My Lady Verdant

I shall follow
the threads of her hair –
her hair is verdant.

I shall follow
the bats to her lair –
my Lady Verdant.

I shall follow
the ancient pathways
to Peneverdant.

I shall meet her 
there ivies in my hair –
my Lady Verdant.

*A poem and image for Anrhuna, the goddess who I believe to be the mother of my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd, appearing in her localised form as the Lady of Peneverdant.

My Green Chapel

I watch through the window
of the only house on this street not lit 
by party lights, the only one where ivy grows,
the one that seems shrouded by darkness and by sorcery.

The steady sound of hoofbeats has been coming to the North
since before the beginning of time, the beginning of myth,
the court of Arthur, and still he comes, the one we call Gawain.

He does not expect a woman this time crowned in holly and ivy.

He cowers away from the blood-red berries of my eyes 
and averts his gaze from the scars on my arms, 
imagining some distant rite of passage
even I can no longer remember.

I have been sharpening my axe
for a long, long time, waiting for the day
my Lord will no longer have the time to play this game.

I commend his courage, speak of the mathematical percentages
of the people who would take the Green Knight’s challenge,
those who would return to meet their fate.

“You’re the only one,” I laugh aloud.

His eyes are big as portals to the Otherworld. 

One day I will step through them and he will follow.

But not today because the blade of my axe just nicks
his neck, a small cut, which will leave a scar beside the others.

I straighten up with a blood-red stare and send him on his way
because my Lord and I have no more time for games.

Peneverdant, A Lunar Cycle

I. Dark Moon

On a dark moon
the lady in the ivy
winds down the dark hill
and the falling graves.

All memory
is sliding into darkness,
the river’s tides
her open mouth.

She is waiting
for the return
of her tribe
on their oaken boats.

The moon is dark
over the river-
an eye, a maelstrom
between the worlds.

The fleet are ready,
the church is empty,
graves as hollow
as the old green hill.

She will be waiting
in the ivy
for the return
of her tribe
on their oaken boats.

II. New Moon

All is darkness
but the splash of the tide,
the wing of an owl.

Lady Ivy
recounts her losses
on the hill
and the bank
where the hangman
wore his cowl.

They are waiting
in the maelstrom eye
of the new moon-
the river’s entryway
to living day
and deep Annwn.

They are waiting,
her hidden tribe
on their oaken boats
in a slit of light,
an opening moonbeam
to row through
the night
to the old green hill.

III. Moon First Quarter

There is wisdom
in the eyes of an owl-
a demand,
a categorical imperative.

Behind cumulonimbus clouds
secretly moon’s orb
is swelling.

They row.
History is written
in their woad-
gods and goddesses,
an oak king,
the lakes and water courses
of their oaken fleet,
the moon’s eye
in the shining river
and all the laws of the deep.

IV. Full Moon

The moon is full
behind the clouds.
She casts no light
on the empty boats,
the processional route
around the old green hill,
the moving river of woad.

Lantern bearers
pass the old iron rails,
the gloomy gathering of graves
to assemble on the mound,
igniting the beacon fire.

By the wing of an owl
the clouds are moved.
The moon looks down,
victorious.

They salute her orb
in the shining river,
the gods of the hill
and the deep.

On this night
of opened graves
anything is possible
in the light of the beacon fire
before the lambent eye of the moon.

V. Moon Last Quarter

Night has fallen
from the moon’s closing eye.

The owl has flown
to the hunt.

The fire gone cold
with the lanterns’ glow
is eclipsed by street lamps
and brake lights.

The by-pass roars
by the old green hill.
The river is concreted
back in her new course.

Lady Ivy
winds down
the hill and the graves.
She waits
for the tribe to row
to the river-moon
on their oaken boats,
to her maelstrom-eye
between the worlds.

Forest

Faery Lane, May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I.

A forest
holds a very small possibility
in the sigla of trees
and in a ruddock’s song.

Raindrops lace the ivy,
in a cinema of shade
fairytales catch hands
with desperate grace.

II.

For in my nightmare
the leaning yew fell down.
The door to Annwn closed,
although the wolves still howl.

The people were dead,
the gods were gone
and the ghosts no longer mourned
their shadowed passing.

III.

Yet the forest
kept alive the possibility
of hope emerging
from its bowers

like a white stag bounding
from Annwn’s mounds
with red-eared hounds
and antlered huntsmen.

IV.

Now we read
the sigla from the trees
and listen out
for a ruddock’s song.

In the cinema of ivy
our myths still dance
a forest of possibility
in a raindrop’s glance.

Faery Lane, May 2013

The King of Faery

In woodland damp, a shady dark divine
On aged slope the creeping ivy climbs.
Caressing thorn and dressing ash with vine
A poison maid spreading her locks sublime
Drapes kingdom fair with wanton waxen shine.
The deep earth’s lawless vagabond of joy
Cords heart shaped leaf where eldritch magic lives,
Ascends, protects the glamorous abode
Of fair folk ancient as the darkness of the wood.

Rooted fast at the foot of hallowed hill
In somber silence stands a leaning yew
Ghosts and needles shadowing its boughs
Whispers hanging sorrowful and true,
Of pageant stately passing at full moon.
Yew tree hides the underworld’s feared gateway
Beneath the haunted watching of its roots.
The wise and dead or reckless seek entry
Imploring the illustrious King of Faery.

~

His spectral shine shimmers white as moonlight
His hair floats fair about his phantom limbs
His warrior attire is black as night.
The eyes of the hunter of souls are grim
As the howl of his hounds on Annwn’s winds.
His dread black steed is a beast of the marsh
Dripping like the sea, his whinnying swims
Like a wetland dobbie bridging the worlds
And hurtling his way across the oak covered swamp.

The King’s pale face is black with wrath
For an eldritch dream killed by disbelief.
Souls who crossed to Annwn to be reborn
Stagnate in the gloom of apathy’s reign.
Through a mist of twilight doomed rides the King.
He travels the path of the Ribble’s old course
From the heart of the hill the death knell rings.
Decked in somber garments the fair folk march
Calling souls to the underworld with funeral spells.

The Wild Ivy

The Wild Thyme is Los’s messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon
Terrible deadly and poisonous.
– William Blake Milton

 

 

 

 

A traveler,
Twisting outward from eternity.
Hedera helix spiral climbing,
Subtle fibres root the earth, pierce the tree.
Vines entwine an embracing strangle,
Mighty deadlock pulsing path of evergreen.

A traveler
On a long journey,
Cordate faces look out to see.
Draping decoration wraps the valley
Pervading everything with ivy’s mystery

Hanging tendrils sing deafening resonations:
“Joy-lament the world you fail to see!”
I can see you’ve travelled far to reach me
And ask “what message do you bring to me?”