Winter Poetry Challenge: Day 4
The clock strikes

Winter Poetry Challenge: Day 5

Charles Freger

It's the last day of the Poetry Challenge, so sharpen your pencils one last time. Our theme today is "The Wild in Myth, Folklore, and Fantasy." Interpret that as you will. Wild as in wilderness; wild as in mythic Wild Men and Wild Women; wild as in Trickster tales and characters...it's entirely up to you. If you need inspiration, have a look at this post on wild folklore from the "Into the Woods" series.

I'll post the rules of the game one more time:

I am challenging all you poets out there to share a poem (or poems) on the theme of the day. Brand new poems are encouraged, but your older poems are welcome too. You don't have to be a published poet to contribute; you don't have to be a regular reader of this blog; and you don't even have to be an adult (but if you're a child, please let us know your age). To participate, just post your poem(s) in the comments thread below. Reader response to the poems is encouraged and deeply appreciated, as our goal is feedback for every poem. It truly "take a village" to make these Challenges work, and I'm deeply grateful to you all.

Speaking of feedback, do check in on the Comment threads from earlier in the week, where lovely new poems keeping appearing, as if by magic....

Charles Freger

As something of a departure for this last day of the Challenge, our featured poem doesn't come from the Journal of Mythic Arts, but from my friend and Chagford neighbor Tom Hirons, whose richly mythic poem "Sometimes a Wild God" is the perfect piece to kick off the day. "When the wild god arrives at the door," Tom writes,

Charles FregerYou will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside...

You can read the full poem here, on Tom's Coyopa blog. Or listen to a reading of the piece by Mark Lewis below:

Charles Freger

The photographs here come from Wilder Mann, a photography series by Charles Fréger (based in Rouen, France), who spent two years traveling through nineteen countries documenting the folk pageants and festivals of what he calls "tribal Europe." The resulting photographs have been exhibited internationally, and collected into an absolutely amazing art book. The art, in turn, inspired a CD of music by the Italian composer .and sound designer Theo Teardo, Music for Wilderness.

Wilder-Mann-006

Charles Freger

Charles Freger

The Winter Poetry Challenge ends at midnight tonight, whatever your local time is. You're welcome to comment on poems after that, but no more poem entries, please, once the clock strikes midnight.

Now I'll leave you with these words by Jay Griffiths, from her fascinating and brilliant book Wild: An Elemental Journey:

“The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard it's primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in our dreams, when our mind is off the leash, running wild. 'Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even further on, as one,' wrote Gary Snyder. 'It is in vain to dream of a wildness distinct from ourselves. There is none such,' wrote Thoreau. 'It is the bog in our brains and bowls, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires the dream.' "

Charles Freger

Charles Freger

Comments

I've literally just finished this, so it's probably as 'rough as a badger's bum', as the slightly cleaner version of the local vernacular would say. Hope it's ok.


THE DANCE IS A CIRCLE.

I went seeking Gods
with my pen,
and found monsters
constructed of leaf-litter
and fear.

I went on a journey
through myth,
And found a truth
so thinly disguised.

I went into shadows
And of course I sought light,
and the shadows it cast
were darker and deeper
and led me straight back
to a place
where I went seeking Gods
with my pen,
and found monsters
constructed of leaf-litter
and fear.

Forgot to add my thanks to Terri for this 'Poetry Challenge'. This and the previous one have really stretched me and made my old brain work harder than it's done in a long time.

OH! I am clapping and whistling! Yes!

I wrote this one a while ago, which deals mostly with redisovering wildness within myself. I think it fits within the subject matter, but if you disagree, please feel free to delete it! :)

Wild Mother

Nature reaches for me, and
the faerie child in me reaches back,
briar and bramble tangling about me,
wild roses in my hair,
leaves about my wrists as I
step forth, wild upon the land, leaving no trace
but the marks of wonder at the world, quickening about me,
a silent delight. I see it for the first time every day,
know myself a part of it, as it is part of me.
The wind turns, and I turn with it,
hair and flowers blown about me,
and I vanish into the breeze once more,
knowing this land anew.
The Wild Mother reaches for me, and
I reach back, fingers eager,
and merge, and become whole again.
An ancient song sings within the wind,
and I sing with it.

oh gods - the wild is where I think secretly live - it makes my heart pound a bit faster. Since I may not be back till perhaps too late Sat., I will speak of sky and stones:

