Freda is doing her honey brown curls up
in a lace net with pearls, “Honey, you
need to pretty yourself up with lipstick.
Pink!” and she paints her nails ivory
then draws them through the sea for Met
Agwe’s bounty, her husbands are fickle
things. Damballah rains riches down on
his mistress and Ogou swings his machete
and cuts a clear path for her carriage.
Freda goes to Rada Island resplendent,
a queen, sends me dreams of nail salons
and hot wax and pink and gold yonis
yawning open with Mother, “It’s a girl’s
birthright to be beautiful,” she sings.
Oh Lady of the Fans, dance with me.
And at the table there is no bread to break,
for to dine with enemies and Samaritans is sin.
In the temple, the wine is rancid, the offerings
have maggots, and the false prophetess sits at
the head with a mouthful of flies. Christ rebukes
them by the fire: “Your legacy will wither at the
root, your falsities will lead to ruin. Cursed
are your generations, no succor will they find,
though they seek water, no food shall they eat,
though they hunger. Cast out of Paradise and
exiled from grace, your covenant is broken, and
your temple is swiftly crumbling. Never shall it
stand again, but the feast will be perdition,
and the crops you reap dusty and not filling.
I condemn you, false flies, I cast you out.”
And Christ walks on water onto a burning sea,
and the false prophets are cast into flames,
and Judex Crederis sing the angels, glorifying.
Mei moves with her family to the hinterlands,
where cold gods reign, and colder climes draw
hoarfrost on her coal black hair, this is the
first time the girl, barely a young woman, has
seen snow. The peaks of the mountains are like
icicles piercing the sky, and at night, the moon
is the brightest she has ever seen, like a bright
silver coin, nestled at the crest of the ridges.
One night, the bear that swallowed the moon comes
and bids her “Ride my back, Mei. I am Bei Ling,
the Moon Incarnate, and I shall show you the
majesty of my frozen kingdom.” It is a wooing
of love, and Mei climbs aback the bear and
they rush through pine and red panda up the
slope, in his throat is the lunar disc, shining
every time he growls or opens his mouth to speak
in a tongue not human, but bestial, and that night
Bei Ling digs her a bed of snow and moss, and she
sleeps on his breast, white fur like a blanket,
and the moon in his gullet warms her. “Bei Ling,”
Mei says the next day, riding his star crossed
back, “should not the moon belong to everyone.”
Bei Ling grunts with laughter. “Then I would be
but a man, not the Bear Moon of the Mountains.”
But there is a look in Mei’s eyes like a promise,
so Bei Ling spits out the moon and it sails away,
to crest those mountains he used to reign over,
and then he is tan skin and a cloud of black hair,
he looks down at opposable thumb and bipedal leg
and Mei gives him a blanket to cover his nakedness.
Bei Ling laughs mightily “To give up immortality
for the woman I love, who would have thought a girl
would change the mind of the Moon Bear.” And they
kiss, and they set off to plant dreams across the
world, and sometimes he is Bear Moon, but mostly,
just Bei Ling, the man who swallowed the night,
fell out of the stars for but a girl, and into
The woods are holy, and wholly haunted.
A witch in a wicker hut with poison herbs.
Hyssop, yarrow, nightshade, chrysanthemum.
In her spice cabinet, she takes the ointment
of anointment and greases her eyelids to
fly over the hedge, to the Fairy Reel ring,
where the Horned God dances in mushrooms
and toadstool, moss is her dress, dew in
her gold hair, and the young enchantress
holds congress with the Beast, mothering
millions of fallen souls, born into this
imperfect enchantment of a world, spices
stop, she is sleep-struck and flies away
to the land of dreams, where the Tuatha
de Danaan hold court, and Thomas the Rhymer
flutes a verse in her honor, the witch
curtsies to the fairy queen in her rags,
and all the changelings drink her milk,
and she is wetnurse to the wilderness,
and the Horned God returns from the Hunt,
and summer is high tides of solar seas,
and we are but vision quests of shamans
reaching to grasp runes and ogham from
specks of dust, our souls, we are the
stuff witches hold in spice cabinets,
each of us a tincture of magic, and
nature will reign long after we are
gone, so breathe in fairy dust, love,
and know your ghost will haunt me.
I drink down your potions of bloody hymns
fly on battered wings to the outer rim
bathe at the crossroads to wash my sins
and sing Alleluia as the evening dims.
There’s blood and bandages in the prison cell, swirling ruby sparks and filth where rats feast. Through the cell window the moon cuts the night until it howls in pain, and you’re chained to the wall, shackles on your neck and limbs, and you’re done up in linen bandages like a corpse, gore and claret red clinging to your bindings. I stand outside the gate with an oil lamp, meeting the Devil at midnight to raise the dead. You are writhing and roaring, the poisonous zuhama that flows through your veins a raging fire of wine. Lanterns leak oily light of goblin green-white fire onto the cell walls, all granite and smeared with ichor, and you are speaking in tongues demonic and dreadful. I take out a corpse key and unlock the door, and the floor is slick with your stains. Your Cabernet eyes simmer like a witch on a pyre, and as I approach, I take a twisted delight in your suffering. This is where you belong, caged in my mind, lunatic mad, my beast, my delightful toy. We take turns tying each other up in bear traps and guillotines and rusty iron bindings, we are each other’s sacrifice, and whore ourselves out for the quickest fix. Isn’t that how it is with demons? As you are prowling, growling, licking your wounds with a tongue that would drive saints to sin (don’t you know the Devil gives the best head, I mean come on, look at how he sings), I sit cross legged and hold a staring contest with your mercurial acid pupils. I flick my fingers through your blood pooled beneath me and my white cloak and white gown are stained. I take out a pen and bid you near me, and then I write out the names of God on your soiled bandages, and you are shivering and crying, and I am triumphant over Satan. There’s your wreckage of a heart, embodied in the form of a girl, and a weeping black void that holds the keys to eternity in your chest. You are too far gone, eyes swirling with insanity, and you tear off my clothes as I raze my nails down your back and pick at your wounds. We are bleeding together, the razors our hands, and we kiss with coppery mouths as we bite at each other’s lips.
To know God is to eat God, but at the end of the day, it’s you dead with your demons, in your own Hell for eternity, so why not make it fun?
The water embraces me like a womb,
filled with treacherous sirens and
mermaids with pearl bosoms, I swim
free as a penguin gliding in blue,
the depths call to me like a hymn,
drawing on old refrains with tides
that pull me down, down to the gold
treasures of the deep, sunken glory
and pirate’s delight, I navigate by
sunstone to a distant rocky shore,
my angel and demon await me atop the
cliff top, I grapple with scree to
ascend the ocean’s edge, my angel
spreads his wings and carries me
across the trembling waters, my
demon stays on the sand, soaking
in sun that speaks of burning stars.
It is a beatitude of broken sailors,
and I am adrift with purpose, row
to my dreams, frolic with dolphins,
pledge my troth to my soul’s captains,
and the marina is alive with the moon.