Monday, August 31, 2009

le faux prêtre (32)

le faux prêtre

as i walk through
routine rites of self-abasement
I wear my ornate
vestments of sanctimony.
these fit me strangely, for once,
heavy & restrictive -- i chafe;
feeling humiliated, not humble.
this poem,
my metered cap,
my unliturgical headpiece,
mismatches the other
ceremonial attire --
platitudinous alb, cincture
& stole; self-serving chasuble--
this poem, my unadorned and simple truth.
bloated by the
euphoria of false gain,
drunk on nine cups of wishes,
i mistook fancied future for certain present.
but those wishes proved fickle & fey
& in this truthful moment I hear the sound
of the divine messenger, eşu, laughing.
fool I am,
to have listened
to the praise singers. estranged
from my own inner voice, i
pressed impetuously ahead. my authentic
gifts tendered for obsequious post.
while no innocent, i am exposed
a creature of paradox.
I will clairvoyantly look
on today's recriminations.
i will surely find perverse humor
in my grieving for the loss of something
I didn't want. i will shudder at the vision
of malady, mortification & sadness
firmly attached to my voided wishes.
i will get on with my life;
not my will but olodumare's ... and all that!
today, though not a priest, I beseech:
let me indulge myself, pontificate,
bemoan my fallibility! self-absorption
so easily assumes ecclesiastic ruse.
tomorrow, I will pray for humility.

© Joseph McNair;2009

after each season of sleep (31)

after each season of sleep

after each season of sleep
i am again born

a perennial:
renewing my need
for things,
predictable conclusions,
being rigidly right.

after each season of sleep
i am again cast

in yesterday's
mold of belief:
compelled to
stubborn defenses, loneliness,
am separate.

after each season of sleep
the me that surely dies

in bedtime slumber
to the past lives
day after day;
is powerless.

from the
chaotically sentient

a tendril of
breaks through,
reaches up,

to embrace
the diaphaneity
of daylight

dance a fearful
tango, tarantella
& two-step
to melodies
darkened by
dominance, isolation
until heavy eyelids

with trophy veil
in hand,
steals away,
that another not
unlike but not the
same may come.

after each season of sleep,
an epistrophe:

egospeak ending
successive stanzas
of somnus informs
daylight consciousness;
a vainglorious

after each season of sleep
there are moments
of clarity.
eternities of choice
gap instinct
& act; obsession
& compulsion,
fleeting, elusive;

after each season of sleep
an epiphany

awaits: in the
pauses between words,
in the spaces
'twixt thoughts; in the
deep feeling tones
that define the key
of being

after each season of sleep
is ever a chance
for surrender.

© Joseph McNair;2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

drunk on the nurturing feminine (30)

i am drunk on the nurturing feminine

i am drunk on the nurturing feminine.
if all-that-is truly favors fools & drunks,
then i am twice favored having traded strong
drink for another bittersweet intoxicant;
having surrendered to the goddess who
guides me –
the lithe & flowing kuan yin who
like the willow, gracefully bends
in the most ferocious storm, only
to spring back into shape again
when it passes –
through the chaos of my tumultuous loving
feelings –
the many-named isis, true wife,
tender mother, & beneficent
queen of nature, nimbused with
moral purity & mysterious
sanctity –
through my karmic mood swings which undo
my serenity –
yemọja/ọya/ọşun energies that
move me inward to source; move
me backward through my episodic past,
through soul shaking/shaping events
to breach into the now –
into the bosum of she who is clothed in
the sun –
the awareness of death whose winds
bear the promise of life & mortality,
reminding me of the changes that i
resist & gives me courage to make,
letting her light shine within me
the erotic binder of atoms into
elements, gases into planets, males
& females into parents, families
& generations; the forces of expansion
& contraction into creation –
making me one of her own.

wary of pitfalls i have probed my past, hoping
to ward against false turns & wrong assumptions;
winnow out the fruitless & ephemeral, be
responsible for all of my truths. my self-definitions
ripped away; i have gazed
upon the vast, expanding emptiness
of my own vulnerability, have seen
what i cherish in my most sacred inner
spaces; learned what fills me with fear,
what moves me, what inspires me up
scale to unspeakable joy.
in the deep womb of self have i gone to dream,
sank into trance, had visions, received
insights washed in & out on psychic
tides, lived through deep mystical /
terrifying realities well beyond ordinary
& mundane senses.
perhaps i am too weary to exploit my gains, reap
my learnings;
am not totally healed from past blows;
from that last test of my soul's integrity,
when the sheath ‘tween self & unknown
was rent. maybe i need to wait & let this
relationship define itself.
no, my amorous nature would have me seize
the reins,
my sphinx-like steeds, chew on their bits,
anxious to lunge forward; be on their way
down love’s open road. a wild excitement
opens my nose, but i am yet wary, attentive
to the way ahead.
the wind blows into my face a triumphal feeling of
but my heart, many times wounded, reminds
me to have care; to attend to important details.
& overlook or minimize nothing where love
is concerned; to move slowly & deliberately
shall i give my steeds their heads?

