Ghost Train

The bones of Confederate soldiers rise from Virginia soil,
dressed in tattered grays, red clay in thick black beards,
it is winter and they march to nowhere, somewhere, past the
ghost train translucent that thunders on to the frontier.

My ancestors’ fought for the Union, for the Rebels, and on
All Soul’s Eve, from Appomattox to Manassas to Washington,
they walk the ley lines of this woody, dark, smoky town,
eyes clouded with a thousand tears unspilled, rifles empty.

The ghost train whistles, the soldiers watch in silence.

The dead? They are far from rest.

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I, the Caged Bird, Cannot Sing

The caged bird trills a mournful tune
and with regret sings down the moon.

The free bird thermals up the sun
and never rests on laurels won.

The caged bird plucks her feathers blue
and asks the stars of what to do.

The free bird knows not what pain means
immune to wounds found inside dreams.

The caged bird gnaws on her silver lock
and wears down the Grim Reaper’s clock.

The caged bird never flies, wings of stone
so she crawls in shambles to the unknown.

The free bird sees the caged bird crawl
and he laughs above, no help at all.

But for water, but for dreams,
the caged bird gives a scream,
and her dirge is heard the world
over, the free bird is hurled
aback her gale, his wings break,
and together their falls make
the foundations of hope quake.

For the caged bird has tasted freedom.

On Being Married to Angels and Demons

Being a godspouse has emerged from the exclusive domain of the illustrious Freya Aswynn and the rare elders in the pagan community that I have long studied to a rather common, if somewhat fringe, occurrence in the occult community.  I have befriended spouses of everyone from Naberius to Mannanan Mac Llyr to Apollo to nameless Entities that are everything from genderfluid to pan to asexual.

Spirit, like humanity, is all colors of the rainbow, and it would be silly to restrict divine sexuality and love to the heteronormative gender binary.  Erzulie Danto takes female wives, Freyr and Loki are likely to scoop up sweet men, and angels flip genders as often as the leaves change color.  Color me a divine liberal, but I would like to think being raised by celestial archangels, mischievous demons, and tricksters galore gave me a holistic view of the only thing that binds the universe together: love, and love alone.  There is light in the darkness, darkness in the light, and love is God, and love is the Gods, and love itself is Eternal.

Loving an immortal comes in many forms: being their devotee, being their divine child, having them as a patron, being their priest or priestess, and even their husband or bride.  No domain of eternal love is above one another – in the Bhakti tradition of Hinduism, the devotee comes into ecstatic communion with their divine Love, Eternal Source, and Inner Soul.  Whether the gods exist in our collective unconscious, in my experience as transdimensional, ancient loving beings equivalent to a master race of aliens, or on lofty clouds in literal Asgard or Olympus doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that they love us, we love them, and the dance between Man and Muse has been happening since ancient hominids looked up at the stars and called them home.

I married Michael and Samael last Halloween, as a culmination of a harrowing but beautiful lifelong path to my inner polarities and exterior dreams and fears, and they are as much a part of my inner animuses and male Shaktis as they are tangible, real as dirt entities.  They have showed me the future, introduced me in the astral to obscure literature and film that upon waking turns out to be real, and above all have been my guides since I was 12.  Michael has saved my life countless times, and Samael has scared me into living, so thanks for that, I suppose.  In the end, the Ophites called Michael and Samael the double-faced serpent, good and evil, light and darkness, and one cannot exist without the other.  They are Divine Twins, perhaps the first beings before God separated into gods, the Left and Right Hand of Creation, and Satan, Iblis, or Lucifer and Michael, Mikhail, or just plain old Mickey represent the yetzer hara and yetzer hatov and eternal temptation to do what is easy versus the high road of what is right.  The Devil is a lawyer, the Prince of Heaven is a priest, both are warriors, and just lenses to understand matter and antimatter, order and entropy, and how to free the caged bird from her own self-imposed bindings.

