Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste

Alas, darkest Nemesis engulfed fair Aphrodite, 
The trials she had imposed to make Meckelle mighty 
Were now on herself turned, so godhead essence 
Sadly became a tortuous quintessence. 
By Zeus's edict, the harpies, fortified with strength centupled 
Did sweep her from her calm, ethereal plane, uncoupled 
From her beauteous nature, divine grace; 
They did sweep her most cruelly from her place. 
Their parchment-cordoned wings did chain her, fainting 
Upon Vesuvius's mouth. Her form turned to acrid vapour, 
How she's sighing for the South!

This vaporous change, in one fell swoop, 

Dissolved the harpies' boom, 
Transmuted to a resinous ooze, and nurture plants of gloom. 
Now Pluto drew a breath, inhaled the stench: it made him retch. 
He'd changed fair Aphrodite's essence, and now he felt a wretch. 
Her beauty he desired, and yet was fired 
With ovens of malevolence and greed; 
He wanted her to fulfill his every need. 
Then, within an inky cavern, with drops of Acheron, 
Dank algae, slime, vile lichen and poisonous plankton -
Perching about her, leering, the Eumenides sneered and mouthed
Charged with a double mission: that of Pluto, that of Zeus 

Whole darkness, purest light. 
By Pluto they were appointed, for one full moon, 
For one great task, one which would surely cause 
A gaping fissure in his mask: 
Clear-fronted when Divinities were in balance.

Atop that Cyclopean Chamber, there did float a pair of scales, 

And in each pan, the forms of Aphrodite and Meckelle. 
"By you he is outweighed!" So loud the jury chanted: 
"We must redress the balance, and see who has recanted." 
The scales sank lower, flagstones of the cavern's seeming floor 
Now parted, showing yet a deeper closet, 
Down to which they bore, 
Calling forth the thickest fumes 
And the greenest sulphurous flames 
In which the air did bare the total roster of their names. 
Ghoulish guardians ran in cackling circles, 
Each prisoner was bound. 
Aphrodite to Meckelle did look, pure gaze, without a sound. 
The chorus took to voice:

"Oh Aphrodite, from Sybil you took dark songs and spells, 

Denying your Divinity, to mould and shape Meckelle. 
Therefore with Sybil's potions and our flames you'll be restored. 
You are Love, Meckelle is your familiar: all hatred is abhorred." 
She, knowing that the mainspring of her being was True Love 
Made no struggle, jumped no desperate leap, 
But merely looked above; so calmly she awaited 
That great cauldron hanging there, both pushed and drawn, 
Not dropping, as the scales were weighted fair 
The leering shares then wielded high a gigantic bronze ladle 
With runic signs engraved: what potion in this cradle?

She bowed, her mouth agape, to take in that vile, dread fluid, 

Of reptiles, frogs and toads, of vampires' bladders, 
Enhanced by cruel incantations, murderous murmurings, slime-laced jibes, 
It flamed and coursed all through her veins, burning her insides. 
All torment with the Hydra, 
Strife with Nature's sad excrescences 
Suffused her entire being, qll pain in purest essences.
Her nerves, her heart, her spirit, did in resignation moan:
"It's done!" she cried, "so now I go; so now I go alone."


All of Meckelle's escapes became her chains, 

Alone she suffered all those tortuous pains, 
She begged for no relenting, as conscious she remained; 
The flames surged higher, keener, as she slowly was unchained, 
Casting off her opaque dross till all the Aeons she did cross. 
The shade of a calcium frame, girt with thin shadows, 
Towered for an instant, then sank to the shallows. 

Sweet vapours now inverted all the former cloud's effects 

Struck terror in Eumenides' hearts, did force them to deflect: 
To them all fragrance was anathema! 
They scampered, cackling, screaming: now terror, not Euphoria! 
And she, no longer pushed or blown, did rise; 
Assumed a cirrus form, no longer Pluto's fairest prize.

Across the cirillium-blue bolt of sky her form did fly, 

With merest hint of human visage, 
Beamed blessings on the brave Meckelle, 
Who had almost come of age. 
His boat mote-like beneath her, their mission quite fulfilled, 
To turn Phelisias to his truest form - almost annihilated, nilled, 
Wet, low-wormed  cuttlefish, to slither with no point: 
He who thought he had known every limb, nerve and joint.