i am loath to think that i am so miserly, like the man
clinging tight-fistedly to a few measly coins – one for
each antecedent wife, mate or long-time companion –
for fear, forgetting that one must give to get. am i
so truly poverty conscious where relationships are
concerned? where is my magical talisman for love?
perhaps my inner judge is too severe,
too steeped in self-criticism & self-doubt;
plays too freely over & over again in my head.
i shrink back from the enormity of challenge –
before pressing forward.
i can stall no longer. self-sovereignty must vanquish
self-limiting beliefs or habits & appearances;
too many unknowns are taking shape & my
skin, like parched ground, longs for a stormy,
wet caress. my lips, dry, cracked & sore
the sweetness of other lips, large & soft,
that would rather kiss than talk; whose truth
lay in their titillating consecration of my body
with a viscous unguent that rouses ancient
memories – taking me beyond vaginal squeeze
& la petite mort’s unrestrained delight –
of the nexus, the energy source within that enables
the experience of a deeper love; that electrifies
& enkindles with sudden insight my wholeness,
my worthiness & divinity. where i go, usually
after intense & prolonged ego deflation, to
restore my soul.
& so I give in to the metaphorical chase wherein the thrill
of seduction lies:
the excitement of wanting & pursuing can give
an ephemeral satisfaction & i distracted, stumble
across stores of self-confidence & self-belief that
increase the likelihood of conquest. & so, into
infatuation’s gaping maw I jump
a capite ad calsem (from head to heel) – ad alta (to the
summit), ad astra (to the stars)… again!

© Joseph McNair;2009

touched by a goddess (29)

touched by a goddess

now it begins…
unless it doesn’t?

truths have finally been spoken, not in playful flirtations
or blown kisses with a “put that where u want it” wink or
in liquid bedroom eyes that beckon & promise, but in a
long probing conversation made all the more poignant by
trying to get the words out around hearts in our mouths.
in hours that seemed like minutes we talked of auguries
cast, numbers read, star charts delineated & consulted.
secrets were told & vetted, ghosts of old lovers in the
background given faces & names, names & faces.
u thought i needed to know about yr last one, a younger,
(more sinister?) version of myself. “i’ve moved on,”
u said, “at least in my mind.but i’m still a bit confused.”
(a pregnant pause seemed to lobby for time.)
i ignored the cold iron twisting knot in my belly & told
u about my yearlong “through with love” cloister &
short-lived warm-up before dating again – a whimsical,
half-hearted dalliance with a beautiful thirtysomething...
(i left unsaid the rest, hoping the silence would convey
what i dared not say)
& so it begins…
unless it doesn’t?
i’ve been touched by the goddess & the closer i get to
her, the less i reason & argue. i must wait, now, & listen
with ears, heart & soul. i must cultivate patience, for i
know that when i receive the goddess, this one or some
other, then all disturbing sounds – all reasoning & disputing;
all the unsettling noises that fear & loneliness make –
soften, get quiet & retreat.

©Joseph McNair; 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

isis unveiled (28)

isis unveiled

wishes become real;
behold, the mistress of bees –
married & with child.
the goddess haloed by the radiant sun.
enthroned outdoors, she is a pregnant queen.
expectant mother of a god, she’s keen
to keep the hearth & nest; her veil undone
that he-who-soars-above can suck upon
her thaumaturgic breast & feed & ween
& grow to venge his sire & make things clean,
this falcon child whose eyes are moon & sun.
when sky & earth are wed, creation thrills;
the same when will & reason are conjoined.
all progeny thereof are thus enjoined
to bind to nature’s bones, in rocks & rills,
old set –who can be bound when he is named –
his power never broken merely tamed.

