Halloween Candy

I’ll toss this in your trick-or-treating bag: an excerpt from a lengthy dark poem I included in my chapbook Fruit & Bones.  The entire thing is embarassingly long, but a bit of it still goes down rather nicely with the chill wine of October…

Dr. Mirabilis

…In the dream she saw two stars

framed in the window’s upper reach

like twin fires on some far hill

and thought she heard the roar

and flutter of the flames.

The scent of autumn, smoky cold,

drifted in as guests departed –

perfume of rain-gilt leaf and root

and mushroom-candled loam.

 

Two stars like eyes were all her field

of view, more luminous with each

whispered tick of tall case clock,

nearer with each breezy sweep

of pendulum, silken-hushed

as wings against the dusk.

From the barn loft dropped the owl,

gliding round-faced through the wood,

feathers belled by silver sequined

drops of rain.

 

Behind it streamed a star-burnt tide

of living night, like velvet brushed

and beckoning the touch.

She felt its pull, the soft seduction

of the traveling dead,

their speed and purpose unimpeded

in the owl’s broad wake.

 

Up she flew, and saw below her swift feet

the ranks of trees, shattered pools in mossy glades,

the tilting earth in sable clothed,

white-flame streaks of meteors like

scars upon the hide of night,

and all was silent as the tomb.

 

Her heart grew heavy in her breast;

like rain, it would return to earth.

She faltered in her flight and tumbled

down between the worlds…

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The Spider in the Barberry

Nude,

she descends the staircase.

Gliding down the staggered span

in the glory of her dusky skin,

eight stiletto feet traverse

laddered elisions of architecture

not Cubist or Modernist,

but of ancient craft –

the silken scaffold of her appetite

pinned to the thorns and smoking

in the morning light.

 

Her shadow fractures on

red leaves, lethal arcs and angles

of the final dark geometry.

The staircase is an abattoir,

the lady sleek with murder

yet elegant in form and grace

as her swaying, lustrous home –

the cool byzantine trap that

ascends forever outward on the wind.

 

 

e.yon/2011

 

Red

When he saw her in her scarlet hood

his teeth began to grow.

Point by point, they filled his jaw

and his long, hot tongue caressed them.

Red was the color of his desire,

the flaming curl against her cheek,

the roses there that bloomed with every blush,

the cloak that flirted in the shadow

of the forest deep, where he followed.

 

When he heard the sprinting fear

fleet as a startled doe within her veins,

he began to run.

He was strong and fast and cunning,

but, most frightening of all, he was beautiful.

Red was the color of her desire,

the burning passion of his gaze,

the ruby of his heart, for her alone.

 

When she stopped, breathless, for him

the forest gave her up.

Red was the color of her death,

the blood upon the perfect sheet,

and fine as crimson gloves

upon his hands.

 

 

e. yon 3/11

 

The Fisherwoman: A Dark Comedy

No doubt disturbs the staunch belief:

undines in tea-dark water dwell,

or lakes of flat sun-sluggish jade

calm as tables neatly laid

and waiting for the feast.

 

Myth states marriage as their goal,

the bearing of a mortal child.

We’re told they seek domestic bliss,

exchange of one connubial kiss

in acquisition of a soul.

 

The truth is darker in its tone

as befits creatures from the depths

of cold rock-bound loving cups.

As the kneeling willow sups,

so do undines gnaw on bones.

 

The willow fishes for her bread,

pulls him close and drowns him dead,

while undines hope only to wed.

O, la! The willow fishes.

 

Brave Edward rose beside a tarn

black and deep as dreamless night

where darted ‘neath the shadowed water

a slim and lovely faerie daughter

deceitful in her charms.

 

She rose like music toward the sun,

green and pale as springtime buds.

Spotted as a smooth-skinned fish,

sweeter than a granted wish,

her breasts of blushing celadon.

 

Gracefully, she took the shore

and set about her comb and glass.

Her silver hair like harp strings sighed;

she drew the comb its length with pride.

(Such treasure no king ever tried

To win by trade or war.)

 

The willow stocks her larder well.

Whose bones beneath her knobbed knees dwell?

None have ever lived to tell.

O, la! The willow fishes.

 

Edward tumbled from his steed,

unhorsed by sheer astonishment.

His heart a weight, and now a drum,

he staggered forward at a run

before the girl could flee.

 

She, in pretty fright, upheld

hands like snowy egret plumes.

“Oh, sir, be soft and do no harm”.

She trembled in his sun-browned arms

and worked her wicked spell.

 

She said, “One kiss is all I dare.

I’ve never touched a mortal man.”

Edward’s heart swelled with pride;

he couldn’t guess the monster lied

or planned to drag him to her lair.

 

The willow fishes with her net

of tendrils by the current swept

‘round wrist or throat – she’ll drown him yet!

O, la! The willow fishes.

 

She kissed the inky knots and whorls

tattooed upon his shoulder,

and smiled against the cryptic art.

“Good God, but your teeth are sharp!”,

cried Edward, pricked as by a dart

by what he’d thought were pearls.

 

Limp beauty turned to lethal foe

strong as temptation, slippery-lithe.

She showed him glistening fangs and claws,

and with fury raked him raw,

slashing flesh to bone.

