Saturday, May 19, 2018

Down Below

Down Below

A long run last night
under the Silver Eye
Blood on my hide
but not my own.

Here I lie
where the Red Eye
cannot come, where nothing comes
but Death and the turquoise tide.

Here no sound
of song or voice, no hand, alone;
coppery tongue, asleep on bones
and no one comes.

The longhouse winks
its Yellow Eyes, cruel firelight
alive inside, so many smells
a sound like bells

I cannot make
but feel its form
like dust in my throat,
conceived but unborn.

They screamed to see me,
long tongues to greet me slipped
their sharpened iron; I broke them
then, the rafters dripped---

why shouldn't they die?
Soon someone will come.

~April 2015

a monster-waiting-for-his-hero poem, reposted for
Brendan's Hero on the Road

(originally written for National Poetry Month 2015 with Magaly Guerrero
I Hear Fictional Poets:
Create a poem written from the point of view of a fictional character.)

This poem is written in the voice of Grendel,  the 'shadow-walker,'  monster from Beowulf
".. an Old English epic poem..[and].. possibly the oldest surviving long poem in Old English..It was written in England some time between the 8th and the early 11th century..."  "... Beowulf leaves [his kingdom in Sweden or Norway] to destroy Grendel, who has several times killed those asleep in the mead-hall of [the king of the Danes] after having been disturbed by the noise of the drunken revelers. After a long battle, Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel, and Grendel dies in his marsh-den..."~wikipedia


A favorite tale of mine, retold and filmed many many times.This is my favorite indie movie version.  

Images:Untitled, by Zdislav Beksinski     Fair use
Primitive Man Seated In Shadow, by Odilon Redon    Public domain               


  1. Stunning images, Hedge. I especially like "the longhouse winks its yellow eyes."

  2. Grendel's song is the hero's mirror, the perfect pairing for the fated clash. Everything Beowulf isn't is found here, darkness and depth, ripped sinew and angst. All the hero would clear and cleave and clean. The poetry is a dark mead and you've poured it properly -- a-steam and brimming from a skull. The nightscape this poetry mines has all the punch of the dreadful; it's almost invisible, the way nightmares crawl, blindly, averse to notice (those Eyes!). God's accurst packs full this wurst, fer sure. And what well of sympathy we feel for h/her (if not Grendel, his Dam), beasts whose main fault is that humans hunt them to extinction. Who roots for the hero here? So glad you pulled this wonderfully curved canine back off the shelf and hurled it back to the surface of this lily pad mead-hall.

    1. Only the best wurst for your mead-hall skald songs, B. Thanks much, (and the linked movie is really worth a watch if you'd like to revisit the world of myth re-invoked.)

  3. You've built up this amazing level of fear and dread throughout the whole piece that left me wanting to reach for the nearest sword to relieve the terror that comes with waiting. So really well done.

  4. For me, this is the voice of Caliban, disillusioned by mankind, but still waiting for a sign that there is something greater in the world than can be found on one small island.

  5. Stupid Beowulf. My sympathy is all with Grendel. People who are noisy when one is trying to sleep should be subtracted by whatever means necessary. I'm calling in the air strike, and the medics.

  6. I love how you brought his chthonic voice... the way how he grow strong below... there is something so strong and root-like with a monster (or hero) like this.

  7. Life--and death and hero(ing)--it seems, can't find balance when things don't happen as they should. Or, at least, as those who are doing the living hope or believe it should happen.

    I hurt for your speaker the first time I read this poem. And I heard for that poor lonely monster again. Life is so hard for those who can dance to the music played by their hearts. Someone should slap the Beowulfs (Beowulves?) of the world. They should remember to show up, proper weapons in hand, before their monsters get too restless.

    Seriously though, the pain in this one runs so, so, so deep.

  8. I too pity Grendel. This pen is sharp and bright, as though illuminated in a bonfire

  9. I have no sympathy for either "monster" or "hero." The noise that disturbed Grendel is humanity at work and play, the thinking of Beowulf is that he has to intervene as if he is the arbiter of life. We are not good, never have been, at determining who is the monster and what is a hero.

    The writing though is sublime, pure, touching the core of being.

  10. A most colorful poem, a tale well told!


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

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