StormBirth

The ancient drums of warriors ilk
each mallet hewn of iron and tossed
pound out that driving steady rain
with howling thunder, lightspears hurling
dry earth creaked so crossed and jagged
split asunder gulping deep
each mount beneath pushed forth its jagged hue
each slivered surface, gushing spew
great gouts of light ripped down in gashes
when mallets striking hit the rim
the painted wind shot streaks in prism
cross the torn sky tattered canvas
clouds like colored clay all studded
smeared the air and left it mudded
Rising swiftly birthed in chaos
broken backbones split our homeland
rising grabbing wrenching upward
juggernauts earth shell were breaking
steam and ocean vast went foaming
spewing screaming from earth moaning

oops! Stuart, my response to this piece of wizardry is below your comment to Terri, lol. Goads, how will I ever get to sleep, as my bard's blood is humming as my eyes are begging slumber. WOW!

Gosh Jenny, I can feel your energy and enthusiasm fizzing through your work! Thank you for your comments on my poem, and thank you for your beautifully composed work too.

- Robin's flight -

Out of rumour and night,
Blood and bone,
Something knotted and gnarled
Had sprouted and grown.

A tree climbed out of a heart.
It may have been
Oak or ash or elder,
Or else from a dream -
Not evergreen.

When the crown of gold and scarlet
Tarnished to grey
The branches clutched at sky.
Something had flown away.

I love the flying tattered splendour of this image, Jenny.

Wow--in some ways I like these poems best of all, because they are what I call smoke-and-mirror poems, giving the reader a chance to bring as much to the poem (reading in instead of reading out) as looking through smoke or into a silvered mirror.

Thanks Terri for the week of poetry push. Here's my own new poem, jot off the metaphoric griddle.


January 19:
Terri Windling challenge poem.


Call of the Wild

I was sitting in my bed,
cup of tea smoking
on the table,
like an old husband
after sex,
needing neither comfort
nor complaint.
The call came threading
through the slot
in the window,
coyote thin, a long howl.
It was time.

I took a hot sip,
ran a rough brush
through my hair,
turned the mirror
to the wall,
left my gown
and bedsocks behind.

The wild takes you like that:
The call, the comfort of cold,
rough grass underfoot,
a tangle of skin and stone,
and the promise
of warm tea after.

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Thank you Terri for this wonderful week of winter words. Here is my simple offering on today's theme:

Into Myth (A Drumming Song)

Stone and bone
leaf and vein
dead howls in the
wolf of night.

Lead me on
through the pain
and back again
into the light.

I wrote this over ten years ago, but thought it resonates with this challenge. Connie Walkley Shade


Swamp Dream

At times I feel so old, my hair has turned to Spanish Moss,
my limbs to cypress knees rooted in the heavy, humid heat
clinging like moldy bark to bone.

“Of course you are old, you’re a swamp,” the river laughs.

I know that, Old Man, but do you think I was a woman once?
Before I became a swamp, of course?

He chuckles low, a distant echo of his Northern booming laugh.
“Wherever did you get such an idea?”

I crook a branch to indicate a book of plays
by Tennessee Williams lodged in among my roots.

“Oh, you’ve been reading. Trying out for the part of
Blanche DuBois, are you?”
He asks, swirling in and out among my many knees.

A Cottonmouth snake is dangling from my branches.
I shake it at him.
You’re such a tease, but I can dream, can’t I?

“Dreaming is what you do best, my dear,” he croons.
“We’ve had this conversation before.
But that is part of your beauty.
All things come from you, or to you, sooner or later.
Why not the role of Blanche DuBois?”

He is so good to remind me. I do so love to dream.

Visioning the World 01-18-14


We who have spent the years
wasting the gift of the Unfettered Wild
around us
So slow to learn
Awaken to the knowledge that we have been destroying
Our very own beings, as the Untamed Wild is
Who we are
What sustains us
Life itself

These days sorrow does battle
With fierce overwhelming rise of Spirit
Within to fight to give to love to do anything
and everything conceivable
In service to this planet
Yet I am called to not succumb to anger
But to reach deep within
And spend time each day remembering

Remember green hills and mountains
Crashing rivers and clean water
Air so fresh that a deep breath charges every cell
with electric joy
Seasons that have a rhythm
and cycle in a way that men have known and can
Attune themselves to
A natural balance where we feel at home
give back love and reverence
as an innate response

I have no concept of sin
Except to violate anything or anyone
Out of greed
To substitute the desire for material goods
or money
For the bliss of marrying my inside to that
Provided from the day I entered this world

So I ask each of you
Warriors and lovers of the Wild
Do more than note the bruises and the beatings
on the body of the Earth
But keep firm the knowledge and memory of what
She has been and is in the essence of Her perfection
See that
Hold it clear in your mind's eye
Your vision of that
May be the finest implement you have
To serve and protect Her.

