YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

August 2010

VOL XVIII, Issue 08, Number 208

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






The unicorn 
The double-backed beast 
The mole 
The plover 
The salamander
The herring
The wolf
The cock
The korat
The raven
The sea turtle
The bee
The spider


The Things 
The Phoenix 
The Salamander 
The Tortoise 
The Unicorn 
The Donkey 
The Basilisk 
The Bandersnatch 
The Cowrie 
The Mermaid 





Everything is connected.
We are one life and all from the same divine source.
The very atomic stuff of our bodies emanates from the same stellar novae,
each creature therefore is our sister kin and brother blood,
we share similar dna and each species deserves equal shrift before the throne.
Every death diminishes us just as the one soul that we are demands continuance in the courcourse of stars.
All creatures are necessary,
the least phyotplanton unto the cyclopean monster.
Even the mythological dragon, 
for so as she encircles creation, so does she empower our self-awareness in the chronicle.
This is why we write their epoch into reality.
We cannot do otherwise
for without them we become less human.

-- Jack Wesdorp


The unicorn

The bait is set in a private place. Hunters watch unmoved. A maiden offers her opulent breasts to the first
among beasts. He blesses her fruitful womb and plunges his horn through a watery moon. She strokes
indelible wounds into his hide. He drinks of Lethe and enters death ecstatic between her thighs.

