Tag Archives: Joanna Lee

Alfheim: Movement and Light 1/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

30 Jun

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

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Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Shirley Golden  and  Joanna Lee

 

 Fairer than the Sun

by Shirley Golden

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I feel the pull of it. I slip in through the crack between mortar and sill.

The child sleeps across the room, mouth partially open, revealing the missing lower, front incisor. His bedroom is dimly lit by a nightlight, not that I need light to find my way. I step over an action figure in combat gear, face down, still clutching his gun. I smell mint toothpaste, milk and talcum powder.

In a single bound, I land on the graphic print Superman beanbag. I don’t need wings.

Lego and train track sprawl across the floor. I skip around the boy-sized teddy bear and freeze. Loki points at me with one hand, his sceptre in the other, a green cape flows across bronze-coloured armour.

It takes me a moment to see, he is just another toy. I gain pleasure in pulling faces at him without fear. I step closer, remove his dagger and chop, chop at his synthetic, black locks. I admire my handiwork, not so handsome now, punk god.

I climb a stack of books and puzzle boxes, and make my way along the duvet, towards the child’s pillow. He whimpers in his sleep as if my presence has snaked into his dreams. He’s left a note. Dear tooth fairy, I really good like Mummy told me. Please leave a pound. Sam x.

Fleet of foot and nimble, I search, fingers reaching, clawing until I find my treasure, and I grin.

Back on the window sill, I brush fairy dust off my palms, spit on the coin and buff until it shines. Quite a night’s work; Freyr will be pleased. I slip out of the crack between mortar and sill without a backward glance.

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To light up a sky that never ends

by Joanna Lee

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An early summer comes dappling
over green banks, as hard to cup
in human fingers
on the heels of May’s cruel caress
as the wide-blue of childhood memory;
as a lust poem bathed in riverlight
after all these lonely months;
as heaven to those
with no faith left. Yet

the sunshine is so real you can almost touch it,
and the dawn’s blushing break
like waves on a white sand paradise
holds out the hope
of Ju-ly fireflies luminous
enough to light up
a sky that never ends, enough
to make you believe in magic
once more.

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Find out more about Shirley and Joanna here:

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

Joanna Lee

 https://twitter.com/la_poetessa
the-tenth-muse.com

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Midgard: Survival and Destruction 3/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

24 Jun

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

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Midgard

(the realm of the people)

Featuring:

Nat Hall, Tom Murphy and Joanna Lee

 

Tun & Scattald

by Nat Hall

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Garth,
fae da Old Norse,
an arrangement of long houses with 
smoky stacks,
where farmers grind their
daily grain,
man’s wheel of life around
fire, sun and
seasons,
Voar-Simmer-Hairst [1]
to tame the land,
plant-grow-harvest
before black
leanness
of
winter. 
Around
this lush realm for mortals,
they build their ting [2]
and chamber 
cairns, [3]
harvest from the sea & the land –
scrutinise waves & horizon from
basalt edges of
old rocks,
share
their home with
wandering dead in between
stars & Northern lights.
On either side of
dry stone wall,
tun and scattald [4]
feel a safe 
world:
a
place to be born & to die,
raise your offspring with each harvest,
write your story on
every stone –
that perfect realm
you can call
“home”.

© Nat Hall 2015

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Notes:
[1] voar-simmer-hairst: [Shetland dialect] spring-summer-autumn
[2] ting: Viking field of parliament 
[3] chamber cairn: old funeral chamber 
[4] tun & scattald: the inner & outer side of an enclosed human settlement, traditionally with a stone wall.

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Midgard

by Tom Murphy

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ripe garden
shallow pool
wet grass
branch
root
peach
plum

sweet nectar dripping on the floor

as the straps tighten
as the moan escapes
as if uttered by someone else

into the melt
the cotton sticks to your back
soft and slubbed
under her fingers

 

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The realm of men

by Joanna Lee

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They laid the body of the firstborn
into the void of the Universe:
his flesh became land;
his blood, oceans;
his bones, mountains;
his hair, trees.

His skull they held still:
the four points
of the compass, empty.
They shook out his brains
and flung them wide to become
the cottony stuff of clouds.

Perhaps this is why
we, shaped from the dead
hewn hunks of elm and ash,
our home girded by the eyebrows
of giants, hold
such preoccupation

with our own skins.
A world encircled
by a serpent has no need
for creation myths
of temptation and flood,
no; we pluck at our bodies,

pick at imperfections,
dream of shedding
and of rainbow bridges; cut
ourselves, re-shape our-
selves, mold, curb, color, smoothe,
tug, press, hack, squeeze

out our skulls and fling
our brains over the edge
of believability, looking only
to look in the mirror
with satisfaction, looking
only to live forever.

