Clear Star

I Have a Young Sister (lyrics: anon., 15th century)

I have a young sister
Far beyond the sea
Many be the drowries
That she sente me

She sente me the cherry
Withouten any stone
And so she did the dove
Withouten any bone

She sente me the briar
Withouten any rind
She bade me love my leman
Without longing

How should any cherry
Be withoute stone?
And how should any dove
Be withoute bone?

How should any briar
Be withoute rind?
How should I love my leman
Without longing?

When the cherry was a flower
The hadde it no stone
When the dove was an egg
The hadde it no bone

When the briar was unbred
Then hadde it no rind
When the maiden hath that she loveth
She is without longing.

Brahma (lyrics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1856)

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain thinks he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep and pass, and turn again

Om mani padme om
Om mani padme om

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

Om mani padme om
Om mani padme om

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

Om mani padme om
Om mani padme om

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven,
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me and turn thy back on heaven.

Om mani padme om
Om mani padme om

Sidus Clarum (lyrics: anon, 12th century)

Sidus clarum
flos e decus omnium,
rosa veris,
quae videris
clarior quam lilium.

Old Woman (lyrics: J. Micale)

You are the throbbing fires of sunset racing through the heavens as the blood of our ancestors. You are the rumbling thunder-voice of the lashing storm, the white-crested waves of the gathering sea, the chime of tree-borne icicles as the ragged wind howls. You are the tattered dryad whose flaming garments have fallen, the stark black bough against the steel clouds. You are the hidden fruit that rots beneath the earth and the hard seed within. You are the clipped rose, the withered petal, the reeds that rattle on the shore like thin brown bones.

You are the moon engulfed by the obsidian veil, the beauty swallowed by pounding time. You are the overhead stars that glare with icy eyes, the night without stars beneath the soil. You are the raven's wing, the prowling owl, the bat whose cry shattered blindness. You are the scent of smoldering sage, the black edge that cuts the umbilicus, the black-skinned dancer of endings.

You are the final breast at which we must rest. You are the sterling tears of grief, the leaden mantle of sorrow. You are the light that gleams through the silent mind. You pull the cub from the wolf, the infant from the womb. You are granite, the black stone. You are the iron law of nature, the jet scepter of change. You hold the scales and the feather to weigh our worn hearts. You are the phantom world beneath, the calm beneath the fear, the volcanic flame beneath the calm. You are the ending, the future, the lidless eye ever-seeing, the hole. You are the skeleton and the spine, the skull and the staring eye. You are the Mother of our Mother. Welcome, grandmother.

The Cap and Bells (lyrics: W.B. Yeats, 1894)

The jester had walked in the garden;
The garden had fallen still;
He bade his soul rise upward
And stand on her window-sill.

It rose in a straight blue garment,
When owls began to call:
It had grown wise-tongued by thinking
Of a quiet and light footfall;

But the young queen would not listen;
She rose in her pale night gown;
She drew in the heavy casement
And pushed the latches down.

He bade his heart go to her,
When the owls called out no more;
In a red and quivering garment
It sang to her through the door.

It had grown sweet-tongued by dreaming,
Of a flutter of flower-like hair;
But she took up her fan from the table
And waved it off on the air.

"I have cap and bells," he pondered
"I will send them to her and die";
And when the morning whitened
He left them where she went by.

She laid them upon her bosom,
Under a cloud of her hair,
And her red lips sang them a love song
Till stars grew out of the air.

She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.

They set up a noise like crickets,
A chattering wise and sweet,
And her hair was a folded flower
And the quiet of love in her feet.

Steel Grey Sea (lyrics: J. Micale)

the salt of winter's
steel gray sea.

Spume and crash
drum faceless rock
rattle the bones
of impassive sand.

The sea roars
the dead steal through
the clenched fists of life
like sand.

The wheel creaks.
A gull wails.
Now is the time
of the dead.

Death, your hand is cold and dark
death, you are the shadow
death, your sea is wide and cold
the essence of ending.

Death, your face is shrouded close
death, you haunt my footsteps
death, your sea runs through my veins
the mystery of ending

death, your hand is soft and mild
death, you are my comfort
death, your sea washes me
the blessing of ending

this is the sunless sea of our sorrows, our tears, the world's western edge. Over this cold ocean, someday you shall travel to the door of birth, but not this day. Gaze at its waters perhaps a ship sails of one who is passing. Gaze now at the dark horizon perhaps the distant lights of the Summerland glitter in the distance

Iza (lyrics: J. Micale)

Praise ice.
Praise the
thin line
thick blood
from airy dream.

Praise the
slipping up
unwary soles
flung arms
like a martyr
slipping up
and other
such motives.

