Gift for a Gift

You ask what price I paid to paint Ymir’s brains
across the cosmos? Sacrifice of hangman’s jig to
my own mortality, morality, I lost humanity come
the gallows, all that was left was ergi sorcerer,
wild wanderer, Bolverk Sly-Serpent questing after
Gunnlod’s mead. What Tyr whispered to the Fenris
Wolf as his hand snapped off is the same I say to
you: a gift for a gift, and your offerings summon
my whimsy, flipping the bird at me is a compliment,
you etched and sketched and drew and quartered me –
don’t think to tame the storm, I ride on thuderheads,
I ate up my forefather’s bones and took Jotun into me
all to become strong, because I could, because I was
there, and the opportunity to be more than ancestral
clash of ice and fire called to me like Frigga’s breast,
Wanderer, Warrior, Wounded King, I am all at once, a
conundrum of clashing seasons, but in truth I am always
winter, and your spine will dance in ice in my hands
so keep playing, sweet child: seek my riddled answers
I cannot promise you a throne but wisdom, glory, pain.

Alfather

What would you ask of me, Alfather?
Old Man of the Roaring Northern Gale.
I have seen your blue cloak in auroras
your bloody hollow on yews of sacrifice.
In your eye socket were worlds and kings
feasting on your brains, and your grimace
was more wolf-smile or raven curiosity
than pain, you swung, Gallows King, wept
runes onto Mannaheim, your bag of stars
empty of all but the most crushing embers.
Odin Many-Faced, your men and women mark
their days with interlocking triangles to
nooses, for the hangman’s jig befits jester
questors who bathe themselves in wanderlust.
Am I just the newest in a string of Ynglings
to sip mead from giant skulls and wordsmith
your epithets to death? Will hale horns be
enough to please the King of Nine Worlds?
Or are you just toying as a muse for a lost
poet that cannot tell needfires from knives?
You take insults as compliments, and my raised
middle finger is an invitation to stalk, strike
so I write to appease you, sinking into madness,
and you are all winter and pain, endless journey.

Skal

Head under honey wine, the blackbird is in the reeds
crowing of Draupnir rings in my brass coiled braids
I wander for Gangleri in rags and pearls, gold harp
at my back as I sing down the stars, summon tales
of ships lost to Lorelei and mists carrying nokken
my back is hollow huldra, and I am the gift of gifts
mead poured out from silver rune tongue shadows cast
by the raven’s flight – blackbird chokes on berries
my harp strings are bloody from my playing, throat
dry and hoarse as I recite Edda and Saga, girl lost
in Odin’s hat, killed for love of Grimnir, I wander.

Yggdrasil

Odin wasn’t alone when he hung on the charnel tree,
the birth canal ash, the ley line branch shafts
on that windy hill over Mimir’s well, Nidhog venom,
Ratatosk chitter, no – I was there with my net,
for it is I that first fished the stars from song
and shaped Algiz and Uruz out of shadowscapes, the
Alfather was parched and wailing, eye socket ichor.
I ate his iris and swallowed it down as my price
Nerthus, Jord, Rind – I am Mother and Whore to Aesir
Daughter, Sister, Volva, Slave, Shieldmaiden, Valkyrie
I am Queen of Jotnar and Mistress of Vanir, I am All
and the Abyss, both at once – I took the runes from my
net like Aslaug’s drapery with splinters, carved the
Elder Furthark on his tongue one by one until he cried
out Stop, Stop, it is too much, too fast, an orgasmic
destruction, death and wet fire and awesome dread-life
it was a sacrifice of Gangleri to Grimnir, also a tithe
to the Prophetess of Ragnarok, I spoke of the fates of
the Nine Worlds forged from ice and flame, he heard rain
and leaf shudders, my body was wood, my eyes burls, my
dancing fingers twigs – every Tree a Woman, every Woman
proud as a Tree, he lay with me nine nights, I traded
his blood for my sap, I his gallows, coffin, and womb
and though he thought he was alone, Odin knew he was
in the Presence of the Neolithic Venus man worshipped
I am what the mead the gods pour out flows to, I have
no name but the cry of Jormungand and Fenrir’s drip drip
blood, Hela tends my roots, Heimdall my trunk, Freyja
my leaves, and all the Gods live within me, me, Tree.

