YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

March 2007

VOL XV, Issue 3, Number 167

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401




Jack Wesdorp


   The Edge


   Water and Earth
   Race Point
   The Deep
   The Concordance
   Thirteen Bells(sic)
   Pelagos Niger
   Maarle and Ulf
   Off the Record
   Rat Hole
   Ragnarok Hangover
   Report from Rongelap
   Stevie d'Or
   The Edge
   Lighthouse Keeper's Log
   Sorties Licht




The Edge

Sailors!  We hold thee in awe and admiration.  Without you we'd be
circumscribed by rigid horizons: forest, farm fields, town walls,
mountains.  But you gazed upon the stars and went to meet them.  Despite
superstitious tales or ferocious consequence.  Across the channel in
fragile rattan coracles, on papyrus rafts outside the pillars, in
slatted sampans on the pacific deep, fleet outrigger canoes to superb
islands, redsail longboat dragon prows amid groaning icebergs, sloops
and schooners and china clippers beyond imagination.  You realized our
dreams.  Thousands of wrecks strewn along the skeleton coast of Cape Cod
attest your courage.  Yours was the first true democracy.  Most of you
are nameless, without stone or keepsake.  Each time you shipped out we
died a bit.  When you came back to us we lit up the church.  For you
deckhands and fishermen who hazard Profundis: the  blinking lights will
always be there.

Water and Earth

Endlessly the waves walk in,
each a wandering wraith
upon the breast of manifest,
wanton force, and faith.
Amidst the sand they curl and pray,
each stone an altar bare
awaiting for its courtesan
that they might twine and fare.
And when their lot is consummate
I see them witness long,
for twain are met in harmony,
devotion, depth, and song.