Praise the
cold spine
of pride
best sucked
as a lozenge
for some

Praise the
arms of
for a

Praise the
cut edge
the sheer
mass inching
blue caverns

Praise the
the clean
Praise ice.

Midnight Sun (lyrics: J. Micale)

As above, so below she thinks in her gold lam‚ in the velvet of midnight violet, the deep deep blue of the black. So she glitters in the hole of the heart of the night. So she glitters. Her companion twists her milk-pale wrist, lights the coal-tip of the cigarette. As above, so below. The coal of a heart, burning. The coal, the coal. The cold. A black deeper than even winter, when the black is the ash of life. What does that mean? She thinks, she ponders, she is the midnight sun of the scene, the glowing bright and dark scene. Ah, pretension, she thinks, ah pretension. Another world. World, word. What is under the ice? Land mass at points south, a frozen Martian satellite with its granite germs. Penguins, emperors, the men nurturing with their feet as the women run off and play. As it should be. At points north, too, but they don't stay and nurture there, I think. Not sure, but think. Scientists under the ice, on the ice, between sheets of snow and hail studying god knows what, studying human isolation and tolerance in that blank white sheet. Summer, the rivulets of icy cold freezer water cascading over more ice, the deep blue of the glacier underneath the roiling sea, the deep blue of it breaking off and sinking ships and making ice cubes for the wealthy. See that carved swan, the table-piece amid the cheese platter? It sank the Titanic, she says in her gold lam‚ as her alcoholic necrophiliac friend with the six divorces under her diamond tennis bracelet chainsmokes another. A martini, puh-leaze. A martini.

What is under the ice? Ah, that is the question. Id or martini for you, signor Freud? A collective beverage, Herr Jung? What lies under those Aryan eyes, keen and clear and distant as ice, the eyes that dispassionately watch the olive-skinned child waste to a withe, that watch the gypsies scavenge off shit. Well, at least it doesn't upset my stock portfolios. Another martini, those eyes seem to say. And say clearly, ice-edged, deep blue of the glacier of the malice underneath. But not, but not the only ice. There is ice in other places, sun or no. And she walks down the street in a mourning-babushka, walks in her gold lam‚ or in her drag- queen caricature heels or in rags or in rages and punk-spikes. And she is the midnight sun in all her guises, that one brilliant spark in this expanse of ice, this surfaceless cold of the northern climes. Here, under the ice is more ice, not solidity like the south. Here, the city. And she is a bagwoman and she is a hooker a corporate executive a lesbian a mother of six of eighteen a bitchmother a foxy lady and she is something unnamed unnameable and she is despised and admired by her husband and loved by millions on the telly in her gold lam‚ and she is ignored in her frumpy K-mart secretary clothes with her journalist's notebook with a pencil behind her ear with a sewing machine in front of her brown calloused hands with miles of sequined clothe she and her ilk will never wear.

And how is she the sun of the midnight? Well, the son, her son and her father, the iron-browed and the gold-plated, well he is the ultimate absolute zero, he is the cold sucking her sap. The glacier deep blue hostility. Deep deeper blue underneath the surface and sinking her papyrus boats. Don't expect papyrus, you think? Well, you expect a glacier in the midst of the Nile even less and yet, it's there. Don't ask. They never do; they just tell. And she's sick of it and the white and the blankness and with a gold pen with a pen a plume of gold lam‚ she makes a mark a spark on the paper she makes a mark on the snow the bedsheet the winding shroud she makes a mark on that Aryan expanse on the purity of death of killing the other. And she makes the mark and the mark is I.

Complicity (lyrics: J. Micale)

i had held golden blossoms
in my hand
they trembled in a
grateful silence.
I had worn them
in my hair
my eyes were blossoms
i was a weaving flower

drawing up the sun
the soil is sown with salt.
I could not scream you
or let you from my mouth.
The gag was too tight
i could not worry
the knot with my hands
they trembled in silence

anger, you were angry
with the lotus
in one hand
and the scythe in the other.
Anger, you were angry
with your flying hair
and the marigolds
around your neck.

