The Nine Realms
9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences
Poems and Writing inspired by the Norse realm of Jotunheim
Tom Murphy, Joanna Lee and Shirley Golden
by Tom Murphy
when he was with her
she made him feel small
in her words were a spell
a glamour of careful construction
leaving him like a stone on a mountain
like a drop of mead in a barrel
so small he didn’t exist
he preferred to be himself
three days was all he could take
by Joanna Lee
your dragon purrs, earth-
quaking, scaly metaphor
made heavy flesh, a serpent
that circles your world. you,
its catspaw to bat and squeeze
and toss gray skyward
where you seek snow
to pillow the hard gorge of falling,
or a hero, a hammer-wielding
savior to break the cage of winter.
lift a cup with me, drain the ocean
of ache and illusion. every season
has its ending, every Goliath
its David, every snake its eagle.
Today plays with the language of a story wherein Thor and his companions are tricked by the illusory magic giant Loki. Among other things, Thor is challenged to pick up a grey cat but can only lift a paw; it is revealed later that the cat is actually Jormundgand, the serpant that encircles the world. The story is in The Poetic Edda.
The Other Female
by Shirley Golden
She’s just a woman, the men said. But she wasn’t; she was a giant, Gale Jup. And she guarded the gateway to Gerry’s office.
He recruited her for his protection services to stop us from barging in unannounced and disturbing him with trivia. He didn’t care to hear of the intricacies of debt collection. His only concern was that we bring back the goods or the dosh. He wasn’t interested in excuses, false promises or complaints.
There was no getting past Gale. He called her, ‘daughter’ but no one knew if it were true. She never referred to him as ‘father’. But she wasn’t the sort to admit her existence was contingent upon another. She dragged in her own desk, carved from rowan, bumping it up several flights of stairs. She filled reception with her booming voice and the scent of wild flowers, scattered in sentinel vases, balanced on surrounding cabinets.
She curbed the stream of petty hitches, held back the lawsuits and hid the details of hospitalisations. We took turns to try and get past her, to talk to the boss about pay and conditions but no one could get close. Until Roth turned up.
Roth’s credentials looked good on the page. But he had gained a reputation as a thug. Some said he had worked for Doni Fury (one of many names given to the mobster boss). Others said he still did.
Gerry believed Gale could deal with Roth, and that he’d be perfect for the tougher clients. Certainly, he knew his way around a threat and had a temper quick as a hammer strike, sparking on an anvil.
He settled in without a fuss until pay day. We were all familiar with Gerry’s habits. He never rewarded what he promised. Roth demanded to see Gerry, and the men gathered around the edges of reception, keen to see how this would play out; they hoped his objections might benefit them all.
Gale straddled her chair and used every feminine fibre of her being to distract him.
For three days, she was successful. We placed bets on how long it would take. Would today be the day he broke her backbone? I was the only one who bet against Roth.
Gale preoccupied him with a swing of her hips and the promise of a latte from the vending machine. But on the fourth day he held fast to her desk and refused to let go. She stopped giggling and whispering. She crossed her arms and ordered him to leave. He grabbed a vase and hurled it towards her head, but she ducked and it cracked the glass on Gerry’s office door. She straightened to her full height. She strode towards Roth, seized him by the scruff of the neck and frogmarched him down the stairs. The others looked on in disbelief. My small applause and cheer were lost in a sea of glares.
We never saw Roth again. No one tries to get past Gale anymore. Of course, when new boys arrive the others tell the tale of Roth and his now mythical status, how he burst into Gerry’s office like a wave, crushing her coastal defences.
I try to explain that wasn’t how things panned out at all, and how the tape across Gerry’s door represents Roth’s failure, not hers.
But they take no notice of me, the other female in the department.
Find out more about Tom, Joanna and Shirley:
As always, thank you for your interest.