Bookbinding 

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There’s something beautiful about a stack of books bound with Coptic stitch. Particularly when you know that the contents of each book are your own. These are copies of my Book of Splendor, a collection of poetry exploring the relationships between nature and the divine in a particular corner of New England.

These are part of a limited edition of 100 copies: numbered, and hand bound, and the hand signed by the author, that is me. I interested in buying one? Let me know.

Tai Chi Poem on Amazon

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I’m pleased to report that the Tai Chi Poem I composed in 2015 is now available for Kindle from Amazon.com.  All sixty-two sonnets in order, together with the diagrams I composed for the poem, are now in a single digital document and available for $4.49.  You can go through the back entries of this website and find all the poems — they were composed in 2014 and published here — but now they’re available as a convenient download.

The Tai Chi Poem

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In 2014, I composed sixty-two sonnets describing the process of moving through the tai chi form that I first learned in 1998 in northeastern Connecticut.  That sonnet sequence is now available as a downloadable Kindle file from Amazon.com.

Like most of my sonnets, these are Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnets, in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme running ABABCDCDEFEFGG.  Some portions of the sequence may be useful to tai chi teachers for creating effective mnemonics for their own students, but I don’t recommend trying to learn tai chi from reading the poems aloud or reciting them.  Some things are better left to professionals rather than me.  I also think the poems are quite beautiful on their own.  My goal, overall, was to create something akin or in the tradition of the traditional martial arts and tai chi manuals, a combination of simple diagrams and poetic descriptions of the movements. The work is dedicated to my teacher, Laddie Sacharko of Star Farm Tai Chi.  The tai chi poem will always be available exclusively from Amazon in print form.

Other Works

The Tai Chi Poem also joins my other book, Poems for the Behenian Stars  for $9.99 on Amazon.  This second book, a poetic exploration of the fifteen stars of H.C. Agrippa’s list of the major stars of the northern celestial hemisphere, is also available as a PDF download from Etsy for $10.  I earn more royalties from an Etsy download, but I understand that Kindle grants me access to a wider audience.  Feel free to tell your friends!

Behenian Stars on Amazon.com

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screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-7-50-22-pmI’m pleased to report that the Poems for the Behenian Stars poetry book is now available on Etsy as a downloadable PDF (US $10.00) file, and on Amazon.com as a Kindle file (US 9.99).  So you now have a choice of formats.  I earn somewhat more from the Etsy download than from Amazon, which I hope factors into your choice; but either way it should work to your advantage.

What do you get in this collection?

The Behenian Stars are found in the writings of H.C. Agrippa in Book II, Part 4, chapter 47 and in other sources on medieval and Renaissance astrology and astronomy.  No wonder, really: most of them are first-magnitude stars in the northern celestial hemisphere:

  1. Algol in Perseus
  2. the Pleiades in Taurus
  3. Aldebaran in Taurus
  4. Sirius in Canis Major
  5. Procyon in Canis Minor
  6. Regulus in Leo
  7. Arcturus in Bootes
  8. Algorab in Corvus
  9. Spica in Virgo
  10. Polaris in Ursa Minor
  11. Capella in Auriga
  12. Alphecca or Gemma in Corona Borealis
  13. Antares in Scorpio
  14. Vega in Lyra
  15. Deneb Algedi in Capricorn

And to this list I’ve added three other poems, honoring Fomalhaut, the only one of the four royal stars not in the list; Altair in Aquila the eagle, one of the other first-magnitude stars in the northern sky; and Alkaid in Ursa Major, a star whose spectrum helps to classify other stars and which sits somewhere between 1st and 2nd magnitude on that 6-point scale.

The poems are in the traditional formal style called an ode: three stanzas of ten lines each, organized metrically and with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDECDE.  Each poem draws on the traditional lore of both astronomy and astrology, and ends with a call to bring the influence of the star into our lives.  For magic, for poetry, for learning the northern stars, for the purpose of studying the night sky — these poems help get you to the behen (from the Arabic word for ‘root’) of naked-eye astronomy.  Reading the poems while under the night sky will help connect you to your ancestors, and to the timeless mythology that constantly rolls by overhead.

Chapbook: Poems for The Behenian Stars

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I’ve published a chapbook.  It’s a digital PDF that you can download (and choose to print, if you so desire, for your Book of Shadows, your poetry binder, your vademecum, your 3-ring circus of astrological or mythological lore.

The Poems for the Behenian Stars is available immediately through my Etsy store for $10.00. It’s a collection of eighteen poems — for magic, for praise, for learning the stars, for learning to read and recite poetry, for supporting me.  The poems will take you on a journey through some of the astrological lore, imagery and powers of the Behenian Stars, while waking you up to their power in the world.

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 7.50.22 PM.pngAnd what are the Behenian Stars, I hear you ask?  Well, they’re a list. They’re most of the brightest stars in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere (I’ve added three to the traditional list of fifteen), and they range from Caput Algol, the snake-haired head of fierce Medusa in the constellation of Perseus, whose baleful eye allegedly wreaks havoc at first but then brings protection… to Sirius in Canis Major, the dog-head of Orion’s hound, who grants us peace-making and mediation skills.

