Editorial - The Children of Orpheus Poetry Contest/Anthology
“two birds in the tree, rouse
cold, dark whispering sky . . . “
i am asleep
he hands me a broken spliff of flower buds
blue and white irises
i take inside
place in water
and Chesepeake Bay
the children of Orpheus stand wounded
i open the window, let the sky in.
Subterranean Blue Poetry Presents! A Poetry Contest and Submission Call for an Anthology, The Children of
Orpheus. In ancient Greek mythos, Orpheus is a mystical figure, an Oracle, a prophet, musician and Poet.
His music is magical, giving him the gift of enchantment. His wife Eurydice is attacked by a satyr, falls
into a pit of snakes and is fatally bitten on her heel. Orpheus discovers her dead body, and overcome by grief
plays the lyre and sings so that everyone, all the gods and nymphs weep. He travels to the underworld and
plays and sings for Hades and Persephone, so moved they allow Eurydice to return to the upper world with him,
with the one condition that he walk in front of her and not look back. He reaches the upper world and in
anxiety he turns to see if she is there and she vanishes, this time forever.
The idea of rescue and the healing power of love like an elixir in an ornate golden cup attracts many contestants.
The Holy Grail, the search for Guinnevere, the perfect lover is fraught with pitfalls and mishaps, it is important
to have an understanding of culture/politics and the Holy Spirit Way.
Some of the greatest love poetry is written in war zones and mental institutions. Some love affairs are never
requited, some love affairs are requited but can’t last, some love affairs were never meant to be, some love
affairs were meant to be but never happen, some love affairs are happy. Rescue, rescue missions, freeing the
dove in the gilded cage, what came to be. The theme of The Children of Orpheus is love in the first degree.
Imagist, Symbolist, Haiku and New Age synergies in love, the best love poem any genre. Love in the shadows,
impossible love, bite love, unrequited love, memories of love, dreams of love, fulfilled love, on a cloud love
poems . . . how i placed a picture of my last lost lover on a poster and pinned it up on bulletin boards,
polls, milk cartons as if looking for a lost cat, all the stories of love.
The winner of the Best Love Poem receives a bottle of champagne and 2 wine flutes (i include the wine flutes in
case you are incarcerated and do not have access to suitable tableware).
The winner and runners up will win a place in the anthology, published by Subterranean Blue Poetry, the
anthology will be available for purchase from Amazon.com. Proceeds from the Anthology sale will be donated
to Chez Doris a Drop In Centre for Women in Montreal.
There are no entry fees. A free ad. Send a small (75 word) biography.
Jeanne, the maid who won the crown of France for Charles
With voices to guide her quest from farm to war,
A flame that roused a loyal heart to heed,
No glory sought but valour won the ground
The daughter of Jacques d’Arc.
A peasant girl from Domremy.
This virgin soldier from Lorraine.
Her message sent by God.
Hers a birth that fell on a feast when the wise men came
Travelling from some distant land to find their star.
It cast a beam upon the manger of the baby Christ,
The Saviour whom Jeanne embraced with all the saints
Archangel battling a demon force.
Captain of the Creator of all things.
Mighty foe of Satan’s evil works.
Guardian of a celestial gate.
Mid-summer it began as a wind similar to a breath.
In this sigh was a call to a young girl tending a herd,
Growing in an awareness of herself and a dangerous world,
Caught up with the legends of a triumphant Church storied
A rich testament to its Risen Lord,
Of sweet incense, a golden plate and cup,
A relic in an altar while over top a Cross,
The Body and the Blood offering hope.
She cried out in the stillness at a figure among the grass,
Realizing in His words not the present or the past
But a future changed. What happens to what might occur.
With her awakening at the clamour of the cattle bell
Men of stone would be remade.
A two edged sword in righteous hands
Will cleave the wicked for a King.
This vision conveyed His desire.
But first terror came when the Burgundians attacked.
No different from a pack of wolves taking all they wanted.
They pillaged her village like any ravenous gang.
The survivors fled to Neufchatel - angry, lost,
Jeanne despaired at the destruction.
Hunger, sickness, poverty became real.
Love was an emotion to be set aside.
Vengeance descended upon her mood.
The New Year brought a revelation she did not expect.
Saints Catherine and Margaret with Michael appeared
To ask why she was not at prayer. Had Jeanne abandoned
The Lord whom she had been privileged to see?
That she seek out Robert de Baudricourt.
Explain her dream to this aging veteran.