Winter plus Wild
Equals Bonefire:
Sparks dancing on the wind,
Racing to a cloudy sky,
Throwing a ghostly gauntlet:
Calling to snowflakes
Come out and dance together
In the mortal combat.
Fire and snow,
White and red,
Heat and cold,.
Like a curse,
Like a prayer,
Like a song.
For a moment, somebody'll win
For a moment, somebody'll lose
But coming summer
The Fireweed will bloom.

--
ilana

The Shaman's Daughter, Finding Her Way

It was nearly Spring
when twilight’s wind shook the song
of leaves and river sand
through Wahaya’s bones.

I felt the wolf’s spirit
run over my boots
as if water were drifting in cool silver
toward the woodland shore.

There, I found her lying
half-curled in death
like a moon in Winter’s shadow.

For days, I nurtured her.
My novice hands tending
wounds with dressings soft
as breath that rose from the mountain’s lung.

She healed and led me through the hollow land
of rock and saltbrush— footsteps
kept stomping behind a long shirt of clouds.
Ancestors danced or thunder echoed
the shortening distance.

We came home and found my tribe whispering
slow and mysterious in the way
wood smoke hems the forest floor.
A prayer of delivrance-- while she faded
into the color of birch trees.

The sun sunken low, lingering
on my boot strings
that had slowly come untied.

__________________________________________
Notes -- Wahaya is the Cherokee word for wolf, sometimes referred to as the "She wolf".

Hi Jane

This is haunting and so beautifully written. I live in the high desert area of Southern Cal near a field of Joshua trees. I have heard the coyote call and felt its power stream through me like an eerie kind of music, a calling if you like -- just as you so brilliantly stated in these lines

The call came threading
through the slot
in the window,
coyote thin, a long howl.
It was time.

Thank you for sharing this,
I loved it!

Wendy

Hi Dianne

I love the simplicity and yet the depth in this prayer like song. Beautifully sparse but also lyrical. There is power in your lines. Thank you for sharing this.

Best
Wendy

Hi Kathleen

Loved the imagery and intensity in this power. The reader can feel the sense of escape, change and force.

Lovely work,
Wendy

Hi Ilana

I like the sense of ritualistic chant in this power and the spare use of language. Lovely sound and rhythm add to its enjoyment.

Thank you for sharing
Wendy

Here's a very recent one that looks at the conflict between the wild or natural way and that of social conformity. Recently, I saw the film, The New World, starring Colin Farrell which beautifully examines the nature of wild, Native America through the character of Pocahontas and her encounters/relationship with the white man's culture. I was inspired to write this poem.

Pocahontas In The Old World

In the wind, she hears a language
beyond song finch and fountain –
hands sorting through clam shells, water
running over nets made of vine, the paddling
of canoes.

Here time moves slowly, promenading
through green circles and rows – as if
the hours were laced, stiffened
by a farthingale – she now wears
restricting her own movement. A basket
turned upside down, meant to carry
nothing but the weight of fashion
and protocol she barely understands.

Her wilderness is a ghost
shadowing the ether, trying
to repossesses its beautiful
young body

And yet, she fears its presence
going back to the wild breadth
of something that will be vanquished.

An older poem this one. Thinking about it now so much of my work is connected to 'The Wild'. I echo everyone else here by saying thank you Terri for a week of poetry food, Divine!


Wandering Wood

The air saturated green
Wraps itself around my form
Its scent spiced with musty earth
Thick and expectant,
Heavy like draped animal skin.
I wear it as if I belong.

Bare feet against mud and leaves
A patchwork of ochre underfoot,
I will keep walking
until twisted branches meet above my head
Turning my sky deep umber.
I will meander
Through thorns and thickets,
Over wise gnarled roots,
Across rocks, moss, feathers,
Until I am more creature than woman
And my skin turns to bark.
In this place
My wandering wood
I am not who I thought I was.

