The Crone and the Maiden

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for Idril

*

At Avebury, on Solstice eve, a crone and a maiden sat

The crone wore a weary wisdom, and the maid wore a flowery hat

And as the sun sank ‘neath the hill, and the sky flushed rosy red

The maid, her eyes all full of flame, turned to the crone and said

‘I know nothing of love, speak to me, of marrying, and men

How will I know if I lie with a man, that he’ll come to me again

How will I know if I lie with him, that his heart be faithful and true

They say that the crone knows everything, so tell me, tell me do’

The crone put down her weaving, sighed a little, thought, and spoke

‘How do you know that the bees will buzz, or the wren will sing in the oak

How do you know that the night will flee, or the birds fly free on the morn

As sure as you know that the sun will rise, and the stones be here at dawn’

‘That isn’t an answer,’ said the maid, ‘I want more certainty

How will I know that he speaks the truth when he lies down with me

How will I know by the look in his eye, or the touch of his hand on my breast

Whether he be the man for me, and king above all the rest’

‘You won’t,’ said the crone, ‘you’ll never know, ‘tis up to fate and chance

‘Tis biology, mystery, fantasy, a curse, and a merry dance

Just drink of the wild heat of him, while fire still burns in the sky

For men will come and go, my dear, all suns will fade and die’

The maiden sighed a little, and the crone a little too

‘It seems like only yesterday that I was a maid like you

With oak and roses in my hair, and eyes all full of flame’

‘Best get some in,’ the maid said

‘Ay,’ the crone said, ‘that’s the game’

At Avebury, on Solstice eve, a crone and a maiden sat

The maid wore a little wisdom, and the crone wore the maiden’s hat

And time passed by in a wheel of stars, till dark gave way to the dawn

And the sun rose pink upon the hill, and the king rode in on the morn

*

© Gail Foster 17th June 2017

The Fall of Camelot

*

Down where the bins were overflowing

On concrete where the cracks were showing

As weary winds came slowly blowing

A manky crow began a-crowing

Songs of Camelot

Through window dim the lady saw it

Heard it, and could not ignore it

Acknowledged, there was nothing for it

She had lost the plot

 …

She blamed the mirror, false perceptions

Embarrassingly dire reflections

Figments of her own deceptions

Misread signals, misconceptions

And bloody Lancelot

And other knights, they’d all been arseholes

Shites wrapped up in pretty parcels

Crawling back to rule their castles

When the day grew hot

And Good Sir That, and Good Sir This

She’d let them all just take the piss

So grateful was she for a kiss

Or any scrap of earthly bliss

That scraps was all she got

The last one, oh, he’d been a giver

Until the day when, all-a-quiver

He caught a catfish in the river

And her love forgot

Enough, she said, enough projections

All of you, take your rejections

Yer fish and shit, and your erections

Faithless hearts, and imperfections

For I like you not

With that she fastened up the latches

Made a bonfire, found some matches

And, as was mentioned in dispatches

Blew up Camelot

*

© Gail Foster 11th October 2016

Marah and The Well

marah

*

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well

To fill her pail with waters bitter sweet

The sky, flushed pink with daybreak’s blooming swell

Made rosy dewdrops glimmer ‘neath her feet

The well was hard to find, and deeply hid

Within the sacred forest’s leafy fold

With ivy dressed, and writ upon its lid

In graven letters, words of wisdom old

Here water calls to water, here a stream

May conjured be by sorrow to a flood

Should tears like fishes fall and catch the gleam

Of sunlight, then shall water rise like blood

The air was still, unbroken by the lark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

She held her breath, and watched it disappear

Stood firm, and stopped her heartbeat, lest a spark

Of morning’s glory light a single tear

But pain is force, that seeks to find a form

As hard to stem as ocean’s endless roll

And ‘spite her will, within her broke a storm

That rose unwanted from her ancient soul

Her tears burst forth, and waterfalls of streams

Flowed down and struck the surface of the deep

And as they fell were lit by glittered beams

Of sunlight, and the dead were woke from sleep

The waters rose, grew violent in their swell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so unlock the door of death and birth

Unleash a tide too powerful to quell

Unloose the grief of all the souls of earth

Made waters rise, to breach the old well’s rim

Pour up, and drown the flowers in the grass

Caused birds to cease in flight, the sky grow dim

And clouds to form as shadows upon glass

She stood aghast, as heavy as a stone

As whorls of water swirled around her dress

Stood drowning in the forest there, alone

Too late to pray, to hope, or to confess

The waters closed above her sorry head

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

Her eyes began to fill with blood and light

With all the tears that man had ever shed

With all the dark and horror of the night

And floating past her, man and woman, child

All weeping, weeping, screaming in their pain

Possessed by loss and loneliness, gone wild

With disappointment, or the guilt of Cain

Here unborn souls, who died within the womb

Here mothers mourning infants took to death

Here those imprisoned, tortured to the tomb

Who cried for life with one last feeble breath

With those whose love was thwarted or dismayed

In one unending terrible parade

In one unending terrible parade

The labourers, the weary hungry poor

Those men who lost each pitch and toss they played

Who only spake the raven’s ‘nevermore’

With those stood on the shoreline when the Ark

Set sail for freedom and new hope of day

And those who, as they listened to the lark

Were by some wave or bullet took away

The blood of martyrs mingled with the tears

So sadly shed by all humanity

By souls lost to the night, who met their fears

On mountain tops, on roadsides, or the sea

So this is pain, thought Marah, here is shown

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More pain than I could ever comprehend