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste

Corinth, in splendid beauty, sparked pristine in the sun; 
Tall and white the columns, stately the formal gardens; 
To the river did run spacious avenues; gorgeous blooms did gun 
Their perfumes, so that the air did almost seem to harden 
Now in this balmy sweetness, this dreamy atmosphere 
"Meckelle" a voice did whisper, "why are you not here 
Where dreamers do proliferate upon the many tiers?"

This place shamed Babylon with all its hanging marvels: 

In Corinth there's the multi-hued and all the purest marbles, 
Making fine palaces from the humblest dwellings, 
The pregnant earth so happy swelling 
With fruits and berries, flora, fauna. 
Along the river banks did run, nymphs and naiads every one. 
A toast to wisdom, all mysterious things 
To corridors, to avenues, enclosures, many wings.
A river delta spilled great silken floods, 

Flanking the Corinth coast were fleecy scuds. 
Here Meckelle ran aground, of ropes and anchors free, 
Brought in on a friendly tide from the vastness of the sea; 
He was lifted to a ledge, made faster 
Than any mooring made by man. 
He went to weary rest, upon a plateaued slab all gold and tan.

Ah! To dark slumbers he was drawn in such a beauteous place. 

The charcoals burned, flared and died: 
Then he saw Prometheus' face.
Chained he became upon a basalt cliff, 
He hung, spreadeagled, parched, 
His heart did writhe in agony, his very soul seemed starched 
As time and time again, a vulture scythed and stooped 
'Midst echelons of loving birds, then down the vulture swooped 
With carrion lunges, talons splayed; 
His liver all exposed, displayed, 
Again and again with searing force 
The sky demon sought its bloodied source. 


Was this penalty imposed because he missed 

The dark-spawned fang of deepest sea?
Must he now undergo the same ordeal 
As like Prometheus he became, 
On and ever-turning wheel? 
That fire which had been stolen by Man's friend,
Now Zeus's enemy, his criminal eternally: 
Was this fair, between Immortal and Mortal? 
With what fire he had absconded, what the fact? 
Stealing from the tree of knowledge, or some other act? 
So why should he incur primeval wrath? 
Perchance his very being menaced bridges 
Between the gods and mortals, what the totals?

Meckelle a parallel ordeal must suffer, 

Though spatially unbound, sent on the dolorous quest, 
He who had been born of fire and ice 
Who had not reckoned with behest 
His exile interwoven with his freedom: 
Then suddenly it was gone, thing past, a thing beyond. 

He woke, the hard thongs shrivelled, he could rise:

Before him, luscious verdure: beatific surprise! 
From its midst he could deflect, for in a pink streaked cloud o'erhead 
Fair Aphrodite's splendid light all over him was shed, 
Calling him to encounter and to treaty; he heard not: 
An aperture to Acheron still seemed his lot; 
He threaded between boulders, struggled, blind - 
Misty remembrances clouded his mind: 
And then a flash! An awful iridescence stopped his tracks: 
A ghostly array above him, vulture row. 
Eumenides from other days - what judgement? Was he guilty? 
Was he slave? 
Or was he noble, young and brave?

Meckelle thought he heard the words: 

"The scales have now been levelled; the done-by now has done" 
These words he heard, amidst a massive flock of flying birds 
"And each effect has gained a causal strength: 
Now seem fulfilled your functions for each other 
As mother, son, sister, father, brother . . ." 
He listened to their whisperings with half an ear and dread. 
"Do not try to mix your functions, or you may end up dead."

Their voices faded: sweet Corinth's airs were magnified 

Once more he glanced to heaven, saw fair Aphrodite's eyes; 
He was awake now: break of sea, loud crashing brought him life. 
He stood upright the sun full bright; as though by perfumes drawn, 
Followed a river: that city, Corinth, was from marble hewn. 
He needed no guide, wide had been his experience super-real; 
The jostling town, the gaiety, did not overly impress him.
The gown he wore was that of authority: eyes scanned him with surprise. 