In the forest’s womb
Her trees watch you, they listen.
They will whisper and chatter,
Woody breath on the breeze
Speaking your stories with mulch tongues.
They know you to your bones,
The marrow and mineral of you
As you stand beneath them
empty as Pandora’s opened box.
Repeating a question
Wordlessly.
In this place,
My wandering wood,
People can lose their minds.

With my bark skin, warm and rough,
Lungs full of sap and birdsong
I kneel on creeping ivy
As it weaves me in.
My mind is not lost in this place,
I gave it away
In return for my heart.

Winter

The forest waits in silence
Pooling so deep
That shadows take forms
From the corners of our eyes we see them
Shadows running flying, rustling
The Winter breathes a cold icy breath through barren branches
Arms rubbing together
Roots sunk deep in the hard ground where each molecule of earth is connected to another by particles of ice
In this forest, In this silence, In this darkness
There is life

Through long dark starry nights
White swans swim in circles
holding ice at bay

Under the ice
Deep in the cold black river water
Barely moving
a trout survives Winter

Honey Bees packed tight
in their snow covered hives
vibrate wings for warmth
shifting from edge to center

Blue shadowed afternoons
deepening into twilight
a fox crosses the ice

Deep in a dark cave's heart
Brown bears dream
And birth the Spring

Black wings cut
snow laden skies
landing on barren branches
in twos and threes - caw

Over the frozen white ground
grey shadows moving
hungry wolves stalk hungry prey

White snow flakes falling
A flash of color
The cardinal's blood red wings

Walking single file
Leaving one set of tracks in the snow
coyote packs hunt
the edges of two legged space

In the quiet forest
On silent wings
Great horned owl hunts
listening through the snow cover

Grey blue heron
in stillness
At the icy edge of open water

©2010

I love this! As someone growing up in Virginia near the Great Dismal Swamp and with numerous relations in Mississippi and Louisiana, the swamp has always held a special mystery and stillness for me. The final three lines stir powerfully within me. I'm far away from the slow heat of the South, but thank you for reminding me of something that I had loved but forgotten!

old bones are not dry.
they are log-soft, molding
in the lengthwise cracks,
interred in mulch by the grace of
each autumn's bequeathment of leaves.
marrowless, they linger,
a memory of life and
of the death that feeds it.
old bones are colored like old bark,
which is deeply furrowed as though
a brow wrinkled in thought,
taking years to contemplate
the growth of age, and the age of growth.

into this primal haven I step,
bare-footed, mud-soled.
the forest is heavy and
pulls me to her breast;
I crouch, my bones singing
alive-alive-alive
to the bones whose songs have silenced.
autumn is chill and everything
is damp and mossy
and my skin numbs at the touch
of the season of death.
my breath fogs;
my breath is fog;
I touch my palm to the ruptured skin
of a swamp maple's strong flesh
and close my eyes.

we breathe together,
the tree and I,
my thin lungs and her wind-drinking boughs.
this black soil and this
misty autumn air and these
tiny, time-splintered bones nesting
inside the embrace of roots and ferns
will never leave my blood.

This was supposed to be for yesterday's theme, but after a full day, I'm afraid Typepad has gobbled it up. I saw today's theme and thought it would fit quite well here, too.

The Deer Queen

I once met a white-haired
and grey-eyed woman in the forest,
and she told me long ago,
her people had once been trees.
"They lived in the trees?" I asked, glancing up
at the edges of the evergreens, grazing the sun.
"Of course not, child!" she said,
looking rather sickened at the idea.
"We were trees, I tell you, trees we were,
leaves,
roots and all."

I wondered, then, where my brother and I
may've come from,
were our people once trees, too?
Or flowers or moss or rain?

My answer came when one day,
in that same, dark forest,
a witch turned him
into a deer.

He was a rather handsome deer,
long-legged and sinewy and
smelling of cinnamon on cold nights,
and his being a deer seemed as natural
as being a tree,
leaves, roots and all.

Later I learned that all spells,
even the wicked ones,
pull the deepest, most Wild
parts of you out, bringing the
ancestry, darkness,
and fur to light.
And so this is how I came to know,
our people were once deer,
tails,
hooves and all.

This is why they call me
the Deer Queen.


Note: Terri, thank you so very much for holding these challenges. The last one inspired me to actually sit down and apply for a grad program in poetry, something I'd been wanting to do for years. I even included two of my fairy tale poems in my portfolio! Whether I get in or not is still up in the air, but I still thank you for giving us this space... it is very sacred here. Lots of love, R

"The Wild Mother reaches for me, and
I reach back, fingers eager,
and merge, and become whole again.
An ancient song sings within the wind,
and I sing with it."

