Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sometimes a Wild God

NOTE: Thanks for stopping by to read Sometimes a Wild God, but there's a newer, better version of this over at the active Coyopa blog (this one's just here for the links) - come over and read it HERE

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice turns wine into vinegar.

When he arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes at the door
With his bloody hands,
Though there are primroses
Growing about his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides...
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens are beginning to sing
An ancient song in the mouth of your kettle.

'I haven't much,' you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are moles in his eyes.

When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it's fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again,
Evict the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where it all went to.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of otters and red nightingales.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes.
The moles rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exhalts and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to old enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the great grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and the pain and joy of living.

In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds his fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window, smiling.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.

'Why did you leave me to die?'
Asks the wild god and you say:
'I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn't know how. I'm sorry.'

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer...
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart...

There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice turns wine into vinegar
And death to life in return.


  1. Wonderful-it made me feel both joyful and uneasy and I could see images by Rima in my head. Fantastic thank you

  2. Now I know why you chose to study acupuncture; your poetry is also painful beautiful medicine. ;-)

    It hurts when it pierces the skin, but light soon floods through those tiny holes to illuminate the darkness of our consumption-calloused souls.

    (still not volunteering as a guinea pig for those home-made needles though!)

  3. I love this poem, Tom. I'm going to copy it into my notebook and carry it around in my bag of tricks a while :0)

  4. Thank you for sharing your poem, it speaks very deep into my soul.

  5. Reading this is like reaching for blackberries; the hand smarts for the prize. Wonderful. I love the image of the pelican leaping from chair to chair.

  6. Tom, you've done it again - taken something felt and given it precise words.

    "He is awkward and does not know the ways
    Of porcelain, of fork, and mustard and silver."

    Yes. And there is a solace and beauty in such unknowing (or, disregard).

    The poem speaks multitudes.

    I'm going to read in many more times, and share too! :)

  7. This is magnificent! The power and mystery weaved into your words worked magic! I loved this. :-)

  8. mmmmmmmm

    bellowed hymns...

  9. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing your words.

  10. You cannot imagine how this speaks to me. Wild God, Greenman, Hunter, he stirs something really deep. I want to SING this, and dance round a fire as I sing!

  11. I love this poem, Tom. Thank you

  12. Thanks, all. Your words really touch me.

    It's good to make space for the bleeding wild god at the table of our being. The council of our various selves isn't complete without his strange, sometimes frightening voice.

    Just don't give him your van keys or your bank card - there are better gods to trust for these things!

  13. This was a wonderfulandwild adventure and one that answers questions I forget to ask myself.

  14. Sometimes a wild god comes to my table and lately I have been busy, so now I will take time to walk and hear the skylarks and search for cowslips and dream of the bear. Thank you.

  15. You know my god. You make me feel less alone. Thank you.

  16. I- I don't know what to say, and anyway I'm breathless and dumbfounded so I can't. That's not a poem - I think it might be alive. It's despairing and joyous and I want to cry and curl up somewhere small until the ache heals.


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