Whether you’re a magician, an astrologer, an astronomer with a penchant for poetry, a poet with a penchant for astronomy, or just a lover of the other poetry on this website — here’s a collection for you.  None of the poems in this chapbook has appeared on this website before, and likely won’t ever.  They’re a secret testimony, a hidden hymnal, and a way to begin your study of the stars!

I hope you enjoy them.

Poem: For Jupiter & Saturn

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On Thursday this week, there’s an unusual astrological moment.  Jupiter will be in the third decan of Libra, and — 120° away or at a Trine Aspect, in the language of astrology — Saturn will be in the third decan of Sagittarius.  The two large outer planets, one governing expansion and rulership and the other governing discipline and boundaries, will be in a highly-beneficial relationship called “mutual reception” where each reinforces the other:  Jupiter granting expansiveness of ideas and courage in the face of challenges; and Saturn reinforcing discipline and deliberateness to accomplish difficult tasks.  A friend of mine, A.A., is undertaking a special operation, and this is composed for his work.

Hail, great lords of the outermost darkness,
stern Saturn in the skull of a stallion,
Jove at the center of spinning swiftness!
Guiding stars who lead this treasure galleon,
I glory in your lights and praise your Names.
For you, old one, with great discipline rule
the mariner’s careful contemplation
and the discipline that achieves results.
Jupiter — riding ocean like a pool,
remaining steady amid gyration,
the cheerful captain whom the world exalts!

Now each of you in palaces reside
where your dignities sit, enthroned in grace,
and each of you also may hear and heed
the other’s degrees, turned to each friend’s face.
Secret allies in steadiness of will,
and unafraid in the tumult and strife
of all the hazards of troublesome years:
when all is wording ’round, you remain still —
charting out the course of a mindful life,
and steering true, like clever engineers.

Great and glorious, reliable, stern —
steady and sure as the music of spheres:
make this ship a home, and often return:
be my bankers, my cautious financiers,
who grow my wealth and keep my accounts black,
avoiding the wave-troughs of debt and waste,
while leading me through confusion and cheat.
When the winds change, guide me to the new tack;
then help me face the gale properly braced,
with an agile ship, and sea-ready feet.

 

Poem: Hymn to the Three Kings

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Today is the Feast of the Epiphany.  Among other things, it’s the feast of the Three Kings, or three wise men, or the three magi, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child in Bethlehem of Judea.  This is a hymn to them, (as opposed to a sonnet) as witnesses and greeters of Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Hail to thee, wise ones in search of a king,
bearing gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold:
you beheld a star, a marvelous thing —
a royal birth in Israel, long foretold.
From distant lands you traveled, while the star
chatoyant and shimmering in beauty,
ascended from the East to find its throne,
to shout glad tidings: “The child is here!”
You three of great wisdom knew your duty,
and went to the place where the star shone down.

What gifts you brought! Shining gold for a king;
myrrh, because death is the fate of all men,
and — since for this child, the angels sing —
not the soldier’s sword nor the prophet’s pen,
but frankincense offered to deity.
How else does one welcome a conqueror
who sets down his arms and makes you his heirs,
Imparting the peace of eternity
On those who believe? Still, baby-terror
startles the chickens, the ox and the mares.

Purpled linen and rich embroidery
becomes stained with mud, and urine, and straw
as you worship the babe. No finery,
no gold cradle — just the prophets and law
fulfilled as you need in adoration,
while Word Made Flesh bawls. Guide me and send grace,
wise men three, who saw in that star good news
of a king sent from God for Creation—
transcendence immanent in time and space —
show me the Light where my knees sink in ooze.

+ 20 + C + B + M + 17 +

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Painting gifted to S: The Final Approaching

Bookbinding 

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Coptic stitch


Poetry has been a special concern of mine for decades. I’ve written a lot about poetry; and I’ve written quite a lot of poetry, from the Orien fragments to the Neo-Orphic hymns, and a bunch of stuff in between. Usually poets in the 21st century publish chapbooks, or small paper pamphlets of their work. I delayed, and delayed, and delayed. But I’ve finally felt like I’ve reached an important stopping point. 

And so I’m taking the time — a lot of time, really — to print and hand-bind the collections. There are going to be (probably) a hundred copies each of four books: the Book of Splendor, shown here; the Behenian Stars (I gave out six very special editions last weekend); the Mansions of the Moon; and the Decans of the Zodiac. The last two are still in development, but these first two are essentially done. I think. 

Nothing left to do but the binding. I did ten copies of the Book of Splendor in an early edition, a special run of ten copies, to test out different binding processes. I decided that I really liked the Coptic stitch best.  So now I’ve started on a run of 100. I’m at odds with myself, whether to do all the covers in black with blue endpapers, and the binding in white thread; or whether to change it up by groups of ten or twenty-five. The text will remain the same throughout. 

I also haven’t decided if I should sell them as I make them, or wait until I have a big pile of them. I’ve decided that ten or maybe twenty or so will be gift-copies; but most are going to be for sale. 

It’s a funny feeling in the gut, to know that the covers, the binding and the book and the text inside it are all your own work. Feels like a responsibility. Feels like a happiness, too. 

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