He could recommend her to the Duke
Of Lorraine with his prized black horses.
The Duke could provide money and an escort for
The ride on to Chinon - the castle of the Dauphin.
Once there Jeanne could acknowledge this man
To be the rightful king so that justice might be done.
At Troyes had usurped his royal claim.
That treaty empowered England over France.
In a denigration of her country’s rule.
Now mercenaries looted unrestrained.
Charles was the son of Isabeau, blond, slight, and short.
The clever offspring of the former King, an eleventh child.
Very different from his half-brother, the surly Dunois,
The commander at Orleans, a city resisting conquest.
Well bred nobility in the candle light.
Heard harp and lyre playing in behind
The idle chatter of this satisfied elite.
Replete like the tapestry in his halls.
He suggested to his affable friend, the diplomat Tremoille,
“Let’s decide to have a children’s game with her.
Since we have not met, she will not know me.
We can enjoy a humorous diversion on this tedious day.”
Wondering who should play himself.
Relishing her embarrassment as she
Searched through his entourage unable
To tell which of them was her king.
Jeanne strode boldly up to a silent gallery
For they had heard of this dark haired mystic
Who was entering into their privileged domain;
Curious though about this one from a lower caste.
Ignorance and want settled here
Blazing like the giant logs
In the centre of the hearth to
Radiate a cynicism never to disappear.
She waited patiently by the open door since
Custom decreed an introduction to the Prince.
None was made until an adolescent boy
Approached wearing the Dauphin’s regal cloak.
“You must be the notorious maid
Who ventured from Lorraine
To restore my crown. Sadly,
I cannot believe God spoke to you.”
A moment of doubt followed his remark to
Quickly fade since Jeanne understood he was
An impostor. A test. She looked around as she
Pushed her way through a screen of followers
The gaze of an anxious man
Studying her movements
While he tried to calculate
The sincerity of her charge.
She stopped before Charles. Then glanced upward.
Relieved to be in the audience that she sought.
“I have a message for you alone,” she said,
Wishing a more private setting than this group.
A charisma Charles did not possess.
A need to believe crossed their space.
It fostered a trust in him for her
As if a knot was being released.
Charles grasped the purpose of the Duke
In sending this uncultured maiden on to him.
“Jeanne and I will talk when she is properly
Attired.” Turning, he instructed the comely
“Find a room for our guest.
She is under my protection.
Prepare her toilette and a dress.
Then come back with her to me.”
His mother, Isabeau, had grown concerned
That Charles might have fallen under a spell.
How else was this change of mood from a
Sceptic to a supporter to be explained.
“Do not fret my decision.
This girl offers an opportunity.
To discard it would be unwise.
Her zeal may well gain the crown.”
Jeanne had left reluctantly at her lord’s
Command. Later on she would make her
Requests known. She was in this stranger’s care.
A place where her faith was not as firm.
What am I doing here?
How can I help France?
Am I to be like a David
Confronting a Goliath in the field?
“Orleans is the key.” She noted to Charles.
“If I lead the army, the city will be saved.
Its people starve. However, they remain loyal
To you. I am certain its citizens shall join in
Jeanne had cut her brown hair short.
She had donned a leather jerkin as if a man.
She was imitating Saint Margaret.
In a charade designed to sway Charles.
“Give me four thousand brave men at arms.
Embroider on a white banner the letters
‘THE KING OF HEAVEN’. Then I shall
Win the fortress many have called the Tourelle”.
While she continued this dialogue
With Charles urging him to see
The importance of strength and speed
As if she were already on her way.
The future monarch deferred to her demands.
Charles agreement surprised many of his courtiers
Not used to the everyday courage and resolution
Found in the uneasy lives of the common poor.
A partnership of historic consequence.
It altered the future of their nation.
A myth evolved around Jeanne that
Inspired the countrymen of her generation.
The Archbishop of Rhiems led Charles aside.
“She claims to be a virgin. We require affirmation
Of this before we spill more French blood.
Her spiritual episodes must be proven as well.”
Charles had to comply with this review
Of Jeanne’s mind and body necessary
To ease the worry of those religious
Not yet assured of her mission.
Soon a notice circulated throughout the countryside
Announcing that Jeanne d’Arc was indeed the
Maid from Lorraine who had been foretold.
She would overcome the enemies of France.
Jeanne set out for the town
Of Blois. Marching hard straight
Onward to Orleans where her bravery
Fast became a rallying point to the men.
Victory did not come swiftly though in this
Contest of wills. Knights tempered with honour,
Necessity, and pride fought with a rigid determination.