Aquamarine ~~~~~~~~~~ We set the light to winking though there's no one there, waste of effort so you'd think and who the hell cares if some idiot goes down into the big deep where there ain't no boojum sound and frozen light sleeps. We do it for the prospect, for because we vowed that soul blossoms electric where there's nothing now. That's the way it is with me, we are devoted to none just as me and we send our boat into places no one dares to picture or think because grace is loved and rare. That's why the light blinks.
Race Point ~~~~~~~~~~ Time runs backwards on this beach where quartzite sand disappears trackless bent you cannot reach the clock's differential gears. Funnel hand numeric face drifting hourglass rhythm tick tunnel sprocket shifting place sloping surface whisper quick ratchet movement increment stoneward parabolic tide on the brink with covenant oathbound bridal rosary reverse pebble entropy cubic salt loves curling sea.
The Deep ~~~~~~~~ Guys in the navy plowing through massive leviathan waves, pacific my ass. We landlubbers are mostly scared shitless by water and war, it's likewise our kids. Nobody wonders how courage is found, except maybe sons whose fathers were drowned.
Glouchester ~~~~~~~~~~~ Godspeed all ye who dare the waves and find your rest in unmarked graves, fair wind and swift the curling crest nor faint of heart within your breast, persistent hand laid on the wheel, eternal depth beneath your keel out on Profundis where god fares, bringing to harbor foreign wares, of the brilliant tales you will tell we who wait we will toll your bell.
The Concordance ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sing the ship to rise out of solid sea, fill her hold with prize and soft mystery, ebony bedecked under billow sheets mid uncharted wrecks when her tide runs fleet, let her compass drift where the heart tastes brine, and her bowsprit lifts from abandoned wastes dipped in mellow wine, rare to court or land, roistering in port, may she heel to hand till stars fall asleep and it's time to slip back into the deep.
Thirteen Bells(sic) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The view from the crow's nest was fabulous, I could see forever and then some more. Above the spume a skirling albatross broached the storm with archaic benchmark lore. All along the galley staunch oarsmen rest, tell tales of serpent worms or Inka freight and the edge of the world waiting out west. Down below where old bilge rats congregate to spread their future lots poker table I will hear the carousing waft aloft, and flotsam along the anchor cable drowned sailors are singing requiem soft of how tomorrow shall be on fire with drunken dreams of wings and desire.
Ors ~~~ Captain Gurk he trade me for stuff, galley sweep he say no reprieve. I row raider three years grow tough; thirty moon gone they believe me. After that I can sleep on deck haul up net help reef sail and so. One day big wind blow boat is wrecked on rocks I swim where I don't know. Beach feels good first land in many I walk village beg food find work save all copper penny some gold keep one hunger before too old find bastard Gurk chain him to oar.
Pelagos Niger ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After five years faithful service my master bid me take a wife. Next day I summoned up my nerve and told him something of my life, I said, "sir, back home I'd be king of a thousand farms and valleys, I could take my pick of wenchlings or send you, sir, to the galleys." He bent his head attentive low but did not speak a word, I said, "your women here are foreign foe of my people, I'd rather wed one of my own with curly hair, raise sons among my enemies, and maybe someday they will dare to go home, if it please you. Sir." My master reached into his safe and handed me a heavy purse. "Go to the market, buy a slave, get an expensive one of course, if you need more coin so be it." And thus it came to pass that week I could have bought my freedom swift from any corsair captain Greek. Instead I haunted granite docks waiting for ships I knew would come with a girl destined for the block smelling of cobalt, mace, and home. She was naked bound with iron, I recognized her right away, we had shared the selfsame fire so long ago on wanemoon nights. The trip back was uneventful, four days on a bullock cartwheel filled with armor and canvas tents, and so it went our fate was sealed. Today I am my master's earl, I oversee the forge and swords. Young Maraam of the glossy curls teaches our children foreign words and at night she tells them stories of how it once was long ago in a land of gold and glory far to the south where rainbows fall. They are a bold lot, as was I, way back then in my master's hall. We are no longer slaves, he says, we may fight to be free, or die. It's the most fortunate of stars, this kingdom is at war with Troi, most white Greek men are called to arms, all the more chance for our black boys. I have bought a felucca boat, sufficient provender to wrest a living from the sea afloat, we'll trust our gods and sail far west. But one last memory to name, though he held our chain and farrow, because we know he's not to blame for our enslavement or sorrow. Thus becometh Maraam with child, we suspect a strong and wildling, when we get home he will bear long a Greek's name and he will be king.