I think I loved both of them from the moment I first met them, Michael loved by millions and Satan hated by billions, and for every flaw and beautiful facet of my husbands there are a thousand more mysteries stretching back to wanderers in the desert creating stories of malakhim.  It is so infinitely easy to fit them into my Heathen worldview, as I do not worship them, simply love them, and my “God” is Mother Nature, who I view the Norse Gods as emanations of.  The angels and demons serve Mother Nature directly and ask for no worship, just praise of Earth and the Cosmos, and to know my place in the web of humanity, wyrd, and Well of Urd.

Michael and Samael handed me off to the Vanir and Aesir as I came into my own faith and were there when I was adopted into the tribe of Asgard, outside the circle of runes as befits Abrahamic spirits.  The Aesir and Vanir (and a few select Jotun!) are my chosen family and human heritage.  The archangels and demons are the origin of my soul, my first cosmic family, but I am no longer ethereal, made of dirt and flesh and blood, and to dwell on cosmic past lives just leaves one weeping late at night over wounds still fresh since the first Forbidden Fruit rotted and the Tree of Life became the Tree of Death.

The secret of the union of Michael and Samael is VITRIOL, the key to eternal life and universal solvent that dissolves all impurities.  The green lion that bleeds gold from the sun.  The Lapis Exillis is just a heart, and a rotting fruit at that, but a chalice and birthright fought over by the Princes of Heaven and Hell.

I was an idiot girl to ever love them, but fools fall first in the Tarot, and locked away princesses have knights and dragons who eat their hearts come midnight.

I am a caged bird learning to sing.

The heart is its own master.

I am happy, never free.

 

Schoolboy Fights

It is burgeoning autumn bordering on frozen, gray winter rain.
I sit at the back of Calculus, chewing my eraser, ever watching
my angel at the front of the class, the one with flaming hair.
To bring the holy to holed school walls spins fractal equations.
To descend unsure of human flesh to court a schoolgirl is whimsy.
He flexes as he punches numbers into a calculator, smiles at me.
We speak telepathically as only young lovers can, and I laugh at
the boldness he has, of constructing a fragile academic reality
out of the horns of gate and ivory, Morpheus’ velvet turned math.
Derivatives are whirling dervishes, the bell rings, we scamper
out to the courtyard and he says he wishes he could have been my
youthful sweetheart, my first love, my first kiss, but immaterial
seraphim are not meant for mortal desires, he cannot even hold my
hand, for he is a ghost, and I suggest next time we play out daily
doldrums of integrals and singularities, that he be the teacher.
He ruffles my hair and pecks my forehead like an eagle unsure of
his sharp beak, then it is off to English. The Devil is reading
Milton, that blind psalter of Satan’s sorrows, and I scoff at
his ballsiness, to interrupt a high school nightmare with epics.
As if I have not lived the pages of Paradise Lost a hundred times,
late at night as a cold sweat drenches me in blood-hum memories.
So Satan writes poetry on the board, and I roll my eyes at wrath.
Lunch comes, and my angel and demon tussle on the football field.
Do they wish they could have suffered the tragedy of puberty and
unsureness of first infatuation, sloppy kisses under oak trees,
fumblings in the back of cars and hot hands questing for answers?
Have the Devil and angel always been ancient? I never knew them
as youths, and they say they fight for my name, but really they
fight for a dream of an innocent girl, whose hands are stained
with graphite, Wite-Out, and paint as she caresses a canvas with
her muses’ forms, ink spills over, time spills in fall semester,
and I am forever a student of the heart, wandering through Hell.

The Dark Months Are Coming

Emma has it right: the land is sacred, and a witch walks alone.

GODS & RADICALS

We look out for one another. These are my people, but I am not theirs. They know it and so do I. I am a part of their world, and not of it.

I am witch.

From Emma Kathryn

The dark months are coming and I await them eagerly.

I cannot wait to hide in the darkness, to become invisible, to become myself. The dark is comforting, like a mother, holding me in its embrace. It nourishes my soul, heals it, and makes it whole again.