Steel and stone cut into the marrow and the mail.
An excitement build within her chest
During the rush into battle. A savagery
With a sorrow in the pain dealt by so many
At the grim fury in the scaling of a wall.
The rampant lion fell with the taking of the citadel.
The trumpets of her king blared out the happy news.
The army of the French had finally gained a triumph.
The besieged of Orleans welcomed a freedom renewed.
The commander of the English
Mustered his reserve to confront
These resurgent massed French
Wishing to avoid humiliation.
But Jeanne seated on her warhorse with pennant
Streaming raced along the enemy line calling
For them to ‘Go’. This was the Lord’s demand.
Otherwise the soil would crush their forgotten lives.
Fell back with superstitious fear,
Unwilling to confront this woman
So obviously chosen as God’s warrior,
Preferring the safety of their homes.
Then a summer engagement at Loire gained another rout.
In July Charles attended Notre Dame Cathedral at Rhiems
Where all his ancestors had been proclaimed to be
Blessed with the holy oil and crowned King of France.
The achievement of her goal
With the coronation of Charles.
The establishment of his authority.
A potential end to this heartless war.
Their separation began in autumn at Paris. The capital
Occupied by the English. Jeanne argued for liberation.
She wanted to fight for it. He preferred negotiation.
Charles sent her into a siege ill equipped and undermanned.
The King was grateful for her gift.
It had won for him his throne.
But it had unleashed in her a spirit
He knew needed to be checked.
That winter Jeanne paced for seven cold months.
She rode horses while spurning her fancy gowns.
Daily she attended Mass, went to confession,
Or listened for her voices in prayerful vigil.
Unhappy. Missing her family.
Treated with the rude tolerance
Extended to a person no longer
Thought to be an asset.
In the spring Charles ordered her to Compiegne
To chart the terrain with a small party of scouts.
Expediently, she was captured by the Duke of Luxemborg:
Where imprisoned atop his secure chateau at Beaulieu
From a height of sixty feet.
In an effort to escape.
Sustained no major injury.
Protected again by her saints.
Conveniently the loyal Duke sold her to the English
At Rouen. His payment being a measure of silver.
They charged Jeanne with the crimes of heresy, sorcery,
And pretending to be a man. Her prosecutor was
A Bishop of conservative intellect.
A cleric well studied in Canon Law.
Fully alerted to the error of her ways.
Entirely focused on rescuing her soul.
Her trial convened before a colourful assembly of
Nobles, bourgeois, and their ladies. Loud and
Rude. Everyone crowded beneath a glorious dome.
The tonsured Bishop motioned for silence.
Wrestled Jeanne onto the
Marble floor into a position
Designed to impress upon her
The vulnerability of her situation.
“Swear on the Holy Bible,” the elderly Bishop requested.
“Clearly repeat our Lord’s Prayer,” he firmly insisted.
“No.” Jeanne retorted. “Only after I am confessed.”
Then to the angst of this mainly hostile audience
“Beware all of you
Who claim to be my judges;
Remember you too will
Be judged one day soon.”
Spontaneous calls of ‘Shame’ ignited
Throughout the atrium. That this French petite
Who could neither read nor barely spell her name
Should try to lecture English scholars of renown …
They shouted. “Drag her
Back to her cell! Punish her
By whatever means you choose!”
Was their answer for her defiance.
The thoughtful Bishop Paul moved the trial into
The seclusion of a nearby Chapel. A quieter location
Away from the enmity displayed by the mob.
The reverent priest asked, “Who are your voices?”
“Saint Catherine of the sword.
Saint Margaret of the monastery.
The Archangel Michael,
The chief servant of the Lord.”
The Bishop then explained in his paternal manner
That her visions were falsehoods. Simple illusions
She had used to achieve revenge upon her oppressors;
The Burgundian raiders who had murdered her sister.
Thinking that this could be the fact
As she did hate these English allies.
How silly of her to challenge them
Along with their powerful friends.
“One further thing,” the eminent Bishop admonished.
“Where is your King? Does he share your conviction?
He has offered us no ransom for your release. He is
Oddly silent after all that you have done for him.
Jeanne was returned
To the confines of the jail as
Its sole forgotten ward. The
Subject of the guile of her captors.
After one hundred and twenty days of examination
Jeanne recanted. Her deeds were heralded as foolishness.
Her head was shaved. She was paraded through Rouen in
A penitent’s coarse woollen robe. In his brief summation the
‘The prisoner has admitted to the serious nature
Of her prior misguided and criminal activity.
