John M. Gist‘s poetry, creative nonfiction, and short stories have appeared or will soon appear in publications such as the Dr. T.J Eckleburg Review, St. Austin Review, PIF, Superstition Review, Gravel, Wilderness House, Pithead Chapel, Left Curve, Academic Questions, New Mexico Magazine and many others. With an M.F.A from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he teaches creative writing at sunny Western New Mexico University.
In the Dream Prison of Myrddin Wyllt
Who dares wrest one from so black a sleep,
slumber so deep as to erode time
to dust sufficient fine, like Madonna
lily root pulverized to powder,
so to whiten the dark, high cheeks
of Lady Death?
Who dares provoke me?
Is it you Vivian, come Lolita-like
to tease one so timeworn
and ethereal as I?
Come hither, my Lady, out of shadow
into the half-light of my forest prison
that I might drink through eyes
hollow with the crave
of our incestuous sorcery.
Never fear, my love. Come forth.
Forgiven you have long been,
since before you coaxed
this Myrddin corpus
into this dungeon
Forgiven, sister, for you I have sacrificed
all: sanity, history, the bluebird’s song,
vengeance: all for love is forgotten.
Is this some new madness? Who are you?
Not female by your scent and bulk.
What foul incantation granted a specter
so gray entrance into my sanctuary,
mine alone, and hers,
with me, a lover’s cage
for all save two
to keep out?
Speak your name and lurk
no more in shadow. Are you man
or are you ghost?
What? You search for who?
“Her”? Who or what is that?
May the vibration of your vocal
chords clear the cataract dreams
from my mind.
Did you say Ganeida? No?
Nimue? Eviene? No? No?
No. She has not been to this chamber,
to my bed, for, well, forever, for forever
is void of time as this forsaken place.
Wait. I remember you, or rather the history
laying claim to your flesh. Visited
there, I have, a future uncertain teetering
at chasm’s edge, perpetually tinkering
with time’s end, postmodern men
learning to swim where there is no water.
A place where peace is found in the automated
factory, a place where humans lust for machines,
nature swapped for worldings spawned
relatively to swim in skull-pens
emptied of dreams:
a place of binary intelligences flat
as flounders at the bottom of the sea.
A man merely
so you say,
Flesh on bones
tied by sinew
And what about your skull-pen?
What whirls through the gray matter
under your scalp?
What? Speak up, man,
if that is what you be.
Or maybe you are whatever
you choose? Isn’t yours the land
where verities are as many as the eyes
on Argus the Giant,
the all-seeing one,
stoned to death in dream sleep
so complete as to render truth
into a science of silence
at God’s last goodbye?
Seeking the Goddess
you have tumbled
into a place in-between
life and death,
present and past,
future of now.
Yes, I know Her, or at least
She knows of me, a secret
whispered by winds in oak leaves
above a rainbow of salmon
bursting into sunshine,
the rippled waters underneath the fish
swirling in eddies under banks
of bunched grass, under the wings
of eagles: the slither in the eye
of the snake.
Yes, I am he, Myrddin Wyllt the Mad,
the one who might help you.
But what, pray tell,
is in it for me?
To my tale you must listen
to understand your own,
to find that which was lost.
I shall disturb you with rhythms
old and of vast importance,
until you feel as seasick as a mermaid
beached on a mountain of barnacles
at the bottom of a dried-up sea.
Then, and only then, might She take pity on thee.
Come, come, sit on that round stone,
your throne, while I climb up
into embrace of this old rowan tree.
Best for you, seeking salvation,
to gaze upwards
on me looking
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