This resonates and is so, so beautiful.

The Green Man and the Blue Lady
Came adancing in my backyard.
Oh they came with panpipers and
Drummers, such noise and so loud.

The windows shivered, local cats
Came acalling, singing feline tunes
And fenced dogs began to howl
While flowers sang in rhymes and runes.

Oh what a racket, twas the middle
Of an ordinary Wednesday night.
No full moon, no wrack my brain
Festival however small and slight.

What could I do? I went out the door
And smelt the ragged costumes, earth
Underfoot and shaking, like no dance
Or music I knew, tragical but with mirth.

I danced with a lion headed man
Went into a fairy circle dance, until
I nearly flew. I expected polices sirens
To interrupt this wildfooted thrill.

"Oh come, oh come, to forests old.
To ancient oak trees and blessed halls
Come ye creatures masked men and
Women, for all who can hear the calls."

I woke up at dawn, alone in the dew.
The ordinary flowers, grass and trees
Still somehow new. Stiff and aching,
I stretched and then fell to my knees.

I thanked the Green Man and fairies,
Who came to my garden. I prayed
To all the mysteries left behind.
And at last, I was truly unafraid.

The wild is all around us, lands
Beyond our ken. We need them all,
Shy deer, rascal coyote, bears, bees,
And celebration is in their call.

Primordial sound (or: home in the Wilderness)


The whispering of trees,
sighing in a light wind,
dropping small shards of ice
that fall to the ground with a „cling“.
Totally noiseless, but awe-inspiring
the opening of the gates of my heart,
releasing my writer’s block
out into the vast landscape.

The call of a crow,
and then another
flying across the fields.
The light, brittle jingle of
my breath
falling to the ground crystallized
by the icy air.

The rustling of dry leaves
under the old oak tree
where a squirrel is digging
for a special treasure
only the hungry will understand.

The crisp, clear sound
my boots make
as I cross the frozen field,
multiplied by the paws
of my dog pack following.

In the distance, a buzzard cries,
a small bird ruffles its feathers nearby.
Breathing seems to be so loud –
my own panting and that of my dogs.

I wake a fire with dried elder sticks
and birch bark.
The small, sharp cracks,
little explosions, the sweet
woodsy scent
and at last the warmth
reach my outstretched hands
after they caressed my ears.

Primordial sound, voice of the wild,
vital, renewing, recreating
my wild, tiny part of the world.
I am home.

THE WILD

It is outside. You go there. Things occur
that you can not imagine. And you change
scale wet rocks without falling, cure wolves' mange
and make them loyal. Stronger than you were

through crystal mountains, hungry trees you roam
unscathed save for the fingernail you lose
to shrewbite. Feet grow harder without shoes.
You dream of love and wealth, but not of home.

What was the outside is inside you now.
Its briars fill your brain, discordant song
pounds heartbeat, blood tide, intimate yet wrong.
And then it's over, leaves you. Curtsey, bow

to all the gods of Wild, with fur and horn
peeling away, go back where you were born.

THE WILD

It is outside. You go there. Things occur
that you can not imagine. And you change
scale wet rocks without falling, cure wolves' mange
and make them loyal. Stronger than you were

through crystal mountains, hungry trees you roam
unscathed save for the fingernail you lose
to shrewbite. Feet grow harder without shoes.
You dream of love and wealth, but not of home.

What was the outside is inside you now.
Its briars fill your brain, discordant song
pounds heartbeat, blood tide, intimate yet wrong.
And then it's over, leaves you. Curtsey, bow

to all the gods of Wild, with fur and horn
peeling away, go back where you were born.

Fantastic photos above!


MIDWINTER RIDER
On a wind-chilled winter night
the quiet lane,
busy with bicycles and traffic
by day
grows somehow different.
Tree boughs wave nakedly
above snow-laden hedgerows
and only the soft rush
of wind
spreads sound in desolation.
Moonlight casts a faerie mantle
over ground disturbed
only by food-seeking rabbits,
and suddenly the air is crisp
and clear,
rife with expectation...
reality and the mythic
clash together,
and who is to say
on a Solstice Eve at twilight,
which is more true?