Jeanne has sworn to unconditionally accept
Henry, the King of England, as her sovereign lord.’
But weeks later Jeanne renounced this proclamation.
The Bishop declared, “Regrettably, she has chosen apostasy.
Charity demands that her body be burned to exorcise her devils.”
They organized her execution to showcase the agony reserved
Her charred bones were displayed
In the town square. A public lesson.
No grave was required because they
Had her ashes cast into the river.
King Charles eventually came to the defence of his champion
A score and five years later. A forgiving Church welcomed
Jeanne back with the compassion given to all the faithful.
A unified France would constitute the right to liberty, equality,
Four hundred years after her death
Jeanne was elevated to sainthood.
She is remembered as a martyr, a heroine,
And a symbol in the enigma that is time.
Featured Poet: Stéphane Mallarmé
Qu’est-ce que la soie (What Silk)
Qu'est-ce que la soie
Qu'est-ce que la soie douce de baume de temps
Lorsque les pneus Chimera lui-même
Vaut les bobines et le cloud naturelle
Vous avez tendance avant le calme de la glace?
Les ébauches de drapeaux méditant
Tenez haut le long de notre avenue:
Mais je l'ai trop vos cheveux nus
Pour y enterrer mes yeux satisfaits.
Non! La bouche ne peut pas être sûr
De goûter quelque chose dans sa morsure
Sauf votre amant princier se soucie
Dans ce grand pinceau de poils
Pour expirez, comme un diamant,
Le cri de gloire il étouffait.
What silk of time’s sweet balm
Where the Chimera tires himself
Is worth the coils and natural cloud
You tend before the mirror’s calm?
The blanks of meditating flags
Stand high along our avenue:
But I’ve your naked tresses too
To bury there my contented eyes.
No! The mouth cannot be sure
Of tasting anything in its bite
Unless your princely lover cares
In that mighty brush of hair
To breathe out, like a diamond,
The cry of Glory stifled there.
Craigslist Montreal – Missed Connections – April 20th, 2015 - Anonymous
winter leaves us pining for the sun, - W4M
but we have a tendency to remember the spring without the rain.
N.B.: “la clair du lune” – a note from the editor
"what, she said . . . no "too-ra-loo-ra"?" - a note from the other editor
the Voice in the background says "See fish fly".
The Legacy of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Canadian Icon.
Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry
Title of Book: Volume One: The Early Years
Author: Gwendolyn MacEwen
Publisher: Exile Editions
Date of Publication: 1993
Page Count: 175
“Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?”
- from Weep you no more, sad fountain by John Dowland
The writing of Gwendolyn MacEwen is iconic, the last breath of Modernism, breathing fire into the renaissance
in romance. With striking imagery and lyric language, the Oracle conjures the history of ancient civilizations
and the rites of magic in poetic form. The Poet and novelist was born in Toronto, welcomed into the literary
community, she left school at the age of 17 to pursue writing. She taught herself languages, Arabic, Hebrew,
Greek and French and translated writers into English. She was a writer in residence at the University of Western
Ontario and University of Toronto and won the Governor General’s Award twice, writing more than 20 books.
This poetry born at the end of the Machine Age into the great awakening of the Peace Movement of the 1960’s,
is measured in eloquent language, as if cast into boxes and time, some heroine in a cage in a play. The poetry
stands, rings in, a memorial to stone flower monuments in the rain. As if a courtier or princess in an ancient
court, the imagery dances with allusions to Greek Mythology, the Ancient Egyptians, the mysteries of the Cabala,
entwined with nature imagery, and with the dead beat of the disembodied Industrial society in the background,
the poetry begins to round into mythologies.
The series of 9 Arcanum poems writes in the voice of a princess, the politics and intrigues of a court scene,
a dowager king, a fall from grace, a prince dies yet is somehow reclaimed at the end of the story, perhaps a
reflection of the Artist’s journey.
From the series of 9 Arcanum poems:
Arcanum One: The Prince
“and in the morning the king loved you most
and wrote your name with a sun and a beetle
and a crooked ankh, and in the morning
you wore gold mainly, and the king adorned you
with many more names.
beside fountains, both of you slender
as women, circled and walked together
like sunrays circling water, both of you
slender as women wrote your names with
beetles and with suns, and spoke together
in the golden mornings.
and the king entered your body
into the bracelet of his name
and you became a living syllable
in his golden script, and your body
escaped from me like founting water
all the daylong.
but in the evenings you wrote my name
with a beetle and a moon, and lay upon me
like a long broken necklace which had fallen
from my throat, and the king loved you
most in the morning, and his glamouous love
lay lengthwise along us all the evening.”