Then said Meckelle in a commanding tone: 

"Take me to a place where I might trace 
Some history and mythology!" 
A youth most radiant and dark 
Pointed mutely to a palace stark; he led Meckelle 
Three paces ahead, his face cast down, 
Perhaps a frown upon a superior one, 
Meckelle of fire and ice and sun. 
Amidst the jollity, the fun, Meckelle strode on, 
Oblivious of all but the one thing he desired: 
To travel the corridors of Time: 
Through Space, Pace, Years and Hours.
The entrance to the palace opened wide: 

There, bride-like, seven maidens stood aside, 
Each holding lilies in alabaster hands; 
Somewhere the music of angelic bands. 

Seven corridors there were at first; then thirteen opened, 

Like an astrological verse: Which to choose? 
One, five, seven, six, three, eleven, or the unknown quantity? 
As spider spun, he felt the Minotaur, some race to run; 
The Bull Age he encountered, 
With leaping maids and gallant youths, 
And Ariadne, cast from all known horoscopes, 
She of the midnight hour, yet of perpetual hope. 
He watched their antics, prancings, play 
Unconvinced by those the Minotaur did slay. 
Dust, grime and gilded dewdrops fell, 
And so he turned away;  chose Seven for his neat array 
Of  mystery and magic; he had nothing to betray.  
He saw them clothed with veils of moonlight, 
Wearing shafts of gauze; 
Beneath the temples of their triple-faced goddess 
He watched their attitude and pose: 
His nose perceiving, beyond believing, 
The perfume of a starlit rose: 
High was the pearly moon in heaven hung,
Loud was the hunt, Diana had begun, 
Softly the turtle doves did coo, and from the bulrushes 
The dew of fertile Nile 
O'erflooded him with Pharaoh's benign smile.

From the crab's pincers to the scales' arms 

He went, soothed on his route by breezes' balms 
With light from cotton wool to coal in shade, 
The golden scales did glow, 
But neither gold not cross-piece studded held to him allure, 
Of likes now past, his memory sufficed. 
Mountains a-topped with ice, burning zones with desert heat: 
He was of fire and ice, his being near-complete. 
Suddenly the colours changed, the rainbow arc re-opened. 
Then, with Mercury his messenger, he fled across the stars, 
Passing Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars. 
From Mars to Mahra his thoughts fast flashed:
A lovely girl with a sheaf of corn, 

Impunity and nonchalance with which she was adorned. 
But from her hair red poppies fell, the damsel faded 
Into the blue: for whom is the tolling bell?

A star bright, seven-pointed shone, 

Meckelle looked, and looked again 
To the island place, the twins he saw 
Who were as one, but two in all: 
A girl, a boy, a man, a woman? 
Who could tell: what was the Summons? 
Undecided as their age, 
So could Meckelle really turn the page? 
On many a page and story they danced: 
For life in its duplicity, they knew it all inherently. 
They were two, pretending to be one, 
Or was it one, pretending to be two? 
Msculine and feminine - this was their residue.

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste

The tree upon the mountain shed 
Some petals and some berries, 
For those who had been born, living and dead, 
From dawn until twilight, the petals unfolded, 
Pinky, pearly white. 
"Oh! what question here?" Meckelle did cry 
"Give me back the sea, and its raging lullaby!"
Then, uplifted, like a bird he became, 
A seabird, a tern, who wondered 
Where to return. 
He crossed the oceans on flights of thought. 
His memory distraught - with abstractions, 
Subtractions, dissensions, subjugations, 
Then he looked hence: 
The winged messenger appeared: 
He was entranced! 
"Meckelle, I am Mercury, the Messenger; 
He of the winged feet: you who chose 
To encounter the starry signs, 
Remember Ariadne must not be left behind: 
She came after the Bull, before the Twins, 
The forgotten one,
With wings on her shoulders and feet: 

Ariadne? Meckelle? Should I let you meet?" 
Thence Mercury dispensed 
With material images and words. 
He left it to Mackelle to choose 
The cobweb or the herd.