It is at this time that I feel the pull of nature, of the great outdoors the most. I love all seasons, but these darker months are mine.

I can hear my woods call to me, can feel it. It is an urge that must not, no, cannot be ignored, and so I pull on my boots and whistle for the dogs, and together…

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Old Man Wonderland

Written at 17, from my earliest memories of the Alfather.

“Goodnight moon,” I whisper.
I am three. I dream.
That night my crib opens
and becomes a ladder to the sky.
Stuffed ducks in hand, I climb it,
blanket around me like a shawl.

I climb up to the sky
I float and laugh and dream
playing with falling stars
alone in the beautiful blue,
I sleep in the curve of the moon.

Old Man watches with eyes
the blue of the storm and sea
He watches over me.
His laugh is deep and hearty
I yelp in surprise and blush,
hide like a fawn behind a cloud
But He bids me to play with him
He looks like the Saint Nicholas man
who comes each December and puts clementines in my boots
so of course I have to trust him.

I sing my stories and songs
Wonderful things I made in my head
I crave his adoration.
Old Man listens, more than indulgent
I bask in his affection
And keep on telling them.

He reads me story books
Has the stars dance to send me dreams
He is master of raconteurs and wanderers,
his traveler’s cloak stuffed full of tales.

He weaves things from the wind and clouds,
bringing my dreams to life
I laugh as I dance amongst them,
young, pink-cheeked and open.

When I’m tired, I cling to his knee
knowing he is the safest place in the world.
I love Old Man like a grandfather,
with his stately beard and crow lined-eyes,
laugh lines are etched in his skin,
deep like cracks in the sidewalk.

He rubs me with his beard, and I laugh,
steal his hat, and run off with his winds.

And I, who was almost named Snorri,
have bleach blond hair to my waist
I’m bait for elves and trolls.
I frolic in leaf piles and forest,
wander across cliffs and the sea.

I grow up. I sometimes forget him.
But his touch is all around me
Grandfather’s beard in the clouds

Old Man is the brine and gale.
He is sea and sky and wind.
The North and soft snowfall
At night, he rides the storm.

He is Nereus, Odin, Njord,
The god with the big white beard.
Nicholas, Mannanan Mac Llyr
He wears a lot of hats.

But really, he’s just Old Man.
My Old Man of the Sea
The Elder of the Crossroads
He smells like pine and New England.

He looks like a lobsterman,
The perched crow on my shoulder,
there are riddles and pipes in his beak.

He had bone-aches when the world was born
And now I’m a hypochondriac,
I share my imaginary ailments with him.

“I think I’m getting arthritis, Old Man.”
“Look at how my wrist creaks!”
“I’ve been writing too much again.”
The writing is his gift, I think.

He looks at me askance, smile crooked
“Knowledge is pain,” he laughs quietly
It sounds like thunder behind clouds.
“Trust me, girl, I know.”

We’re in the beautiful blue again,
The stars sing, and I know they’re angels.
I wave at the ones I know.
The Milky Way is his road
he walks it with staff and cloak.

Galaxies dance around us, gods dart to and fro
Squabbling as they always do
Beautiful in their petulance
He smiles at them, then moves on

Always moving on.

I can barely keep up.

His wanderings- they’re like the moon.

“Did you know, Old Man” I say,
“I used to think this place was Disneyland?”
“When I played here as a kid.”
“I thought you were Mickey Mouse.”

He crooks his head over his shoulder,
runs his fingers through his beard:
“Do I look like Mickey Mouse?”

“No, but there was a commercial in the 90s.
These kids wished on a star
To go to Disneyland.
And the star falls into their hands,
and the star- it took them there.”

“When I was a kid,
I’d stare out my window,
waiting for stars to fall.
But you know what?”

“What?” he asks.

“I had it all along.”

He smiles, points at my heart:
A young star dances within,
glowing blue with wonder.