And yet this pain in some sense is mine own

To rise above, to conquer, and transcend

And with this revelation, Marah rose

Up through the deeps, towards the hazy light

Unwove her being from the tangled flows

Flew through the waters like a climbing kite

Up, up she went, past all the weeping dead

And blessed them as she passed, for bless she could

Then broke the waters with her joyful head

And breathed the air that blew so fresh and good

Across the grass where once a flood had been

As if had been a mirage she had seen

As if had been a mirage she had seen

Seemed all the world just light, on rock and tree

All colourful, all shades of blue and green

And all that pain become but memory

She heard a whisper, soft within her ear

Go forth, and hold this lesson in your heart

You sought for answers, and you found them here

Now take them to the world and play your part

She picked her silver pail up, and she ran

The well sat silent, watched her fade away

Sat waiting, for another questing man

To learn its wisdom on another day

This is my legend, for ‘tis mine to tell

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well…

*

© Gail Foster September 21st 2016

The Work; Summer Solstice, Avebury

Written for the Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, Avebury, Wiltshire;

a Druid rhyme of seven verses

***

Across the land this morn, a roll of light

Gave birth to shadows, cast from chalky hills

The larks ascended, sang away the night

Vibrated sky to waking with their trills

‘Tis Summer; round the circle swirls the breeze

As darkness yields unto the swell of day

As every meadow hums with birds and bees

And scent of elder steals the breath away

This is the time, when earth craves heaven’s kiss

All full of lust, all bursting in its bloom

All lost in heady momentary bliss

Before the fall, and crashing down to doom

Now comes the wren, as if from nowhere blown

Within its beak a lively twig of oak

And suddenly, forth from a door of stone

Springs sacred fire, and wild midsummer smoke

And from within the smoke the King appears

From black stream spilled, the son of mountain high

With shield burnished bright by virgins’ tears

And salamander flame within his eye

Upon his head a crown of acorns sits

He holds a horn of gold from faery lands

Across his face a flick of fear flits

He plants his feet on earth, and solid stands

And She; blue butterflies around her head

Bare breasted, barefoot, riding a white mare

With piercing speedwell eyes to blind the dead

And poppies red all woven in her hair

She rides, in to the circle, on her horse

Dismounts in silence, looks him in the face

Above them both, the sun, stopped in its course

For here is now, and only now, this place

He touches her, he places sword to cup

She speaks some ancient magic without sound

Above their heads the heavens open up

Bright waterfalls of light pour to the ground

She touches him, and fossils shake from sleep

Electric rivers rise with shock and force

To flood the sky with fire from the deep

All light in circuit, flowing back to source

Just now, oh now, now come, now come; now gone

All energy subsides, and colours dim

They rise up from the ground they laid upon

He steps away, and bows, and She to him

A feather from a lark falls gracefully

To land among the flowers where they sat

He fades into the smoke, and so does She

And so The Work is done, and that is that

The wren returns, and sits upon a stone

A holly berry glistens at its feet

It sings a song through all the ages known

A song of earthly bliss, and heaven sweet

For all the Gods are one God, sang the wren

All Goddesses one Goddess, ‘neath one Sun

And we are one another, Gods, and men

As God and Goddess, joined together; One

***

© Gail Foster 2016

 

The Return of the Gay Knight

For my friends in the BM, and for Will; a fairy tale

*

To a fanfare of horns

The young knight returned

With a tale of slain dragons to tell

The princesses blushed

And the old queen flushed

And the gay knights were happy as well

He had cast down his cross

From the height of his hoss

And left the thing there where it fell

For the great and the good

Were in need of the wood

To stoke up the fires of hell

He’d only been back for a moment before

He was begging a poke with a pardon

And a giggle, and “Push!”

From a quivering bush

Could be heard from the end of the garden

No need for a graven memorial stone

Or the ring of a funeral bell

The young knight was back

And well up for the crack

And all in the kingdom was well

*

© Gail Foster 2016

 

Phoenix Rose; for Lisa Lewis

 

Lisa Lewis is the CEO of Doorway in Chippenham

She’s a legend.  Just don’t mess with her, right…

*

Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s a scary

Far out full on punky fairy

Crowned with violent flowers and sage

And riding on her harnessed rage

Through tangled wood and thorny bower

To speak unsubtle truth to power

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

Wise be wise and fools be wary

For she will tread where no man goes

To seek those things that no one knows

Expect no mercy if you cross her

Best be right and not a tosser

Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s so scary

Medusa crossed with Virgin Mary

Bottle, balls, and Occam’s razor

Prosecco, throttle up, and tazer

Wild light to make a diamond shy

And tears forbidden from her eye

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

That’s one well effective fairy

Pierced with wisdom to the bone

Dark metal angel stood alone

Feared and loved by all she knows

A phoenix, from the darkness rose

*

© Gail Foster 2016

 

On the death of Mohammed Ali; three clerihews

The man was a legend.  Respect.

I hope he would have enjoyed my use of the clerihew in this context.

If not then it’s not like he can hit me, now, is it?

*

So farewell, Cassius Clay, Ali

You knocked out a bit of poetry

That butterfly one sure packed a sting

And well done on the boxing thing

*

Mohammed, man, you’re counted out

You gave the boxing thing a shout

Wrote rhyme to make a grown man cry

And dodged the draft like a butterfly

*

Ali, you’ve packed your final punch

Man, you took boxing out to lunch

Men say that you are God today

Who made Mohammed out of Clay

*

© Gail Foster