© Joseph McNair; 2009

reason can lift the priestess' ceil (27)

reason can lift the priestess’ veil

reason can lift the priestess’ veil
can scry the seal adorning nature’s breast,
when wed to intuition, strong & hale.

where quondam dabbling in the sacred fail
to bring acuity, with inner sight possessed,
reason can lift the priestess veil.

where insight often helps the will prevail,
is not then reason stronger? doubly blessed?
when wed to intuition, strong & hale?

the virgin priestess symbol tells the tale –
a coupling of matter & spirit. let the gods attest:
reason can lift the priestesss veil.

mind & sight may grasp the holy grail
when beheld through virtue’s lens. but reason is best
when wed to intuition, strong & hale.

what aids the seeker? what will avail?
none less than virgo’s gifting – her bequest.
reason can lift the priestess’ veil
when wed to intuition, strong & hale.

© Joseph McNair;2009

let there be light (26)

let there be light!

let there be light! the seeker cries
before the hoodwink leaves his eyes,
& thus doth he in awe behold
the goddess, the exquisite mold
of man; who tempts the would-be wise.

veiled isis sits beneath the skies
no less than nature in disguise;
& nature’s boon to grant, withhold?
her mysteries.

his inner sight to his surprise
beholds the light he seeks; that prize
bequeathed the pure in heart. the gold
reduced, the argent vive foretold –
her mysteries!

© Joseph McNair; 2009

veiled isis (25)

veiled isis

a lunar eclipse –
earth comes between moon & sun:
thus is isis veiled.
the mother goddess tween two pillars sits;
her priestess aspect manifest. she’s known
by many names. but here – & matching wits
& wiles with those who’d breach her guard – alone
blocks passage of cowans through wisdom’s gate
who fail her tests & trials. let dilettantes beware,
this one has raised the dead; revived her late
dismembered spouse & bore his child. have care!
unless u know a peace beyond torment;
are girded ‘gainst that which she surely brings –
yr past revealed in a single moment;
yr inmost sins & follies dredged –she springs,
a hungry sphinx, should u her queries fail.
her name is isis, wearer of the veil.

© Joseph McNair; 2009

a goddess did give birth upon a throne (25)

a goddess did give birth upon a throne

a goddess did give birth upon a throne
while leopards watched lest she deliver alone;
queen cybele, the mistress of the wild,
did whelp a comely boy, a handsome child
& loved him like a lover fully grown.

her son, sweet attis, thrived, his beauty shone,
an evening star, a jewel, a precious stone –
& midas’ perfect daughter did beguile
her troth, for better or for worse.

just as his marriage song was being sung,
the son beheld his mother; was undone.
he took a knife, unmanned himself & smiled;
a corpse & castrate died that hapless child.
she snatched him back from death, now hers alone,
in sooth, for better or for worse.

© Joseph McNair; 2009

a goddess cries (24)

a goddess cries

the goddess cries for innocent lives

sadness is reactive like pesky free radicals
attacking stable molecules, stealing electrons
& wreaking havoc in living cells.

sadness happens when circumstances are sad;
like when yr child is hurting & the thought
squeezes costive tears out of eyes loath to cry.

fear not, strong one – embrace a moment of
weakness; hold it, relish it. soon, a single
thought will come jim dandy to the rescue;

a thought rotund with the joy of who u are
can push u thru the pain, elevate yr mood,
& let u choose once more to be happy.

© Joseph McNair;2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

man with a sign (23)

man with a sign

he is statuestoic, cruciformtall & planted
like a grim, gnarly tree by the river of waters
near the one eighty third st. & twenty-seventh ave
bus stop, there each morning before sunrise even when
the sun doesn’t show. his sign screams “repent ye for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand!” at motorists &
bus riders & pedestrians alike. the dark shadows
cast about his opaque & angular face, black &
foreboding, even more than the hand scrawled words on his
time-crumpled poster. he stands to the morning rush hour,
a bleak promise of hell’s certainty, at the outer
perimeters of fierce faith, angry & onward, a real
christian soldier, a devil’s doppelganger of doom!

© Joseph McNair; 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ogbe-irosun (22)


african tankas
came down from ọrun (heaven)
to practice ifa
just as he did in ọrun
with sympathy & kindness.

he read for the poor
& saved them from affliction
without demanding
payment or compensation.
ọrun’s awos were angry.

to ọrun’s awos
(diviners), he gave away
his benevolence
to ungrateful humanity;
kept much revenue from them.

they conspired to teach
him a lesson; would humble him,
& bring him back to
ọrun in disgrace. o woe
betide ogbe-irosun!

but gifted with grace
was ogbe-irosun. he
called his own earthly
awos to divine for him.
they advised him to offer

a goat to eşu,
(a fat he-goat, the proper
ebo). a rabbit
to the elders of the night
& a cock to his ori.

he should then prepare
a bell with the relevant
leaves to hang on his
ifa shrine. he did all that
he was directed to do.