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Find out more about Nat, Tom and Joanna here:

Nat Hall

nordicblackbird.weebly.com

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

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As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Helheim: ‘Death & Hollows’ 2/2 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

8 May

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 23 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 Helheim (The Realm through which men must pass to reach Nifelheim)

Featuring:

Lenka Monk, Ross Beattie, Joanna Lee &

Lydia Allison 

 

All angels go to hell

By Lenka Monk

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The gates open.
The beast’s blood dripping muzzle welcomes me.
On my sin flavoured bones the creature can feast,
Along with an offer of my blackened soul.
Who’s the judge and condemns me to this place?
Who writes the rules and decides what is right and what is wrong?
The brave warriors kill their enemy in their thousands and yet they are sitting up in Valhalla, drinking wine for eternity.
Never mind the innocent they slaughtered and called it collateral damage in the name of their Gods.
What God justify killing?!
I have not hurt anyone I have not taken a life.
I only loved.
Maybe wrongly by their standards, but still only loved.
In spite of this terrible place and the suffering, in my mind there’s no doubt.
I would do it all over again, without question, without so much as miniscule pause.
I have lived my life by my rules, not by their misguided sense of righteousness.
So come! Tear at my flesh, tear at my heart, tear at everything that you
find so awfully disgusting about me!
And I shall laugh, for there’s nothing that you can take from me anymore.
I left all that mattered, all that was good and pure somewhere else.
Somewhere you cannot touch.
Somewhere immortal.

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My Helheim

by Ross Beattie

When will the wolf swallow the sun ?
I’m strung out again with another deadline tapping at the shade covered windows. 
Prompts and papers submerge the fragility of the only realm I really know.
I’m trapped here.
Waiting for the night.
Hoping for help to cross the hills with the arrival of darkness. 
But as I wait, the shades will stay tightly drawn. 
The wolf’s scream pierces through my every half attempt to care, as I hide in the isolation. 
I can no longer leave, and nothing inside me desires to free. 
I watch the cracks below the door for the gentle flow of blood. 
As only then will I be safe from these endless winters and the shadow of the trembling tree might stop plaguing my mind. 

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mist

by Lydia Allison

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in the place of misery
of those who died happy. those who felt
the soft lover press on their last breath.

the crawling surface of gjoll
resembles rainfall
the way water seems
to reach up
to break from the moving weight. straining
to join the clearing air.

here. at the end of all
is the source of the wind
that changes life to fire and skeletons and ash.
sighs through the sweeping
changing wall of fog.

the breeze carries to the graves of grey souls
and hits on the doors of the living
like cold palms. like
the desperate man who only wants
to come home.

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The sybil’s lyric

 by Joanna Lee

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We have lingered far too long
in the land of these dead, buried
beneath roots of returning sadness,
longing for a new start, fair and green,
for that which is hidden
to disappear in the rivermud of April,
for autumn to be born again.

The despair grows quiet and hungry
and damp, so down and to the north
beside a bend in the river of knives,
under a blue back-lit moon I weigh my heart
and lay myself to wait for the end of days
when the watchman of the giants
hunches to tune his harp.

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Find out more about Lenka, Ross and Lydia here:

Lenka Monk

Contact ArtiPeeps

Ross Beattie

blackpoemblues.weebly.com

https://twitter.com/blackpoemblues

Lydia Allison

lydiaallison.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/LydiaAllison13

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com
https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

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As always, thank you for your interest.

 

The Nine Realms Indiegogo Campaign:

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

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Nifelheim: ‘Spaces and Pain 2/4’ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

1 Apr

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)

Featuring:

Joanna Lee, Mina Polen

and Shirley Golden

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If all things should weep

by Joanna Lee

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even through the thickest ice, redemption
may bubble. don’t call it the realm of the dead.

say instead: that cauldron from which every man
springs, and will again return.

pull up fistfuls of last year’s leaf-
mould; wade the bitter waters;

sift the cold from the thaw.
this is not another poem

about what to feed your dragon.
serpent-sister, i no longer fear judgment,

have seen the green from your high walls.
atonement is made from yeast-drops

and pomegranate seeds, shimmers,
effervesces. remember

the life-beneath-frost, your  nascent
breakings, the roots planted in winter.

remember the strength in those you have loved,
the gentle rain lost to the mists.

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Don’t follow me

by Mina Polen

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Somehow I feel
that you mustn’t come
it is so cold over here
my feet are freezing
the snow is falling

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
that I might be lost
the rivers are frozen
I am having nightmares
I don’t know what is this

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
that this place is poisoned
the land stinks of cadaver
I feel threatened
I feel lonely I feel lost

my love
please, don’t follow me

somehow I feel
there is no end
the mist is overwhelming
I feel guilt and regret
this is all too much to bare

my love

please

don’t follow me.

