So my White Wolf Publishing check for $1,000.00 came in today.  I’ll deposit it tomorrow…which leaves tonight to snuggle with it.  I think this is the largest, non-student-loan check I’ve ever received.  They spelled my middle name wrong (that is to say, conventionally), but I can forgive them because it came in an envelope with a wolf paw print on it and a Where the Wild Things Are stamp.


Also, Val Perry emailed me to say she nominated me for an Illinois Arts Council grant.  If I win it, not only do I get money…but Eureka Literary Magazine gets some too.  I figure that’s a lot of respective fingers and toes to keep crossed.


The money and the potential money are welcome…because there is a black, nasty, abyssal debt I have hanging over me, with Leviathan hungers and a fanged maw that would scare the piss out of Gmork (that reference is for you fine LJ ladies who are currently waxing Neverending Story).  Yeah, my debt is out there and it’s hungry…

OK…I figure I should do another excerpt from the epic.  Again, for those tuning in (I think I’ve got a few new readers since my last spray of excerpts), the last post gives a bit of a synopsis.  For those who haven’t, the prologue was posted previously (


So I guess I’ll give a taste of what comes right after the prologue.  This is “Book 1,” and is the start of the poetic portion of the epic poem.  It works as a dialogue between a voodoo priestess and the spirit she summons to be her muse (but he doesn’t act like any proper muse…but then…this isn’t a proper epic…even my muse insults it).  This isn’t the whole chapter, it’s too long to just post.  But it’s the beginning.  It gives a taste and an example of the format I use.  Enjoy!


Book 1:  Invoking the Muse


“For though my rhyme be ragged,

Tattered and jagged,

Rudely rayne-beaten,

Rusty and mothe-eaten,

Yf ye take well therwith

It hath in it some pyth.”

-John Skelton, Collyn Clout (c1522)



Spindly, long fingers spider-crawl down an altar, in an apartment, in the inner-city.  Black-nailed digits, long and lithe, click-clack across the tabletop, climb over an obsidian cross, with arachnid grace, dip into an oil filled clay bowl, feeling the thunderstone beneath – oval, cool, and speckled with mirror shards.  And now, the flare of a match, the glow of a skull-shaped candle in the vanilla air, and the slow drip of purple wax.  Oily-fingered footprints lead across the altar, as creeping hands go to work.  They manipulate playing cards in silent-sleight poetry, divining meaning from randomness – beat rhythm from a baptized drum – make four shakes of the ritual rattle, saluting the four cardinal directions – skillfully draw veves, the complex geometric symbols for each spirit, on the floor, trickled down from the contents of three half shells:  a pattern of bisecting crosses, in powdered redbrick, for the crossroads loa – a design of coffins and crucifix, in crushed, purple chalk, for the graveyard loa – an ash outline of a black bird, not a loa, not even a real veve.  The scuttling hands make offerings:  popcorn scattered over the three shapes, rum squirted, spiced and dark, from between the teeth, and blood, cheap by the pint, splashed from a butcher shop container.  And, at the last, a black feather tossed to the air, and a plastic bag containing rancid road-kill, held at the dexterous tips of reluctant fingers.  She would not normally use rotten meat, but tonight she planned on contacting something outside the Vodou pantheon.  This was not normal protocol.  And through it all, Mama Nancy sings and prays…


Papa Legba, open the gate for me!
Atibon Legba, open the gate for me!
Open the gate for me, Papa, so that I can pass.
When I return, I will thank the Loa.


Saint Peter, open the door.

Saint Peter, open the door to grace.

Saint Peter, open the door,

the door to the other place.


LEGBA, I draw your VEVE, it’s powerful magic.

Entrance I seek, to The Mysteries.

Gatekeeper, give me the key to The Mysteries.

Bless the crossroads, let in The Invisibles.

Allow me to commune with The Invisibles.


Papa Ghede is a handsome man.

Papa Ghede is a handsome man.

He is dressed all in black,

for he is going to the palace.


Papa Ghede, master of cemetery,

lookin’ through your purple shades,

I see the dead.

Loa of Death, Sex, and Humor obscene,

lookin’ through your purple shades,

I see the dead.

Whether we lay in the coffin,

or love in the bed,

you laugh the grinning-skull laugh.

In bed, we love one another – in the coffin, we love you.

Lusty Ghede gets to lovin’ every body.

Birthing, screwing, dying – we all lay bare.

You dare to find humor when we lay bare.

Teach us humor in hardship and the jazz skull laugh.

Hypocrisy fades under the purple shaded gaze.


GHEDE, I draw your VEVE, it’s powerful magic.

Hurry Ghede!  Bring your black top hat.

Enter my room, smoke sweet cigars, drink dark rum.

Dead man, yes you can, come down and ride me.

Enter Papa Ghede, bring your lewd wit.



I need’s speak with that

Patron of Scoundrels – Dark Diviner – Oracular Wind Rider.

Let me see the midnight winged corpse eater,

always playin’ round your playground.

I need his skewed viewed wisdom tonight.


Arise old Crow, awake my carrion friend.

Heed my call, I have the blessings

of the gatekeeper and the crossroads.  Shake

the dust from your feathers,

stretch bitter-black wings.

Heed my call death eater – sing, sing, sing

to me, my Ebony Muse, murmur soft a sad song

of what was forgot.


I have a story to tell.

I need a dark muse tonight.


Who disturbs my meal

of memories and mind.


I have a story to hear.

I need a dark muse tonight.


Who disturbs my meal

of entrails and eyes.


I have a story to make.

I need a dark muse tonight!


Mama Nancy, quit your keen!

Woman, you think your mumbo-jumbo-mojo-juju-kung-fu-hoodoo

means anything to me?

I am the sable-winged harbinger,

Noah’s first hope.

I am the omen bringer

Apollo turned black for his troubles.

I am the death watcher,

witnessing Odin dangle in the gallows.

I am the dark trickster, dream carrier

riding Plutonian winds,

eye eater, soul stealer

sipping memories by the retina.

Mama Nancy, quit your necromancy.

Leave me to my mischief.


Clever Crow, wily Crow,

wily Crow outdoes himself.

Strutting Crow, preening Crow,

preening Crow, I offer this meat to you.


Treat for me, Mama Nancy?

Sweet meat for me, Mama Mambo,

hot off the rot?

Flattery will get you anywhere.

What do you seek sweet-sister?


Crow, Dark Muse, one wing in Life,

the other dipped in Death.

Tell me…


. . . ha!  I know

what you seek

and the answer’s no.


Please Crow.

I have the blessings of the gatekeeper.

I have the favor of Ghede.

Please spirit . . .





I am not a spirit!

I’m not a god,

I’m not a ghost.

I’m not a part of your pantheon.
I’m not Odin’s crows,

Memory and Mind,

but they are me.

I’m not the corvid

you saw eating

road kill today,

but she is me.

I’m not the black bird,

eyes of a demon’s dreaming,

who perched and sat

on the pallid bust

of that bimbo who burst

out the sky god’s head.

But he was definitely me

when he said,

he said . . .

. . . well, never-you-mind.





Clever Crow, wily Crow,

wily Crow, your words are strange.


It’s a strange world, Mama Nancy,

where the blood of a messiah

is the social, alcoholic beverage

of the weekend.