The double-backed beast Clam on a mudflat, pounded in spume, obedient to lunar laws. Its halves enclose quivering flesh between consensual curves. Hands clap a tango, syncopation of coupling. Auras overlap. A benthic butterfly flaps its wings, opening to the moon's largesse. Repeated saline onslaughts; each wash of pain applies a layer of light. A grain girds itself in the luster and weight of love.
The mole (shaman) My simple eyes shun light. I wander endless tunnels. Paths permeate my memory, porous as pumice, undermine unsubstantial mountains. I offer love to strangers and roam the branching netherworld unconsoled. Weakness is my cloak of honour, poverty my staff. The earth gives me strength. From deep rifts I map Andromeda. Death is an easy jump into stars, a lightning rip. I gather unborn worlds like stories, swirl into eddies, taste first fusion. Redonning flesh is never easy. Lightning leaves a smell of ozone. My return to Earth unsettles. Word spreads. Strangers gather darkly before me. Storms rumble in the distance.
The plover An abandoned woman wanders along a beach. Flotsam tumbles towards her feet. Wine glows in her eyes. She throws a corked bottle into the surf. The empty vessel contains all plausible answers. Plovers print interrupted poems along the tide. Flight is coded into the stanza breaks. Her hands are veined like last year's leaves. Love shines through her thinning skull. Songs clothe her nakedness. She bows to loneliness, watches the line of debris recede. She will live on the shrieks of gulls, salt spray, and sudden weather changes. She will draw her sustenance from the fickle humours of the sky.
The salamander Eons past: there on a shore, a glassblower formed me limb and mind from frozen light. He molded streams of photons into tongue and tail, crackling with cold, drawn from deepest space. He ignored the spleen, genitals and heart. He blew life into my flawed body and set me on the hearth. I pattered over live coals, nestled among them. Frost glinted like scales on my skin. Fear flashed and sparked erratically around me. Today dawns tempestuous. You bring a stranger's love to my fiery world. I rise before you, ice among the flames. I marvel at your joyful mien, misty ravine, cataract among ferns. Your heart mirrors my absent heart. Your nakedness gleams with beads of sweat. Love glows through your skin. Children will spring from my brow. Lyrics will flow voluptuous from your hands.
The herring My heart swarms weightless, thronged flashes in Baltic seas. Asynchronistic flutter, a drifting beacon signalling lost ships. I imbibe the salty liquor: food and drink and salve. Shadows nibble my silvery mass. I contract, split, veer and regroup. The sheen of day above is silk unbreachable, a tight-woven refusal to the realm of air. Light casts a simple net. But night brings gravitas that filters down from northern lights, tender and unstable. The points of the compass intensify and realign.
The wolf 1. A feral creature raised by wolves, I shunned humans. I drank hatred from a she-wolf's dugs while the moon howled approval. Fratride engulfed my soul. I nourished myself on Tiber vapours and marsh lights. Endless internecine wars: brothers recruited at will and slaughtered at need. Speechless, I spewed forth barbarous sounds. A vestal virgin bowed to Mars before they made me. Infantile, I plotted out my dark ascension. The four elements overlaid the cardinal points, murderous all, and spun like a compass needle. My maps lied by omission. The North Star sang from the heart of a catherine wheel. I incessantly sought the road to Jericho, that great devastation. 2. Dawn resembles dusk not at all. On the road to Jericho--was it yesterday?--I saw a tree, bent and bloody, compassionate fruit swinging in the wind. Tree of Golgotha, tree of knowledge. The second sight of blind men opened my eyes. My maps changed scale. I shed my fur, clipped my claws and wandered aimlessly. Tears of loss rolled down my cheeks in the painful light.
The cock New house, new threshold: I led you safely across. I flapped my wings and shook lightning into the corners. The malevolent spirits fled. My ruddy feathers lit the hearth, coaxed the savage sun into our darkness. Demons recanted, knelt before us. My feathers opened your sealed heart. It split with a single caress, an egg ready to hatch, and spread damp wings. Night woke us repeatedly. So did dawn. I sang you into light.
The korat (Thai rain cloud cat) I blaze like sunlight on wet slate. Play with me. Place me in the cradle, it's luck to newborns. I'll slip syllables in their mouths. My sleek sheen promises rain and my eyes are the colour of tender shoots. Parade me through the village. Sprinkle my heart-shaped face with water to summon the clouds. Consult me in time of trouble. Bring me your bundles of bleeding words. Surefooted pathfinder, never lost, I see what lies ahead. I come as a gift and remain with you always. I follow the pulse of your life with a slow purr. Trust me: I'll cross the bridge of death before you into the dark.
