Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Myrðaling

The Myrðaling
A Ghost Story

Cold across the portal
through the shadow of the veil
the child shivers at me
wild-walking the mirk.
She's thin as she'd never been
when she lay as she was left,
tiny feet kicking in a stiff skin wrap,
taller too than when her kicking stopped
alone in the bramble where the light broke
as the snow wound blue
around her like smoke.

Now she can walk miles
through the night from the black
back corners of the winter before
and after all things
for she's passed the rock door;
on the slaughtering shadow
that splits the soft loam
she blows like a seed that won't be sown
but must be milled instead
on the stone of years
with a river of bones.

She opens her mouth
and sings like the plague
for a name of her own
to give her a grave.
Take mine I say--it's all I have
for a night sister here in the dying year,
where we've gone too far
to turn around, where we soon
must eat the bread of the dead,
where spirit can weigh
as heavy as flesh when the veil falls away.

Then the moon-twin came out of her lost disguise;
I saw the child smile, and close her eyes.

~October 2014

posted for    real toads
Challenge: Get Listed with Grapeling
Grapeling (It Could Be That) hosts a very seasonal prompt, and asks us to include at least three words from a sinister list he has provided to tell a campfire-worthy ghost story. For the list, follow the link to real toads above.

Process notes: In Scandanavian folklore, a myrðaling, (from Old Norse, 'myrða,' murder) or more properly, myling, was the ghost of a child killed by its mother in infancy, usually  the child of an unmarried woman, or of a poor family unable to provide for it, abandoned in some unfrequented place and forced to walk the earth seeking burial. The myling might appear and reveal the acts of its killer in a song, or call out for a name, when the hearer could save the spirit by saying "take mine' so that it might then rest in consecrated ground, (as in this poem) or it might vengefully possess the living, jumping on their backs and forcing the victim to carry them to a graveyard, growing heavier with each step. You can read more in this wikipedia article.

Image: The Strawberry Girl, 1777, by Joshua Reynolds
Public domain via
I have manipulated this image.

Friday, October 17, 2014


 You the Stranger, more myself than my own breath
inhaled, than my dwindling dry hours.
You, a tale less true than even this ring's mark
circling my finger with flowers...

Rivers are mud and dust
here where I make my change,
in a land beloved because I must
in a place where I've given up
my rippled scales. There are no ships here,
none cross these waves

of wind-woven grain, no willow mask
on Rhea's face, no watchlight shines
except on fleets of stars exiled across
the cobalt water sky that planes in alt
between your closing eyes and mine.

Far and far and farther yet this trip,
on traitor winds with phantom sails, leagues long;
you always knew exactly what I am.
I've  known from our first hour
what must come next; you've always hoped
so blindly you were wrong.

Still, here we watch landfallen and bespelled
pale lightning striking on a dreamer's sea,
made from years and crucibled in salt.

We see them go, handfast on our brief brink---
the promises, the light, the air of day, 
the restless dead that are too light to sink.

 ~October 2014

posted for    real toads

Challenge: Poetic Marble
Margaret Bednar (Art Happens 365) offers us some of her photos of marble sculpture from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and suggests that we allow its statuary to inspire us--I have picked a different photo, not hers,  from their collection, of Undine, by Chauncey Bradley Ives.

in alt:  in the octave beginning with the second G above middle C <ranging up to E in alt> ~Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

Process Notes: Undine is both an alchemical term of Paracelsus for the spirits of water, and a figure out of folklore similar to Melusine, about whom I have written before, the water sprite who gave up her mermaid form for a human one on the condition her mortal lover never look upon her in her bath (when she was in her true form)which, of course, he eventually did. Rhea was a Cretan aspect of the goddess Cybele, mother of the gods, an earth goddess associated with an ecstatic cult similar to those of  Dionysus, and usually pictured with a lion to either side of her. 

Image: Undine, by Chauncey Bradley Ives, circa 1880-84 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Photo by Caroline Lena Becker, public domain via wikimedia commons
Undine, 1896, by Henri Fantin-Latour, public domain via

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Funny Frankentine

byFreya90 deviantArt

My Funny Frankentine
 'my funny Frankentine,
freaked cozmic make me scream 
with my heart...'

It's time again

to go back, run back
into the burning barn
that burns forever
where the horse is dead meat
to fly in a panicking run
though there's nothing to save

to start in the empty night
at the trip-beat thump
from the telltale grave
shovel up the remains
stare at the gone skull face
and kiss it, again and again

to lay on the slab
counting the stitches
cigarette-burn itches
while the mad doctor laughs
and lies you're alive.

