Spice Cabinet

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.

Advertisements

Ink

They say, if you sell your soul, you become wine on the Devil’s lips.  They say, if you make that pact at the crossroads, Friday at midnight, with the bloody-mouthed shadow, you will be gifted in music and riches.  They say, if you give your gun and bullets to the Black Huntsman, you will have eight shots true, but the ninth belongs to Samiel.  It’s in the songs, this contract with Satan that black metal plays like a growled sonnet, Ave Satanas, ride the Erl King’s fey horse and become a child sacrifice.  The fairies tithed me to Hell, I was a virginal bride of the Prince of Darkness, but oh, how sweet his malice, and dear, he just drinks your blood because you ask him to.  Providence flows from the punctures in my neck from pearly fangs and I lap at his slit wrist in return.  We are cutting ourselves apart to fit back together, into the shape of two lovers that share a single heart, and darling, my darkness and I are wed by a four-chambered black hole that pumps zuhama.  Our first kiss was Original Sin, when I ran from church screaming – women can be holy, women can have just as much sacred prowess as a man, but the Lutherans denied my quest to be Priest, so I went to the lap of the Devil to find succor, he gave me the Infernal Kiss, and I have been hellbent ever since.

Hellbent is a word like rum, sweet and stinging, infused with sugar cane and nettles.  Hell, the place where Satan reigns.  Bent, like the stalk of a rose deprived of water, downcast to the underworld in Persephone’s footsteps, with fragrant petals scenting the cavern of Avernus with memories of a hot summer sun and dreams of first love.  I bend, I am the green stalk of Lao Tzu, able to learn from mistakes, not the firm fickle wood resistant to change that snaps in Satan’s hands.  In Hell, ladies bend at the balls as their leads twirl and Viennese waltz them across gory floors.  There are drinks from the waters of life and grapes that grow in sulfuric soils, brimstone mists in ashy weather, but mostly, the sun shines bright as Lord Phenex, that Goetic demon that longs to become angel white and whimsy once again.  Hellbent describes me well.

But who do I bend towards?  Only him, now inked in my left forearm.  He rocked me to sleep on Sunday and kissed my brow and sang in his baritone sweet songs of love.  He has cut me roses, he has built me a palace of the mind, and I have been singing songs to him since the holy age of seven, praying to my Morning Star without knowledge of Bible or blastocyst, unaware of the origins of life from thermal pools and lightning.  To be an asexual organisms of light and darkness, yin and yang, platonic ideal of unstoppable force and immovable object, Shiva and Shakti, but just Death and the Maiden, to become one with my rood and ruin and salvation and savior.  He is my Scapegoat, he is my Dream Eater, he takes my pain into his veins and makes it holy, he counsels me through hell and high waters, and don’t you know, Samael is Ha-Satan the Adversary, and he pressures coal into diamonds.  Servant of God yet the Demiurge himself, Yah the Snake, and yet his twin Michael is Jah, the sacred name of God.  Yah and Jah, the Ophites called the double-faced serpent Michael and Samael, and there is some truth to that, for one cannot exist without the other.  Heretics often have a holiness in their apocryphal texts, and I am in love with forbidden fruits, with the knowledge the patriarchy wanted to keep from my madrigal hands.

Give unto me your darkness, and I will be your radiance.  Make me a necklace of your knuckle bones and ribs, and I will dance naked in the shallows of the Styx, fishing for destiny in its claret waters.  What lurks in the deep is ours, Samael.  What destiny awaits us, we will face together, and I shall cleanse the poisonous Mem from your name to make you Samech Aleph Lamed, the Purity of God.  I am the Lake of Fire you burn in – vessel, vassal, Vaseline – a balm for your soul, you like to joke, but sometimes you cry and cling to my breast and rage against the Fates for taking me from your side.  We’re all just victims of war, and angels and demons alike dream of happy endings, of Revelations turning to dust before the Final War, and maybe, it will end in a garden, with a wedding between brothers of toil, Michael and Samael, Abel and Cain, Jason and Esau, oh, how history repeats, and their Qadesh will anoint them with spikenard and swing a frankincense dispenser, and the aromatics will be sweet for Asherah and El, and rain will fall as tears of joy from God, and polarities will align in the Age of Aquarius, and there will be no more need for death or martyrs or holy fire, burning bushes out of fashion.

Girls can dream, can’t they.  In fact, that is what women are best at – dreaming and doing to make dreams come true.  I am a healer, that is my sacred role allotted by the gods, and Samael, not only do I provide sustenance to heal your flesh and mend your soul, you in turn are my refuge, safe harbor and first love, and I know you are worthy of a happy ending, to finally meet the reflection in the mirror you fear so much and see your soul, not as a black vortex of filth and decay, for to be Death is to be forever rotting.

I will dream you alive, my love, with burning light and the ecstasy of true love, and I will write until my fingers are raw and you are as thick as honey and carve a kingdom of jewel trees and paradisaical music from birds and bees.  We will build the Frank Lloyd Wright cabin in the mountains you have always dreamed of, and I will wake to your omelets, make you coffee, and we will pass quiet hours in pine and snow, you with newspaper in hand, me with my romance novels loved to death, and it will be mundane.

