Saturday, September 19, 2020

The First Kingdom






The First Kingdom


I dream of

the first kingdom

empire of four

water wood earth and sky

when we knew

 we did not rule,

when a hand outlined

 in ocher

tried to make us real;

when water set to boil

in the round womb of the cauldron

gave magic,

when our skin was honeysuckle,

our tongues fluent in bird,

our hands for making not breaking,

each others' blood too precious to shed

except in the green sacrifice.


Now I watch

the black beyond night

billow out.

The poison steam of brittle brains

evaporating madness

cracks the cauldron.

Sacrifice is colorless.

The lie of ownership replaces

creation's light in our eye. This empire

of assassins, where love is only

an argument of muscle and bone,

where the last fires burn and

birds drop dead from the sky

must pass away, its darkness carried

from the earth, before

the first kingdom can become

the last.


September 2020








 posted for Fireblossom at

The Sunday Muse









Note: in Celtic mythology, cauldrons symbolized many things magical: birth, death, endless plenty and the strongest magic of resurrection. They've been found in many Iron Age burial sites, and later Christianized in the concept of the Holy Grail.  The Cauldron in Celtic Life






Images: Hand Painting, Chauvet Cave,circa 32,000 BP

Title unknown, by Brooke Shaden  Fair Use


  1. Ah, you're here! Yay!

    I adore "the lie of ownership replaces creation's light in our eye" though it's (highly accurate) meaning is the antithesis of anything admirable. You've caught the moment right down to the falling birds. You know I love birds, so that image--and the smoky reality of it--cuts deep. By bookending the present calamity with a different time and its different values, you drive home your point even more pointedly. The contrast is sharp and dreadful. Progress just may not be all it is cracked up to be. That seems abundantly clear right now. Marvelous work here, Joy.

  2. Our red hand grasps too much. I too note the line Shay does, and the falling birds plucked by fires aftermath from the western skies.

    When the first kingdom returns, will it be archaea, bacteria, or even fewer cells?

  3. Oh for our tongues to still be fluent in bird. You have nailed truth to the tree here in a glorious way Joy, with every image and every line you have painted humanities ugliness brilliantly. One cannot read this and not be moved.

  4. This is bewitching, spellbinding — and I found in it deep sadness and condemnation for our current world, and the soulless bastards who are manipulating it. This was dark and delicious soul chocolate! Great write Hedgewitch! many brilliant phrases... I want to learn to talk bird.

  5. My new favourite of yours! The beautiful green growing time remembered - "when our skin was honeysuckle,/ our tongues fluent in bird" - contrasting with our present darkness, with birds falling dead out of the sky......sigh. This poem satisfies my heart with its sad truth so well-said.

  6. As others have said, this is an amazing poem. Mysterious, ageless, deep, relevant. I love these words ... 'sacrifice is colorless.'

  7. its darkness carried
    from the earth, before
    the first kingdom can become
    the last

    It is the way of nature that certain things ought to take place before change can be seen and felt. It'll fall into place easily barring unintended obstacles!. Rightly so Joy!


  8. Pity indeed. Not much forgiveness here for this disastrous tribe, the one which once could only suppose its existence ochering a hand on a cave-wall. Those eyes could see the majesty of Nature; what happened in the millennia since? We drowned the caves in nature's blood, intoxicated with the "lie of ownership." Ah well. Earth's fatal mistake was allowing us any kingdom bigger than Chauvet's dream. Now we all burn.

  9. oh, this wrecks havic with my soul. The world indeed has assassins killing under the disguise of leadership. We the stewards of the earth and in this time period have created a terrible injustices. When will this evil spell be broken and the true seers lead us out of the darkness? You have captured reality so well in this piece. It is well thought out and expresses so much that I feel and see. My mind is trying to see what the last kingdom might look like. is my hope we can expel darkness and welcome an era of light. May it be so!

  10. "when our skin was honeysuckle, our tongues fluent in bird" - oh wow, that is so great. And "where love is only an argument of muscle and bone" - fantastic. And our need to purge so much darkness before we can regain the light. Thank you.

  11. I'd like to learn to speak bird like you can.

  12. Oh, the rise and fall of this is epic and drops straight through me. The cracked cauldron in particular marks out the shift from wonder into exhaustion and limns the poem with ashes.

  13. I agree, this kingdom sucks. You've said it so beautifully though. The cauldron as womb - I never knew that, but it feels right and familiar now. I won't repeat a line here, because I'd have to recopy the whole poem. I love this one, Joy.

  14. I am spellbound by this, Joy! Here are some lines I felt were stand-outs:

    "when our skin was honeysuckle,

    our tongues fluent in bird,"

    "The poison steam of brittle brains

    evaporating madness

    cracks the cauldron."

    "where love is only

    an argument of muscle and bone,"


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