Unveiling

Only 11 poems left to go and this Starry Bull Dionysiaka will have reached its end.

What’s going to happen?

Who will survive? Who won’t?

When do we learn the meaning of the green glowing duck?

Patience, my dear readers, for these and many other secrets in due time shall be revealed. (That’s what apokálypsis signifies after all.)

Once I’m done I shall keep the material up til Friday. Then I’m going to scrub the blog clean for April Fools day. If you want to study it after that you’ll have to purchase a copy of Pandæmonium and Silence once it’s released sometime in June. Here’s the cover art I have selected, though as with all things that may be subject to change.

PaS1

After I finish work on P&S I’m going on spiritual retreat for a couple weeks to recharge my batteries and prepare for the work ahead. Don’t expect much – or any, really – new content here during that time.

If you appreciate what I do and would like to support my work please send donations to sannion@gmail.com through Paypal. Every little bit helps, especially considering what I have planned for part of the retreat. I am superstitious so will have to wait until I get back to discuss it, but trust me it’s pretty fucking cool, and anyone who contributes $35 or more will have prayers and offerings performed on their behalf.

Now back to our show!

If it was easy everyone would do it

The Girl with green hair
danced topless,
proud of the scars that had made her
who she was. Her Bacchic brethren
and sisters played hand-drums and clackers for her
as she tossed her head back
and spun round and round,
chanting, “Hail Dithyrambos, hail Bromios,
hail Omestes! Io evohe! Io io Dionysos!”
Then Miriam began to shake
and her eyes rolled back
and she exhaled prophetic vapourings.
Once she’d told each in the circle what awaited them
during the Year of the Black Sun, and after
she received the battle song of Dionysos’ war-band
which sounded like thunder leaving her mouth:
“O Lord of Tears and Laughter,
Master and Deliverer,
save your People and increase your inheritance;
grant victory to your Wolves
against all monsters and infidels
who would afflict our tribe,
and we shall protect your fertile domain
with our Flowering Branch
and torches of the Wandering Stars.”
It wasn’t quite Da Pacem Dominum or Soson Kyrie
but in a pinch it would do.

And myriad other madnesses

The Girl stepped through the woods
into a clearing occupied by a Knight
in armor white as the moon
with a long black cross
that had flared arms and feet
all down his front.
His steed was loaded like a mule
with all manner of strange inventions,
including a wicker basket full of bees
and a much improved mousetrap,
which hung on opposite sides of his saddle.
There was an ashy urn and a tattered flag too.
Round his horse’s hoof was wound
a copper and black snake,
and the Knight was sitting on the ground,
singing an old tune
– “A-Sitting on a Gate” I believe, or “Haddocks’ Eyes” perhaps –
as he took puffs from a long Seric pipe.
He waited until he’d finished all three choruses
before greeting her
and rudely, he did not rise
or offer to shake her hand.
“Who are you?” the Girl finally demanded,
taking his opium from him without asking.
Once she’d finished coughing the Knight
told her his story in a haunted monotone.
He was the last of three brothers
who’d snuck into the birth-cave of Zeus;
there they found streams of golden honey
guarded by tiny Nymphs with sharp spears.
They struck down the youngest brother where he stood,
buying the other two time to flee.
Later they came back with armor
beaten out of pots and plates
– one brother painted his white,
the other red,
and together the pair looked quite imposing.
They worked as a team, Red drawing
the yellow horde away from their treasure
while White stuffed as much as he could
in his goatskin sack then ran for the hills.
He emptied the sack of its golden honey
pouring it down into his rapacious belly
and from that day forth
White could not die.
She asked what happened to Red
but White just shook his head
and began to sing again.
There were no lyrics this time
just a long, deranged reeeeeee.
The Girl rifled through his belongings
until she found the rest of his drugs,
then on her merry way she went,
following the road of gold
to the Green Hut
at the heart of the Labyrinth,
serenaded by Sirens, ducks, frogs and putti.

Killer Instincts

At the funeral games of Hephaistion the blessed,
Sandīpanī the naked sage from the East
delivered a eulogy that was downright Orphic.
Indeed, Mendikos the Olbian
found more than a passing similarity between their sects.
Both had long hair bound up,
both covered their faces with sacrificial ash
and walked in smoke hunting visions;
both carried charms, amulets, idols
and other sacred trinkets strung round their necks,
their skin was marked with mystic sigils,
and each had a book of holy hymns
from which they recited daily.
Such was not too surprising;
religious specialists were often alike the world over.
What caught the mantis’ attention
were the words Sandīpanī spoke
in his crude, clipped Greek.
Mendikos made out something about empyroses,
and nights of darkness, and dancing stars
emerging from eggs, and how the wheel turns
and it keeps happening again and again,
but a little different each time.
And how there are an infinite number of worlds,
and in some of them Alexander grows old with Hephaistion,
and in others they did not even meet,
or they fell in love with different people.
And so we must embrace whatever the Fates weave for us
since this is the only world in which things happen
just this way. And then, to make his point
he doused himself with oil and smashed a lamp upon his head
and before anyone could reach him
the naked sage Sandīpanī immolated,
like a phoenix ending one cycle and beginning another,
like Herakles the Lion-slayer,
like Empedokles.

