For Anna

Well, folks,

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope the holiday, my personal favorite, finds you surrounded by people and food that you love.

Today, I am going to keep the post short and simple, much like the haiku that follows. "For Anna" was written on a joint postcard to a friend; a beautiful person who enriched, and in fact still enriches my life. Dear friends are one thing I am most grateful for, and though this is always been a family holiday, friends, as they say, are the family that we choose for ourselves, and I would never exclude them though they be a thousand miles away. So to all my friends and family, this sentiment is for you, too.

The yellow sun sinks
And the leaves take on his hue

Recalling summer.



Baci n. 63

As often as love and passion are the driving forces behind poetry, sometimes we poets just feel like being a little silly. That being said, the content of "Baci n. 63" is not as silly as it at first appears. There is an underlying truth and beauty that speaks in part to the ale-goggles of the speaker, but more, to the deeper truth of love; of truly unconditional love.

"Baci n. 63" was written at a time when the world seemed to be conspiring against me in the most nefarious of ways. I was broke, well into my second month of depravation in the City scrounging every resource I had, calling in favours, and swallowing a fair amount of my pride. But I found some solace in The Broken Record, a fine pub with great food, huge amounts of excellent whisky and a pool table. Anyone who knows me can tell you that this dive was just the type of place I could call home. Somehow I managed to fall in with the owner and his crew. They are a wonderful bunch of brash drinkers who were coarse and delightful in that coarseness. Blunt, honest, direct; and all far much more than that rough surface. They welcomed this lost sheep into their fine company, and I wish I could repay their kindness and company with more than this toast, but until that time; I hope this will suffice. So please enjoy this drunken toast.

Bacio n. 63
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."

W. Shakespeare

We are all, here, happy degenerates

And in ev'ry mode and method, lovers

With great fondness for each other... and drink.

Brothers; is this not our bar; our true home?

Do we not drink to our breadth and measure

As equals beneath the beer mat and stein?

So come, now, you dear friends, and raise your stein.

Raise it up, you filthy degenerates,

And prepare to drink your goodly measure.

Hold up a pint as should all true lovers;

Raise it here to toast our health and home

So prepare, all ye gentlemen, and drink.

But let us pause a moment ere we drink,

And be sure there is not one empty stein,

For we toast with courtesy in our home.

We are all of us fair degenerates

And of all walks and manner, are lovers,

So do wrong to none as drink your measure.

But this is neither the range nor the measure

Of the toast for which I have sought this drink.

Few are worthy of trust, though all lovers,

So if you're an honest one, raise your stein

And welcome all merry degenerates

Who, even as you, would call this place home.

We need not trust to love within our home

For our love is one born without measure

For all and every degenerate.

You must love, my friends, if you would here drink,

So raise it, raise ev'ry beer-filled stein

And pray to always be such merry lovers.

We shall call it law among we lovers.

Forever, here, within this bar called home

To never sip alone from raiséd stein.

Wrong none for any stake nor false measure

Though you need not trust he with whom you drink

For we are all alike, degenerates.

Come, degenerates, and love as lovers

Those with whom you drink. This is a rare home,

So trust, in measure, and wrong none thy stein.


Water and Stone

We hold this week my series of "Women in Myth," this time returning to the Classics. "Water in Stone" is my take on Pygmalion, which has been done many times, I know. George Bernard Shaw did a wonderful adaptation in "Pygmalion" both for the stage and the screen, and which would later become the musical "My Fair Lady." I am not retelling it in that fashion, nor am I strictly telling the classical tale. In Greek Myth, the name Galetea is at once a water nymph, and later her name comes up as the statue that Pygmalion carves. Below is my merger of those tales, told mostly from Galetea's point of view, with the only addition by me to the myth being the bridge between the two different Galetea myths. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Edited 4/19/15 small edits to lines and the ending. Some struck stanzas, and some added.

Water and Stone

Many nymphs o’er Gaea’s fair bosom roam,
Spry-full babes of high Olympian youth;
Those beautiful daughters of divine birth
Who do fairer mortals bait for love and mirth.
Of Ocean’s fair kin this story begins;
Of Nereids and Aphrodite’s foam.

