poems center around the nine realms in Viking mythology. The third realm is that of the giants, Jotunheim. “Today” plays with the language of a story wherein Thor and companions are tricked by the illusory magic of giant Útgarða-Loki.. Among other things, Thor is challenged to pick up a gray cat but can lift only his paw; it is revealed later that the cat is actually Jormungand, the serpent that encircles the world. You can find the entire story (which is a part of the Poetic Edda) here under “Fighting Illusions.”

All the world needs is another blonde princess

platinum or ash, like a contemporary horse
of the hanged, pale
as the sky when it was new-made.

kids these days, she murmurs.
like the missionary, eagle-feeder
is an equal opportunity position.

disney girls with thumbs
for waistlines and puffed-
sleeve pasts

valkyric lips chewed
dry with lust too long on the vine,
she cuts and she cuts, Frija,

sighing sloe-eyed
after another fox-headed
ape. even (fore-)

hacking at the umbilical cord
that will separate her from
doomed Troy.

knowledge has dark corners.
no heart(h)-fire burns constant,
untended and everafter.

 

 

***

A little about this poem, and the project for which it was written. This is part of a 9-month long collaboration among poets, artists, musicians and other creatives focusing on the Norse sagas and cosmology. The first month’s assignment was based on Asgard, one of the 9 realms according to Viking mythology, and the home of the warrior Aesir gods.

Read more about the project’s scope and a brief overview of Asgard here.

Frigg, (or High Germanic Frija– not to be confused, as she sometimes is, with the Vanir goddess of love/fertility Freya), was the queen of Asgard and wife to Odin. She seems, from my brief researches, to be somewhat equivalent to the Greco-Roman Hera, and is the goddess associated with childbearing, relationships, etc.

Other non-incidental Viking things in the poem:

The primary sources regarding Asgard come from the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by the Icelander Snorri Sturluson, and the Poetic Edda, compiled from a basis of much older poetry. In Snorri’s prologue, he initially proposes the earthly location of Asgard to be Troy, the center of the earth. (Snorri later changes his mind about this, but I thought it was a kinda fascinating construct.) A version goes that Odin had a son by Troan, one of Priam’s daughters; the child was called Tror (Thor in Old Norse).

Also according to Snorri’s mythos, the gods hold court at the Well of Urd, in the center of Asgard, beneath the fabled ash tree of wisdom, Yggdrasil. The etymology of Yggdrasil is from “Ygg” (a name for Odin) and “drasill” (horse); in the Poetic Edda Odin is described as sacrificing himself by hanging from a tree for 9 days to gain wisdom. This tree could then be called “Odin’s gallows.” “Gallows” might also be referred to as “the horse of the hanged” (see kennings, below).

Structure & nod to Norse poetry.

One of the distinguishing traits of Old Norse (and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon) poetry is the use of kennings, circumlocutions that employ figurative language in place of a single concrete noun. (“Eagle-feeder” for “warrior,” as an example.) There are varying degrees of kennings, some being further removed from the original noun than others. I have tried to sneak in a few here for flavor.

A goal of this project is to embrace the orality and rhythm–the bardic nature– of Norse poetry. I am not sure how well I have achieved that. The piece is intended to be read both from left to right, verse by verse, and from one column to the next. You can hear me read it aloud over on the project page.

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