Hymn to the Magdalene

Hymn to the Magdalene

for , and R C

Greetings, Lady Magdalene, bride of Light,
crowned with stars and gravid with holiness:
In solitude you faced three days of night,
abject and sorrowful in loneliness.
Who did you see in the garden at dawn
and whom did you seize in love’s tight embrace?
Who softly spoke your name at break of day?
No gardener met you on dew-dappled lawn,
but one who raised you to newly-born grace,
and brought back color to a world gone gray.

Were you his sweet bride on that day divine,
when the steward of the feast filled ten jars,
and their contents changed from water to wine?
When they took him down, did you kiss his scars?
Did your bodies tangle in linen sheets,
and did his child come forth from your womb?
Was he impressed with your bedroom technique?
Did you like his preaching? His healer’s feats?
What was it like to lay him in the tomb?
Did your kiss make him wobbly and weak?

What was it like to make love to a god?
Was he always horny, ready to go?
Was he a wimp, or something of a clod?
Or did sex with him have an afterglow
that lasted for days? Lady Magdalen,
what was it like to wash your lover’s corpse?
to clean his wounds and tend his mangled feet,
to shroud-swaddle him with his mom, and then
bear his dead weight in its sepulchral drapes
while others ate herbs and Passover meat?

Lady Magdalen, we often forget
how you stood by him — we don’t want to know
truths that might make our hierarchs upset
or dim your husband’s supernatural glow.
Always we go to Bethlehem and see
the little child in the manger laid,
or hear his final words between two thieves.
Please — Bring us to Cana, in Galilee
to watch him marry you, the blushing maid,
and pledge your love beneath the olive trees.

Last night at Java Hut was a superior poetry night. The new stage called up a lot of power and energy in the room, and the fact that the poets could see the whole audience and the audience could see the poets made a big difference. Jenn Mahon rocked the house first, and Heather and Jess and Melissa put out some great vibes. Shakti’s writing pact is making some noize! It’s nice to see the change, and it helps, definitely, to have a woman as one of the hosts on stage. read a piece about being alone in the shower, and you were there. It had a nice Zalman King / Walter Cronkite flow to it (I’m kidding, D… I really liked it. Maybe I’ll cover it on my next CD?)

read her Drum piece, and Sou and Jess both commented on it. They want her to come to Shakti. She was trembling at the thought on the ride home, but she was excited, too. J talked about Shakti and poetry in the same way that talks about drum circles and fire circles, and so they apparently agreed to trade experiences — Leah will go to shakti and poetry, and J will come to a drum and dance. They both gave themselves permission to bow out if things didn’t go quite right or if they were nervous or something, but I hope they won’t bow out. It’d be great for them to open each other up in this way. Even though Leah wrangled an escape valve for herself in agreeing to go next Saturday, I think she’ll be there. Who knows — a year from now she’s going to want to go on tour, and slam at Nationals, and try out for the Worcester team…. we’ll have fights about slam vs. academic poetry…. form vs. free verse… whose chapbooks are whose… who gets the computer to type up their work next…. it’ll be great! 🙂

It was good to have a number of Ken Hunt pieces in the reading: Anne, the house DJ read one, I read one, Sou and Jon each read one, and I think there was one more. I wish there had been more. I’m going to look through my chapbooks today — I don’t think I have any of his, which means I never heard him read — but I think he may be in one anthology or another that I have.

Rhea Thomson did a superb set, too. Some of her writing touched on religion, appropriate to an Easter reading; she had a couple of pieces about sex and weight which were rough edged and powerful. There was a piece about all the ways she says “fuck you” to the world, as well. Mid-set she invited K.J. (K.J.? K.W.? Neither nor I could be quite sure after, and we didn’t write it down) her tour buddy, up on stage. He did a couple of poems that touched the two of us. Leah was more taken with the piece about Melissa, and walking through the snow-whitened streets of DC to the room where his best friend was dying; I got more of a groove out of his poem about being mistaken for a Mexican while actually being Peruvian. It appealed to my sense of places as different from one another.