& his enemies
plotted & planned, seeking out
igbese, who is
indebtedness, àrùn who
is disease & iku, death.

they approached the three
ajogun, asking each to bring
back to ọrun. but the three
grim agents of destruction

refused to do so.
“ogbe-irosun, so full
of grace, would surely
recognize us all,” they said.
“i will go,” iku replied,

“if money precedes
me.” “i will go,” àrùn said,
“if a wife is sent,
a beautiful girl to go
before me.” “& i will go”

said igbese, “if u
send to him many children.”
they all thought to hide
behind these wonderful gifts;
these things he did not possess.

was destitute on àiyé
(earth); had no helpmeet,
nor children to comfort him.
was he ripe for temptation?

his enemies sent
sùúrù, patience, daughter of
to be their eyes. she was to
watch him, inform them when he grew

too weak to resist
the ominous visitors.
got unexpected help from
this eldest, ugliest child

of the òrìşà
of wealth. sùúrù who is called
adetutu, was
required by heaven’s mandate
to perform a vital task;

to regularly
visit & accommodate
the guardian
spirits of all & sundry
inhabitants of àiyé.

chief of the white cloth,
ọbatala, guardian
spirit & owner
of ogbe-irosun’s head,
beseeched adetutu

to protect his ward
on àiyé & prepare him
against the approach
of all eminent dangers.
she agreed to protect him

because he had been so
kind to àiyé’s poor people.
with that covenant,
adetutu left ọrun for
ogbe-irosun’s small house.

consulted his diviners.
his awos advised
him to receive sùúrù when
she appeared at his front door

& sacrifice a
he-goat, again to eşu,
with three stout cudgels.
& after that offering.
ọbatala caused his ward

to sleep & to dream.
in that dream money boldly
came to his front door.
the bell on his ifa shrine
began to ring & woke him up.

he saw money piled
at his door. he saw iku
hiding behind it.
but sùúrù was ever there
to keep him calm & steadfast.

summoned the courage to close
his eyes, to rebuke
money. ordered it away
before he opened his eyes.

“i would receive u,
money, with open arms, but death
is trailing behind u.
begone! i’d rather be poor
& alive than rich & dead.

money ran away.
iku followed close behind,
exposed, recognized.
thus did they return to ọrun,
shamed & humiliated.

a few nights later
ogbe-irosun did dream
again & the bell
on his shrine did ring again.
he awoke to find a bride

& noxious àrùn
at his door. so beautiful
the bride, so morbid,
goulish àrùn, still he needed
faithful sùúrù to calm him.

“i would receive u,
woman, with open arms, but dread
àrùn does shadow
u. begone! i choose lonely
& well to married & sick.

in fright the woman
returned to ọrun. disease
followed her, cursing, said
she knew ogbe-irosun
would surely recognize her.

then came igbese
with children leading the way.
obatala caused
ogbe-irosun to dream
again; sounded the alarm.

woke up to find small children
playing in his yard.
his heart melted. he wanted
children more than anything else.
but steadfast sùúrù whispered

courage, forbearance.
“ i would receive u,” he said,
but for igbese
hiding behind u. u bring
to my house indebtedness.

begone this instant!”
the children fled the force of
his rebuke, to ọrun
they returned with igbese
following lamely behind,

bemoaning the fact
that ogbe-irosun had
recognized him, just
like he said he would. so much
for plotting & conspiracies!

when they rendezvoused
in orun, money complained,
embarrassed about
being rejected for the
first time by anyone, said:

“it’s yr fault, iku!
i could have surely been with
a wise man but for
u, who might have handled me
with care & circumspection!

the woman also
felt disgraced. “but for àrùn
i would be married
to a husband who would love
& take proper care of me.”

“& what about us,”
the children cried. “ if not for
igbese we would
have a loving father who
would raise us in fine fashion.

“our elder sister,”
money cried, “who took care of
us here in ọrun
is already living in his
house. i am going back there!”

“i am going too,”
cried the would be bride. “us too,”
cried all the children.
they all returned to the house
of ogbe-irosun &

he received them all
happily. sùúrù made her
happy home with him.
he married many wives &
raised many, many children.

to ọbatala
he made ebo. he thanked his
awos, made a feast;
sang & danced his gratitude;
sang & danced his wonderment!

© Joseph McNair; 2009