on heroes

i wrote this in december 2016. it’s still my hands-down favourite of my own poems although there’s probably quite a lot wrong with it.

*

Now he’s a myth. A half-seen figure

alive in the heart of a green bonfire.

Spangled in glory, silver thread at his seams

edged from behind in the neon of dreams.

Handing out stars like boiled sweets

and the cosmos that tangle like hair at his feet.

 

He lay down with a spine-bird in a bed of rushes

killed milky-eyed monsters and leather-winged wonders

kissed gods in the snow beneath a bright old lantern

stole a pearl from the devil’s pantry.

Carved faith from seaglass, collected dead flies

and walked on the ocean with flames in his eyes.

 

And beneath all this, this gorgeous skin

this djinn-dream, this envelope of ancient yarns

he’s thin, curly-haired, with gentle-veined wrists

barely more than a child, barely been kissed

a mole like a moth on the pale of his throat

exquisitely threadbare in that awful coat.

 

Rode a sheep into a dusty courtroom

wore his flesh like a dancer’s costume

cracked his knuckles, bit his nails

never learned his piano scales

tied his shoelaces all wrong

quietly humming sad old songs.

 

And his lover explored with whalebone hands

the fantastic clockwork of his lungs.

 

And now there’s no-one left to remember

how his ink-bloomed fingers used to tremble

lighting a cigarette, or wrapped round a razor

or how he bought violets day after day, but

only to scatter the petals to sea

and stare down a pale horse before taking his leave.

 

He’s joined the halls of the old ones now

stories without eyes or noses or mouths

last week they heard an angel’s deathwatch howl

tomorrow Blodeuwedd won’t be flowers or owls.

And now our animal hearts must beat

In the terrible knowledge that our gods are meat.

 

Perhaps this is how it could end

left with a pit of stripped skeletons

and poking through myth-guts with rowan sticks

and smashing through legends with crumbling bricks.

Perhaps they had mothers. Perhaps they had lovers

and perhaps they had fathers and sisters and brothers

and perhaps sainthood sang in their bones

and perhaps they listened to their sky-ships groan

and gazed into booming and heavenly dark

and shivered with feeling, and shivered with feeling

and peeled down and naked they all look the same

and we’re left with the gorgeously dead and their names

and the cry of the stars and the roar of the moon

and their beautiful faces with their beautiful wounds.

 

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9 thoughts on “on heroes

  1. This is some really good writing!
    Thanks for the follow, After reading this, I gladly reciprocated!

    Also: You had me at Gaiman on the about page. I still have to read “Norse Mythology”

    This reminded me of some god/mythological figure, I just cannot place. Was there an actual deific or mythological inspiraton in this piece? Because I’m looking at the symbolism and cannot quite place it.

    My Best!
    Matthias 🌒

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you- and no problem 🙂 i liked what i saw of your poetry!

      gaiman is an obsession of mine- as is norse mythology- which makes it really quite shameful that i haven’t read his latest yet either.

      & that’s interesting, but no, actually- at the time of writing the poem was about the protagonist of my novel, but two years of character work later & that’s not really true anymore. so i guess in terms of the symbolism you’re looking at my personal myth lexicon 😉

      thanks for the nice comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “cracked his knuckles, bit his nails” as he took his place amongst the Welsh and Mesopotamian tales — this is the song of Theo: your self-creating, myth-making, star-ascending hero… etc. with the consequence being that, if you identify myths with stars, that one gains the power to narrate starlight as though it were a lyrical ballad: that one gets to have a tongue of flame like a literary prophet burning through words… if you catch my tenuous link between the fire of creation & the emission of patterned wave forms…

    Liked by 1 person

    • you’ve clocked me. i concede. this poem used to straight-up be called ‘theodore’, but theo’s character conception moved slightly away from this over the past couple years, hence the change.

      ‘that one gains the power to narrate starlight as though it were a lyrical ballad’ BEAUTIFUL

      this is such a wonderful bit of analysis ❤

      Like

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