I was reminded again how right Jack McCarthy is. I should take notes on the poets, or the poems fade from memory almost immediately. Even with good listening skills, the flow from poet to host to poet to hostess often loses me, and the words that just made me tingle just flow away like smoke taken up a chimney.

Sou and Jon did a great job as the alternating hosts. I liked the couch-crowd elevated on the old stage, and it seemed like there were more folks in the room than usual. It also seemed brighter and more in tune with the poet groove.

32 comments

  1. Re: stuff:

    mmmm – i really would like to get to one of those. i need to sit down with the calendar at some point & see when i’m where. this Sat won’t work for me, as it looks like we’re doing the memorial for Ken at 7p, but at some point, yes, i DO want to make it out.

    love to you & may your stress of today dissipate.

  2. Re: stuff:

    The Nina Totenburg Poem was righteous. I really liked that, and I wish I could be Nina Totenburg now, too. Amen, preach it, Ken!

    thanks for loving my words. It’s nice to know I’m not speaking to the ether sometimes. Rhea and I had a good chat about her stuff and about religion post-reading. I couldn’t buy her product, but I could give her and KJ backrubs. Meow…

    The bleachers rock. Someday I’m going to get to sit in the nosebleed seats. 🙂

  3. Re: stuff:

    Thanks Bunny
    Rub rub, purrrr purrrr

    Hey Maybe we can get some of the shakti folks to come to Drum and Dance after 😉

  4. stuff:

    – it was great to hear you read – it’s been too long, & your words are like a balm. & you did Kne’s words proud as well. thank you =)

    – it was great to hear Leah read! woot! i really really do hope she makes it out for Shakti – it’s a really great group of women & a very inviting meeting. i think she’ll dig it, & i know that we’ll get a lot from her too.

    – the other reading of Ken’s work was Ria – she read the Nina Totenburg poem, which i think fit her like a glove – didn’t it seem so in line with her set it could have been one that she’d written?? i love when we find kinship in each other’s works like that. it says something more Important about us as writers than just sheer words & paper.

    – the bleachers!! i fell in love with what happened at the Couch Nook too!!

    meow meow =)

  5. stuff:

    – it was great to hear you read – it’s been too long, & your words are like a balm. & you did Kne’s words proud as well. thank you =)

    – it was great to hear Leah read! woot! i really really do hope she makes it out for Shakti – it’s a really great group of women & a very inviting meeting. i think she’ll dig it, & i know that we’ll get a lot from her too.

    – the other reading of Ken’s work was Ria – she read the Nina Totenburg poem, which i think fit her like a glove – didn’t it seem so in line with her set it could have been one that she’d written?? i love when we find kinship in each other’s works like that. it says something more Important about us as writers than just sheer words & paper.

    – the bleachers!! i fell in love with what happened at the Couch Nook too!!

    meow meow =)

    • Re: stuff:

      Thanks Bunny
      Rub rub, purrrr purrrr

      Hey Maybe we can get some of the shakti folks to come to Drum and Dance after 😉

      • Re: stuff:

        mmmm – i really would like to get to one of those. i need to sit down with the calendar at some point & see when i’m where. this Sat won’t work for me, as it looks like we’re doing the memorial for Ken at 7p, but at some point, yes, i DO want to make it out.

        love to you & may your stress of today dissipate.

    • Re: stuff:

      The Nina Totenburg Poem was righteous. I really liked that, and I wish I could be Nina Totenburg now, too. Amen, preach it, Ken!

      thanks for loving my words. It’s nice to know I’m not speaking to the ether sometimes. Rhea and I had a good chat about her stuff and about religion post-reading. I couldn’t buy her product, but I could give her and KJ backrubs. Meow…

      The bleachers rock. Someday I’m going to get to sit in the nosebleed seats. 🙂

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