Goddess of War and Fate
By Greg Patrick
“Then the creatures of the high air answered to the battle, foretelling the destruction that would be done that day; and the sea chattered of the losses, and the waves gave heavy shouts keening them, and the water-beasts roared to one another, and the rough hills creaked with the danger of the battle, and the woods trembled mourning the heroes, and the grey stones cried out at their deeds, and the wind sobbed telling them, and the earth shook, foretelling the slaughter; and the cries of the grey armies put a cloak over the sun, and the clouds were dark; and the hounds and the whelps and the crows, and the witches of the valley, and the powers of the air, and the wolves of the forests, howled from every quarter and on every side of the armies, urging them against one another.”― Augusta Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and the Fianna of Ireland
Standing unyielding before the cold shimmer of brandished swords and spears the young
warrior does the forbidden and whispers her name.
He feels a raven's shadow like a dark caress. Tantalised by her dark spell
he feels the lycanthropic rapture of battle, emboldens him to scorn their blades.
And he slays many, believes himself to be immortal as song, till the first spear slips
past his guard then a sword. He envisions her, rallies past the pain on the apparition in red and black.
The throaty bray of war horns sweeps his soul even as her name caresses it like a bardsong.
Morrigan, muse to bards, infecting them in throes of feverish inspiration and eloquence, fickle
mistress to warrior kings. Dreamt in fleeting seductive vision, in the flourish of raven wings, hailing
victor and vanquished in feathers like dark tears. Syrenic eyes shimmer a momento mori, red lips
as crimson as a she-wolf over her kill, opening to utter a name like a reopened wound.
She is beheld by the dimming light of the mortally wounded warrior's eyes as night befalls the
land after the last war horn and battle cry trails off, their banner has fallen, and the wounded beg for
death in their last agony. Where is She? She is seen in the dark trailing shadow of warrior's marching
shadows, the veil by which warriors cry in the dark, heard in the echo of laughter in the intoxicated
mead-driven boasts of warriors on eve of battle.
"Where art thou then Dark Goddess? Did the Druids speak false of thee?"
Scavenging ravens rise like a dark prayer and he sees her then as he shudders with pain and
cold. She seems to glide rather than stride through the mist. Seeking him alone over the corpses of men
and carcasses of horses. He fumbles for his sword with pale trembling hand to ward her off...She laughs,
a sickly-sweet mockery like venomed honey, like shattered stained glass.
She pulls back her hood, a pale impossibly radiantly beautiful face framed by waves of raven
hair, deep as darkness of fathomless sea against the pallor of her cheeks.
"Do you know what it is to be loved by the Goddess of war mortal?" she challenges, her
voice as melodious as bardsong. He closes his eyes in expectant ecstasy, arms spread in willing sacrifice.
Then opens on impulse and sees her true form like an illusionist's art stripped bare.
Her face is crone-like leprous decaying, the true face of war behind its storied facade.
The wind echoes then with a thousand haunted laments, stirring the manes of fallen horses and
banners, as she reaches for him with skeletal taloned fingers to claim him. She leers with rotted teeth,
kneels to inhale his soul. His last breath steams in the chill air. The fleeting, tantalising vision
of glory stripped bare of its sonorous illusion and he is now only a dying man among hundreds
of others unsung on a cold field, like the thirst-maddened nomad at last seeing the desolation
through the seductive mirage.
"Morrigan" he utters.
She rises rejuvenated, majestically beautiful and regal once more. Like a disappointed lover she
looks to the stars and to his cold slashed body. She leaves him dismissively as a drunken feaster breaks
a drained bottle against a wall. She leaves him in a sweep of dark gossamer gown like the flourish of
rising ravens having scavenged the red battlefield and seeking now others to feast on in an endless
Across the Divide
By Greg Patrick
Written in Belfast
By the dwindling twilight his shadow was cast along the much graffitied wall dividing the two communities…As if his presence was more than eloquence alone…
He cast an inordinately generous amount in a soloist busker’s case and brushed past the curious look…
The old sentimental song ushering him into the night.
And the rebel angel’s soul of him danced with the lost souls in the song that seemed to ventriloquize the shadows.
He remembered when he embraced her…when he didn’t feel the chill rain
like the one that hailed him now.
“A lord of snow and rain”.
Disembodied music seemed to haunt the night as if a song’s title eluded a bewitched listener…
The face that so captivated him mid-step…the one that would move a busker to stop mid-song…allowing the last echoes of the song to fade like a lover’s ghost into the immolation of dawn…
A flash of startlingly impossibly green eyes before disappearing into the urban stream like a toast spilt in intoxication before it meets the lips…
Her gaze like a translation of light to music the way a soloist composer reads silence set to music….Captivated by the gaze like all wild things that freeze before onrushing car beams…Eyes like biolumined tide pools of Celtic sea in matchless Gemini. Gaze of soundless incantation.
The passing smile touched him like a tangible Aeolian caress not as the bard conjures song from harpstrings but as the bard’s song touches and captivates the soul and séances visions of broken dreams in distant eyes like a ghost haunting a castle’s ruins…
Beauty is a warning from nature and it went unheeded.
The night wind like the ghost of an imminent kiss’s breath before a duet of lips now steaming in a sigh like the soloist busker in duet to echoes alone like a song one could not get out of one’s head, like a somnambulance over the dreamscapes of the heart.
Not every man can be an island. One with rebellion at its heart and music at its soul.