Disir

Say I to the girl – go fetch me some water
break bread and bake dreams and knead stars
says girl to I: I fletched seven golden swans
I milked eight silver cows, I sewed you moons.

Say I to the girl – by the well is a whisper
go listen to land wights and braid meadowsweet
says girl to I: I carry their sorrows, I listened
and heard of the dying Earth’s song, I mourned.

Say I to the girl – I am dying, bring me wolfbalm
place my bones in the sky to protect you, dear one
says girl to I: you are with me always, grandmother
sleep and rest, wise witch, and I will carry on.

Honey, Grain, and Amber

The Shining Twins wear amber and green
golden hair like barley and wheat, eyes
blue for Mardoll, green for Ingvi, Vanic
rites of sweetening harvest, first shaft
of wheat springing up in the fields, wains
carry the Twins across Germania for pageants
no sword may be drawn, no blood spilled,
for in the temple of the Golden Ones is frith
prosperity tilled from the soil as lovers
lay down and know Gerda’s passion for Freyr,
heartsick Freyja’s tears of jewels after Odr,
the Twins themselves rut in the dirt like boars
like Nerthus and Njord before them, Sacred Rite
of scythes falling grain, and rains aplenty
the Lord and Lady walk in peace come eventide.

Fat Day

These tan curves and gold curls are lies.  I want to take a razor to the slope of my belly and dredge out my intestines.  Beat my brain on the pavement and screw pins into my skin.  Beautiful, they say, but I know I am ugly as the Beast.  That is why we get along so well, because I am the witch that eats men in the woods, seductress, your destruction, and my eyes are pools you will drown in.

I want to feel a gun to the head, just the weight of it against a temple to make gray matter a moon bow on the wall.  I want a razor to carve pretty lies onto my thighs and rest my decapitated head on my lap.  Monster, monster, in the looking glass.  Suicide, matricide, martyr.  I’m the mother of no one, but still they come to me wailing, drink my blood milk, and maybe I’m Babylon and a wild whore strapped between two needfires with albino crows, cawing in song with my children, but on the surface?  You would never know.

I don’t say I’m an enchantress, but there’s the shamanic journeying, the five-fold kiss, the familiars and demons and angels and gods all clashing in my head like the Wild Hunt.  I’ve gone mad, dreamed of drowning, thought of perilous calls as Hati and Skoll chase me through the tundra.  I’ve had the Devil play my organs like the finest of violins and still my music would be better if he snapped my spine instead of caressing it.

Divinity wants to break me open and suck the stars from my marrow.  I rant, I rave, I froth at the mouth – the true Beast is Cipactli, Tiamat, the She-Leviathan, a Mother of the Deep that possesses me to dance with wild abandon.  I will devour all and leave blank snow in my wake, Kelvin zero.  I’m out of control, and today is a day for damnation.

Slut.  Whore.  Temptress.  Jezebel.  Woman Clad in Night.  I will be the Thunder Perfect Mind Sophia, Alpha and Omega as I straddle the corpse of my lover and pound him into the dirt.  I am not sane, I am the mad she-bitch that nursed Managarm, Angrboda of the Iron Woods, consort of chaos but master of the giants that will eat Midgard.

Once I was beautiful, terrible to behold, a blushing Psyche, now I’ve donned the snakes of Medusa and I will rake my serpents through the dirt in bind runes to summon Walpurgisnacht devils from the mountains.  I am Terror, I am Fury, I am Wrath.  Scorn me and face the angel of death, White Reaper riding on the tempest of Satan’s heart, flame sword glory general of the Prince of Heaven.

I see through your ruses.  Your lies.  Your pretty words and cloying compliments.

I know what I am.

I am wild, untamed.

The beast in the forest.

The monster of my disease.

And I will eat you, madman.

All to discover your magic.