Standing in mundane woollens
I watch His approach
sudden and sharp...
yet strangely like that motion
caught beyond eye's reach--
there, but never defined...
the antlered man astride,
riding the gale,
riding the coming winter storm,
his breath Jack Frost's bite,
his eyes frozen tarns,
hair showering shadow,
blotting out Moon's cold eye
and he casts me
a gift
from a cloak of vegetation
while His Wild Hunt streams by.

On hooves silent that yet herald
faint peals of distant thunder
he vanishes near the road's curve
near thatched cottages
white-roofed,
porchlights shining beacons
in the haunted dark,
and in cold-blistered hands
I see his symbol
not of death and world's ending
but of spring,
of coming resurrection--
reddened by crimson drops
drawn from my own pierced fingers:
a white ice-crystal rose.

I love the immediacy, the easy-going proximity of this - wild and home not being at odds.

These are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

So, it's after 11 PM here on the East coast of the US. I have thought much of the day on what to write. I was lost. Utterly nothing. Oh sure, there are couple of chants, and rhymes we sing around here. But the real peom remained hidden from me. Now, for those that know me personally, you see a bit of irony there. I am utterly in service to the image of the Wild Man, the Wose of the Wood and the Green Man, all bundled up together. Terri knows this, as do some friends. First and foremost is the many 100s of green men masks I sell each year. Reaching down deep and bringing this primordial image to life is how my family quite literally eats and has shelter. The Green Man and the wildness, in mask form is our bread and butter. Now, beyond that. Some know that I am part of a group that dresses like those fellows there in the photos at the beginning of the post. The Beneficent Order of the Greenman (B.O.G) is a life's work of mine. A group to encourage the wildness of man as a positive role model. That the verdant blessing is best, and we embrace it. Nothing really much. How men with leaves in their hair and acorns in their hands can evoke such emotions in so many is astounding. It speaks ever so greatly of the power of this image and how is is sense, felt and understood, not quite seen, and even not quite written about. That the very image of the Green Man and Wild man is elusive in our folklore, present, but never fully written out and metaphor laid to see, is part of this riddle. I will say, that once time, Jane Yolen said that having a bunch of Green Men sing blessings to her and bring acorns to her, was a favorite experience. That our own dear hostess and Faerie Goddess mother, Terri Windling expressed similar sentiments. That is humbling. That is important. That makes me want to go down on my knees among old leaf litter and thank gods of the forest long since lost. It wasn't me that did that. That gave them that shudder, as the antlers passed by. It's in our cells and our bones. It's written on our souls.

So, spending my life in service to this, you would think that a song/poem/rhyme to it would spill out like vines from a font. I have read many 100s of Green Man/Wildwose Poems, and songs, and hope, one day, to even publish a treasury of such. I can recite, from memory several of the best. The one quoted by Terri at the beginning, Sometimes a Wild God, is perhaps the best one ever written. My response to it is a body memory, as old as my carbon, and I have gone back to it several times. So, why can't I sprout one from my lips? Why doesn't the green word disgorge from me? Perhaps because of all of the above. Maybe I spent so much of my life, looking at this fellows leaf clad face, seeing stare back at me in the mirror and on the faces of my Brothers, that I can't seem to step to one side and draw what I see from there. I'm not sure.

So, I thought I wasn't going to post anything. I found that ironic. I had been avoiding the poems here, hoping to let it come without the influence of so many words. Then, tonight, as small screech owl landed outside. I saw him in the light, and his eyes, reminded me. So, here it is. I would apologize for so many words of explanation, but I hope Terri will understand, that I will take liberties on this subject. I had to explain, why, yet, I still can't. Just shadows. That's all I have. So here it is.

Ancient Father Friend.
Wise Brother.
You lie there, along the edges of my heart,
amongst the creases of my eyes,
in the dirt grubbed whorls of my fingers.
You turn my shadows green
while I wander in the wild wood
seeking you.
Why do I owe such a burden?
Born in blood
ten thousand grandfathers strong.
I know that it is your song I sing
among trees, old and young.
My hearing is diminished,
this hum of light pushes back the darkness,
the brightness hurts my eyes,
and the stars have lost their names.
How can I ever know what rhymes
my uncles spoke to you?
Does the song still live along
the shafts of my hair?
Is there hope hanging by
spiders silk,
a suspended oak leaf of memory,
whispering that tune of your
neolithic summers?
I am caught up as well,
dancing to your reel,
my whole life a passion play
telling a story I don't quite know.
No matter the sound of my staff
on boards of straight grain.
I call from my throat,
yet I cannot summon you.
It is I who stand in you shadow
and it is we who shall go down
into that verdant darkness.
Feeding the roots,
and leaving no one to know.
My debt will be repaid
in iron, calcium, and carbon.
I've been a acorn so many times.

