Second Attempt

This is another try at the post I intended to write yesterday. It became a bit tangled, so I put up something else, thinking that might take some undue attention away from something unready to be said. It seems to have worked, for me at least! So for today, from yesterday:

‘Something else has been on my mind that I have not known how or whether to discuss here, although I may have made that decision when I posted my ‘About’ page. My state recently legalized the use of psilocybin mushrooms in the treatment of illness, including end-of-life care. As much as I have thought about putting my considerable experience with sacred mushrooms, the ‘Holy Children,’ to good use helping others face possibly frightening changes, the obstacles to direct involvement are many, and anyway, I am a poet, not a counselor. I have had to learn again and again that I help best from a slight remove, doing what only I can do. Many, many people are better at direct human services.

‘When I worked with the Children, I understood that I was becoming beholden to them in ways that I would feel being called in later. This has been close to the heart of my work all along: It not only has to come from somewhere real, with a force of its own, and has to be as true as my understanding will allow; it also has to convey meaning that the right reader will receive. That meaning is as elusive to me as anyone, but I trust that it will be there. They showed me this.’

Not much, but more than I had going in. This will take on some powers of its own soon enough. The Universe is already cooperating. The poem from the night before contained clues that I knew pointed to the presence of the Children in my ongoing awareness. I realized that I could think about those clues for a long time, and probably should, all over again. Then I clicked ‘save,’ closed the file, and decided to read some articles online. First up? Literary Hub, naturally, which led me to their feature on Merlin Sheldrake, in support of his new book, Entangled Life. A fascinating article and person.

Ringworm (I first typed ‘ringword’) is, in spite of its name, a fungal infection–one of countless common ones. My medical history includes a lot of odd auto-immune conditions. I am very resistant to bacterial and viral infections, but prone to minor fungal skin infestations. After my work with the Children, I thought about that a lot. Maybe I was already more closely related to them than a lot of humans, eh?

This poem also ties together the storyline that has been developing here, and my thoughts about broaching the mushroom subject. That they are tied somehow is obvious, but the ways how sometimes are not.

And, by the way–a ‘maggot’ is a story or followable thread that becomes, or begins as, an obsession. Poetry is my real maggot; always has been.

27 March 2021



a maggot

She dried off her hands, but the place remained wet

where her ring was so tight and the skin was so raw,

she thought of a name–one she must not forget–

when it came up, as if by some iron-clad law–

that this hiding-place harbors a species of mold

lately grown in a graveyard till, throwing off spores,

it found her and claimed her: This bit of her cold,

stiff hand is their own now. She’s walking outdoors;

she’s taking her glove off and letting the Sun

penetrate through the layers of skin, but no use.

She shouldn’t have given herself to no one,

and she shouldn’t now take up the reins to reduce

the speed of the racing that soon overtakes

every nerve as she shyly stares up at the sky:

What is this colony claiming the lakes

of the skin of my hand where my ring needs to lie

very tightly all round me? Is this what you want?

Patterns appear if you look very hard–

hands waving back from a field mushrooms haunt.

As if out of a valley of undersky-starred

constellations, these few who are many remain

no matter how dry all the bare skin around.

Weren’t we first married in sheets of night rain?

Aren’t they in part why we’re still altar-bound?

Nothing else matters; we’re underworld ghosts

ourselves when we wake up alone, not in bed

with the angels we wanted, but spore-bearing hosts.

What we’ve learned from this–worm–is–our species are wed.


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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