You could not redeem me
through a gagged mouth
so you swallowed me
with your jagged teeth.
"It is over"
you cried
i trembled in a
grateful silence

"I gave you twenty years
you let the hourglass sand
flow like breezes
and still you were silent.
"When you should have howled
you wept like a child
you let the hands spin
in the watchface "

"And you were silent
as the plodding ox
as the child
beneath the stairs."
She took me by the hand
and led me to the pyre
i trembled in a
grateful silence

Eight of Swords (lyrics: J. Micale)

the bricks are hard
the earth's red bones
and the crows
are laughing

they sing of the dreams
that taunt, that haunt
that howl a hag
outside winter's window

the cards build masonry
the stars glare forever
the pendulum ceases
to give answer and stills

the ink pond ripples
images dance on its surface
and cannot evade the frost

Lost Words (lyrics: J. Micale)

i address to you
a million confessions
only to walls,
streaked bathroom mirror

the tapestries
nibble them, kitchen, bedroom.
Salted confections
india print
yawning pomegranates third world flowers

they accept his image
wind it into
bluegreen birds

she offers the coin of her confessor
nickelsilver of regrets
the seventh spilled cup

i have penned a love letter
scripted it spidery
the runny red ink of my passion
whimsical intensities.

I am the script the letter its ink
but do any
know how to read
do they desire


The Hosting of the Sidhe (lyrics: W.B. Yeats, 1893)

The host is riding from Knocknarea
And over the grave of Clooth-na-bare
Caolte tossing his burning hair
And Niamh calling "Away, come away
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a-gleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart."
The host is rushing 'twixt night and day,
And where is there hope or deed as fair?
Caolte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling, "Away, come away."

He Mourns for the Change That Has Come Upon Him and His Beloved and Longs for the End of the World (lyrics: W.B. Yeats, 1865)

Do you not hear me calling, white deer with no horns?
I have been changed to a hound with one red ear;
I have been in the Path of Stones and the Wood of Thorns
For somebody hid hatred and hope and desire and fear
Under my feet that they follow you night and day.

A man with a hazel wand came without sound,
He changed me suddenly; I was looking another way
And now my calling is but the calling of a hound;
And Time and Birth and Change are hurrying by.
I would that the Boar without bristles had come from the West
And rooted the sun and moon and stars out of the sky
And lay in the darkness, grunting, and turning to his rest.

Hearth and Heart (lyrics: J. Micale)

Lady Brigid
Lady of the hearth
Lady of the heart
Healer of the soul
     Lady of the heart
     Healer of the soul

Invocation at the Eastern Gate (lyrics: J. Micale)

Give me feathers so I may fly, so that I may touch the pinpricks of the stars with my wingtips, so I may separate myself from the earth. Let me sleep on the wing, floating on the currents, or on the slender branch, swaying in the wind. Let me open my throat to beauty and to lightness, darting and bright, the edge of the horizon at dawn when the sun cuts through the clouds, a blinding knife. Let me be the bard of the zephyrs, the handmaid of Aeolus, the whore of the winds that pillow me, that hold me up with unseen hands. Let my song mirror the hum of the spheres' turning, the celesta that rings out from the planets, the orchestra of the cosmos. Let my tongue be the soft lilac of the crocus battling the white edge of the snow, the bud on the branch promising beginnings, ever new, ever nascent. The clean birth of spring, budless and damp, all sap and the sky stealing the wet. Give me feathers so that I may fly. Walking, oh dancing, oh singing in holiness in ecstasy we take flight

She Draws Her Bow into the Crescent Moon (lyrics: J. Micale)

I dance the veil of worlds between
and the Moon my silver heart
candle flames carve my marble form
shot with brightness and the eyes of sanctity

     She draws her bow into the crescent Moon

I am holy, I am nude skin
lambent and shedding light, a snakeskin
a star with human hands
cradling the silk of the iris

     She draws her bow into the crescent Moon

I circle-dance wildness, I am Artemis
roaring a hurricane, bucking the boughs
as the deer gives forth the fawn
the wolf, the cub to light

     She draws her bow into the crescent Moon

I breathe the darkness, I breathe firelight
with poison and arrows, a healer's hand
with the wiles of the bawd
a nun's cold heart

     She draws her bow into the crescent Moon

I am holy when my lips melt into salt
I am holy when I give forth honey
crescent moon and the gray light of dawn
crescent moon and the gray light of dawn

     She draws her bow into the crescent Moon

Brigid Lights Her Own (lyrics: Ed Chapman)

Of the first fire, she sings  
of the first fire of Spring, she sings,
Her voice ringing clear in the cold winter air,
as she rises and gathers her things.

In the first light, she yawns  
In the first light of dawn, she yawns,
The grove is asleep in Brigit's fair keep
and the door fills with mist from the lawns.

In her bare feet, she walks  
In her bare feet, in the frost, she walks  
She walks to the well, her buckets to fill,
where they've hung strips of colorful cloth.

Like water the Spring shall rise  
like water, the Spring shall rise, she cries
When weather is harsh and the reeds in the marsh
bend with the snow and the ice.

So sweet is the song of the water  
so sweet is the singing of fire and water
She pours in the pot all the water she's got
to heat for her sons and her daughters.

