Nifelheim: ‘Spaces and Pain 1/4’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

26 Mar

nine realms8

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 Nifelheim (The Realm of the Dead


Jim C Mackintosh, Eleanor Perry

and Tom Murphy


The Signal Keeps Breaking

by Jim C. Mackintosh


I am trying to phone you from
the most hellish place there’s ever been
with the worst phone signal ever.

It has taken nine days to get here
but all the things I gave up to get here
will not buy me a fare for the nine days back.

There are so many things wrong
with this place, I am not sure what
to describe, or whether I should even try.

I will try texting you, that way, you will
have a record of this vile land but
it is no land I have dreamt of

or woken in the cold sweat of night
fearing my destiny. And should I not
return, I pray you will read my words.

There are so many people, dead people
some dying, or not but still wandering
stumbling in the sludge of putrid pools

pools that lap the edge of a cauldron
its crusted rim catching the unaware
pulling them into a depth I can only fear.

I tried to save an old man, grabbing his coat
but he was beyond the depths my shallow
cowardice would allow me to wade.

There is no sun, yet there is light enough
to pick out the pain, the shadows of scars
and marks across the strands of shore

where the keel marks of the dead, dragged
by their souls, lead to a dragon’s bowl
nestled on the bleach of suppers past.

There is no time, but there is order
in this terrible chaos. Despite the mists
that catch your throat like heated flints

tossed into the air by the sadness
of children, seemingly lost, wandering
with their blankets of belongings.

I have tried speaking to them but
they stare through me except one
attracted by the light of the phone

grabbed at it but when I pushed him
away, he dissolved into a puddle
leaving only rags and a scatter of baubles.

The other children, at least I imagine
them to be children, did nothing but pick up
the dissolved one’s rags and walk away

towards the dark mass of a tower,
ice-cold like a frozen heart, an island
of infinity drawing me towards its gate.

Down an impossible path, beaten
like a flattened vein, exhausted
under the burden of its purpose.

I can’t see beyond the gate but
I must go beyond the daubed sign ‘Hel’
I must not falter in my step, my courage.

Through the briar, and soft ash
of unspoken voices caught, discarded
in the unsettled mounds by the path

to an uncertain fate. I am weak yet
my resolve is strong, to face the dark
beyond the buttressed edge of Hel.

I will leave these words, this dying
signal with a child, to keep safe
from the poisoned mists that force me –

the signal keeps breaking –

I am entering Hel, alone –

breaking –





whorf hypothesis

insect noon, and this, the wishing element | we softly
saw ruin | the other wolf moon in the mouth | and it
seemed a lot of hurt | star meat sunk deep in neon sock-
ets | spoon-tapped atoms like those sea lilies which
drag themselves | in polished glass | since water is a
human learning | and the road hums so thick | we
would lung this tired space | even in obscene echoes |
and the words went light like bones | blue robot vague.





Part 5


by Tom Murphy


galloping up the hill

knuckles knotted in the mane

Draumur leaping through the waves of grass

as if surging through salt foam sea

each of these a spell

a telling of path

the three moments

embracing under the waterfall

sitting in the dark cave of mist

floating on the milk blue pond


the idea of north





You can read the overview of Nifelheim  here , and see some Nidavellir poems here


Find out more about Jim, Eleanor and Tom here:

Jim C. Mackintosh

Eleanor Perry

Tom Murphy


As always, thank you for your interest.


One Response to “Nifelheim: ‘Spaces and Pain 1/4’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing”


  1. The Nine Realms: Odin riding through Nifelheim to save his son Baldr from nightmares | Lelantics - April 20, 2015

    […] This year my pairing is with Tom Murphy @sandcave, and the Nifelhiem poem links can be found here […]

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