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Cutting Out the Bad

by Shirley Golden

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They say we are sick and insist on a cure. I was hauled in when they updated legislation on crimes against beauty. For some, it’s ageing without correction or overindulging that secured them a stretch in here. Not acceptable, they say. Control it. Cover it. And if you can’t, we will. Our stay, as they call it, need not end in disaster. Consent screens flicker night and day, expecting the press of inmates’ fingerprints to smudge the surface of LCDs. And we will assent, they say, everyone caves in the end.

It’s worse than sub-zero winter, the cold bleeds into every bone and fibre. And the air is still, so still. We barely find the energy to speak or chew although she feeds us well enough. It’s a legal requirement. Some say the food is laced with drugs; others that they pump sedatives in through the vents. It explains our sluggishness and the fog which infects like gas climbing from corpses. The bad breath stench clings to the bed hangings. She calls us her children and says there are worse places, and it feels like a threat.

She’s black and white, precise, suit smart, exact. Guarding the right of her domain, she’s indifferent to protests. She acts with authority absolute. But under that veneer lurks a half-dead creature. For how could anything with a heart be immune to our pleas?

I’m allowed a mirror; it is encouraged. They say I must face my reflection, it’ll convince me to conceal the rough edges beneath a membrane, plump cheeks, smooth over corrugated flesh. It’s an old, old scar that started with a lump and ended under a surgeon’s blade; it took years to heal. I stare at discoloured tissue, the uneven track the scalpel was forced to carve; they call me offensive, offender. They fail to see it as an inscription: blunt. Integral.

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

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Find out more about Joanna, Mina and Shirley here:

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

Mina Polen

https://twitter.com/minafiction

aldebaranylosnarvales.blogspot.com

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 A ‘The Nine Realms’ update post will be coming out tomorrow with news of our forthcoming Indiegogo Campaign.

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Nidavellir: ‘ Darkness and Gold’ 1/4′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

26 Feb

nine realms8

19 poets, 22 Artists, 3 musicians and a Viking Boat

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 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 Nidavellir (The Realm of the Dwarves)

Featuring:

Joanna Lee, John Mansell, Nat Hall

 

the secret and impalpable things of the world

by Joanna Lee

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strength has no purchase here,
in the dark places
where ribbons of the secret
and impalpable things of the world
are forged from stony,
sunless wrists
to catch a moon-
snatcher

by the heart, the chain.

he would slay the best of them,
she said, so slaver-
dripped fingers fish
for breath of cat moving,
the noise of mountain roots.
even a god will lose a hand
to feed a wolf
and bind him.

 

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Fenrir

 

 

Nidavellir

by John Mansell

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Sombre snarled in nascent clutch
the maggot-born unbound
from mire of decaying Ymir.

In sunless dwelling of slate hue wrath
Sindri’s bloodline wrought in nanistic voracity
the skilled gems and emblems of gods.

Moon-wane fields that emptied to the shuddering north.
The clout of smiths in melanic retreat,
to swirl to solid mist the aureate seal of their fame.

In red-gold sanctum magic Hreidmar wrecked in wealth
the family bonds to scream in shame his daughter’s names
as sanguine blade slept through his flesh.

Three chains that snapped, one in death,
unbridled Fafnir, serpent spawn slithered the morose realm.
His rancid pause of poison like lava.

And Regin fearful shied to shameless oblivion.
It is a dire place this home of dwarves,
this land of shade and patricide.

There had been valour here, the lofty battle flags unwrapped.
Their unfurling now a memory
of dust chastened in the quietening mines.

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Sindri

Hreidmar

Fafnir

Regin

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The Open One

by Nat Hall

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They wanted to tame prophecies,

the fen-dweller,
son of Loki,
fanged
beyond fears,
moon howler
Inside a troll’s skin;
feared by most gods,
shackled by silk
dwarves 
once
fashioned in
dark dwellings –
ribbon
woven
out of mere six impossibles:
a faint sound of feline footfall,
a woman’s beard,
a mountain’s roots,
a bear’s sinews,
breath of a fish 
and
bird’s spittle…

They say
Gleipnir, the open one,
will resist him.

© Nat Hall 2015

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Gleipnir

 

 You can read the overview of Jotunheim hereand read some Vanaheim poems here

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Find out more about Joanna, John and Nat:

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

 https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

John Mansell

https://twitter.com/JohnMansell1

Nat Hall

nordicblackbird.weebly.com

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

 

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As always, thank you for your interest.