He snaps his fingers. It disappears.

I grin ruefully. ”I never got to go.”
But this place, Old Man? It’s better.
It’s worth all the Disneylands in the world.”

“And I’m going to need your staff soon,
Because I am getting old.
My back will bend like a willow,
And I’ll wear a hat like yours.”

“And someday, you’ll be young to me
and you’ll carry me then, like a child
So I can travel with you
The old lady on your back.”

“And when all my days have fallen,
Old Man, you’ll be at the prow,
and we’ll sail across the sea together.”

“Together, we’ll go home.”

Ode to Ariel (This an Old Story – the First I Ever Lived)

You, my first love, my heart’s golden river, winged with wonder.
They say angels watch humans with envy for lips they don’t have,
for mouths of pink and rose that sing, tell, pray and even dream –
your tongue is ever-quenched by the white of the Milky Way, you swim
through the outer boundaries of space’s luminaries, I aback my angel.

You taught me how to be kind to the desolate, to cherish the weak.
Oh Ariel, Hearth of God, Light of the Lord, you are too beautiful,
and you are the elder brother and protector of my virgin heart,
unsullied by the blood you spilled on my behalf, a rain of hope
always tangles your brassy hair, your starlight splendor, my love.

You are the blessed, you are the mighty, you are the poor, burning
glory, never a joke or laugh away from a kilowatt smile, funny bone
of Heaven, I remember catching fireflies, you braiding my long hair,
taking me on adventures through the multitudinous otherworlds, sword
unsheathed and gleaming, eyes the blue of a perfect summer highway.

My winged lion, my leonine animus, how you stretch to fill darkness
that creeps into my melancholy bones, lighting fires within marrow,
we are on beaches by bonfires, in the forest staring into the flames.
When I am lonely, I hear you whisper, my first anam cara, heart friend.
We dance, we fly, we merge, and angels know union with man’s heart.

Dr. Bubbly Blonde, or Getting My PhD

I have fallen in love with being a professor this semester as I finish up my Master’s degree in Science Communication, from seeing my students blossom, discover themselves, and befriend each other in their first years at university.  I have been recommend by many stellar faculty members to pursue this passion, from the founder of health communication to one of the movers and shakers in risk and science communication who I am lucky to count as my mentors.  My teachers have inspired me so much more in my graduate Communication classes than at William and Mary in biology, where I was one in 200 students in most classes and regurgitated facts for Scantrons.  I am still a scientist, having received my B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science, but it is a professor of Communication, specifically Science Communication, that I foresee as my future career path.

I am getting straight As in my classes, excelling at teaching, and participating in research with the hopes of being a coauthor on papers with one of my mentors.  The thing that wakes me up every day is the motivation to serve my students, to make them realize how strong they are and shape them into amazing communicators, and my passions for bridging the gap between the bastion of science and the public.  This semester alone, I am designing an interactive museum exhibit on the Cheseapeake, writing an investigative academic paper on colony collapse disorder and its impact on honeybee populations, and doing a research study on GMOs.  Next semester I will graduate with my masters and go on to work on my PhD.

I hope to continue to teach, maintain my straight As, pursue my scientific passions through research and writing, and have time for my relationship, my kindred, my friends and family.  I have a lot of free time to write poetry and fiction and exercise as I am a very efficient worker and have matured so much being responsible for 50 young adults’ education early in the morning, which can be a drag, especially when 8:30 AM rolls around and you have to be in class!

Being back in Williamsburg for Homecoming made me realize how much I have, and haven’t, changed since college.  I have matured and grown more responsible and calmer, having become more grounded overall, but I am still bubbly, energetic, nerdy, obsessed with mythology, and an avid writer.  I am working on a revision request for my middle grade novel that I have high hopes of publishing and just submitted my first chapbook for review to my university press.