The sudden roaring of a lion,

A jungle, creepy, full of vines 
Myriad insects intersecting 
His fine and fragile thoughts. 
The sun full bright, and then a presence 
Like a glittering, elusive jewel. 
A tassel-headed god-like figure 
Did there beguile, 
To see how canny was Meckelle.


No bonds, no blindfolds, yet he held aside,   

Although in strength he knew himself outstripped 
In every sinew, every bite and whip 
Of mental presence and spiritual force: 
Meckelle, from his imperceptible birth 
Knew the force of things beyond mere mortals.

With a nod of the head, he twisted to the left: 

"Oh roaring lion, cardinal fire: 
What do you have to offer which I think I could desire? 
I who was born of ice, of cold and steam and fire; 
My mother imperceptible, my goal as yet unknown. 
Your crown and ruffled collar do not frighten me away: 
Me, born of ice and fire, who was Christened in the sea. 
What questions might ye pose? 
Perhaps, why does a rose hold a thorn? 
The lion roared, his crown did slide; 
His tail swung like a cat, bereft of pride.


"King of the jungle:  the evergreen, the concrete, 

The ever-being, the unbeing, the ever-will-be again! 
You have little to say to me, beast of the ground, 
In actuality!"


The lion turned in its tracks, but for a split second 

Its amber eyes flashed, from the Earth to the Heavens,
Then sidled away, into the undergrowth 

Of tomorrow's yesterdays - with a flick of the tail. 
Meckelle then heard the sound of the pining whale: 
"Oh thou, who lovest the  deepest sea, 
Think now of me: white whale, pale whale, seal's pup 
They chase us, and what for? 
The loving cup of blood and skin, 
For we are killed, numbers depleted, almost extinct" 
Cried the whale, as harpoons into his body did sink. 
With his dying gasps the whale did cry: 
"Oh Heaven, oh Mercy on thee that art 
The holder of seas, suns and tides 
Our bodies' substances and coverings 
The human lot desires: but we, like you Meckelle, 
Are born of ice and fire."

Then drifted far the voices of a million, million things. 

Meckelle did hear the singing of all beings, 
Within and out of reach his heart did turn 
From fiery red to drearest bleach, 
White as the sands upon which the tide swung. 
Meckelle, Meckelle had listened to the death pell, 
The mighty roar of those beneath creation to be undone.

"Oh mother, oh father! Is this the lair of your mortal selves? 

Upon what shelves do you wish to stack the bones, 
All dry as dust; as the ocean corrodes, and gold erodes to rust." 
He stopped his questioning and stooped beneath 
The fleeing fleece of a lice-ridden lamb 
"Oh Aries! Art thou now put out to ram 
Against the buttress of sadistic will, 
Like lemmings, their bodies for the oceans to distill 
Into what substance?

What think sea-things of thee? They need not bone, 

Nor bristle at the bottom of the sea. 
He chased into a corridor of time, 
And saw a goat, which first had sunk 
But then had risen, with cloven feet unto an icy peak, 
Its muzzle rested, to reach for earth-formed things; 
Its eyes downcast, how could it hear 
The tone of its death-ring? Content it was, this entity,
A metaphor for human frailty. 

Then, casting eyes upon the goat's back side 
Saw splinters of bone, and blood, and other things 
Unwished for, which were beached 
By an incoming tide.

***


Which parties now could be? Great Hera and fair Mahra - fused into one 

Drawn to impulsive exile from an island's bliss, fair Aphrodite, 
Now free to answer prayers and supplications? 
But for all their essential presence, Meckelle was in a labyrinth 
Threatened by forces within and outside himself. 
Could Ariadne be the last beacon of light?

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste

Just as Meckelle observed all creatures on his quest, 
So they observed him, and as they followed his stormy path 
They seeped into his thoughts calling him back 
To that fair island, tugging him with Orpheus' temptation. 
Yet they sharpened his soul to the here and now. 
Another Orpheus mission, for through an arid waste 
He must now wend his path - for forty days and nights 
That he might know the total consequences of his being 
From Man's beginning unto its end, 
Full circle as the Sun, the Earth, the Moon. 
He saw the relics of all graven gods. 
Of wood and stone, of totem animals 
More than human in their abstract grace; 
And then profound suggestions in great voids, 
Sheer clefts and chasms. 
Scorpions and locusts, so close akin, 
As cousin-symbols of Man's powers, 
To maim, and spread small pools, 
All clustered with tenacious wreaths of flowers, 
Hanging for dear life beyond Man's grasp, 
The sand and rocks left after his ravagings.