~October 2014

posted for    real toads

Challenge: Out of Standard
Isadore Gruye (The Nice Cage) evokes one of my favorite films, Shaun of the Dead, and asks us to imagine ourselves in a bunker during the zombie apocalypse--this is my picture of someone who might be in that bunker, or maybe, outside trying to get in...

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Image via facebook, copyright Freyja90 on deviantArt
No copyright infringement intended--will remove on request.

Monday, October 13, 2014



I dreamed your ghost again, alone
forlorn in a maze of trees,
inapposite, a minotaur in need of stone
off-balanced by the forest wind's trapeze.

I'd followed a red string that dripped and flexed
into the tangled center of leaf-carved night
to where you shook and stood perplexed,
a myth at bay gone blind in its own light.

I couldn't tell if it was the ruin no one knows
or the run of your own blood that drove you mad,
or if madness was a thing you chose
to put on like a change of clothes,

a bulldance where the shadows tense and leap
through the hoop of horns you had to wear.
Still, I wiped your bleeding shoulders clean
with the wheatstraw tumble of my hair.

White eyes wide, you gave your fur-soft back;
mounting there I rose on salt-slick skin
out of the labyrinth to the grandstand roar
where the faceless picadors closed in,

where there's no dance, only the fight to win,
where you and I would part to  meet no more.

~November 2014

posted for     real toads
Open Link Monday

Image: Bull-leaping Fresco from the Minoan Palace at Knossos
currently displayed at the Herakleion Museum in Crete
Public domain via wikimedia commons

Thursday, October 9, 2014


or, How the Raven Met Cattriona
with apologies to E.A.P.

Once upon a dismal Friday as I gazed out on the skyway
dripping fitful raindrops highly irking to my fur,
as I nodded, moistly napping, suddenly there came a crapping
from a feathered menace flapping, hovering in the dusky blur.
'Tis some noisome pigeon,' said I, 'perched upon the entrance door.
Only this and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I could spy it, murdering my peaceful quiet,
it was useless to deny that bird that leered down from the door;
as I watched it puff and flutter, black as ink and slick as butter,
softly I began to mutter, 'this is nothing but a gutter starling fed on rotten store,
just a starling garbage-fattened, hanging on the entrance door.
This it is and nothing more.'

But suddenly there came a squawking, as if the monstrous thing were talking,
a devilish and infernal cawking,  a stalking once I'd seen before
from a creature long-forgotten, with a tongue my Master taught on
many a sleepless midnight fraught to speak out misbegotten lore.
Twas the thrice damned noxious Raven with his prate of 'Nevermore"
that woke me, angered to my core.

He did not come to grant me wishes with a beak o'erfull with fishes,
or cook me liver so delicious that I swooned upon the floor--
No! he set my tail a-lashing, and my pointed teeth a-gnashing
with his ever-constant trashing of the entrance door--
obliviously besplattering, while for treats he did implore,
treats Mine Alone for evermore.

Never, swore I, would he triumph, play the monarch or the pontiff
ruling me with caw and quantive statements from the entrance door.
So low I crouched upon the railing, and as he his tail was trailing,
did I pounce upon his failing body as I spilled its gore;
squawking yet he tumbled sailing, down before the open door.
This I saw and nothing more.

As he lay there feebly twitching, I scratched my ear, for it was itching---
and the Raven he went pitching wildly 'cross the chamber floor.
Like the Rabbit ran from Alice, to the pallid bust of Pallas
limped the vandal of our palace that I knocked down with a claw.
As finally then a silence placid fell upon that bird most foul, 
quoth I the Kitty, 'Nevermiaouw!"

~October 2014

posted belatedly for    real toads
Kerry's Challenge: If only they could talk

Thanks to Fireblossom for leading the way with her poem describing the funeral oration of Dog Antony,  the premise of which I have shamelessly transplanted here in hedgewitchian soil.  
Kerry, in her rendition of Dylan Thomas's dog's final wishes, takes this concept beyond pastiche and into pure poetry, but here I have played for laughs.

Edgar Allan Poe is said to have had a cat named Cattriona, and I chose this pairing for my poem in part to mark the anniversary of Poe's death at age 39 on October 7, 1849. The inspiration for it however, comes directly from Kerry O'Connor's prompt, and any Raven involved is purely a product of Poe's imagination. No actual ravens were harmed in the production of this piece.

Top image: Cat Catching a Bird, 1939, by Pablo Picasso.
Footer: Image courtesy of google image search
copyright unknown, no infringement intended.

Unless otherwise indicated, all content © Joy Ann Jones 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved.