Thursday, August 25, 2011


ireland's fangorn


All sun's length she sits
nested high in the world tree
alone, surrounded by
the howling, blue
painted greenwitch
oracle of the ward songs
in her iceglass
barelimb chapel
keeping vigil.
At night when the moon
hangs heavy and hunger
sings to the tides,
she flirts her feathers down to
probe the chambered nautilus
and fetch the glitterfish
called to her
rattling net hung
with bone charms.

She's felt his questions
pressing on her
all day so heavy
the singing
so heavy for something
made of air
the sword unsheathed 
so red cutting from
the southern ocean’s rim.

She can hear him reading
from the old gods’ psalter
feel the sigh as the pages
slip to almost dawn,
till he finds
the leaf forgotten,
the star fallen
just before
the world ends
and the kingfisher flies.

June 2011
revised August 2011 

Asteria was the name given, variously to: " the Titan of nocturnal oracles and falling stars," and mother of Hecate, "the ninth Amazon killed by Herakles when he came for Hippolyte's girdle,"  "one of the Danaids...who, with one exception, murdered their husbands on their wedding nights.." and " of the Alkyonides [who, after Herakles slew their father] along with her sisters...flung herself into the sea and was transformed into a kingfisher.."  ~wikipedia 

All in all, a name with plenty of room for poetic interpretation. 

Image: ireland's fangorn(Yew woodlands at the Killarney National Park, which is located beside the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland,) by Justin Gaurav Murgai
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License


  1. I'm sure there's a price for writing these pagan psalms - how much disbelief you have to suspend -- yet this one's a finely cut gem and deserves to be fitted onto the reliquary that holds Cerridwen's mandible, (the mouth-bone which uttered these words first) or one of Hekate's shriveled nipples, still beaded with the ink of moon-juice. It's an aerie fit for transforming this dour monk back into the forest ecstatic who once was kissed by a red-haired selkie whose salt kiss glowed on my face the rest of the days of my life ... my own inner Other and Beloved. For every "Mother of Love," I pray -- for us, for you -- an "Asteria." A poultice, surely, for the bleeding world ... Brendan

  2. Dear god, this is tremendous. My heart rose up with wings at the last line. Again, I know little of the myths, but it may not matter for this one. You had me at world tree and just kept giving with painted greenwitch / oracle . . . the moon hanging heavy, his questions heavy, her rattling bone charms. I love all of it, and the cadence falls all the way through to the last line.

    It's eerie too, that this is his end, the world's end, and she is eager for it. 'Least that's how I read it, and wonder if the heaviness is both from her desire to just get it over with, and from knowing she will.

  3. fascinating read hedge...a fine bit of story telling....i like the little touchs the bone net, i can hear it ...the feather on the nautilus...can also see him poring over his religeous text trying to find just the right thing to ward it off...

  4. "blue
    painted greenwitch
    oracle of the ward songs
    in her iceglass
    barelimb chapel
    keeping vigil." (bold added)

    Everyone should have a cocktail after a day like that and never wonder at the falling star but rather where that fucker will hit.

  5. Beautiful poetic flow....
    I didn't understand a word of it!

  6. Wistful tale and a gorgeous picture.

  7. "barelimb chapel"

    That is such a gorgeous image!

  8. Thanks all, for stopping by and imbibing at my morning myth break.

    @B; You're too kind, friend. But indeed, that's exactly what it is; only Love can poultice the wounds of love.Thanks for allowing me my nonsense rhymes.

    @Ruth: That is certainly a lot of heavies, but I'm glad you thought not too many. As far as you not knowing the myths--I basically made this one up from every archetypal sort of mish mashed flotsam that was shiny enough for me, so it's a ragtag magpie affair that would make a scholar cringe. There is indeed a cry for the resolution of endings and worlds at the finish, but the kind without much finality that are always churned out in the process of living from one state to the next transformation. Thanks so much for reading and I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

    @twm: Ha! That night sky can get dangerous, yes? Thanks, man.

    @G-man--I'm glad you were able to read it even if it made no sense to you--maybe it will make you have a few explanatory nightmares at some point. ;-)

  9. Glorious - and one of my favorite stories. Murdering one's husband on the wedding night seemed so romantic to me when I was young...

  10. @PG: Well, actually that was just a passing reference here not actually used in the poem, but I agree there's a nice Goth ring to the idea.

  11. they killed them in the wedding night..? reminds me of the spiders that eat their husbands but atleast AFTER the wedding night...
    seriously...tight and emotion intense always write like the house is on fire and this is no exception..

  12. @Claudia: Ha! yes, at least wait til the honeymoon's over, girls. ;_) Glad you liked--thanks for reading.

  13. I love the way you've out this together, with the occasional rhymes that work so well, and the sound that it all has when read carefully. The second stanza is especially well done, I think. I went back a third time just to savor it.

    Those old least we get some wonderful verse out of what we do for their amusement, yeah?

  14. PUT this together, that should be.

  15. @FB Yes, don't mind when they laugh with us, right? It's the at us part...Glad you enjoyed it. Also glad I'm not the only one with the typonese problem. I am getting very good at reading it, though.

  16. Well I am a besotted lover of Hecate (Enodia) with her three faces (Goddess of crossroads, wilderness, and magic) so for me I'll see this Asteria as her mother with Perses the Titan as father in your mythic tale. The liminal spaces between where 'the world ends and the kingfisher flies.' and where Asteria is 'nested high in the world tree' and Perses reads 'the old gods’ psalter' meet (the crossroads embodied by their child Hecate) sounds like the residence of art and magic. This is a masterpiece; I love your inner paramour poems passionately, thank you for sharing your genius with us.

  17. @Anna: Thanks much. I like this one myself, and that is indeed the Asteria I had in mind when I chose the title, having watched a summer of falling stars from the world tree of my dark patio this year--but I thought the other examples were interesting archetypes, and added mood, also the transformative wrinkle, caused by the sword of that ultimate hairy macho man, Herakles belonged to that other Asteria, so as I say, I magpied her up from fragments in a totally arbitrary way--but we're poets--we get to do that. ;-) Thanks for reading, dear friend.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats