Occult Clerihews Challenge

The Occult Clerihews Challenge! Write a Clerihew about a famous occultist (and post it in the comments or link back to this post so I get a ping-back).

The only rule of clerihews is that they have four lines with an AABB rhyme scheme, and the first line ends with the subject’s last name. I’ve bent the rule slightly because it’s hard to find words to rhyme with Gardner and Valiente. Clerihews don’t have to scan, nor be a complete biography of the person they’re about, and they’re comic rather than serious.

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“how come we were never taught this in our schools?”

The oppressors never teach their children
About the oppressed, or their suffering.
Instead they claim that they brought technology,
Civilization, religion, as gifts
To the colonized, the marginalized,
The brutalized and the enslaved people.
You have to learn to look between the lines
At the imperfect feet of the statues,
And the nakedness of half-truths and lies.
Stolen land, stolen lives, streams of language
Dammed, diverted, stopped. Whole cultures broken
Into scattered fragments, gathering dust
In museums. Hiding between the cracks,
Waiting to emerge into the sunlight.

Yvonne Aburrow
9:22 am, 23 May 2022.


Inspired by the line “how come we were never taught this in our schools?” in WHEREAS by Layli Long Soldier

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Lily minds

If we saw the brain
As an elaborately folded flower
Containing thought bees
Nestling among the petals
Searching for nectar
We might think of the soul
As the roots of that flower
Drawing nutrients from the river mud.

Inspired by the phrase “lily-minds” in Elegies by Kathleen Ossip.

Photo by Wim de Graaf. Public Domain

The singing will never be done

Once, you could hear
Sheep munching grass
Half a mile away.

Now the soundscape
Is full of mechanical sounds:
Auditory assault.

We have lost the music of the world:
Birdsong, animal sounds
The wind in the trees.

Birds have to sing louder
To be heard over the sound of cars.
Whale song is interrupted by ships.

The singing will never be done,
But no one can hear it when
we have lost the music of the world.

Yvonne Aburrow
8:19 am, 2 May 2022

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“into the twilight woods”

Twilight. Betwixt. Liminal.
The setting sun
Making an archway
Through the trees
A window to infinity.

Things half-seen
In the mazy places.
Not sure where this path goes.
Maybe through, or within.
Some hollow place.

The half-light transforms
Known into unknown.
The woods drift between.
Trees asleep,
Nocturnal animals stirring.

Shadows gather.
Time stretches out,
Ready to pounce.
One star. Night’s eye.
Colours drain away.

Everything waits
For moonrise,
To flood the woods
With silver.

Yvonne Aburrow
8:15 am, 29 April 2022


Inspired by the phrase “into the twilight woods” in Iowa City: Early April by ROBERT HASS

“three large rabbit-breaths of air”

See the world as a rabbit sees it.
Wide angle view,
Not straight ahead
As a predator sees,
But sidelong, as prey animals see.

Long shadows,
Tall grass.
Noting every hiding place.
Ready to bolt
At the first sign
Of predators.
Each breath taken
Short and shallow.
Darting from shelter
To shelter.
Grass here,
Lettuce there.
Sun is warm,
Earth is kind.

Yvonne Aburrow
7:50 am, 28 April 2022

Inspired by the phrase “three large rabbit-breaths of air” in the poem My Weather by Jane Hirshfield

Nonetheless

None of the poems I read today
Spoke into the depths
Nor raised an answering echo.
Petrarch, Chaucer, Donne,
Whispering their plaints into the soft air
Fell to earth, drifting ash.
Nonetheless I wrote this,
To record the ensuing silence.


Yvonne Aburrow
27 April 2022

The uncomplaining stars

The low cosmic hum
Of all the stars
singing the worlds into being.
Who can know the thoughts of a star,
Or how they compose
The music of the spheres?
What faults might stars commit
That they fall to earth
A bolt from the infinite,
Becoming finite, massy?
If they look upon the pale blue dot
And hear the tumult,
Do they not complain
Of the marring of their music?
Or is the discordant theme
Woven into the greater music?

Yvonne Aburrow, 8:00 am, 26 April 2022

Inspired by the line “The uncomplaining stars composed their lucid song” in Voltaire at Ferney by W H Auden (1939). With a nod to the retired stars Ramandu and Coriakin in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C S Lewis, and the music of the Ainur in JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. And of course, a nod to Carl Sagan’s awesome meditation, The Pale Blue Dot, which was inspired by this photograph.

Ramandu, by Pauline Baynes

The line of prayer

Roots pushing down
Into the dark earth
To find the mother.

A tendril of incense smoke
Seeking the stars.

Sparks from the fire
Riding the currents of air,
Winking out in the night.

Water threading its way
Through caves
Ready to be reborn
Into the light.

Love finding its way
Through the cracks
In the pavement.

A hand extended
To caress or bless.
Reaching for the sun.

The heart’s rhythms
Exploring the depths
Of the underworld.

A thread of gold
Snaking through the clouds
Of the unknown.

Inspired by the phrase “the line of prayer” in Some feel rain by Joanna Klink

I am the Earth

If you hold a shell up to your ear
Then you can hear
The oceans in your blood.

If you stand or sit or lie
Then you can feel
The earth’s crust in your bones.

If you focus on your breath,
Then you can sense
The air that gives us life.

If you touch your belly’s curve
Then you caress
The fire that lives within.

If you know that these are sacred
Then your body knows
You are the Earth and the Earth is you.

Without the oceans, trees,
And birds and bees,
There is no Earth, there is no me.

The Earth is sacred,
The Earth gives us life
There is no planet B.

Yvonne Aburrow
7:20 am, 22 April 2022 (Earth Day)

Inspired by the phrase “I am the Earth and the Earth is me” in Earth Day by JANE YOLEN.