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138 x 216mm
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PUB: 7th NOVEMBER 2016
"In Season of Myths we are immersed and afloat in ‘the deciphering stream’ of world mythologies brought vividly to life, with all of their complexities, horrors and magical transformations. These poems, drawn from tales that linger ‘like stains, in a watery map,’ bridge eons, speaking as much about our contemporary experience as they do of the classical and tribal worlds."
"In Amina Alyal’s new collection, the shifty nature of historical perspective is revealed, as is the ultimate inaccessibility of an 'accurate' view of the past. Similarly exposed is the web of fable that snags human curiosity at the very moment it displays its vitality. Through these poems, we learn to pay attention, to trust neither beauty (that self-absorbed coelacanth Aphrodite) nor horror (Medusa may have a penchant for the Sunday papers). The effect is poetry as luminous and unsettling as a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
Read slowly; it will burnish you too."
"This is a collection where 'Inside the cave fire lights up'. Vivid moving poems, beautifully spread on the page. Passionately written words from the heart to fall in the heart."
Season of myths
Swooping up on wings of wax,
forcing resisting winds, easterly,
eyes on the earth’s rim,
a nimbus of blue, on wings
of fear and hope I speed, rising.
I fly above buildings
where spidery circuits of power
grip cities in gossamer steel; on wings
of fear and hope I speed, rising.
High over Leipzig, my wings fail,
the day the force holds fire.
Slowly the wax collapses.
drops stones like feathers as the wax decays.
Someone else starts building wings of wax.
The priest and the dragon
In dust and shadows he moves and sees,
lamp-lit in darkness, a tower on a hill.
Kiyo makes tea in a house. He passes by.
She weighs and measures. He has to pass by.
She stirs him and blends him with spices.
He has to pass by. He sees a tower on a hill.
She kneels on the dusky veranda, pouring
him into a cup. He knocks over a big earth pot
in his hurry to leave, aghast at her clutching
his sashes, late for his climb up the hill.
He recoils and runs, back to the temple.
He shouts about her garments of red cloth
trailing around him on the veranda.
He begs for rescue from her tongue and tea.
It’s a shelter, the round firm thing he seeks,
but also his death. Her red robes are like fire,
echo the fire in her eyes. She plunges in a
riot of muslin, over the bell. The monks look.
He will never see the tower on the hill.
The burning burns into their eyes.
They will not forget, they will write into a book
the moment when she wraps her scaled tail
around him, until, under the bell, he expires.
Shed a fair amount of battle sweat, slaughter-dew.
You should have seen the other fellows,
feeding the eagle, they was.
I was destroyer of eagles’ hunger, the feeder of ravens.
We set sail, rode the old sea-steed
on the old whale-road, the sail-road,
fighting for Freya’s tears,
lit the bane of wood and sought the serpent’s lair.
Season of myths
so many echoes drift global
of old songs emerge words merge
and words reorganize over time
floods recede for Ishtar who is Sedna
Pyrrha is moon-crowned mistress of the sea
making stone folk like a bull’s horns living with the dead
together go Mnemosyne and Xelas the silky way
the sea-shells crushed weaving together the sunset trails
the crushing word a snowdrop and a stone for Sun Wu Kong
the richness of aeons and spaces in a fathomless speck
measured in cosmic scale taking up space
one small mind eternal and endless taking on time
new meanings delighting third person plural
come and go transforming third person plural
again ego becomes
second and first atlas columns new wounds
going global broken pots old
out of Africa marks making sounds dreaming too
old as a coelacanth, smooth as a manatee,
smelling of salts, rising, star of the sea,
off Rubens limbs, splashing stone tiles.
Shells crush, shoals flee.
Bits of the sun splinter and skip
off the water.
She rises, a monster.
Her head bounces off the moon.
In dim lighting, candles flicker.
Bath waves surge, powder blue, sage green,
pumice lying by loofah, seaweed sink,
sponge breathing leaf tea,
champagne weakened in afternoon air.
A man with a trident sucks himself out of the sea.
She climbs up oozing rocks,
her waves washing volumes away,
washing away castles.
Her revolutions catch the sun.
Pan and Syrinx understood
After the story falls a pregnant hush.
A meaning must be found; there is a need
to find out why the nymph became a reed
and why the god grasped flesh that made a rush.
Perhaps the meaning is he was inspired
by loving her, to introduce an art;
or nymph is rite, and reed religion’s heart;
or nymph is river, he Nature, by which rush is sired.
The tale congeals, assuming crust on crust;
the nymph, the god, the reed, relinquish awe,
the body of the story lost, transformed to straw,
joyful exposure dancing into rust.
Pope, you were right, but what you said indeed
was, Fools rush in where angels fear to read.