So, Terri, thank you. I just knew you would pick this subject. I had a feeling it would be hard. It was. My offering is poor, and wormy, and a bit badly shaped, but it is most truly from the heart. So glad it's out, so I can just go read all these poems about a subject my life is built around. Thank you very much.

Solstice Eve, 2013.

"That tree just has to go," she told me.
"Those branches up there aren't even alive."
She wasn't wrong: two bare sticks
Topped the other, spindly branches,
Frond-like leaves already yellowing
In the golden autumn sun.
But the berries, oh!
Coral-red clusters, pendant jewels,
Amber drops suspended
Between the fanning greens
Proof that the Rowan yet lived.

All I said was, "We can see,
In the Spring..."
All I knew was, It is not right
To cut down a Fairy Tree.

Winter came.
The leaves fell.
The Rowan remained.
Dark as ebony the wet, bare branch
Deep as blood the berry
Red and black and all snow-white
A blanket over all of our small front garden.

Yule came,
The Longest Night,
And this one longer than most.
Through all that dark night
An ice-storm raged its fury.
Wild wind whipped
Bent the burdened branches
Heavy with hoar and dripping with ice.
Many things that were under strain
Broke free at last.

The sun at last was reborn.
In its shining, the world was remade
Glittering Ice-Palaces stood
Where bleak power-lines fell.
Bedecked with diamonds,
Trees bowed to their neighbors,
And stars hung from the eaves-troughs.

Our Rowan was sundered,
Cleft clean in two, as if from some mighty blow,
It's back broken beneath the weight of ice
Crystal encasing both berry and branch.

"That tree just has to go," she told me.
She wasn't wrong: neither was I.
On the Longest Night
In the Wildest Storm
The faerie-folk of the rowan-wood
Departed from their sheltering home.
The broken spirit must be freed
To make room for new life.

I've been out all day, and the day is nearly over, but I have this. It appeared in the Rocky Mountain Reader, April/May 2002. It is, I think where the wild meets the city, where order meets chaos, where the glass bottom boat pulls into the dock in Avalon.


Harbour Tour

Patrolled by tides, moon-ridden, rich
kelp forests billow,
shudder in jurassic caress
flirting with the sea.
Thresher sharks touch down
secure in camouflage,
linger
on the ground swell
and bulbs of light—
a thousand candles hazard time,
fathom the world,
disperse the atmosphere
in emerald and jade
ruffle at the ribboned edge
of an isle
of glass.

The water always wins.

They married the ocean at the harbor,
once, and ruled the world from banks
of mud and gilded glass
so long as Serenissima
sullen in her power, splendid
in her bride jewels,
suckled masquing Venice
on her bridges
and her wealth. All gone
except the bridge, Vivaldi
and the choir.

The music in the water
and the light
make lovers cry
where no one else can see.



Beautiful.

A beautiful invocation and affirmation, Shane.

Thank you, Anita! I spent many hours with my camera in the Great Dismal Swamp and the swampy areas of Charleston, SC, as well as some in Louisiana and Florida. The spark to this was Spanish Moss, thinking it must be someone's hair :) I have moved around a lot LOL

Thanks--Been rewriting this poem. If you want to see the latest incarnation, send me email at janeyolen@aol.com

Jane

"the wolf of night" what a great image!!

Jane

The last two lines eepecially hit me zero to the bone. Thanks,

Jane

Even if you hadn't written the poem, the introduction said it all.

Go, Green Man,
with your leafy incantations,
your mask showing your intentions,
you feet dancing the patterns
of the world's heart.

Go, Green Man,
reminding us we are all green,
root and rootling,
our skin but a fragile shield
against the cold.

Go, Green Man,
burn in winter, rise again
in the curls of spring,
masked and unmasked,
birth and rebirth,
you do it all
as you walk the maze.

From Jane to Shane and the BOG

©2014 all rights reserved

Me too - YES!!! THANK YOU, Terri, for this challenge! Again, it kicked my butt to keep writing and sparked fires inside lighting up my creativity. FANTASTIC!!!

Wonderful, Ali!

"The wind turns, and I turn with it,
hair and flowers blown about me,
and I vanish into the breeze once more,
knowing this land anew."