The raven Trumpet blasts and pungent winds enlist the raven. He flies wingtip to wingtip with his mate. Below them clash endless batallions, sword to sword. Locked in chaos, each claims the earth. "Steal my eggs and your baby dies. Tip your hat to me if you're smart." The eyes of heroes taste the same and their lips release a sigh. The ravens hop from corpse to corpse and wink at the waiting earth. "Slaughter each other if you must. We'll follow your armies and eat our fill." The wind dies to a whimper. Somewhere a border shifts. Women wail. The ravens return to their nest.
The sea turtle I migrate every year though twilight seas. Since late Triassic times, my tribe has passed this way. My forebears marked indelible channels to guide believers. I follow their flyways with reverence, living on filtered light. I inhabit a crusty carapace. Its plates bear maps like coats of arms. Where plates collide, tectonic fractals harden into rock. Nascent islands and coastal ranges rise off my back. These cumbersome giants cruise the ages, tippy airships loosed on jetstreams. When they spot a congenial era, they root themselves, barnacle-sure and unshakeable. A cartography is thus established.
The bee Back at the hive, a forager dances. Nectar and pollen drive the world. Figure eights arouse lovers. Infinity stings and triggers searing pleasure. Paths fork repeatedly, then catch and entwine, vines in the wilderness. Honeycombs spread hexagonally, cargoed with wells of amber wisdom, excruciating sweetness. They adorn catalpas in bloom, maelstroms and ledges equally. Every swarming seeds new gardens. Compound eyes beam visions invincible into the darkness. New eternities bud luxuriant, bearing life, innocent and fragrant.
The spider The spider walks on invisible threads. It spins its centre in mid-air, sits enthroned in a spiral. Cosmic radiation drifts into its web. The seeker sifts patiently through wispy signals; it yearns to write a definitive chronology and document eternity. Its fingers pluck its web like a harp. Prey circle in, drawn by twangy notes, the imperative of taunt silk. The predator shines cherubic, cheerful and honest. -- Heather Ferguson
JACK WESDORP The Things The things fly between galaxies photophobic, they don't like stars, nor blessed with keen olfactories so they fetch up on stony bars to lay whatchemacallit eggs on which the many-mansions hangs. On the spoke of wheels they're the pegs, sporangia with house-sized fangs, without them we're not here at all. Apparently they eat black hole to manufacture quarkish balls, the source work of body and soul. I've seen such an orange egg hatch, it's kinda like god striking a match.
The Phoenix The bird preens solitary on a ledge somewhere of what little we know. He calls for his cup and mates with numbers out of profundis whence infinity flows. The cup fills with mystery incarnate; he warms to the task and sets his stones erect. Every stone burns with fire exalted and sometimes their trajectories intersect. In such mandorla their fire descends, stoops into time; space accommodates their purpose. It curls involute, flux to fruition, blooms fair flower--the promise of universe. When his eye dream is fulfilled he rises to the edge of saturn; he's five hundred years old. He builds a pyre of entropic dust, alembic sunburst, the fusion of base galena into gold.
The Salamander First of elemental fire, the wand of pyromancy, sometimes devil's torch inverted, frequently sexual, foremost friend with air and earth but requisite by water. Fire is the first faculty of sight, the means to purpose, certainty across the abyss and the galactic lens. "Eye of newt," three witches chant, bent intuitive to the light. Fluid grace he uncoils his construct and this is the basis of all things.
The Tortoise We are so ponderous the abyss trembles beneath our feet, the face of the deep moves to our accord, form is beholden to our grace, old beyond time we sing the stars to shine. Ours is the distance, the line and the point. We are the gist of reason, the standard of excellence, the feast of life is ours; you may partake. Love and gravity, that's our divining, we are the craft of galapagos; break bread and take salt with us.
Fish First they conquer some parochial reef and swank it out with local free-for-all stuff, then they queer the place with pollution and overpopulation, they parse down to a single species, suddenly they swarm past the tipping point of the malthusian imperative, they mutate and escape the troth where once they sware fealty to the god of their own image, their cloth is silver sheen, their chariot iridium hull, their fire nucleonic fuel, their fate to bridle the stars, to engage all that orbits in the jewelled reefs of paradise.
Pterodactyls Two pterodactyls practicing their deal. They mull agenda: get the belly done, should we pull the teeth, lose the launching keel, whose lunch is that and what's a pelican? A far-seeing pair off that guano cliff, gossamer-vaned moths and aeronautics, fern-shaped fronds, does feathered flare give more lift, escape velocity and robotics. Athena's owl aluminum grackle, ovoid iridium orbital moons, howling monster plume gravity shackles and roving witchcraft with nuclear brooms. They ogle the mere from their foetid ledge; their obelisk reads From here to the edge.