One daughter of Nereus birthed this tale,
A fair nymph who was Galatea known,
The playful sea-maiden of shapely limb
Whose baited breath spoke Nereus’ hymn:
The fair, blue-eyed lover of mirth and joy
Who for laughter, did Cyclops' love hail.
Hight Polythemus, Ouranos’ seed,
Forger of great Zeus’ fiery bolts;
Fierce Cyclopean mountain and as strong
Who sang in harmony what lovers do long.
The homely beast stared over the sea;
One-eyed monster whose heart for love would bleed.

What face should urge his Cyclopean heart
But that selfsame sensual sea-maiden
Against which all bold defenses were disarmed.
He was, as even Zeus, by her becharmed
And though ferocity battled love within,
His bold passion for her did ne'er depart.

How could he not but love her soothing voice
Though she should taunt him with her Pan-like games.
When even apples from her hand down rained;
A flirter’s game where love, above all, is feigned,
He could not but chase her unto the sea,
For passion’s pull did lend no other choice.

Yet nymph would never Polythemus woe,
For she was by other moonlit tides pulled.
She pined instead for high king’s son, Acis
Who did revel that love should grant him this.
Thus Galatea did such Cyclops spurn
When she turned at last to the love she'd know.

But Polythemus own' love bore true.
And he turned with his unbridled rage
'Pon such form as the Nereid’s love did take.
Acis beneath jealous fury did break,
To the bristling pulse of hot passion’s blood:
And the jealous hand that sought only rue.

But Nereus to Galatea saw
And turned her mortal love to river-god,
That the nymph with her lover might remain.
No more did the princely Acis lay slain
And could now wholly with each other be,
As springs will flow and merge with winter's thaw.

Yet slighted lover could no peace enjoy,
Knowing as he did where his love did lay
Far 'way where there was naught that he could do.
So Cyclops did pray his father to pursue;
To punish whom, his baited heart, had torn;
The new-made god and his lover, most coy.

High Poseidon did grant his son this boon
And turned his seaweed eye ‘pon the fairer nymph
To trap free-flowing sea nymph in stone.
From Acis’ love was she cast alone,
Locked in ridged marble, Galatea,
Where could not feel the tidal pulls of the moon.

For how many years was she trapped from sight,
Locked, immobile, in that formless stone
An atrophied body, still free of mind;
Sea-maiden to isolation resigned.
How marks the time with neither light nor sound
Hidden away in a permanant night.

What thought she then, the coming of the Greeks,
Chisels warming to the hard hammer’s blow
Striking now great blocks from old mountain’s side.
Was it freedom that those blows would confide?
They pulled her formless form from mountain steep
She was still yet stone from those stony peaks

Taken to mighty Cyprus, those marble blocks,
Before such hands as eager chisels bore
To carve, for priests, the likeness of their God
In the hope that their fair blessings might laud.
Came they, these marble blocks, unto market
Where sculptor’s hands were tempted from their walks.

And one such sculptor unto market came,
A youthful man whose skilled hands well crafted;
Who from stone wrought forms most lifelike
And who, of women, held a great dislike.
Bore he art over marriage and maiden,
This man of Cyprus with Pygmalion’s name.

Went he unto where the high marble stood,
A man who sought naught of the blocks but see
Until his eyes found whence the nymph was bound.
Knew he in that moment what he had found;
That from this block would carve his greatest work;
And the future would know him, as it should.

Took he with eager step the marble home
Where trepidation stayed his knowing hand.
In quiet contemplation he caressed
The work worn handles that the muse once blessed.
His mind’s eye clearly saw what matter known,
That hands must carve where heart would never roam.

Then Galatea felt his touch upon...
How grand a change from workman’s courser tools,
To such loving skill of a craftsman’s touch.
How passion for the art welled so much
Within the form of hatred’s tempered man;
First companion since Godly wrath had drawn.

