Day 17: Advent for Mad Sweeney

ADVENT FOR MAD SWEENEY

Coldest now up this tree,
shagged by ice and wind
and haled by high moonlight.
Halcyon, yes, if you’re dead.
Or leaning that way, re-learning
Advent in the bittering slog
of freezing winter nights.

Below and beyond I see
warm lights, chimneys billowing
fire-smoke and children caroling
house to house their Christ.

How I miss those cloistered
enclosures where a man
was everything he said
and a sword’s amen
counted for everything
in the pile of heads.
The mead and the feasting,
the white breasts of the maid,
all festively enveloped in
songs for the King.

Christmastide beckons
to all that’s lost inside:
But not so tonight
for this man of the mound,
exiled by the new God
to a cold aerie’s cross
far from hearth of
a welcoming mind.

Here where the wind
bleeds stars onto branches
and the wolf howls Jesu
I’m wild and keening,
ditch-delved by frost.

My Advent locks its step
with Infurin’s dead host.
Chanting in starlight
the charm of the lost.

Thank you to Brendan for this poem, one of a series of poems exploring the mythology of Mad Sweeney. If you’re wondering: Infurin, is a Celtic otherworld known as the Land Beneath the North. Brendan lives in Florida USA. By day he is an editor and husband, in deep of night he scribes the Otherworld. Brendan is the creative the force behind the earthweal project Poetry of a changing Earth. The grief is real – so is the hope.

Day 16: seven

Seven silver birches guard the ancient forest gate
Where seven feathered ambassadors obscure the entrance to this strait

Know your lore
Read the bark
Never barefoot wander
Never whistle in the dark

Look askance at the glade
Await the call
In summer’s amber
And winter’s blaze
Autumn’s angles
And spring’s tirade

Up with the sap
Out with the hour
Seven silver birches guard
The key to this season’s bower

This poem is from Chris Jelley, who is part of the phenomenon that is No 7, Dulverton – bookshop, cultural hub and purveyors of beautiful things.

Chris is posting a poem every day during advent – you can find him at @TalesArtPlay and @SevenFables (Twitter / Insta) 

Day 16: Wintertide

Wintertide
is here again:
solstice festival
sanctified
by choral singing
carols ringing
through the starlit streets
except for this time.

This bleak midwinter
all the streets shall fall
silent and all the carols
we must carry in our hearts;
gone are the jolly Christmas suppers,
stripped
the wintertime tree-branches
down to their bare bones.

Take heart:
draw a deep breath
and spare a thought
for all you have,
for those who live alone;
alone we enter this world
so they say, alone
we make our exit,
yet the miracle may be
to find ourselves
this wintertide
embraced by lovingkindness
unexpectedly.

Thank you to Ingrid for this covid Christmas poem.

Ingrid writes poetry, short fiction and journals at https://experimentsinfiction.com. She has had her poetry published in several anthologies, and also by Spillwords Press, Free Verse Revolution and Secret Attic.

She enjoys collaborating with other writers and encouraging poetic creativity with her EIF Poetry Challenge, which she hosts fortnightly at Experiments in Fiction.

Day 15: Heaven’s Holiday

The sound of heaven’s holiday tinkles.
Cedar wafts on cloud cushions.
Snow plays at twelves.
Apple-cheeked fiddlers saw while
curly-haired dolls wearing holiday finery
dance with elves and bunnies.
Reindeer prance and fuss, harnessed to
burnished wood sleighs. Chased by angels,
they leap along crystal-bordered ponds —
geometric shapes and figure eights to eternity.

The great hearth in the lodge is ablaze
with seasoned oak.
A cast iron cauldron steams mulled
cider, dipped and sipped while
chilled bodies nestle and wreathe warmth.
Whetted appetites delight in plum pudding
while beaus tie gold-striped ribbons on
the wrists of coquettish virgins.
Cherished celebrations to honor a baby’s birth.
Affirmation that life carries on with hope.

Jade Li is a writer, reader, observer, thinker, feeler, poet who lives in the Big Mitten of Michigan in the United States. Does poetry as self-therapy and to connect with others. She blogs at: https://tao-talk.com/

Day 14: i am a firm believer in fairy lights

the way they offer a twinkly hope
for better days, the way they cut
through the fog on winter nights,
illuminated landing strips
sparkling my walks round
the neighbourhood

an assembly of wayward, tiny stars

ages ago, you handed me a small
bundle and on the wrapping paper
you had written: those dark corners don't stand a chance`

i switch them on at night
and every time i remember how
good it felt to know

that every once in a while
someone will see all your darkness
and help you light it up.

Bio: Annick Yerem lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters Dreich and 192.

 https://linktr.ee/annickyeremhttps://missyerem.wordpress.com

Day 13: year-end blessings

there comes a day — the sacred basil plant
becomes leafless as the sun turns aloof &hides
behind the rich notes of a sugar-white air.

you are winter’s errand boy — hours
spill out of your deep coat pockets, dog-
minstrels struggle for every minute
they can perform — you would rather be away

down a bazaar of oddities where they
sell woollens by weights (first-rate &down),
or in the alleys where many a breath paused,
and never set again amid a litter of chests.

you are my winter’s warning prayer
that can only rise so far above before
the fog envelops you whole. your words
taste of stale chocolate, peanut husks,
&a once-hot-tea gone cold — but your lips,

crooked dreamlike, magenta &apple-rose lit
give me loss and warmth — our wreathed
solemnity is like burning coal. it is red-hot,
to last the long mass of our heathen sighs.

there comes a day when you leave, shadow-
born, as the year closes its tiny fist,
and you hold me like a stranger, like
a memory — ice-crusted and quicksilver,

dewy-eyed and varicose lines — of blue candles
burning slowly, casually, to a holy ending.