 

He saw her hungry eyes and knew

with dread her black intent. He fought.

The willow’s ward, she knew her craft –

she scored him bloody fore and aft –

and made off with his tattoo.

 

The willow schools the undine fair,

who hunts with beauty for a snare.

Mortal men, near lakes beware!

O, la! The willow fishes.

 

The undine carried off her scrap

of Edward’s decorated flesh,

and shared the dainty crudité

with the willow, lean and fey,

gnawed bones in her lap.

 

Swooning Edward, pale and weak,

gained his saddle with a groan.

Riding to the nearest town,

he toppled to the stony ground.

The townsfolk all gathered ’round

to hear if he would speak.

 

“For love of beauty, I am undone”,

croaked Edward, grimacing with pain.

“I’ll live, and I’ll be wise and true,

but ’twill be without that cursed tattoo

I got in drunken fun.”

 

The willow grinds men’s bones to silt,

and relishes the blood that’s spilt

beneath her braids of sunlit gilt.

O, la! The willow fishes.

 

 

e.yon/2002 (from Fruit & Bones)

 

Open Hands

Here is your left hand of intuition,

receptive as the earth in spring.

Feel the palm, open as the door

of a hospitable house, each fingertip

conversing at the threshold between bodies

like a farmwife choosing summer peaches,

gentle and knowing – the thoughtful perusal

of the delicate fruit.

Your left hand hears the story,

charts the map, sighs and murmurs,

“Yes, the scars are here and here,

the knot of raw emotion bound

in silken flesh, the dragon-scale of armor

stalwart against the fray.”

Your left hand is a seer.

 

Here is your right hand of power,

aflame with healing fire.

Feel the palm, open as the glowing eye

of some fierce maelstrom, each fingertip

a conduit of Divine light.

A universe of abundance rushes forth,

galvanized by love and the selfless

act of touch, one skin to another

in peaceful communion.

Your right hand opens space for radiance to enter,

a key to the locked body that turns sweetly.

Your right hand is an avatar.

 

Here are your hands,

hot with purpose, wreathed in light,

the shadow of phoenix wings upon

the body that will rise up strong and whole

from the ashes of its pain.

 

e.yon/2006, written in honor of the healing work of massage therapists and bodyworkers

Lexicon

Leaf:

Sun-roughened leather green, smooth green-skinned dew slide,

Green darklight quiver, forest shrugging its pelt.

Crushed green exhalation, shadow-shod footfalls

Through parasoled salons of mayapple melt.

 

Stone:

Underleaf mud bone, lichen-scaled dragon haunch,

Mountain stretched low in taupe-beaded swath.

Glitterfine sugar-sift dusted with pyrite,

Fossil house streaming with slick bannered floss.

 

Water:

Overstone sculptor, timpanic polisher,

Rainmantle sweeping along pebbled halls.

Chandelier wreck heaped against mirror’s edge,

Pendant crystals and shards shiver down past recall.

 

Deer:

Girl in horn moccasins light on the mossways,

Fresh as green fern frond, alert and alone.

Sipping the cloud-draught from sun-dappled chalices,

Defining with wise tongue: leaf, water, and stone.

 

 

e.yon/2005

 

 

Dream Sequence With Whalesong

The boat: a small craft lightly rigged,

hull burnished to the sheen of a scrying glass,

a mirror upon a mirrored world, reflecting

speed in vigorous wash and spume,

yet refusing to foretell the next liquid hour.

 

A cipher for the night-struck mind,

she leapt and dived like a dolphin

from crest to trough, and was thrillingly yar.

Her deck was bare and lithe; she bent to the wind

and fished along the waves, igniting phosphorescence.

 

No rock, no reef to wreck her,

but cross seas, greenlit water rising on its fluked tail.

Drowned canvas dragged up a glittered fathom

to kiss the moon and fall

from the dizzy height of surface.

 

The woman: adrift and fearless as a shark,

knowing the slide of sea on skin, its wanton slap and thrust.

Out of element, unkeeled and tumbling in the dark,

pale as a jelly in tenebrous wreckage,

she breathed as though gilled the cool density primordial.

 

The sea was the world, fractured blue and night,

tonic in scent, a mesmeric sway significant

as embryonic dip and drift.

The woman opened outward on the currents,

opened endlessly inward.

 

No drum but the heart, no ritual but the tide

as she melted and pooled and flowed

like a rush of sudden music, limbs of diffusing octaves

singing the dark interstices of buoyant stars.

 

The whales: navigators by constellation

crooning incantations that bind the world of deeps –

pink flare of conch, cobalt rifts and bubbled grottoes

undulant with kelp, sun from below like Spanish gold,

moon like the navel of god, the air a giddy balm,

land a distant melancholy long abandoned.

 

Hide to naked hide, hot in the cold velocity

of wild chop and foam, speeding ridges green-black

as night forests, they moaned their joy and rode

a planet of delirious motion, sucked deep the salty teat

and thrashed against the heaving belly of their heaven.

 

No fear of death, no cringing inhibition,

they swept around her, who floated open as an anemone,

as a quickened eye – they swept around her, ardent and fierce

with delight, rolling her in their jubilant wake.

They swept her away.

 

 

e.yon/2011