Of the sacred fire, she shouts!
The sacred fire's gone out! She shouts,
But no one hears through the sleep in their ears,
she's the only one up and about.

So singing she carries the wood  
so singing she carries the load of wood.
She might as well sing, she's done everything,
yet her people are kind and good.

But sometimes the people forget  
sometimes the people, says Brigid, forget.
So she kindles the flame and she calls it by name
and it rises and comes to her yet.

Of the first fire, she sings  
of the first fire burning, she sings  
The she disappears, like the smoke in the air,
like the unseen beginnings of Spring.

Queen of Heaven (lyrics: J. Micale except for the last verse, which is traditional)

The lightning that flashes and roars
The turning tides
The whirling clouds
The Goddess rules them
The Goddess is them
The Goddess is the Moon
I am the Goddess
I am the Moon

     Hera Teleia, full moon in brightness
     Hera Teleia, full moon come
     Lady of the Peacock Throne
     Queen of Heaven

Pray to the Moon when she is round
Luck with you shall then abound
What you seek for shall be found
In sea or sky or solid ground

Hymn to Cybele (lyrics: J. Micale)

Mountain mother
Black stone
Womb of earth
Maiden, mother, crone

Granter of madness
and lamentation
Lady of lions
Oh dark and holy one

     Oh give my heart succor
     Oh give my heart a wild peace
     The peace of the green mountain
     under the full moon
     The wolves howling, howling
     The deer bounding in the fog
     The mist rolling, concealing
     The veil of mystery
     Suckle me at the breast
     Of the green and the wild
     The blood of the bull
     birthing me

Newborn (lyrics: J. Micale)

Here I am.
Born like you through the dark passage,
the wet red hall
between two sturdy oaks.

Hear me call  
the shriek of the night owl,
the wolf in the cold wind
the cry of the first

I am nameless.
I am bright.
My mother's lips brush my forehead
and she names me every sound.

I dazzle, I am early.
I passed the West gate nude and new
into the Mother's strong arms.
Every infant, every seed, every promise.

My face is a mirror.
My face is a child, a sapling,
tiny fists, a young rock.
Every infant, every seed, every promise.

Taste the body, the blood, the tears.
Taste the steel blade, the ravages of time.
Taste the sweat on death's brow.
Taste the sweetness of life.


Anahata lyrics

Mariana (lyrics: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1830)

With blackest moss the flower pots
Were thickly crusted, one and all;
The rusted nails feel from the knots
That held the pear to the gable wall.

     The broken sheds look'd sad and strange;
     Unlifted was the clinking latch;
     Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
     Upon the lonely moated grange.

     She only said, "My life is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"

Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.

     After the flitting of the bats,
     When thickest dark did trance the sky,
     She drew her casement-curtain by,
     And glanced athwart the glooming flats.

     She only said, "The night is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"  

Upon the middle of the night,
Waking she heard the night-fowl crow;
The cock sung out an hour ere light
From the dark fen the oxen's low

     Came to her; without hope of change,
     In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn
     Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
     About the lonely moated grange.

     She only said, "The day is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"

About a stone-cast from the wall
A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,
And o'er it many, round and small,
The cluster'd marish-marshes crept.
      Hard by a poplar shook alway,
     All silver-green with gnarled bark:
     For leagues no other tree did mark
     The level waste, the rounding gray.

     She only said, "My life is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"

And ever when the moon was low,
And the shrill winds were up and away,
In the white curtain, to and fro,
She saw the gusty shadows sway.

     But when the moon was very low,
     And wild winds bound within their cell,
     The shadow of the poplar fell
     Upon her bed, across her brow.

     She only said, "The night is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"

All day within the dreamy house,
The doors upon their hinges creaked;
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
Behind the moldering wainscot shriek'd,

     Or from the crevice peer'd about,
     Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,
     Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
     Old voices called her from without.

     She only said, "My life is dreary,
     He cometh not," she said;
     She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
     I would that I were dead!"

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,
The slow clock ticking, and the sound
Which to the wooing wind aloof
The poplar made, did all confound

     Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
     When the thick-moated sunbeam lay
     Athwart her chambers, and the day
     Was sloping toward his western bower.

     Then, said she, "I am very dreary,
     He will not come," she said;
     She wept, "I am aweary, aweary,
     Oh God, that I were dead!"


