John M. Gist’s creative writing has appeared in publications such as the Dr. T.J Eckleburg Review, PIF, Superstition Review, Gravel, Wilderness House, Pithead Chapel, Prick of the Spindle, 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.


A Prayer for Myrddin Wyllt

Why do you speak to me as enemy,
Myrddin Wyllt, familiar stranger
invoking bogeymen of alabaster murk
to molder the fermentations of your dreams?

Are you archaic fear cloistered in reptilian
antiquity of the brain, a Freudian repression
regurgitated in epochs of anarchic unrest?

Yes, I know of Camelot and the Table Round,
Once and Future King—Avalon Mists—
Caucasian legacies once virile now sterile as stone—
required reading for undergrad sots majoring in lit,
the very Matter of the empire building Brits.

Of you, too, read I, Myrddin Wyllt, or Merlin,
your more familiar name. Moonstruck druid
wizened fool, incestuous dolt—
Arthur’s intimate possessed by prophecy,
augury of ruin, sin’s originating spawn.

Have you forecast the future to predetermine me,
a sporran of cartilage pathetic as a clawless cat,
an anosmic dog, a grizzled bear suffering
insomnia huddled in a winter’s cave?

In me you created a character worthy
of the ire of victims now victorious?
Spare me, please.

What do you desire Myrddin Wyllt?
For entelechy to surrender to the potential
in your alchemy? Are you a Socratic reboot,
a philosopher-king, or maybe Plato himself,
king-dreamer par excellence?

Will severing my sanity restore your own,
serve as a ticket out of your prison?
Would you trade places,
partake of my opioid dreams?

Machinations of civilization disenchanted
the World, Myrddin Wyllt, Arthur’s promise
transmogrified into an engineer’s Excel
spreadsheet. No room left for druids,

nor for me; poets are myths of wizards
forgotten in time, Taliesin belly-up,
gone to the dogs, forgotten by all
except the few fools degenerated
from gods, to man, to masses, to make
movies out of comic book villains.

I’m all out of inspiration, Myrddin Wyllt.
From the looks of it, so are you.
What else to do but dote
on memories replete
in the daffodil’s golden bloom?

Electric motors of modernity
drum out the thrum
of hummingbird wings.

Do not expire just now, Merlin,
lest nature croaks too.

Let us trade places, you and I,
your prison for one last twig of spring.