Wage-Slave in the Wasteland

“The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him.”

From Christopher Scott Thompson

Surrealist Prophecies #4

The fourth in a sequnce of surrealist prophecies written using the divinatory technique of automatic writing (with subsequent revision). The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.

The fourth prophecy explores the horror of living in our world in the last few generations before the Fall, trapped in bare survival as the world begins to slip from its moorings and slide down into strange dreams – a world in which meaning has died and has not yet been reborn. The wage-slave dreams of an apocalyptic wasteland but wakes up to an alarm clock.

Wage-Slave in the Wasteland

Between life and death there is just a breath, pluming out like choking smoke in the cold cracked morning of “not much left.”

 

Some part of me dreams…

 

Between life and death there is just a breath in the fresh anger of the frozen morning. Bare bushes burn in a dustland of rusted cars. My eyes stare out across the flat plain and coolly assess if there might be rain. A train approaches, black puffs of coal smoke chugging out angrily into the autumn air. There is a dead dog there, crawling along on broken legs with mindless eyes before the tracks. The scene lacks color, lacks contrast. The air feels thin, but leaves a slick film of grease on the skin. The sun looks parched, fighting to create its own conditions for some new existence that might pierce these clouds. Munitions cook off in the distance with a breakfast crackle as a castle burns.

 

Some part of me yearns…

 

But between life and death there is not much difference. A sick horror, and stuck tears. A body exhausted from all the acid years, corroded to almost nothing, holed-up like cheese. A red alarm demands full attention and announces that the morning now pounces upon you with its sharp intentions. The numbers flash, and you crash down from the grotesque fantasies of forgetful sleep to keep faith with cash. Dustland dreams disappear – another morning, another year.

We live here in the wasteland in which the Grail once shined, with no question on the tip of our lips, our gestures false like mimes. The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him. And what was revealed when they pulled the cloth away was just his worm-wet head.

Alive or dead? Too many days beneath this airless mystery where no soul has history, tied fast to the bedpost of this harsh necessity. I can no longer tell. And worst of all, I’m not even sure I can still recall – was I alive before? Was there, at some point, more?


Christopher Scott Thompson

Christopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.


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Pan-Human Goddess

“The yearly poem to Bridget [that] has come to me in my sleep.”

From Judith O’Grady

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We call out to you at
Goddess Bridget; and will You bless
With magic these things of the folk:
The brat, the scarf, and all the rest.

Gracious Saint, Midwife of Mary,
Leave Your footprints where we have smoored
On Your day in February.
See? Here we have unlocked the door.

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Come down and dance, Maman Brigitte.
And tell us what we need to know
To the sound of the horses’ feet.
Let us be filled to overflow.

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The world is rife with those in need;
In all Your aspects, please take heed.


Judith O’Grady

image1is an elderly Druid (Elders are trees, neh?) living on a tiny urban farm in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks respectfully to the Spirits, shares her home and environs with insects and animals, and fervently preaches un-grassing yards and repurposing trash (aka ‘found-object art’).


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How We Died

A poem from Innocent Chizaram Ilo

 

life I had seen through Mama’s rheumy eyes
celluloid eyeballs ridden with fear
smeared with dust
the dusts sailed around what used to be her hut
now reduced to cinders.
 

when we were sans shelter, sans clothes, sans hope
when death called our names in pith-dark voices
when charred rubbles of bone and flesh lay in fine poses
when we endured the painful penile stabs
staring life in the face, we defiled death.
 

the blue caps came with their warped gifts,
a little food
a little water
a little assurance of a life erstwhile.
 

we huddled into dingy powerboats
covered with brightly colored blankets and dreams
dreams of—well, away from this burning earth.
 

the howling winds capsized our boats
water, sweat, salt and blood mingled in tiny rivulets
choked us here, below our thyroid,
when we thought we’d survived
Mama read a placard: GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM
and we died.


Innocent Chizaram Ilo

Innocent is twenty years old and lives in Nigeria.
He writes to make sense of the world around him.


This poem appears in A Beautiful Resistance: The Crossing.

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Life Beneath Trees

The sublime and gentle ritual of
This sensate place,
With slow steps into forest oblivion.
Mud between toes.
Heaven and haven, grisaille and green,
Your hand in mine,
Skin that shines in shadows of leaves.
I met gods there,
I walked with my goddess there,
In the ice wind.

Solemn and glorious mountains,
Enveloped vale,
Snow shines as this season turns,
I feel boundless.
Wandering to this fargone place,
Wondering sight:
Black mold on broken boughs.
We stood beneath
A great gnarled tree, held another’s fall;
There was silence.

Moss, lichen, stone, branch,
Unspoken, hush.
We walked without words.
Our limb, tree limb;
Boundaries lose meaning.
Are we the land?
Envelop in the rabbit warren.
Speak to horses.
A cat crossed our path, a friend
In the pine wood.

Maybe he drew her chariot,
When she wept gold.
Maybe she and I loved before,
Lifetimes ago.
Her eyes are so very bright,
She cares so much.
I will kill to keep her free;
War on the world.
Fight forever for her and ours,
Life beneath trees.


Twm Gwynne

Twm Gwynne is an illegalist anarchist, amateur gardener, and aspiring skald, making his home among the mist-bound mountains and lakes of New Zealand’s South Island.