Longing (lyrics: J. Micale)

a campfire gives no heat tonight
its hen lays a ghost egg

the balefire glows pale spark
and the flesh is wood

the first gods were its tinder
and the last its gasoline

pale glitter giggle
(did you see your lover on Midsummer?)

sweat stains my hair, sheet twine
and open eyes to open air

A Lover's Hymn to Blodeuwedd (lyrics: J. Micale, spoken word; Robert Graves, The White Goddess)

Your fingers curl in the foam of the ninth wave
curl into pale night wings
Your eyes are the amber solstice sun
in winter's wan face
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl

You are the weaver of wisdom
woven of meadowsweet
You are the lover whose roots topple
the stone walls of restriction
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl

You are the lover whose suffering brings
bright winds and the phantom night wail
Your face is of flowers and your tongue of frost
thawing in the noon of your passion
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl

You are the echo of the brilliant sun
and the phantom dark moon
You are the beauty that takes
takes for what it lavishes
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl

You are the blossom of love's ecstasy
and the spear of its desolation
You unfurl to embrace those
who delve the heart's fierce vein, Flower Maiden
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl
     O Blodeuwedd
     flying on the white wings of the owl

Not of father nor of mother
Was my blood, was my body.
I was spellbound by Gwydion,
Prime enchanter of the Britons,
When he formed me from nine blossoms
Nine buds of various kind:

From primrose of the mountain,
Broom, meadowsweet and cockle
Together intertwined

From the bean in its shade bearing
A white spectral army
of Earth, of Earthly kind

From blossoms of the nettle
Oak, thorn and bashful chestnut

Nine powers of nine flowers
Nine powers in me combined
Nine buds of plant and tree
Long and white are my fingers
As the ninth wave of the sea.

Unstruck (lyrics: J. Micale)

No clapper, but maybe I  
the iron tinge thrumming the ear
a bodhran, bronze rod
slapping the shell of the word  

no down-curved hips of the bell
heavy-weighted with rough hemp
a dried umbilicus tugged
by the callous fists of a hunchback

or I, thou art -- the tremor subtle, twinge the tick
of the lid, pull of the cheek
expectant for the slap on the ass into the light
the pain playing the body, a chord

a harmonium spilling into the air
touching faces like the fur of an animal
eyes a metal bowl
too full for tears

no air, or thou art that
resonance pulsing treble clef
an uncertain voice wafting soprano
with a hesitant note of passion

wavering as a young girl's dreams
sift and are pulled taut as cord  
atoms, the space so intimate
as they waltz  

the earthy eyes of her dream stranger
that seem to see a soul
under April's clouds the shivering maple
leaves paling in the stronger breeze  

so unimaginable   the morning moment
when glistening eyes, a sweet scent
of rain under sunlight meets the window
eyes and rain and sunlight meet the window

The Crane Bag (lyrics: J. Micale)

Come to me
Come to me
     through the sea spray
     that batters the shore
With a skein of pearl

Come to me
Herein lies mystery
     my heart in the willow
     that bends o'er the mere
And the stars netted within

Herein lies mystery
Beating the rhythm of the sea
     bearded by the foam
     offering to the deep
And a bag full of dreams

Beating the rhythm of the sea
A gate lies between you and me
     creaking the hinge
     under my hand
And a crane bag full of dreams

A gate lies between you and me
Herein lies mystery
     I shake my cloak
     the stars catch in its folds
And leave you as mute as a shell

In the Blizzard (lyrics: J. Micale)

What is it? The masked actors of words?
A liquid leaping over river-round stones
a home that sings and carries the leaf?
Can its tears feed the trees four thousand miles away?

Oh beloved, I do not know.
Hand-in-hand, we ran through the blizzard.
Antarctic blankness. Laughing faces stung with hail.
No one had braved it for weeks, years.
Footprints the pen and we were the song.

Whatever whispered, it was there
wordless, wordless, a capella
reckless, amoebic, the noise of silence
stealing the breath as it builds the ice palace.

Hungry Ghosts (lyrics: J. Micale)

I am Tantalus and you are the drink
escaping the parched purse of my sand lips
the throbbing nectarine beyond my aching fingers
the sweet sun of Tartarus that burns in my gut

I am a Danaid, a nameless sister
murdering you fifty times over.
You are the water between Lethe and Cocytus
streaming rainbow from my sieve, I sigh and go back.

I am Sisyphus and you are the rock
I roll up the mountain, tipping the summit
for cheating departures   the ferryman still has
no coin from my tongue, no coin from my tongue.

I am Ixion, whirling and pluming,
manacled in steel and you're the flaming wheel
for nights of insult with that white-armed bitch
I spread my seed on the clouds; I thought they were you

I am Eurydice, a cobweb, a shadow
between the pines, I wait for your song
but your footsteps so light are those of a spider
I am reclothed in flesh but then you look back

Fairytale (lyrics: J. Micale)

They told me wrong.
Yes, winding serpent road
and spirals in the sky.
Yes, the mirror my other eye
and the rainbow web.

Yes, the funeral and the lovers
burnt me brilliant
and I did step away
and the thread did fray.