Maarle and Ulf ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Vikings infest our waters; four hundred besiege our keep. Gort bids me hide his daughter while he bests them on the deep. We move by moon overland, seven weeks in Fingal's cave, spend a month with Fergael's band and three days at Brodgar's grave. Then a night reckless passage to where kaerel pirates lurk, an island of scrannel sedge in the Ijssel meer called Urk. Shadow voices at the grate, windlass creak and byrnie bright, olden oath-bind consecrate in the flicker fire light. The best place to hide a gem is draped with soot and tatters plain in sight of diadem and royal prideful matters. Thirteen years of menial bann among those corsair Frisians, at the hearth of boereman Barochmir Hesperides. Thirteen years, then comes a prince of Vikingsholm the heirloom, also hidden with the kin of kaerel brae and Beradrumme. Maybe Maarle seems naught a maid, maybe Ulf can see the truth, more their skein I shall not braid nor compromise their sooth. Nine months hence a fair haired child with flashing eyes and prowess, elven wold and skraeling wild on the strand of Raubal ness. And who is to say what maught be the issue of our stead across that perilous gulf by the skald of princess Maarle and a prince called Ulf the Red.
Log ~~~ beat against a southwest gale reefed it down to main pole sheets started out as rain, then hail finished off with slop and sleet put Diego at the wheel heading for Fuego Pass stanchion's cracking in the keel broken rudder pinion hasp got a shudder in her wark drank up all our grog and beer eerie fog, faint sounds, too dark maybe we found big fin sharks we ain't never been round here
Off the Record ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I'm waiting on the tide, chanced upon some wreckage, boat fairing slammed cockeyed, then a floating deck chair. I know the guy is dead, cold and stiff as mutton, while searching for his wallet I undid a button. A camera fell out, a tiny digital, I plug it in my Dell, there he is on the bridge of some dowdy freighter, here's one of a party looks like the equator, and eight off the taffrail can't quite make out what's that, this one's off his frail raft the boat's listing badly, my hair stands electric as the next one boots up, a massive tentacle and the hull is ruptured, the last one is nothing, just some pall, loath, slobber, that's all and his clothing. I gave it to the cops.
Rat Hole ~~~~~~~~ At the Horny Mermaid soaked in Fuller's ale, just been on a raiding to the Ulster jail, lads, to the Ulster jail. Busted out our captain and the second mate, picked them up running rum doon at Billingsgate, boys, doon at Billingsgate. Took the low road silent wearing seal skin boots, round covert'n byways where we hide our loot, lads, where we hide our loot. At the Horny Mermaid underneath the floor, fifty ruddie barrels waiting there for more, men, waiting there for more.
Julian ~~~~~~ I shipped with Sam. We were almost home, our hold full of ballast bullion swag. We lost our rudder in boiling foam, I made shore on a coconut bag, but my brothers went down in the gale. I spent three months at the Hackett place and then some Bostown hung me in jail. Ain't no hiding my Indian race. They sold me off as a carriage slave cause there warnt no point in hanging coons, being a horse worthy blackabrave made me more precious than pressganged goons. Some hidden moons on the Eastham tide I walk with Sam and his widowed bride.
Stowaway ~~~~~~~~ First thing this hippie does he spooks the cruise, spreads our cards out in the officers' mess. Captain Fred was pissed when he got the news, don't cotton to superstitious I guess. But I was there; I heard this longhair sooth: "For so long as I'm on board all goes well," he said, "and I'll always tell you the truth." So he scrubbed the galley till seven bells and ate with us gobs in the lower bay, we sorta liked him didn't let it show and quietly hoped he'd wanta stay on. That's the way it works with spooks who blow through; never cross `em. He jumped ship about nine last night we knew and then we hit the mine_
Ragnarok Hangover ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was a helluva storm, the crow in my nest fell down, and the Ourobouros worm flailed her barroom rest around. I could hear stars blinking off, dunno what became of earth, the very fabric of stuff got sucked back into the blurth_ Then I saw a hand appear, a black one out of raw myst, and an eye blunking with blear that'd be god drunken and pissed. I couldn't tell who was which or the what from where's the floor, rubber legs and that's a bitch bare grub hair just gimme more. I handed him a hammer, land lubber dog puke shudder, nausea seasick tripper you know ships don't log a damn if they ain't got no rudder. Fair winds, God, getcha sails up, forge some froth, how's about cheer, and the oceans burned with cups of palest alembic beer.
Sanctuary ~~~~~~~~~ The wreck happened while I was sleeping; I woke up in the water at night clutching styrofoam when it got light and getting ready for the deep six. I floated like dead two days until the foam crate got waterlogged and sank... (there's a timeless moment here I think I think I think I was listening) ...then I spotted some planks from the wreck, still wanta live, huh? I built a raft of canvas and rope and sailor craft. There I spent a week bailing on that deck; it rained, I drank my fill, I ate fish. I managed a sail from some plywood and a rudder that worked pretty good. I made lots of god help me wishes; the wind blew me west, not a good sign, Columbus risking mutiny men there must be land-ho! somewhere and then it all turned red, I feared I was blind, and then a voice murmured, "it's this way." I had a conference with a bird who wore a crown oh I'm crazy lord, I spent another day just waiting; that night I heard waves, the sounds of reefs. I thought I thought this must be the breath you take the last one before your death it no longer matters about grief, I screwed my faith on tight and leaped long, I'm in my element swimming strong, then alongside some big kelp strewn rocks, I know the ticking of giant clocks, a wave god help me carries me in, and I don't remember where I've been. At dawn I redeem my lubber legs, live offa eating birds, turtle eggs, occasionally I fare out to fish, sometimes I gather fire drift wood, it is good here, I have stopped wishing.