By Anmol HA

Anmol HA is a writer of organic poems, multifarious prose, and all that lies in between and beyond. You can find more of their work on Instagram and check out their essay series #Trash.

Day 13: Christmas Cheer

Your cell phone rings
but you’re not listening
because you left it
in The Fox and Vixen
behind the cistern
in the last stall on the left
next to the condom machine
and now it’s 4 am
your wife sleeps soundly beside you,
in the corner of the room
your hangover squats
sorting a tray of instruments.

It all began with a few beers,
some Christmas Cheer
so how did it get
from there to here?

Slowly you remember or think you remember….

Did you really poke your boss in the chest
and tell him that you know better
that you know best?

Did you really down three shots of scotch
grab Mark from marketing by the shoulders
and proclaim “I love you bro”
over and over ‘till he begged you to stop
to let go?

And why, why, why
did you call that shy Dutch girl from accounting
“sad-eyed lady of the lowlands”
again, over and over?

You groan inwardly
you groan outwardly

and just when you think
it could not get worse
your hangover stands up
and crosses the room
carrying what appears to be
a small mallet
Zooooosh,
he enters your head
and proceeds to knock on the inside of your skull
with that same mallet
all the time chanting this manic mantra
deck the halls with human folly
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Four hours later your wife is shaking you
Up you get, she chimes
It’s time to do some Christmas shopping!
Joe Fresh opens at 9!

Jim Feeney
Jim was born in Dublin and currently lives in Vancouver. He has published in Cyphers (Ireland), The sHop (Ireland), In-Flight Literary Magazine, Oddball Magazine, the Galway Review, Anti Heroin Chic, The Basil O’Flaherty, Rat’s Ass Review and others.
He also writes lyrics for The Mitchell Feeney Project (album “Crossing Lines” available on iTunes, Apple Music and cdbaby)
He blogs at https://stopdraggingthepanda.com.

This year I’ve particularly enjoyed Jim’s “Lads” project. As you can see, he’s on a mission to write poems about the things that don’t get written about in poems.

Day 12: They fade away

They fade away, twirling with a thousand leaves
down the lane
as I allow my eyes to rest for a moment,
feeling the ambience of the street,
hearing the sounds, all the while, maintaining silence
and letting myself be—
the autumn breeze and scarlet leaf come together
to choreograph the new season,
of mists and beats of fellow compatriots
in praising the Lord, and all that He has created,
I am kneeling
as drops of black ink billowing into the water are witnessed
by starlings,
they fade away knowing light is dominant,
feelings of despair, dolor, unease, languor that claw in the darkness;
I breathe,
for soon every bough will be brown and the colours they brought
will dim in fading memory,
believe this is not the end, but just the beginning.

Day 11: Lanterns

In the dim classroom,

sliding towards solstice,

translucent paper is

cut into coloured squares—

arranged slapdash by one half

while the other struggles for order.

The smell of white glue on the tressel table,

caked on children’s fingers,

hardened under uncut nails

for mums to scrub and curse tonight.

A piece of red crepe, drenched and discarded

streams across the white plain.

The teacher and her assistant

orbit in opposition 

around the table and aprons—

cut shapes, recap felt-tip pens,

speak to disorder

as though words could smooth

the rough edges of our Christmas lanterns.

At last, lights raised,

we squint through the 

kaleidoscopic glass,

and see our Christmas futures 

slowly draw near.

Stuart Rawlinson is a British poet and musician, currently based in Brisbane, Australia. His poetry has been published in several publications including Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Wellington Street Review and Adelaide Literary Magazine.

Day 10: A Churchyard Shade

Change is visible; it’s in the air
my breath like steam from the soup spoon.
Along its length, the glasshouse draws in flower
and fern, some tender-hearted émigrés
but mostly patterns cut in ice. The life-size models
in suspension, in their shelter belts
hibernating with hedgehogs.

Sequence of season is determined in the heavens
and fast by the heavens, that great hunter
has come to rest, overhead, at the midnight hour.
We begin another round of countdown
days ticked off, December ticking by.
Almost at the end, a neonate appears
totem against each annual death or maybe
to shift some universal blame.

Aeons ago they say an Eastern megastar was born
a goat-signed mystic healer and we toss tinsel into Yule
as birthday celebrants. How faux! An adventitious advent
confined to numbered boxes. This re-birther
is as water from the Spring
a searing sword of solstice
a magnitude of Autumn tempest, stiller than winter.

Now is just the coming of the Yew, our churchyard shade
where blackbird sings for its succulent supper
berry-fleshed and pipped with poison.
So let us deck the walls and halls with feathered fir
that old dark spell of evergreen that summons
all the thens of past and future tense
where roses bloom in sprigs of our imagining.

And this Northern landscape, picked clean as turkey bones
has room for all our resolutions.

Thank you to Laura Bloomsbury for this. Laura blogs at https://poetrypix.com/

Laura says: As a child I learned and loved to recite poetry. Only in these advanced years have I started to write my own lines.

We are so lucky that she decided to write those lines.