The thread did fray
and I ran to the river
as the boughs storm-shivered
but no boat bobbed.
No warrior jangled past.

And Camelot had been
a mirror's dream.
But the field folk at the water's edge
A circle danced
with sickles and candles

they danced,
those who had heard my hum
wafting from my high tower
with brown hands
and the river in their eyes.

They let me in, they let me in.
The stars and the trees,
the river laughed.
They let me in.

Not pale and wan
not a fairy
but a woman
and free and free and free.

What the Thrush Said (lyrics: John Keats)

O Thou whose face hath felt the Winter's wind
     Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist
And the black elm-tops 'mong the freezing stars,
     To thee the Spring will be a harvest-time.

O Thou, whose only book has been the light
     Of supreme darkness, which thou feddest on
Night after night, when Phoebus was away,
     To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.

O fret not after knowledge   I have none,
     And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge   I have none
     And yet the evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he's awake who thinks himself asleep.


Cymbeline (lyrics: William Shakespeare, 1610)

Fear no more the heat o' the sun
     Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
     Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
     Thou art past the tyrant's troke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
     To thee the reed is as the oak;
The scepter, learning, physic must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
     Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
     Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!


Brigid of the Healers (lyrics: Based on the Carmina Gadelica)

Brigid of the healers
Brigid of the bards
Brigid of the flaming forge
     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid of the white feet
Brigid of the white palms
Brigid of the flaming hair

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid, daughter of Dagda
Brigid, daughter of Danu
Brigid, beloved of Bres

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid of the white mantle
Brigid of the peat heap
Brigid of the lowing kine

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid, fairy woman
Brigid, friend of women
Brigid, fire of inspiration

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid of the hearth fire
Brigid of the healing spring
Brigid of the sacred well

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid of the harp string
Brigid of the song word
Brigid of the spell-chant

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho

Brigid of the endless knot
Brigid of the priestesses
Brigid of the brilliant sun

     Hug oireannan o hi abho
     Hi ri ri o hi ri a bho


Echo and Narcissus(lyrics: J. Micale)

many a pretty long-haired boy
has been the fall of a cloud-eyed nymph
did you hear of poor Clytie? she is a sunflower
and Syrinx, a stand of reeds

and I, and I have the heart of a ghost
and I am but a voice in the hills
my tongue ever stilled can but repeat
the only words you ever graced me

once my tongue uttered the birds
and my mouth roofed the sky
I ached to speak   nay, sing  
to bring to life with the breath coursing through my frame

and so I entranced the wild man Pan
and so I entranced the father of heaven
but I cared not for these, but only for
the most beautiful boy in the world

and I, and I have the heart of a ghost
and I am but a voice in the hills
my tongue ever stilled can but repeat
the only words you ever graced me

his hair curled tendrils of a vine
ringleting a face like a girl's
and in every angle and form, he shone
coldly beautiful, like a stone

I spoke and he thought me but his mirror
he pined and he pined for his mirror
like a girl to a lover
sickly entranced

I could but echo his laments
the poetry of his self-absorption
he wasted to a sickly bloom
with petals dropping in a pool

and I, and I have the heart of a ghost
and I am but a voice in the hills
my tongue ever stilled can but repeat
the only words you ever graced me

many a pretty long-haired boy
has been the fall of a cloud-eyed nymph
did you hear of poor Clytie? she is a sunflower
and Syrinx, a stand of reeds

The Twisted Book

Cathbad gives the prophecy

woman of fire, you will be
the brand that torches the sere
edge of last season's harvest
and sets the corn alight
before it heaps into ash

the ray of white you will be
caressing the womb tomb of
Brugh Na Boinne on the dawn
when winter lays down its
cloak of white and feathered night

Boann's daughter you will be
with eyes of gray-green water
over the white fall of your
face -- the eye that sees the well
of Segais in its rising

and it tumbles, roaring down
tearing down the nine hazels
of the wise, the very fish
that eat them drowned in fury
and loss, river of longing

the caged doe you will be
hooded falcon of the arm
the red drip under talons
a shred of heart in your beak
the jesses snapped and thrown

song-woman, your breath shall spark
a blaze of verse, burning woods
of song -- a cast of your hair
shall make exiles of men
and fools of scholars and kings

unreachable star, yawning
tomb-mouth, black-feathered Nemhain
on the red field of Ulster
a white step that shall leave
not springtime but bare bone

to see you, men will give
one eye -- then pawn the other
to stand again with their face
in your sun, swords fallen
to an earth of rust and rot



Leborcham speaks to Derdriu

you think i did not know, when you came
with ringlets dearer gold than ingots
and that dread beauty -- a pitcher plant
luring with its satin and its doom

white black red, you said -- a raven at
the feast of death on the blank white sheet
of winter, hung out to dry on trees
bleak and black, the Cailleach's laundry.

