Obsidian’s Edge 21

9:00 PM
Mass in the Courtyard
St. Cecilia’s Day

IMG0048_1 2.jpg


waiting in the manger

fine layers of sand
silted sorrow
strewn across the yard

eleven musicians
shaking the same traditional
salt and pepper tune
conch pipe and drum
over and over and over



a mass without mescal
a meal without wine
a day without sun

dark face of thunder

a stranger
pouring for a stranger
brown hands
offering grace

Tom Thumb sips
minuscule cups
thin paper crumbling
pinched between
finger and thumb

mescal’s fierce fire
burns a fiery ball
throat and belly


candle light sputters
shadows on name-
forgotten half-
remembered faces

walk among shadows

fading flowers
gathering freshness
a cross
a crowded room


black blades
paper cuts
blades of grass

ribbons of blood
tongue slit open
ready for sacrifice

cactus pierces lips
mustache of thorns


stones under flowers
so heavy

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a moonbeam,
slips its knife
a vow to forget
a memory that survives
living forever


shoe-less the people
standing on temple steps

noses ears lips
drawn from cactus
thrust through flesh


eyes of Tlaloc
Tecolote beaked and ready

the hole in the sacrificial frog
fills with fresh blood

round bundles wrapped
and tied with large knots


stripped from this flower
-ing cross and re-
placed by red roses

town’s beating heart
el corazón del pueblo

mass in the courtyard
St. Cecilia’s Day


5 thoughts on “Obsidian’s Edge 21

    • Thanks, Tanya. The Catholic ritual inside the church, the pagan ritual outside on the church steps. To see a witch doctor light a small fire and burn copal (Oaxacan traditional incense) on the steps of the Christian temples fascinated me. Of course, many of the churches were built on the site of the destroyed temples using the old temple stones. This leads to the recognition of the holiness of place and the duality of religion: that the old and the new can be celebrated together. I hope a small piece of that mingling of religions comes through in the poems.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely. A lot of “church” rituals take influence from “pagan” rituals. They certainly are not found in the New Testament, but rather, were pulled from the traditions of various people groups over time. That makes this piece even more fascinating for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Roger, I almost always have to read these offering two and sometimes three times to see what lies behind the words. The words are one thing: they set the scene, but the pictures derived from those words and the way they are put together brings the story to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. I have tried to knit the metaphors together in such a way that a pictorial narrative emerges from them. Since you are (re-)creating those pictures in your own mind, an inter-active relationship develops: writer > words/metaphors/pictures > reader. This means that the narrative you read is not necessarily the one I intended you to read as your pictures, although prompted by me, are not necessarily mine. The more intense the pictures you get and the more meaningful, the better and the stronger the poetry.


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