So long was nymph so formlessly there kept;
How great the rapture to once again bear
Arms and legs, even as so roughly hewn;
With wasted marble all around her strewn.
What warmth spread within her mind’s breast,
Such gratitude she would fresh tears have wept.

How spent he the hours labouring o’er her,
So focused was he ‘pon unbidden muse
That food lay neglected, though near at hand.
So driven was he by chisel and sand
That worked fervently ‘neath sun and moon,
The artist’s passion had ne'er been so pure.

Single mindedly Pygmalion worked,
And as her naked form from block exposed;
As he shaped the nymphs fingers, breasts and thighs;
Grew he to no longer women despise.
He found, as steadily fair nymph emerged,
His loathing blurred with the love he once shirked.

And there Galatea still wrapped in stone
Felt sculptor’s loathing of the naked form
Join the growing rubble beneath her feet.
Whenever fingers ‘pon her flesh did meet,
Flowed tingles as only a lover knows;
A glowing heart that no real love had known.

What tender touch Pygmalion there laid,
As he with beach’s sand softened her gaze
And made smooth where naked Nereid stand.
What tempered mind guided perfection’s hand
To lend luster to whom in stone entombed;
A maiden’s form; a godly debt re-paid.

Henceforth fair she stood in alabaster white,
A sea maiden yet trapped in marble’s stone;
The naked form as nymph had bourn in life.
Had she learned true love from sea god’s strife?
The pallid stone could lend no mortal blush
But deep within, the marble was glowing bright.

And the man who hated women no more,
Stepped back when rags had lend her all their blush,
To gaze on such beauty as was ne'er seen.
It went far deeper than the polished sheen,
And Pygmalion’s heart burst forth from stone,
For a love that ne'er existed before.

Yet how sad was his most longing caress;
Warm fingers on Galatea’s cold stone;
To know, somehow, his heart was forthwith bound.
Love from hate, for a statue had found,
Lifeless and unyielding marble made home...
Did the gods curse him? Did the goddess bless?

He bought the fairest gifts that he could find:
The finest of robes in the purest of white,
And clothed his naked alabaster bride.
So far within, the nymph could not confide,
Such joy as wrought these gifts, when clothed her form,
And wished she could comfort his tortured mind.

He brought forth robes of deep emotions hue,
Of the sadness born of her lifeless kiss;
And the unrequited love found in stone.
And how she burned over such passion shown,
And wished with all of her marble-cast soul,
To give, as she could not, and end the rue.

His passion, even with his sadness grew,
With the whispers of lovers and of loss:
The blooms of narcissus, dear Echo’s bane;
Bold hyacinth, made of blood from gods, vain;
Fair windflower, Goddess’ love – death grown:
All love’s fair flowers; all grown of loss too.

Then he lay the statue with him in bed
Staring, pining, into her sightless gaze
What agony such unfulfilled embrace.
Yet she looked on, through lifeless eyes, his face.
And wished, like him, that there was life in limb;
That the veins there within marble, ran red.

And Galatea yearned to let him know
That there was a nymph inside this stone
That burned for him, e'en as he burned for she.
Was there no god who could hear their plea,
Or was this Posiedon's continued curse
To watch a lover as love lost its glow.

How long can e'en the ardent love survive
When what is offered effects no return
And no grace be found from a statue's lips.
What else but melancholy therein slips
For a broken heart that can bear no longer
The unrequited that made him alive?

Pygmalion reached forth one final hand
To touch with more sadness than could be bourne
And caress his lover’s still, marble face.
He could no longer her stone statue chase,
For there was no chase, just a foolish run
At a boulder that was ne'er more than land

Then Pygmalion left, wretched; alone;
Off to Aphrodite’s fairest home:
Unto fair Cyprus from whence she first came.
There, during the festival of her name
Gathered the hopeful lovers to offer
And please; that her blessing might be shown.

Not so joyous Pygmalion's gait
As laid before Aphrodite’s alter
His wish for a wife as e'en his hands made.
Yet she saw after his respects were paid
That no stranger, nor devoted love came;
And flared the altar’s flame, to seal his fate.