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Jotunheim: ‘ Strength & Might’ 1/3′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

29 Jan

World Tree Norse

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

Featuring:

Tom Murphy, Joanna Lee and Shirley Golden

 

Jotunheim

by Tom Murphy

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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

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Today

by Joanna Lee

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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.

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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.

 

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The Other Female

by Shirley Golden

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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.

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You can read the overview of Jotenheim  here , and read some Vanaheim poems here

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Find out more about Tom, Joanna and Shirley:

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

 Shirley Golden

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

shirleygolden.net

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As always, thank you for your interest.

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Vanaheim: ‘ Magic & Wonder’ 3/4′ The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

14 Jan

World Tree Norse

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 Vanaheim

Featuring:

Lenka Monk, James Knight and Joanna Lee

 

In the name of…

by Lenka Monk

(Inspired by the story of Freyja and Thorgerda)

 

In the hour of need, every second stretches like a steel spring.
Do the years flash by?
Or is it simple moment of repentance.
Whispered prayers.
Does anyone really listen?
Absolution would taste so sweet.
Does it give you strength?
Does it fill you with hope?
Does the courage shine through one last time?
Do you upturn the alter to stop the requiem?
Or is it an offering of a blackened heart on the cold marble.
Whose name touches your lips?
Breathe it in; bathe in the way it sounds.
And it’s not just any name, it’s so much more.
It’s an antidote for poison.
It’s water caressing your dry lips.
It’s the scent of home deep within your lungs.
It’s an ecstasy tingling on your skin.
It touches forgotten places, revives senses,
And as blinded as you once were, you are no more.
For there’s no room for the transient madness,
When with each uttered syllable of the name,
The shade brightens.
The unexplained power that brought you north of that edge.
What once was in the haze has cleared.
Oh the view, the view is breathtaking.
Clarity, renewed, reshaped, reassembled,
Strums chords with sleight of hand.
And it resonates loudly in the name of your saviour.

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*Freyja is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.

*Thorgerda, is a woman who threatens to commit suicide in the Egils Saga.

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Freyja

by James Knight

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Welcome to my pied-a-terre,
My dear.
Careful where you sit;
Yesterday one of my guests
Mistook my cats for cushions
And nearly sat on them,
The silly bugger.

Glass of Scotch?
Sherry, maybe?
Mine’s a white wine and soda;
It goes further.

It’s deathly cold in here,
Don’t you think?
Bloody storage heaters
Are worse than useless.
I could weep,
I really could.

Do you like the photos on my mantelpiece?
That one’s Eric and that one’s Steven and that one’s John.
All dead now, of course.
So are Keith, Clive and Chris.
They died heroes’ deaths,
Every one of them.
When I look at them
I know they’re in a better place.
I keep Ben in this locket,
So he’s always near my heart.

Death isn’t sad, you know.
No worse than going for your flu jab.

Drink up, dear.
You look as if you need it.
You might die tomorrow,
So you might as well enjoy today.
That’s what Ben used to say.
After he lost his arm I had to drive him around everywhere,
Bless him.
He called my little Ford a chariot.
We used to laugh!

By the way,
A man wrote me,
Which explains
My Monty Python falsetto.
Men can’t do women
(Haha!),
Though they’d like to think they can.
Just look at The Waste Land:
That was written by a man
(If that’s the right word for a bookworm in specs)
And is full of unconvincing female voices.

I’m so cold I’m shivering, look!
Another glass?

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Seeking Odhrærir at the corner coffeeshop

by Joanna Lee

a dragon sits in the sun, baking mythologies between his toenails.
eagle feathers drift on his nostril-ed breath.

he does not belong here among the cloud stria in almost-white,
the sky filled with the promise of emptiness, the wet-wool heavy.

behind the bar, Gunnlöð is humming to herself
with a song on the radio she hasn’t heard in years.

honey trickles over her dry lip, cracks on winter-sunned concrete.
hickory leaves flit dead across lanes of traffic.

some days it just won’t come,
no matter the spit and the blood.

i think i hear your name in the background,
and i almost turn. tendril-ed smoke

like tears down a dawn cheek that day
you woke wordless in darkness and left

curls along the floorboards just
enough to keep the pipes from freezing.

Gunnlöð looks up, wonders if she, too, could fly.

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*Odhraerir/Óðrerir,refers either to one of the vessels that contains the mead of poetry

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You can read the overview of Vanaheim here , and see some Asgard poems here

.

Find out more about Lenka, James and Joanna:

Lenka Monk

Contact ArtiPeeps. 

James Knight

thebirdking.com

https://twitter.com/badbadpoet

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

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