The World Will Not End But We May Change

 

Awaken to the sounds of apocalypse:
Quiet house. Distant traffic.
Water boiling once the kettle is switched on.
The striking of a match.
The hiss of candle lighting.
And my prayers…

I am sure in other places
Apocalypse sounds different.

Children petulant from lack of food.
Fighting over money
or who gets to use the car,
Who takes the bus.
The concussion of a bomb
From silent skies.

Apocalypses don’t come sudden.
They can sound like day to day.

We run after each other
Arms upraised to catch a falling world.
They keep telling us the sky
Is firm above,
But it is slippery as their lies,
That tell us nothing we don’t know.
This world is ending.
Every sound announces so.

Some day we will waken to the sounds
Of a new world.
What will that sound like?
A woman rolling over to make love.
A kettle hissing.
A match striking.
And a child eating his breakfast.

Beginning or ending,
The ordinary things are what we have.


(This poem was originally published in A Beautiful Resistance: Everything We Already Are)


T. Thorn Coyle

harder_coylehires-cropT. Thorn Coyle is a magic worker and Pagan committed to love, liberation, and justice. Thorn is the author of the novel Like Water and the collection of magical tales Alighting on His Shoulders. Her spiritual writing includes: Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists & Other Creatives; Make Magic of Your Life; Kissing the Limitless; Evolutionary Witch-craft; and Crafting a Daily Practice. Thorn works to build a society based on love, equity, justice, and beauty.

The Kettle and The Hearth

Tea Time:

I could drink green curry
like water from your lips,
awash in a verdant haze.
Longing to never wake-
to never surrender this
Becoming-Bliss.
My will has dissolved into
the finest soma
and all my dreams becoming
the favored liqueur of the Gods.

The Ashes:

I spoon jam sparingly
onto a piece of toast
hoping to add moisture
to this texture of cardboard.
All I know is that if this
famine does not end soon
there will be nothing left
except a spoon, an empty jar of jam
and a sheet of cardboard.

 

Hunter Hall

gloriaHunter Hall’s a ferocious poet seen late last century lurking black-hooded about the rainy streets of Seattle. Reading Deleuze&Guattari while slinging brutal mochas, channeling serpents and raw riot through her spoken-word performances, she now lurks somewhere in the Salish Sea, plotting revolution while baking for her children.

Ribcage

I will never grow tired of rattling cages
It does not matter if it is mine or yours
I love to hear the clanking of the bars
The rattling of bones
The shrieks in the night
Of my fears dying- one by one

Did you know that I have the key?
There is an escape
And there is a way out
Don’t follow the light,
It is not for you and I.

I follow the scent on the wind
The promise of winter’s crisp breath
I follow the sound of a branch breaking
Nock Draw Anchor Aim
Release.
A breath for the taking

I will never grow tired of
Shedding skin
Whether it is mine or yours
It matters not when we are becoming
Other, becoming whole under the open sky

Did you know that I care not
For the opinions of your gate keepers?
I only ask
To drive this nail home
That I have no masters
And this cage is only kept around
For the rattling
A score for the settling
Bones for the breaking

Like a snake
I flick flick flick
My lids and silvery tongue
while cities fall to dust
and my doubts slide
Like a slip off my unbent
Unbroken back.
Attend!
Watch closely
As I destroy any bonds
Placed upon me
Time and time again
With a ululating cry
To battle


Hunter Hall

gloriaHunter Hall’s a ferocious poet seen late last century lurking black-hooded about the rainy streets of Seattle. Reading Deleuze&Guattari while slinging brutal mochas, channeling serpents and raw riot through her spoken-word performances, she now lurks somewhere in the Salish Sea, plotting revolution while baking for her children.


We’re currently in the editing process of the next issue of A Beautiful Resistance! Pre-order, subscription, and underwriting information is here.

 

Drinking My Milkshake

(Inspired while meditating outside my hotel at night during a drive from Chicago to New Orleans to welcome the birth of my granddaughter.)

One Hundred Million years of life’s passion and desire,
Gifts of uncounted lives, condensed lust of the eons,
All squandered in seconds on our sad industrial pyre.

Endless oily black pavement, trucks’ engines sprouting fire,
Rushing through the night bringing tawdry toys to peons.
One Hundred Million years of life’s passion and desire.

The food stops’ lights are burning late, nutrition to be hired,
Feed on that food, speed on, your life can’t stop; waiting is for morons,
All squandered in seconds on our sad industrial pyre.

Each plastic bag ten thousand years of algae’s growth in mire,
Each stoplight shines with Permian years on fern ennobled lawns,
One Hundred Million years of life’s passion and desire,

Refinery flames and steel mill smoke all rise up in a gyre
To ensure that all our lives are bright and exciting to our neurons,
All squandered in seconds on our sad industrial pyre.

I ask the oil we burn so fast, what its soul requires?
What is the gift it gives to us, what do we owe the eons?
One Hundred Million years of life’s passion and desire
All Squandered in seconds on our sad industrial pyre.


 

An Elder Apprentice

An Elder Apprentice received an unexpected call to study Feri Witchcraft only two weeks after his sixtieth birthday. Accepting that invitation he has been a dedicated student for the last three and one-half years.
He lives in a suburb of a large midwestern city, with his wife and a small white cockatiel.