None could say how Aphrodite might bless,
But Pygmalion knew that love would come
And ease the sadness enshrouding his heart.
All he knew was that he had done his part,
And that the Goddess accepted his plea
To end his new-born lover's heart's duress

Yet his love for the statue had not fled,
Though he thought he had said his last goodbye,
He could not but gaze at her and love still.
His hand reached forward out of concious will
To trace the line of Galatea’s cheek,
To find flesh follow where his fingers led.

He knew his hope now played a fearful ruse
And turned aside lest reason lost all hold
To the heat that seemed to rise at his touch.
Twas illusion and he knew it as such,
And yet his mind was not so easy turned;
His heart still longed to kiss his marble muse

Meanwhile, how Galatea raged inside!
How rapid now beat Galatea's soul!
Had felt his touch as skin upon her skin!
What hope filled pulse did crash as wave-born din
As fought against immovable stone
And her love that stood on the other side.

How tempted eager heart Pygmalion’s mind:
How oft had he offered such sweet caresses
To find only the chill of pallid stone.
Twas different, and his fingers should have known
For they had chiseled, sanded and polished,
But ne'er had it wrought a warmth of that kind

Pygmalion unto himself now lost,
And brought his hand once more unto her face
To test his open heart and prove his mind.
But it was love that his hand there did find,
As the marble flushed 'neath his careful touch
And caution to the western wind was tossed.

As tentative as any lover could,
Pygmalion drew himself up and kissed
Such lips as he knew better than his own.
These lips were not his well remembered stone;
As they returned to him all her passion,
But not all the love that they ever would.

And life’s blood’s heat through Galatea spread,
The granted gift of maiden’s form returned,
That coursed from lips unto her every limb.
The stone melted to her, and her to him,
Wrapping at long last, and then longer still,
For the myth lives: their love cannot be dead.


Valkyr's Price

And now for something completely different!

This week I'm gonna step away from the shorter stuff, and in someways, step away from love. We are going to journey back into my "Women in Myth" series with Valkyr's Price, one of my favorite and most personally influential pieces. "Valkyr's Price" was written shortly after I had moved to Telluride, during my first winter there, and while I don't necessarily draw much from our physical world when I write, I do remember taking a hike to the frozen Bridal Veil Falls. In the middle of winter, staring at the blue veined ice, I tried to absorb the spirit of the Norse; of the fridged north they hailed from. Winter doesn't play much of a role in "Valkyr's Price" but I like to believe that some of that energy found it's way in, anyway.

I was already beginning to dig deeper in to myth, and in particular at the time of this piece, into Norse mythology. I had begun with summaries of the mythology. These annoyed me. I never felt as if they were giving me enough. So I went out and found good translations of the Eddas, searching eagerly for the things I thought were missing from the retellings. Turns out, the Eddas didn't have the information either. But one thing the translations had over the retellings lies in the skaldic verse itself. The structure of the Norse tales, and of kennings intrigued me. There was a richness to them that the prose retellings left out. Artistic licence is one thing, but I wasn't looking for modern art; I wanted ancient myth. I wanted the original meat and bones, or at least as close as I could, before I would develope my own ideas. I found the myths, found the spirit, and now I wanted to play.

Within the Eddas, there are three tales of Helgi and Sigrun; all the same, and all different. I loved the stories, and so when I retold it in "Valkyr's Price" I tried to blend all three together, and at the same time, I wanted to detail a little more about the Valkyrie. "Valkyr's Price" is, in the end for me, a tale about the price of love, and how high a cost love can be for a Valkyrie. I like to believe I kept true to the original tales, to my sources and to the spirit of the Norse; that my modern interest in the cost to Sigrun only adds to the mythological whole. I hope you enjoy this excursion into olden lands, in a style, not strictly skaldic, but close in energy.

Valkyr's Price

From Valhalla begets our tale,

The hall of Odin, Allfather

Whence SigrĂșn the Valkyr dost hail,

The hall of Odin, Allfather.