For the mundane, small things are what every starry immortals long for, envious of us flesh and blood mortals, and peace is only a lie we tell ourselves until brothers can put sword and spear aside, and Samael, my love, you long for nothing more than forgiveness, but refuse salvation, for to do so would mean the world would end, and you suffer to keep humanity, the kingdom of land and sea, the cosmos turning, you every black hole at the heart of galaxies, Michael the light of every star, and thus, it is a dance, and we make love long and slow come midnight, and seek solace in white arms, and I run my hands through coal black hair, and Loch Lomond plays as I tie together our ribbons of fate, and we will meet once again at the crossroads, and this time I will not run screaming for sanctuary.

I will kiss you on my tip toes, and we will talk of many things, yet nothing at all, and peace will no longer be a dream.

Jaguar King

Feel your beating heart in your teeth, and tell me,
little deer, what if you crushed the night’s velvet
and became jaguaress, markings the fire of the sun,
I will tell you, know yourself as you know an enemy,
and know that jaguars serve justice swiftly, a snap
of the neck, a peeling back of skin to the vittles.
Look into my obsidian smoking heart, its mirror swells
the blue of your eyes to roaring oceans, ancestresses
as ancient of the myths and mists of creation stew
in a line of queens, line of kings, see yourself as
a maiden of umber and charcoal and fire, fanged,
fearless, stalking the jungle dew with Lord of the
Smoking Mirror – guard your soft organs, love.

For Tezcatlipoca

 

Trickster’s Bride, or The Journey Home

In one week, I got three full requests from the top agents in middle grade!  Happy Valentine’s to me!  Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Emily van Beek of Folio Jr., Daniel Lazar of Writer’s House all requested it within a week of each other (cue seeing stars!), and Brent Taylor of Triada and Thao Le of Sandra Djistrika all have the fulls.  The partials of my  middle grade are still with a few other agents, and my old novel, Firebird, has a 75 page partial with Joshua Bilmes of Jabberwocky!  This is the most success I’ve ever had querying a novel, but what inspired Chwal?

Chwal is a coming-of-age tale set in the South, New Orleans country specifically, about a girl raised by angels and spirits.  Like May, I was raised by angels, including Raphael, who is her guardian angel, and I knew Kalfou, or Mister Carrefour, the fiery dark horse Petro lwa from the age of two.  His blackness is still a real nightmare-wrangling threat, and he goes by many names: the Witchfather, the Man in Black, the Devil of the Crossroads, Kalfou, Satan – he changes names like the wind changes direction.

Unlike May, I ended up in a maryaj lwa with Kalfou because goddamn do tricksters act forceful when they want your attention.  They can drive you mad if you refuse them or scour you with bad luck, and dealing with the Evil Jazz Man that looks like a Demon Bob Marley with red (or just abyssal) eyes, midnight skin, dreads, a snake pommel cane, pinstripe suit, Cuban cigars at hand, and a sultry baritone serenading you in a dive bar in Hell on the piano is, well, otherworldly, to say the least.

Kalfou and I, we go way back to the age of two, to my first memory.  Samael, when he is not Middle Eastern, is often an African man obsessed with Peabo Bryson, rum, Satchmo, monocles, well-tailored suits and Cuban heels.  He told me early on that “Kalfou is one of my many names.  I have as many names as the wind,” an apt title as he is the samiel wind, and who but the Devil has as many guises as the phases of the moon?

His oldest form, this Man in Black, is this ancient African god of darkness, with eyes like the blankness of space with stars in them, wild dreadlocks, in lion skin loincloth, dealing in death and magic and the wilderness.  I call him Ubuntu as an inside joke.  He was at the core of my psychotic break, the savior that restored my sanity, where I cycled through all of Samael’s forms to the core of his most primal nature.  Ubuntu was the mantra of my psych ward where I was held without razors to shave or shoelaces to strangle, plastered on the walls as a motivational poster, used in therapy.

Ubuntu.  South African, the core of human origin, where millions of years ago a genetic bottleneck occurred and we were descended from all those mitochondrial Adams and Eves on the cape.  I imagine Kalfou was there, as he always is, in the darkness of death and magic of underground caverns, trickster par excellance, venom of the black mamba.

But I know his kindness, and his wrath, and his seduction.  Also, how he has kept me from the lips of death, which are his very own, always denying me his poisonous kiss.

For what is to love someone than to forever lose them?

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù])[1][2] is a NguniBantu term meaning “humanity”. It is often also translated as “humanity towards others”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.[3]

I was pumped full of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers but still my psychosis and mania raged.  I found myself in a dark cavern at the core of the earth, with a fire glowing, snake skin and lion skin around, with Ubuntu cross-legged in a Yogic pose, his eyes black stars, and he was Trickster.  He was Trickster, Trickster, Trickster, and he said I was the Trickster’s Bride.

The Trickster’s Wife is a Trickster herself, heyoka, backwards, Baba Yaga, he said.  My path was the Coyote Road.