you think i did not know of desire --
the tall, twisted tree of me, with my
curled lips strained with curses and song and
mockeries that could slay kings with words.

for who am i, the daughter of slaves
who caught a druid's eye with her wit
and took the job to fence you in, you
with fate around your head, a thorn-ring.

but bards are the keepers of secrets,
and a daughter of slaves more so.
your broad wings clipped by royal decree --
future concubine, caged hawk, hooded.

for bards are the keepers of secrets
and you -- a cipher, a key lost to the lock.
the hawk must seize the air and sparrow --
so clear the kenning, the end, the tale.

white black red -- the desire runs through you
carving red rivers through the hillsides,
the king pursing, the green graves you
leave in your footprints like daisies, hope.

the endless flight under your feathers,
until you're reeled back to the arm and
corded, blind, and choose the branch and stone
your eggshell skull spilling its yolk.

fly, bird, fly. here is the key to
all riddles, all desires, all the pain
of your name. and i give you his, and
unlatch the wire gate of your prison.

for bards are the keepers of secrets,
and the tellers of them, with sharp tongues
edging brutal fates from the still air.
i knew the tale before its telling.



Noisiu speaks to Derdriu

what are you to me, with your
beauty like a brand, a torch
set to tinder, a sun that
flails the crops in the dry time?

what are you to me? not flesh
but a speck of light, dazzling --
a dream that muddles the mind
upon abrupt awakening

what are you to me? nothing
but air in an open hand
wind through fingers, the music
of the sidhe, pulling my step

tugging my soles, my hands, blood
rising and thrilling, the sap
in the pine bough that bursts in
the fire-path, scented resin

and you will rush through me, for
that is what you are -- a sun
sparking the heat, the thunder
the whip of the lightning

to hold a dream carved of flesh
eats your heart with pure white teeth
and brands you a slave, cowering
under the tyrant of need

so no. my dream came to me
with her sun-face, her white feet
bare in the snow, and i can
but hide my head from desire.

burn elsewhere, my torch, my sun
my dream -- i'd rather a girl
with the heart of the village

than the very shape of sky



Derdriu speaks to Noisiu

how long do the embers smolder
until the heart heaps into ash?
until each bit of bone, blood, hair and hope
is eaten by the soft gray mouths of peace
and fortress and winter and stone
a litany lost, a word trailing

but here i stand, cold-bit hands
against your skull, oh Noisiu
tugging your tresses and your proprieties
crow-feather against my instep, black
as your hair, as my night without hope
black as the night birthing the year

and my flame-mouth cursing
and the reel of you thinking --
"a beauty, but only in flesh --
a hag of the soul, bed-bound
to another, and only a pit when
the sun-face dims from night"

how long do the embers smolder
until the heart heaps to ash?
no heifer am i in the cow-pen
no slave shackled by rules, but ruled
only by the fever that runs red
down the mountains, eating the trees

with the clamor of fury, the steel clash
of pride, of beauty that is but
ornamentation, a bauble, a glass bead
crushed under heel -- your heel
my baubled heart in your white grip
and you, tossing your hair in warding

in warning -- how long do embers
flare up until they crumble into
coal? the mare stamps -- take me
with you, come with me.
and you turn, no answer staining
your lips as the coals flare



The brothers speak to Noisiu

the speckled salmon has leaped
from her shining chamber, leaped
to land on the pebbled shore
by your boot -- and you question?

the quail comes forth from the bush
to give herself in offering --
her sweet meat in the fire of
sacrifice -- and you question?

you have stolen the white cow
who bears the moon on her brow
without raid, without foray
for she bears the broken tether

and if this is an evil
then so is love, and honor
that lames the white mare of joy
in the name of the homestead

and indeed your ears shall be
two ears of shame -- for letting
your hand fall limp and the crown
roll under the hawthorn, hidden

sovereignty presses the cup
to your unworthy lips -- those
lips blood-red turning from
her offering, bled by fear

it is the will of the green
and wide-hipped earth, the river
gleaming under the sun she
stills for nine months for desire --

and swan-winged love himself was
born of Boann's trickery.
so claim your honor, Noisiu!
snatch the mare that comes willing!

and we shall follow the mare's
bright step, whether filled with flame
or blood -- and a wish that she
pressed the cup to us instead



Invocation at the Southern Gate

Beest thou beautiful.

the song of the Southern Gate sings -- the light gilding the river, necklacing the Mother therein with flame. grass heads, heavy and full -- the grain of the wild, dotted with its flowers. the flame of the yarrow cutting the gloom of dusk.