He struggled on , until he found a thorny bush aflame 

Sighing as if to speak. On it Meckelle sustained his gaze, 
No ashes did ensue from its fair and constant flickering, 
Yet magically it did engender 
The spectre of a mirror, matching his own, 
His blossom, shell and plate in leather pouch,
Hanging so closely to him. He took them out, displayed them, 

And from their fair reflections great outlandish forms appeared, 
Akin to bird, to beast, to reptile, yet made of stone 
Or iron, brass and bronze; and strange but god-like fabrics, 
Earthen jewels. 
They poured out flames, clouds, floods, great oozing rivers 
Foaming, splitting, throwing up vast meadows, 
Forests, orchards - then razing them 
To make vile, ashen plains; building foul temples. 
Agglomerates of every mite of matter known. 
Then creatures like the birds, so fearsome, 
Emitting burning darts, for which massed infants cried 
As if for food and succour, only to be gratified 
With empty sockets, scarred skin. 
The sea-monsters that did the same,
More to each other: now Meckelle knew all! 
The emptiness holds no more treasures 
For mortal insight; now he must proceed. 
His walking in a straight line has drawn him into a circle. 
He counted up to forty and beyond: 
Was he now stranded, quite beyond his quest?

Ananya S Guha writes

Summer Annunciation

It is afternoon,
as slowly, the sun drifts
into a seamlessly
closed world, mine 
and yours,
and outside there is not
even a whimper,
dogs cease to talk 
men cease barking 
the ghoulish night will arrive
still, there will 
be no one to talk to;
as winter has departed.

Winter departs,
with no reminder as to
how it came, interlocked
in skies, and hills 
touch them; tears in my eyes
go to this winter;
this summer 
and eyes moist, mist.

Arlene Corwin writes

Still Needing Reminders

How long does it take to be a person
Who does not need reminders?
There have always been 
Those men and women fully mended
And full-ended
Who learned all one needs
To know about the, sum and substance
Of reality: its essence.

Incarnation, seer, saint, 
Completed men and women
Who know life for what it ‘ain’t,
And what it truly represents
Here and for all I know, beyond.

In that case, 
How long should it take, for me,
And probably for you,
To get to be that total human
One so much looks up to.

One works, one strives perhaps, for lives.
One thinks at times, one’s climbed the climb,
Attained its aim;
Achieved, accomplished… then one’s lame,
Where one must climb some more,
Renew the ‘brilliant’ store
Of insight that one thought one had,
Life’s underlying gladness passed
(or is it past?).

That’s when the books come down once more
From well-stocked shelf;
One is searching once again for self
Through words of those who saw the light;
Whose insights helped and help your night:
Your dark night of the soul*

Stage set,
Your sage is met.
You’ve been re-minded and re-souled;
Not far off from a whole again – 
Till then.

*Dark Night Of The Soul: A phrase from St John Of the Cross’ book, which narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to union with God. It happens during the "dark", which represents the hardships and difficulties met in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. 
Christ of Saint John of the Cross.jpg 
Christ of Saint John of the Cross -- Salvador Dalí
 Crucifixion -- St. John of the Cross
 

Ian Copestick writes

Senile Ramblings
Someone once said
that April is the
cruellest month,
but not from
where I'm standing.
It's a mind blowingly
beautiful spring
evening. The kind
that makes you feel
alive after a long,
cold, miserable winter.
My big overcoat is
back in the wardrobe,
along with the thick,
heavy sweaters. It's
time for the T-shirts
to come out of
the metaphorical
mothballs. Actually,
I've never seen a
mothball in my
life. I'm not part of
the make do and
mend generation.
We throw things
away and go to
buy another. I feel
slightly ashamed of
this, my parents
tried to teach me to
be better than that.
But, never mind my
senile ramblings, it's
a gorgeous night
that says summer is
on the way, and I for
one am more than
ready for it.