The Unicorn The last unicorn went into hiding. Fucking with floozie warn't working for him so he boosted out with his next-door kin in a spectacular flash of lightning. Now he's back plonking eohippan mares, getting the equine gene pool up to speed, donkeys and mules and lippizaner breeds, showing off his horny bonnyrut wares, up past his fetlocks in paleoslut. Assiduous, that's the word comes to mind, yes my deer each according to their kind. From the front the rear you can watch 'em strut long after on a beach that time forgot. So you thought old horny's gone, eh? He's not.
The Donkey The burden is mine, I shall not fail though the shadow prowls murdrous behind. I bore his damsel to her travail and witnessed the newling of their kind, then the long trail to a foreign waste traversing the mareotic mere past pillastered walls and stone faces idolatrous gods in lonely lairs, thence back again, less desperate times where I raised the shadouf garden splash, yes, pastures where hooves can safely graze and then one more formidable task, spread palm fronds to the ostara gate and I will bear him to his fate.
The Basilisk Our librarian's been in the family five hundred years, best to befriend him since he can fry a bat at fifty feet, likes to sleep under the stairs and spelunk secret passages, nasty in fights and good at playing hide-and-seek with the kids, got rid of the rats in the scullery since our tabby died, don't take no shit from other critters especially the snake, always awake when we're asleep. We trust him with our boodle, comes when called, gotta replace the dog, probably a poodle, anybody seen the goat and the ducks in the moat? ... here Flux!
The Bandersnatch What's-his-name was wrong, they're waaay bigger. We got this camera offa stiff. It's for real near as we can figger. Guy's onna beach, must've drifted in. Found some flotsam, a deck chair with floats, got his wallet pix in his pocket so we're pretty sure we know what boat. Scallop trawler outta Woonsocket First shot's astern, can't quite make it out, then something churning up monster wake, then right there! can only be a snout, next horizon's canted boat's burning last one's nothing just atlantic pall couldn't let the talkies in on that would've scotched shipping right to a halt tight lips or the friggin fleet's in dock. The book sez bill had a heart attack but that didn't kill him. Don't look back.
The Cowrie The filter feeders are the first to fail, sponges, oysters that's right boys no more pearls, and then it's basic food chain krill to whales, tar ball beaches, dead snails and pissed-off girls. You jerkwater guys can't connect the dots? Here I'll turn it on betcha real fast and plain, go to an oil well, smell that sulfide rot? Keep burning that crap you'll get acid rain which kills whole forests, no more white birches. The world's pretty gown, our fair sister raped, look how she lurches. The cowrie lies dead, most feminine of shells, her lips agape. Who signs the license? Who sells them charters? Your head on a post, in hell no quarter.
The Mermaid Melusine Pelagos, fluke swack! in the fjord, adorned with shells and swag from some venal hoard, lorelei luster tracked down to the galley, certainly sushi for dinner and dally. The botter rocks gently though there is no breeze, after the friendly laughter they take their ease. She likes rakish candles and mirrors delight, which bodes well for reflection and quiet swells. The fiery pride of mermaids and men lies quenched and then the tide requires their attention. She mothers the proper dispersion of milt; his rudder is always immersed to the hilt.
Butterflies What I miss most are butterflies. Ever since they sprayed that crap: great spangled fritillaries, yellow tiger swallow tails, monarchs smelling of mexico, wood satyrs and luna moths, colored flutters I can't name, soft flying garden flowers, the pleasure of my orchard killed in a thoughtless moment.
Geese We send one back to look for stragglers, lone lost kwackers and lollygagglers. Every year we lose a few get shot who wind up in twoleg cooking pot. More go down to mountain pools at moon we think get eaten by cat or goon. So we send fringe feather go look please because he knows good friend rookeries. Next warm snowmelt we elect him king first go-veerim of the welterwing.




Married to the herd,
gotta brood the hens,
get up! there's the bird,
fix the piggie pen,
squawking geese who's there?
Coons been in the corn,
set coyote snares,
dock the bullock's horns,
deer in the orchard,
time to pick the beans,
cold beer on the porch,
market wants more greens,
send me out your crates,
tractor needs a wheel,
daughter wants a mate
can't find one that's real,
bunnies butter bees
pack them peaches now,
honey nutter please,
more black beer for lunch,
john deere wheel is on,
hay loft just a hunch,
daisy mae is gone,
softly don't disturb,
who's her lucky bid?
Neighbor kid named herb,
just like what we did,
thank you god for that,
plow our furrow straight,
pickles in the vat,
dinner I'll be late,
heifers need their oats,
roosters rather rule,
dunno how that floats
in the modern pool.
Boot stomp fragrant clods
at my jenny's door,
I couldn't ask god
for anything more.

-- Jack Wesdorp


All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993 - 2010 by 
Klaus J. Gerken.

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