Exquisite imagery packed with truth.

First, that I am replying to MOM, is the best ever. You are, as you know, and it so lovely. Thank you for being so.

Also, that Jane Yolen did this, in of itself, and affirmation. An anointing. you know. Spit on palms and touched to the brow. Well, I never thought, and may not be worthy, but that is how these things work.

May I share it?

Hi Raquel

I love your poem "The Deer Queen" and the way it examines not only the sense of ancestry that haunts each individual but also how our human connection is connected to the wild, to the magic and instinctive side of life. Shape-shifting, I think is more than myth, at least in the mental aspect of it. We learn from nature and we also inherit some of our character traits from both land and animal. This poem addresses that with both intellectual grace and wisdom. I adored these lines, in particular, and feel they are the essence or core the poem -

Later I learned that all spells,
even the wicked ones,
pull the deepest, most Wild
parts of you out, bringing the
ancestry, darkness,
and fur to light.

Thank you for sharing this,
A pleasure to read and contemplate.

Best
Wendy

Made from the flowers of the wilderness, chained and oppressed, then transformed into the majestic owl, the goddess of Winter's starry skies. Was this punishment? No! It was redemption...

"Blodeuwedd Soars!"

What urgent message penetrates
Most shrill and chilling fright?
Is this despair that's reaching out
From winter's frigid night?

Perhaps it is a song of joy
A spirit finally free?
A flight of celebration
That very few can see?

How came you to this landscape
Your current, starry home?
Does the moon encourage you
On downy wings to roam?

Gracious lady once denied
Your vibrant nature's heat
Springtime's candle burst aflame
In broom and meadowsweet

Before you stood so proudly
Adorning mighty oaks
A sacred life force blossoming
That Danu's love evokes

Orphaned by a wicked scheme
Stripped from Mother's care
Did you give your sanction
To this selfish, bleak affair?

Your desire pushed the bounds
When you were wrapped in chains
With beauty and your instincts
Variety's remains

Who could know your loneliness
Your need for love unbound?
To be unleashed from rules of men
That forced you to be crowned.

Faithful to your transience
Life's quick and eager claim
Would not any living being
Strike boldly, just the same?

Lady, now we know your plight
We understand your role
No king now can condemn you
Once again, you're whole

You do not fly by light of day
But certainly you see
The energy you represent
Divine fertility

Sacred goddess, be our guide
With loving strength and power
We celebrate your essence
On this dark and lonely hour

Your piercing cry, so musical
Your nature, not misread
Soar upon your passion's wings
O, blessed Blodeuwedd

Of course--though even when sharing it with friends, please be sure the © notice is appended and the caution that if they want to share it further, they need to get in touch with me.

That's because it's still a work in progress and may change some.

Jane

Amazing poem. Your prose introduction is equally poetic.

A little light verse for all those rugged men and women who have felt trapped to their desks when they really wanted to spend more time in the wild...

"Cooped Up Viking"

Why must I be so damn bored
I want to hike a glacial fjord
To climb the monumental peaks
In Norway's warmer summer weeks

I long to meet the frigid lakes
And catch some fish that sizzles, bakes
Upon my little cooking fire
Such nutrition would inspire

My dungeon needs an exit
So I can make my legs fit
Into some awesome hiking shorts
Some rugged Viking clothes of sorts

Transport me to a Faroe
Where I won't have a care, Oh
Wisk me straight to Iceland
That really would suffice, and

I'd commune with wild things
Dream of goddesses and warrior-kings
In my nifty camping tent
Before the morning's next ascent

Freya, won't you be my guide
Together we will make each stride
What a journey we'll begin
To breathe in better oxygen!

Trapped to a desk, all too often

"Cooped Up Viking"

Why must I be so damn bored
I want to hike a glacial fjord
To climb the monumental peaks
In Norway's warmer summer weeks

I long to meet the frigid lakes
And catch some fish that sizzles, bakes
Upon my little cooking fire
Such nutrition would inspire

My dungeon needs an exit
So I can make my legs fit
Into some awesome hiking shorts
Some rugged Viking clothes of sorts

Transport me to a Faroe
Where I won't have a care, Oh
Wisk me straight to Iceland
That really would suffice, and

I'd commune with wild things
Dream of goddesses and warrior-kings
In my nifty camping tent
Before the morning's next ascent

Freya, won't you be my guide
Together we will make each stride
What a journey we'll begin!
And breathe in better oxygen

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