Sometimes a Wild God

Wild God
Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.

‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.

When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.

In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.

‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…

There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

325 thoughts on “Sometimes a Wild God

  1. Hello there.

    I shared your poem here: https://www.facebook.com/hill.mary (not many of my posts are public so it’s like the third one down?)

    https://www.facebook.com/elric2012?fref=nf (It also got shared here)

    Somehow despite me saying “I found this this is amazing poem everyone should read it” and linking to this, people kept on thinking I wrote it and sending praise to me. I always mentioned you because to claim credit unduly for this poem would be such a crime.

    So I’m passing along the praise that was sent so you get it.

    I just read the piece you wrote about the Wild God. Erik shared it on his page. It gave me serious chills and I was spell-bound.
    It so happens I’m working on an image for a new tarot-oracle deck and this one will replace the current Emperor card.
    Your words described the feeling I have tried to capture in the picture.
    Well done indeed!
    Beautifully written. You are a true artist.

    Just read your “Sometimes a Wild God”….BRILLIANT….has me thinking of a new painting, thank you for that! AMAZING….really has the creative wheels turning!

    And then this is from someone who knows I didn’t read it:
    This poem means the world to me. In so many ways. It is with me ALWAYS. I love that you love it too. It’s incredible. I stumbled upon it a few years ago and it became PART of me.

    I personally cannot fully process my feelings about this poem as of yet besides the fact that it’s grabbed onto me and it won’t let go. When I finally do I’ll write a comment of my own words.

    I dearly want/need to make some art using this poem (with all credits to you), like recording it, or making a short film or something with it. Please let me know if that’s alright, (since that isn’t covered in your notes on sharing.) since I wouldn’t want to do anything with this piece without your blessing.

    Sincerely yours, (until the next time when I speak with my own words and compliments)

    Mary

  2. Thanks, Mary – go for it. And then, when you’re done, send me a link and I’ll post it. Soon, I’ll be putting out a small book of the poem, with illustrations by Rima Staines (http://rimastaines.com) – help me out by spreading the word when I do… Glad the words got to you. Tom

  3. Most definitely will do! Thank you, and yeah I will definitely spread the word about the book (and probably will buy my own copy.)
    – Mary

  4. Wild God grabbed my heart and won’t let go of it. He refuses. He lives in my imagination and smiles at me…. This is not just a poem to me , but a reality far beyond the understanding of the human race. There where only a few can see. He only took a peek of us through your poem. He only let us see a small part of his world…..excellence!!!

  5. Tom – I’ve just read Wild God after a weekend storming about the Brecon Beacons with 4 other wild men, chasing the light and probing our shadows while taking on 4 elemental challenges. Your poem captures so much of my experience, and reminds me how much deeper I could yet go. Beautiful, inspiring and sweetly cutting words. Thankyou. I would be interested in the book.

  6. ‘… Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
    The hills echo and the grey stones ring
    With laughter and madness and pain …’

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Tom.

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