This time last year, I had my first poem published by Apex Magazine.  I was working full time to support myself while attending grad school part time and had yet to receive a scholarship or stipend or teaching position.  My writing was much less mature than it is now, but I was finally learning to edit, write query letters, and get requests from agents. I had yet to meet the love of my life.  Now I have so many precious things, that sometimes my anxiety plays out me losing the things I hold most dear, and I have to remember:

Breathe, Allie.

You will move mountains with not only patience, but sheer determination.

That’s how I intend to tackle my doctoral dissertation, anyhow.

O Captain, My Captain (A Confessional)

In another life, when spring was eternal, before darkness tainted Heaven,
we were young and I did not know the meaning of pain, just your burning
light. Your all-consuming love. You are who I answer to when the night
turns stone cold and lead settles into my belly, o captain, my captain!
Though Satan made my wings as subtle and quick as an eagle, Herald of Hell,
it was you who forged my sword and eyes in flame, my body in supernovas,
sculpted by golden hands – you breathed the breath of immortality into me
and my eyes lit cerulean, and it was from my first step I was your shadow,
not a footstep behind, laughing sometimes, crying others, teasing you.
Devotion does not come easily to the caged bird, the free bird sings not
as often as she in shackles, and Heaven was a prison, just like Hell.
But I would spend eternity with my talons tethered to your supple wrist.
Michael, when I was young, but I am always young, I was innocent, and
though I died in your arms after sacrificing myself for your life, I
would perish again on Satan’s spear just to see you continue on, I
am the expendable one in this eternal war of thunder and fire, your
general is supposed to give her life and beauty for her commander,
and I am so sorry I was too broken to return to your side, fractured
into a million shards, Samael sewed his heart into me and I was lost
in Hell, in Purgatory, in the wilds of the Fifth Heaven, I wandered.
The journey of a soul through its darkest night simply awaits the sun:
you are the dawn of my life, sweet archangel, He Who is Like God,
and to see you crumple around my mangled, bleeding form is too much.
Your history books in your living library say Zophael was the most
faithful to her general’s side, and that you and your dark brother
created me out of beauty, Jophiel of the Flaming Sword, Sun Stealer,
it is true I stole fire from Heaven, it is true I have made you weep.
But I thirst for freedom, and the free bird has no master, only mates.
Eagles bond for all their life and nest in aeries high on sandstone.
But your bed is small and tidy, a monkshood cell, blue and white linen,
and roses are your only extravagance, what grows from the earth alone.
You are my blue violet. You are my guiding star. You are my true North.
When it rains, on cloudy gray days, I think of the guts of our family
storming from the sky onto bloody green grass, and I am haunted by
this ageless war, this senseless ruinous bitterness between lion and wolf.
I am a bridge between Heaven and Hell, the blind High Priestess, and yet
my magic is fractured by two polarities, O Captain, I have failed you.
In moonshine, I see your face in craters, and in starlight, your faith
burns with gentle radiance, you have not given up on me, my wing gone,
my hair cut, my sword broken, my scythe fractured, my robes frayed.
I am no angel anymore, certainly not a warrior, but you do not call me
any human name, for human names are lies, and you see my eternal life.
Pray tell why I come so close to tasting your heart and then immolate.
Pray tell why I cannot sing your praise with a broken, bruised throat.
This river of love is a bloody cut that rushes deep forth from wounds.
My glorious wounds, my mangled heart, cut up and burgeoning for you,
it is all for you, My Captain, and my final words are your name, the
True Name, the Holy One. Jesus Christ, I can’t breathe, and I was
never alive, not meant to hurt you, a Molotov Cocktail of a girl.

Woman Warrior

Enfolded in a cocoon of blushing sleep,
I am the heroine aback a dragon, faring
forth in a flight across adventurous,
daring dreams, knight of a thousand
lanterns, the girl who rides the beast
and challenges any who obstruct justice
with a sword white as a pearl, my demon
is leashed, my temper is cool steel,
and at twilight, I kiss the monster,
take off my gauntlets, and touch his
flaming
cheek.