In the background he heard the maddening throb of marching band’s drums like the parody of a heartbeat…The zombified tread of adhering feet.
Saw the alleyway illuminated in hellish splendour.
Like a moth in an aerial dance with a fatal light he waltzed with her against
a skyline of bonfires Vesuvianly blazing…A moth’s yearning for the burning. and the sensation of flight…
Like a found castaway overlooking a sea of fire…
Like a poem written against the flames she seemed.
The illusionist’s betrayal of hating by dystopian creed vanished by the counterspell of eyes that cast their Endorian maleficence…
And where the illusionist’s art was thwarted he knew magic in its true form…
Like the unmasking at the stroke of midnight at the masquerade ball…
“Take my hand this eve of the fires and together let’s throw back the dark…
And no wall will come between us again…”
Hailed anointingly in the embrace by the shockingly cold rain.
The storm swept over him enrapturingly…uttering her name in a thousand names…
Lips met in heretical duet…
A trinity of three words…
Like the belief that sacred texts would arise above the flames of a pyre…
And it seemed the stars obscured in the city night were reignited.
When will I see you again…?
He hearkened to the bell tolling the appointed hour…
His breath steamed in the chill air like the last shot of a duelist’s pistol…
He raised his collar and pulled his hat low as he strode across the high street the bells tolling in synchrony with his heart.
His muse made her entrance…His eyes rapt as if a lost nomad’s eyes
enthralled by the vision…as if all but saying “why doth the sun rise in the west”.
Illuminated he stood as if hailed in ash and flame. His arms spread awaiting an embrace that never came.
Her back exploding in red as she fell, her outline spreading
crimson from her splayed arms running towards his unfulfilled embrace like a red angel graffitied on the urban warzone.
He knelt over her…in a heartfelt last kiss trying to breathe life back into her.
Eyes looked up from hers…seeing nothing…
Transcending the ranks of advancing soldiers through the smoking ruins.
Deafened by the explosions yet understanding…
“Paddy ye have to let me go…”
The refined private-tutored voice…
“Go Paddy. They’ll kill you…”
“Come back to the light Elizabeth…”
He felt arms grab him…raising him.
The rubber bullets ricocheting off the walls.
Eyes fluttering open before their soulfire dwindled like the last light of the midnight sun to two standing looking.
Like the ruined bastion and sentinel reached by a causeway spanning the Celtic sea…”And no walls will come between us again…”
He had to wait…to wait until the mourners left. Till her people left and he could be alone with his lady. The crimson leaves of Samhain fell, hailing him.
A defiant look to the parson who told him to leave.
Tears like brandished warpaint.
A throbbing phantom pain in the presence of couples laughing and holding each other.
He remained aloof and alone in the pub, eyes brooding over
the rim of the untouched pint cup…raised a toast to an empty chair as if to a kingdom with an empty throne at its heart.
And unsung vision at a blinded bard’s soul…
Silhouetted against the hearth in dark profile.
You fell in love and rose over it…Over the bonfires...over the flags…over the murals…over a skyline of a city and night set on fire…
He lingered as the last light of the sun ignited the sea before him like an illuminated manuscript.
He lingered at the causeway of Dunluce Castle till the first belated stars appeared. Like one passerby amid the throng who stops midstride at a solitary busker’s song and stands in a still slowdance with the memories haunting the song…Like a bard’s ghost waiting in solitary vigil to serenade a muse beyond his station…
He sang “She Moved Through The Fair” like a confidence betrayed to the night…
Like an eerie burning murmuration the aurora borealis danced over the castle’s legend-haunted towers…in a danse macabre of fluorescent light in spectral revel…The Northern lights illuminated her façade as if a mirage beckoned with gathering substance of form and face…
Envisioned like an artist wavering between finishing touches to complete a Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece…
Feeling more kindred to the chieftain’s bards and ladies who laughed and cried in the old song’s echoes…
He closed his eyes as if into a slowdance’s embrace….
The waves of the Celtic sea rolled over the dark shipwrecked fathoms
ventriloquizing the depth of his sigh…
Like a far-flung pilgrim awaiting an elusive vision…
The moon cast its spell of radiance over the shadow-haunted ruins…
Like her heart and soul.
As he stood like a sentinel of shadow… feeling older than the hills…
And the Celtic sea seemed to sigh…An expectant hush befell…
What he confided in brooding silence was a confidence between mortal and god alone…
The surface of sea mirrored the moon like a spectral portal
The eternal song of the waves beckoned him to the crushing brink of sea…
awaiting a sacrificial offering.
He envisioned her in Orphean valediction.
Swaying in possessed waltz…He fell…As hard as a heart in love…a hard as he fell on the burning street. The shockwave swept over him.
He shuddered convulsively… A trembling hand reached for hers…Like
a soloist composer searching for the right words.
The shattering impact of water…The elusive luxuriant peace of the dark fathoms as if reclaiming an outcast changeling to the dark realms of song and legend.
Moonbeams followed him as he sank. Like a presence of radiance escorting him to the depths like an apparitional searchlight.
A dual citizen of Ireland and the states, Greg Patrick is an Irish/Armenian traveller poet and the son of a Navy enlisted man. He is also a former Humanitarian aid worker who worked with great horses for years and loves the wilds of Connemara and Galway in the rain where he's written many stories. Greg spent his youth in the South Pacific and Europe and currently resides in Galway, Ireland and sometimes the states.
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