night falls. mist hovers over the pond's mirror beyond the fringe of trees, columns of ghosts. we are alive, the red blood running, river of flame. the dark trees, fringed, sentries to a tower but not to silence.

the night sings, a cicada lust. birds trill their farewells, an opera of the senses as the brown moths flit, a crown.

and a thread runs, unseen -- palm to palm but not touching, not yet. cracking open the egg, giving a glimpse of my heart's yolk, gold as the sun.

the flame that does not smoke, that rises pure with the dawn. the lover of water, it crowns, dancing on its surface, on the blooms of the yarrow, the yawning day lilies. fullness, the summer's heavy scent, its hand through our hair, stirring the pale hairs on our limbs.

the gate is twined grapevine, and the Young Son sets it alight with his spear. a ray, a flame, a flower bloom, a desire that courses, a mirror that reflects, a love like water crowned with light.

beest thou beautiful.



Conchobar speaks to Derdriu

king stag, i am -- my brow
antlered with gold, my feet
shod with the stride of owning
each swathe of green, each dun herd
a thunder of hooves rolling
through forests, plains a wide back

and you, doe -- darting around
the yew, seeking the hunter
and the arrow in pursuit
of a mere yearling -- and you,
white tail flashing, scent on wind
until my spears reign you in

king stag and chariot spoked
with mandate, a scepter and
spearpoint in the gut of the
challenger, rutting ram, king
of the crag who orders roads
of stars and what they ordain

i want only what is mine
and it is all mine -- vastness,
the vault of the firmament
the doe, penned in her forest
cage. from birth she waits for me --
choice is the province of kings

and you, as you dart behind
the green hedge, the cage unlatched --
a pale blue shell in my palm.
ownerless, i will fold each
finger into a fist
and crush your heart into yolk



Leborcham lies to Conchobar

her face -- a riverbed
in high summer, webbed with
grief that cracks as mudflats,
and cattails of hair hang

ragged and gold, yet shot
with tarnish. skin is bark
sloughing on the hard ground
strained by a drought of joy.

the very image of
the Cailleach, blight's white crone --
spring's bud blasted by
the hard wind of regret!

leave her to her bleak home
in the leaf litter, man --
a warrior should have
a beauty like sunrise.

such i tell you, old friend.
with my Druid tongue, i give
the unaccustomed lie
to king stag in his hall.

and why? for the twigs in
my crane bag have always
their alphabet of
truth, although twisted, bent

as winter's brow, as my
own hag hand. but here -- here
is what i do not say,
what i deny you, king:

that love's laughter lights her
hair, her green eye, her bird
of a soul -- firing her
brand, a star in the dark

as his arms, circling, sweep
her from the grass's green bond --
a whirl of air and sun,
desire, dream and sunrise.

no hardship can chip it --
no grief can cage a soul
fledged to freedom in the
blue with its mate soaring.

but see -- the words i twist
do not lie so much, king.
they are but a vision
if she had stayed with you.



Love, a Leaf

my love, i set it
gentle on the muddy shore
on the flowing breast
of chance and day, a halo

from a hidden sun
behind a cloud, a shroud of
life or death. fate twists
her rope, snaps her scissors --

but my love, a leaf --
veined and intricate, eddies
in the current, now
with and now against the stream

under vines, trailing
the snakes of roots that threaten
to snag, on backs of
fish and otter in the blue

but your eyes turn. "just
a leaf, an old green thing," you
shrug. or not even that --
a leaf: unworthy of gaze.

and so it sails on,
little green boat of my soul
ambassador to
a world of stone and longing.

does it, then, wash up
on another pebbled beach?
does a careful hand
gently pluck it from the sand

and wonder at veins
that thread an unseen maze, or
a green hue out of
season -- trace its fate, its path?

i cannot follow
its path that threads like story
through the river mist.
the end remains unwritten.



And the morning

... and the morning came
in a thunder of birds
a fan of feathers
on the green of the mountain

the spear of the Young Son
darting through the vermilion
the cerulean -- the speckle
of a salmon's belly

and the morning came
and the bright-faced Day
combed her shining hair
on the silk of the river

and the naked boughs
of my bleak winter
edged into leaf
into spring they edged

with a thunder of birds
the morning came
a chorus of trumpets
from flowers unseen

and on the river
my hope's light gleamed
and reckless dreams wavered
in the glory of peace



Light the fires

Light the fires within, Brighid
Light the fires within
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You are the fire within the head
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You are the fire of the mind
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You are the dance that moves our feet
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You are the song within the soul
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You are the giver of the augury
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
You hold the hammer and the healing salve
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts
Light the fires within, Brighid
Light the fires within
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts