Seneca should have long since gone to bed
since he was pulling a morning shift
at the 7-Eleven, but he was busy sitting
on the couch fuming, beside him
a book with a cornflower blue cover
and a young woman gazing wistfully
at a distant cityscape. A friend
had given him a copy, and said
he wouldn’t believe the shit it contained.
That proved a bit of an understatement,
as reading it resulted in a full blown
existential crisis for poor Seneca.
I’m sitting at the picnic table in the park
beneath the overpass with the mural
of Artemis in fawn form
and Indians in the distance dancing up the dawn
like mad Bacchanals round a Maypole
for rose-crowned Flora and the Baron,
and on the other side ivy climbs up
and over graffiti containing cryptic messages
seemingly written just for me.
This is where I come most nights to write,
and tonight the Sirens and Spider have loosed
a flood of poetry in me, and I’m scribbling furiously
in my black notebook to get it all out on paper
before it turns to poison in my veins.
And that’s when he sits down opposite me
and starts talking.
I’m about to snarl something at him
to get him to go away, when I see
that he’s got a traveler’s sack, black boots,
an army jacket, long white hair and grizzled beard,
he’s missing an eye and wearing a battered, floppy
charcoal grey cowboy hat.
I bow my head respectfully,
and he winks.
It is understood; nothing more on that need be said between us.
He asks for tobacco, and I give him the rest of the pack.
He offers me speed in trade, and I politely decline,
accepting instead his stories in fulfillment of strangers’ hospitality.
Alrighty gentle folk, I’m about to start work on Through Gates of Ivory and Horn. I have only a vague sense of where this one’s gonna take us, beyond: 1) it’ll somehow be a continuation of Gods and Mortals 2) it’s set between Monstrous Things and Pandæmonium and Silence and 3) this is the soundtrack I’ll be listening to for at least the first third of it. Thus I’m turning to you, my dear audience: what threads would you like to see the present tome tease out? If I end up using five or more of your ideas you’ll receive a special prize.
When my 13-book “Black Star Rising” poetic cycle is complete, this is the (current*) recommended order that it should be read in:
* End to End
* Everything Dances: Strange Spirits 3
* What Flowers in the Dark: A Poetic Journey Through Anthesteria
* Strange Spirits Volume One
* With Stars For Eyes
* Carried Away
* THIS IS NOT AN EXIT: Strange Spirits Volume II
* Wine Dark
* Monstrous Things
* Through Gates of Ivory and Horn
* Pandæmonium and Silence
* Going Forth
With this configuration I still have four more books to go. (With Stars For Eyes, Satyrika, Carried Away and Through Gates of Ivory and Horn is likely* the order they’ll be written in.) I’m aiming to have this whole thing wrapped up by All Hallows or Saint Martin’s Day at the latest. Oh, and I’ve decided that Gods and Mortals is the prologue to the “Black Star Rising” cycle and Through Gates of Ivory and Horn will revisit some of the characters from that book, providing a more direct link. Then I’m going to make it my custom to read the entire series from start to finish each October as a devotional act to the Gods and Spirits of the Starry Bull tradition.
* Subject to change without notice.