Saturday, January 2, 2016

Month of Poetry #1 and #2: Haiku and Villanelle

One of my favourite things about January, Month of Poetry, kicked off yesterday with the New Year. It's being run collectively this year on a closed FB group, with a smaller number of participants than usual. I think it's going to be a wonderful thing.

My opening salvo was a fairly sour little haiku, written at 2am as the sounds of drunken revellry raged around me. I called it New Year in Hell.

The sky is alight
Frenzied dogs voice their terror
Savage bass pumps on

Today is a challenge day for MoP. Every Saturday in January, one of the members of the group sets a challenge that everyone has a go at fulfilling. It was my turn today, and I challenged the group to write a villanelle (more info about the villanelle form is in this post).

As I have done for the past two years, I've picked a loose organising theme for my MoP efforts. Not every poem will follow the theme, but at least a few will. Last year I did Women of the Old Testament, and the year before I did Narnia. This year, I'm doing Mythic Women. I'm not going to restrict myself to classical myth, either - we'll see how it all goes.

Today's villanelle, and lead-off on my theme, is called Clawed Butterfly. It is a retelling of the story of Ītzpāpālōtl, the Aztec skeletal warrior goddess who ruled over the paradise world of Tamoanchan, the paradise of victims of infant mortality and the place identified as where humans were created.She is the mother of Mixcoatl and is particularly associated with the moth Rothschildia orizaba. She is frequently associated with birds and fire, and appears as a deer. She is also tagged as one of the demons of the stars who eat human souls during solar eclipses.

I'm trying (maybe unsuccessfully) to capture some of the savage strangeness of Aztec myth.

Clawed Butterfly

a demon made of stars and blades of stone
patron of the day and small lost souls
terror-beauty lucid in the bone.

look, up high, where all the birds have flown -
in sky dark-seeded, human hearts like coals
a demon made of stars and blades of stone.

down from heaven, to an earth-bound throne
slicing serpent-gods, red blood in bowls
terror-beauty lucid in the bone.

the sun is gone, the bat comes to her own
eating misery like newborn foals
a demon made of stars and blades of stone.

simalcrum woman, strange and fully known
protector-killer, leeching through the scrolls
terror-beauty lucid in the bone.

the moth that flutters, vicious-queen alone
many parts that make for many wholes
a demon made of stars and blades of stone
terror-beauty lucid in the bone.

- Kathy, 2/1/16

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