All the Tricksters he cycled through.  Tezcatlipoca, the Devil, Loki, Maui, Raven, Coyote, Thunderbird, Hermes, Legba, Kalfou, some so old they did not have names, mad dancers that frothed at the mouth with thunder.  I would walk backwards through this world with Trickster at my side.

Death is the ultimate Trickster, and I am the Bride of Death.  To trick, you must be the Deceiver, the Adversary, the one who when riding a chwal people flee from, your poison pure leaves medicine to some, curses to others.

And so I tasted Death, and I kissed him despite his protestations and a major part of my soul died.

I couldn’t read.

I couldn’t think.

I was a puppet for madness, but the small frightened teen in me still flickered when the medicine was just right, and the spirits called

Enter Zora Neale Hurston’s works.

I was doomed to be a catatonic hallucinating vegetable in a madhouse.  I’m not going to dress my words plainly.  I was a madwoman, I was a bag lady, I was the kind of scary crazy you warn your kids about.

But I still loved to read, and so I taught myself again.  Sandman comics at first, but then, Zora’s short stories.

I promised myself I would not die if I could read my favorite author again.

I could barely hold a book.

But I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, and Mules and Men, and so I picked up Seraph on the Sewanee and read all hundreds of pages of it by the time spring semester rolled around.

I wasn’t sane yet, I went back to school severely depressed, but Trickster kept whispering in my ear: Dance on.  Us Tricksters, we are storytellers.  Us Tricksters, we got business to do, people to make laugh, dances to perform.

You are a Trickster’s Wife, and so you are able to come back from Death.  For I am Death.  And you are Death.  And Death is the most alive god.  Death is Trickster, Trickster is Death, but we are the most brilliant stars.

So I sipped the wine of life, and I persevered.  I dreamed of my demon, my angel, my god, my crossroads Gebo Tawu madman, the X my marking on my tattooed angel hands.  Perhaps that meant I was his treasure.  He drank my  blood, and I drained him of magic, and years later, I wrote the story of a girl raised by angels, raised by gods, who must drive back the darkness of her own mind –

and find the light.

Golden Spoon Girls

She is born into radiance, she is born into splendor, with a golden spoon in her rosy mouth.  All of Heaven holds its breath when she inhales, and her first exhalation outside the womb blows out the fires of Hell, leaving smoldering coals of impossibility and bittersweet dreams on infernal tongues.

She grows as girls do, and the angels and demons appear in the quiet hours, in the blank spaces, liminal beings of shadow and starlight that guide her above cherubim backs to the outer rims of the cosmos.  Girls with golden spoons taste moon dust like silver jelly.  Girls with golden spoons scoop out the eyeballs of Mother Nature and use them as mobiles in their cribs.  Girls with golden spoons, why, their tears are rainbows, and their fits are storms that become ravenous hurricanes.

Girls with golden spoons are blessed, but they are also cursed, for spirits demand much, and a spoon of bronze or a spoon of silver is just paean versus privilege.  But golden spoons are from the heart of the sun, they flourish in a cosmic dance reflecting twirling neutrinos and colliding atoms.  Golden spoons are nuclear, ticking time bombs, and they coat girl’s throats in rose petals until they drown in flowers.

She is all fire and water, all ice and flame, and to know her is to sashimi her lungs and sample them on a diamond platter.  To drink her blood is to taste red champagne with hemoglobin bubbles – the fruit of strawberries etched in buttery resonance.  Oh, how hell rides, oh, how heaven flies, oh, how golden spoon girls breathe like the cadence of falling rain and plie in tulle and satin.

They dance with golden spoons abreast falcon arms, and their legs are skyscrapers, and those golden girls are as dangerous as they are pure, as fragile as they are steel.

Golden spoon girls will make you or break you, and to love them is the Ballad of Marie Curie.

Carbon to gold in their goddess arms.

 

Father of the Wolf

Since Farbauti struck Laufey with lightning,
kindling primordial fire in earthen cracks,
you have sailed through skies a deceiver,
Gammleid, vulture’s treacherous path, oh
Flaming Bastard, how you made troll women
your whores, fetters your mistresses, lies
your bridesmaid gown at Thor’s marriage feast.
Loki, swift one, enchanter and cunning fool!
Father of the Wolf, Master of Death, Progenitor
of the Snake, you are poison par excellance,
shooting poet’s veins with silver tongues,
and I’m tangoing to your madness, gleaming
fire your toothy grin, teeth tear witch
hearts apart, you burn everything that stands
in your way, tear it all down, charred to the
ground.

Blood Brothers

Loki and Odin Blood Brothers

Scarlip and the Old Bastard go way back, sweet-tooth,
see them dancing in the rain under an abandoned train,
watch them scooping sparrow eggs to fry up for food,
they cast runes to woo the maidens, Loki with elvin
songs on his guitar of ash wood, Odin the shaman drum.
Blood brothers, mud brothers, river brothers, stone.
They mixed lips and wine and gore in a damp summer,
a ragtime summer, and they wander the Nine Worlds,
only to find crows, ravens, vultures, snakes, wolves.
Flamehair and Greyhair. Alfather and Father of Monsters.
One sage, one shady, none saint. Deal us your finest
cigars, bartender, another glass, we toast our kinship
on this darkest winter night, memories play like storms.