The Thirteenth Sign
by Brenda Blakey
First the birds dropped from the sky—their dive unexplained.
In tandem, fish flicked belly up en masse.
Amid the scurry came confusion, questions and
Scientists said earth changed the tilt of its axis;
not to worry, it happens every 41,000 years.
Subsequently, there will be a few changes.
If you were a Libra before, now you’re a Virgo.
If you were a Sagittarius, now there’s a new sign—
Ophiuchus, (Ὀφιοῦχος) from the Greek,
The 13th sign: The Serpent Bearer.
But some people know the truth behind the truth.
The change in tilt was the switch to start the next catastrophe.
Be it ice age or nuclear holocaust, though the timeframe
unclear, it is remarkably inevitable.
I open my copy of A Swiftly Tilting Planet and reread
St. Patrick’s Rune. I’m twelve again and hopeful.
I grasp it firmly to my chest, a breastplate
bearing magical power to thwart all danger.
Now, wait for the sun to right the wrongs,
To quell the stirrings of a trembling planet.
First appeared in Schrodinger’s Mouse 2012
Art: Teresa Tunaley
Pen and Ink on Paper
by Brenda Blakey
Begin with soot and ash of burnt bones,
add molten tar, mix in clay and salt.
Steep, stir by night fire, then cool and age.
Portion into tiny vessels and plug with cork.
Then wait. Think the thoughts over and over.
Forget all except the most divine.
Journey to the place of great birds and ask for grace.
They will shed feathers, blessing your quest.
Find the perfect quill, the one shaped just so.
Don’t fret; you’ll know it when you see it.
Whittle the point so fine, so minuscule.
Leave no room for the devil to dance there.
Pulverize tree bark and lace with sinew of cotton.
Add water and a little chalk to thicken,
bleach the pulp, then comb and stretch.
Strain out unwanted particles and debris,
pat and press, then wait for moisture to wick.
Ponder the gifts of nature, of the spirit.
The fullness of the nib, black liquid collects there,
lingering before it releases onto thirsty cotton papyrus,
its crevices tunnel the substrate awaiting edification.
The process, slow and metered like music,
allows ideas to flow, dots on a line in space on time.
Heart feeling, mark making, ancient answers for new questions.
Originally published by Red Ochre Press in Red Ochre LiT (August 2011)