This was written at the behest of Pope Sannion I as part of the “Oh shit! Sannion spent too much during Anthesteria” creative writing pledge drive. If you would like to commission a poem, short story or essay click here for details.
You know you’ve reached the journeyman level when you can ask for your fee
and not feel embarrassed because you know you’ll deliver on the goods.
It’s not conceit if you can point to the results.
Harlequin has a lot in common with the rat-catcher of Hamlin,
the piper with a pied cloak.
When the gods give you gifts,
don’t be parsimonious in return.
At least not if you love your children.
Don’t forget, there’s always the other side of the coin.
Jim Moriarty: You think you can make me stop the order? You think you can make me do that?
Sherlock Holmes: Yes. So do you.
Jim Moriarty: Sherlock, your big brother and all the King’s horses couldn’t make me do a thing I didn’t want to.
Sherlock Holmes: Yes, but I’m not my brother, remember? I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.
Jim Moriarty: Nah — you talk big. Nah… you’re ordinary. You’re ordinary — you’re on the side of the angels.
Sherlock Holmes: Oh, I may be on the side of the angels… but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.
Eventually I will have played all the cards of the triumph,
like great Bacchus, spiller of Indian blood.
Oh John the Baptist,
just hold his head under the water a little longer
and the story will turn out so differently!
During Agrionia, the festival Melampos invented,
the night-roaming lenai submerge a lamb in payment to the sentry of the underworld
who knew the rough joy of the Lord
in the shade of the fertile fig-tree
that grows beside the lake whose shores are white with asphodel,
with the sounds of frogs croaking never ending.
At Liberalia we’ll be digging up the bull’s head we buried in the backyard
all those many months ago. Raise your torches high,
you proud daughters and sons of Italy,
raise them up in honor of Bassarius
who discovered the making of alcohol from the food of wild bees,
and shares his sacrificial cakes with his cherished wife, Mother Freedom.
For Antony, scion of lion-hearted Herakles,
it was always a bittersweet festival,
for this was when the divine Caesar came to sip wine with him
and share news from the other side
in a kind of Magna Graecian Anthesteria.
The more I listen to SSION’s “Get High” the more clear it becomes
what an utterly Dionysian song this is:
There’s no turning the dial down now;
it’s this until I explode, birthing new worlds
from the embers of a dying star.
This is my magic. You will feel its effects soon enough.
I already do, for I am closer to the heart of the web
from which the labyrinth of the world is woven.
I feel things before they happen
through the vibrations of the thread.
When you stumble and fall,
as you inevitably will
if you’re challenging yourself properly,
just pick yourself up, dust yourself off
and keep going, laughing at what just happened.
This is the grace of Harlequin, the leaper.
The clown, the king, the hunter, the magician
Harlequin, spirit of the mask, is all of these.
But he’s also the villain of the story.
Never forget that.
I write this with soil of the verdant cathedral staining my fingers.
A sensible man would have gone to sleep hours ago.
I haven’t gotten this far being sensible.
Let the spider’s venom make your blood rush
and your feet dance out the exorcism of remorse.
If you want to be excellent
you have to push yourself well beyond what’s comfortable.
Open yourself fully to the sting of Lyssa’s phantom gadfly.
I am the bull of my father, he who comes
from Eleutherai and frees from all cares.
I have stamina like you would not believe.
“I am the raggedy cloth man,
the patchwork messiah,
I shall call myself Il Bagattino now.
It doesn’t matter what others call me,
only the Others.
My father was a Blackfoot Indian,
a rodeo star who road bulls and chased work on ranches
during the off season.
He was a free spirit, a drunken clown, an eternal boy
who had lied about his age so that he could enlist early in the Marines
to escape the dead end of the reservation.
He was a whirlwind that woke my mom up
from her pampered Italian princess life,
made her aware of what was out there in the wider world.
She walked in on him once with another man in drag.
She just closed the door, went away
and when she came back they never spoke about what she saw.
But from that moment on, they had an understanding.
When we were looking to move to a new place
my dad would count the number of churches
and compare that to the number of bars. If it was greater than 2 to 1
we kept on going.
She never loved another the way she loved him;
she spoke of Harvey fondly and often, especially towards the end.
There was such a terrible sadness and loneliness in her voice when she did so.
They never found a trace of him. They were still looking a couple years ago
when I applied to get a copy of my birth certificate and they mistook me for him.
A couple months before he disappeared we were out camping
and we all got bit by wolf spiders.
Swelled up real bad and everything.
Yes I’m aware that all the elements of my cosmology are contained in that story.
I suppose that should trouble me
– a Freudian would have a field day –
but it doesn’t.
The best myths are the ones written in blood and wine.
The more you talk about yourself,
the more you obliterate yourself
until all that remains is story.