Charisma

They say that Alexander caught the pox in Ktesiphon,
or maybe it was Levantine malaria
or aconite tea, sent by his beloved
but estranged tutor Aristotle,
wroth over the murder of his slow nephew;
whatever the case, they put Alexander’s beautiful corpse
in a casket of honey, and while the Companions
were planning out his last tour, Lagos’ son
hijacked the cortege centerpiece and hurried back to Egypt
changing his title from Satrap to King.

For nearly three hundred years Alexander’s mummy
brought power, prosperity and excellence in the arts and sciences
to his namesake city, until a pudgy descendant of Ptolemy
ransacked the Sema for Alexander’s sword
and golden Gorgon cuirass.
And later, when Alexandria fell to Rome,
that balding catamite Octavian broke off his nose!

A couple more centuries passed
and then the incomparable city was laid low
by rioting students and hoodlums in black robes
who demonstrated their piety by refusing to bathe.
A clever boukolos snuck Alexander’s body
from the Ptolemy family plot
into the church of Saint Mark.
He dumped Mark’s relic bones in a trash heap
and replaced them with a worthier object of reverence.
He also murdered the bishop
and took his see over from him,
and with the city in such chaos and turmoil
the flock never questioned anything.
Indeed they found his rhetorical style
far superior to that of his predecessor
though it struck them a little odd that in his sermons
he quoted more from Plato and Plutarch
than from Holy Writ and the Church Fathers,
but all agreed these stories were better
and much more edifying, so they let it be
and didn’t ask too many questions.

His heretical Bacchic Orphic line
persisted through Muslim occupation,
tending the shrine of sainted Alexander …
sorry I meant the apostle Mark,
until the arrival of the Venetians, who brought
the holy wonderworking head back with them
(somewhere along the way the rest of the body was lost)
where it has continued to bless the Italian people,
a uniquely gifted race,
down to this day.

Such, at least, is the story they tell;
but they are liars who repeat such tales.
For Alexander never died,
and sits to this day at the Gates of Gog and Magog,
fiery sword across his lap and eyes unblinking,
waiting for the terrible hordes to emerge
and lay Europe waste.
He will not budge,
they – Giants and other monstrous things –
shall not pass,
until that final day
when a scorpion stings his testicles
and a pair of wolves tear his thigh,
and some guy in a Phrygian cap
knifes him in the kidney.
Then Alexander
savior and conqueror of men
shall fall
and shall die
and there will be a great weeping and wails
through all the lands that once were united under his just rule
and the heavens themselves will blaze with fire
and the Earth herself will sing his dirge.

Now, the question you should be asking here is
if Alexander was never in Alexander’s tomb in Alexandria
– who was?

Disregard for Consequences

If only Jacob the warrior-scholar had known Syriac
he would have heard the head of Rashīd ad-Dīn Sānnin
proclaim, “You are focused on the two beneath the mountain,
but there is a third, whom no man has seen, and that One
is the true enemy of all. And another thing – ack!!!
Bear strong, Jacob buried the destiny spear in the dragon’s tongue,
and then returned to his horse and galloped off
to meet the Janissary host with his brave brothers
in the Order of Saint Stephen.
By afternoon the dwindling Caliphate army was left to fight
with just oranges and lemons, and by nightfall were driven
completely from Lepanto and their precious flag captured
by none other than Jacob of Jenna.
In days to come he would have traded all that day’s victories
for a few brief words from Sānnin, who walked in smoke.

Poorer Impulse Control

Jacob grinned,
struck a romantic pose,
and with gleaming Durendal
lopped the Turk’s head right off his shoulders.
To the world he seemed merely a pious
Christian Knight of the Order of Saint Stephen,
but within his heart he was fully Orphic,
and rather insane.
He had studied well with the Secret Priests
of Bacharach on the Rhine, and when finished
rode forth as a mailed Bakchos in the war-band of Dionysos.
From his white charger he looked down
and watched the Turk’s body contort serpentwise
and the head, separated by several feet,
gave forth posthumous vaticinations.
Not understanding Barbarian, Jacob thrust
the spear that pierced Christ’s side
and silenced the supernatural Turkey tongue.
Would that Jacob had had the foresight
to bring the head back to Bacharach
for they could have learned much from it.