Juglar /  Juggler
(from Land of Rocks and Saints)


 In the beginning was the word,
and the word was tossed in the air:
a dove over dark water.

It grew as it descended,
turned into tongues of flame,
each of them licking
at the listeners’ hearts,
tearing them apart.

Sleight of hand:
this deck of words, tossed skywards;
jacks and queens tumbling,
caught, tossed up again;
words, nothing but words,
this pack of wolves descending.


 Lips part as words draw blood;
red wound of the open mouth,
a rose in spring’s garden
bears us down with crimson scents.

The spirit is trapped in its cage,
flesh and bone binding those wings
with their urgent urge to be free and fly ….

“… you would have seen …” he says.

And so we see: the sea, white horses cresting,
St. James riding over the mountains,
bone on lance point, spear bloodied,
Moorish chain mail bursting asunder,
El Cid advancing on his foes.

Words join with words,
become joint with gesture;
they plunge into our chests,
grow tight round heart and lungs.

Juglar: In Spain, the mediaeval juglar was musician, singer of songs, juggler, and general entertainer. The oral tradition still thrives in Avila and in places where the rhythmic and musical emphasis of the spoken word is still important.

12 thoughts on “Juggler

  1. This is indeed wonderful. I love how you take that brilliant line from the Bible, ‘In the beginning was the word’ and then run with the conceit. in the Tarot major arcana, the first numbered card (I) in some packs is the Juggler, though other packs interpret the figure as the Magician. One hand points upwards while the other hand points downwards, on the table are the tricks of the trade.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a Gerard Manley Hopkins fan and this poem has his compelling rhythms … ‘as kingfishers catch fire dragonflies draw flame’ … I love the modifications of well-known and not so well known phrases in the poem!

    Liked by 1 person

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