Report from Rongelap ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We rescued this crazy haole off one of the outlying reefs. Says he's been there five umpteen years, I dunno if we believe him. But there's this: he's in damn good shape, wears a serious mako tooth he says he took off the west cape, and who are we to say "prove it." Our wahines like him well enough, two of `em are willing to wive, and what the hell he's got the stuff right up front just being alive. We've offered him brother-table; we think he'll take us on able.
Stevie d'Or ~~~~~~~~~~~ They let me sleep at the gallery, and I go pearldiving for my keep in the galley at Alicer's Eats where the chow comes plentiful and cheap. But they don't allow me in the bar up front where toffee swells congregate, ain't fancy enough and smells of tar me who once held a captain's rating. So I spend hard times chuffin' with gulls and home's a bench, I'm local color; some days go scavenging cast up hulls and dream about slipping my bollard. It haunts me I'll ship out, can't say when, but I know I won't lay here again.
Elysium ~~~~~~~ The island is far removed, not on any compass chart. I can't even prove it's there, indeed that it's anywhere but in the need of my heart. It's got a green eyed lagoon, surf that curls on pristine slopes, softly curved dunes that shimmer in pearling moonlit glimmer that clings to the breast of hope. I think it takes vast daring to leap swirling in such waves, to cast your net enchanted where silhouettes feel canted in the haunting of your grave. But the prize is marvelous if you make such flights on faith, unravel stars and sunlight, travel mighty horizons, summon heaven's carriage lathe. God I should reach such fortune to retire when I'm spent on fields of winepress orchards or a beach where torchlight flares round a fire fair with friends.
The Edge ~~~~~~~~ If you sail long and far enough eventually you'll find the edge where time stops and stuff falls away. And if you then stand on the ledge maybe you'll see her hand spinning the wheel of everything there is, weaving nothing into something dancing deft about her business. Not a place we can understand; infinity boggles the brain. it's like a beach and we're but sand bent through sprocket glass grain by grain. We keep a monster horn blaring even though we know it's useless since there ain't nobody faring out there in the deeps where senseless things with house size fangs can eat your sight and soul in a single gulp, and there ain't no one to greet you when you're frightened bawling for help; but just in case someone gets lost we burn a light and hang the cost.
Lucifuge ~~~~~~~~ Stuff to duffelbag: slippers, woolen socks, ancient signal flag, saw blade, sundial clock, the big wooden flute, first aid kit, lenzlight, vitamins, dried fruit, compass, firewright, EZpatch, felt pens, every garden seed, our civilized ken, sparkle trading beads, won't be back again.
Lighthouse Keeper's Log ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Finally, very slowly and simply, the oceans rose to engulf the cities. New fires ruled the land: Famine and Fear. With their sisters Plague, Barren, and Despair. Four horsemen were reported on the Thar; didn't say if they'd crossed the Sahara. I hid my garden in a chain link field; drank sparingly from a deep spring-fed well. At the end of my tenure the ocean brought her beach to my tower's foundation. I built a coracle and sailed it south; didn't leave nothing. Just some stories. Myths.
Sorties Licht ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Up above the Hudson sea a sentinel winks, reputedly the aerie of a wizard king. I went there to snoop it once, it's a hairy climb along the Great Manitou under whisper pines. About a mile from the plinth a footpath improves, it's said there be therebinth but I saw no hooves. Following the ancient edge as Inds must have done I found a mount on the ledge with a cannon gun. The bore is green with lichen, probably a poon, I've heard they used to shoot pikes the size of my sloep. Up on top it's undisturbed, evidence is clear: cut steps, massive kerbs, the Worker was here. I found a marble tablet, most likely a grave, the chisel marks are damaged but I could read "brave". The tower shaft is a ruin, there's no stairs to climb, strangely there's no litter strewn. The place tastes of time. I camped by the door that night, dared whatever spooks, I don't know what makes the light, some say it's a nooke. Nothing happened, nothing weird, except for the wink, every minute there's a gear up there that goes plink. Morning orange majesty itself's worth the walk, I saw some olden magick and I heard pines talk.



Once I was a mountain side,
now I am a beach,
sand beholden to the tide
on the outer reach.
Twice a day the water moves,
twice again by night,
wear away my rune and grooves
when the moon is bright.
Someday I will be a stone
pressed within the fold
of my Lady's golden throne
as I was of old.


The Edge, Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Wesdorp


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