The poetry unfolds, as if timeless, as if looking backwards through a glass, defuse with
melancholy and mythological archetypes, as if between worlds at the end of time.
Arcanum Nine: The King
“I do not adorn you with any more names
for the living ghost of the king our father
hovers forever above our secret bed
like the royal hawk with wings outspread
on whose head the awful sun burns out
the many generations of our dreams.
and we are the end of his ancient line,
your seed a river of arrested time
whose currents bring the cursed crown
forever back to the foot of this bed –
the double crown of those who wear
the kingdoms of heaven and hell on their head.
the royal bird is blind in morning
and its glamorous wings will shade us
till the end of time. but O my brother
will you wear forever that stolen ring
which wounds your hand by night, and why
in your dreams do you go to the king, the king?”
The poetry, itself, lives in a deconstructed free verse style, and is lyric with occasional rhyme.
The poems titles are entirely in capital letters, the poems themselves begin with small letters, there
is the occasional period, but sometimes not. Sometimes the poems end suddenly as if jumping into air.
It is the beginning of a grand truthtelling and perhaps the beginning of protest and “Apocalypse” poetry.
A certain tension in violence, as if in the middle of an underground war.
The Death Agony of the Butterfly
“a monarch beat its velvet brain
against the light, against
the cold light, that’s
what you said.
dance you, dance
against the light against
the cold light, that’s
what you said . . . “
The Magician: Three Themes
One: The Magician
“odd that the people want to own you
and produce you like a black poodle
at fatal teaparties where their blood crowds
up in the thunder of the afternoon,
inside their houses, in the fatal rooms
of their faith and dark doubting . . . “
As if the haunting, dark with death imagery and majesty these early works could be considered the seeds
of the Gothic Revival movement, as the literary world was blooming into Post-Modernism. The writing is
often profound and as if written by hand into stone, elegant, of old world mystery, perhaps prophetic,
this poetry captivates as classic literature. Volume I: The Early Years of the Collected Works
of Gwendolyn MacEwen, available at Amazon.
“Once there were mountains on mountains
And once there were sun birds to soar with . . . “
- from Station to Station by David Bowie
The Charm by Jason Christie, is poetry in an exposition in New Age dance, an excursion in
“the Poet in a better mood than yesterday”. Jason Christie is a Poet, Poetry Editor, Technical
Writer and Visual Artist from Ontario, currently living in Ottawa. He has been widely published
in journals. He is the author of iROBOT, Canada Post, Unknown Actor. Two of his Chapbooks
were nominated for the bpNichol Chapbook Award, GOVERNMENT (2013) and Cursed
Objects (2014). This is Christie’s fourth Chapbook published by above/ground press, and the
second Chapbook This Writer has reviewed for him, the first being Cursed Objects (2014).
This Chapbook exudes life. A brush with Imagist influences in New Age synergies, the poetry
entrances and although heavy with post-modern observation in new world angst, this poetry
dances. In ejecta flora fauna, a poem in nature images with possible allusions to a love affair,
“waves propagate into crescendo, but who knows
what plucked string began such
cacophony and which unantagonistic
beach loses no sand to history”
Despite the juxtaposition of images with New Age technologies creating tension the poetry often
ends on a good note, the entire Chapbook ends with a love poem. And although the dialogue
bleak and couched in the “Apocalypse” mindset of the Transition Economy, somehow there is
“the day the ufo stood still
a day like any other,
really, rain dropping
centuries of data
to break against
my windows, water
streaming down glass
like music over wifi,
and i don’t understand
much of what world
means anymore, or
what it ever meant.
off whimsical tithes:
click, here’s .99 cents
for your dancing
and singing, it builds
to a crescendo and
sustains around noon
with eggs frying
in butter on glass,
in a non-stick pan,
in a new condo
to look like an old
condo building, yet
the letters don’t
settle, they shift
and seethe just
under the surface;
a layer below
a lining lying
a better day
at our feet.”
The celebration of the new technology, the love affair of Canada “and eating pizza/
on a Friday night” from i am not a young man. file management explores the dichotomy of
apocalypse imagery “the floppy disc jammed / financial data in ruins / an archive inflamed and”
juxtaposed with nature imagery and the wonderment of the new technology when it works
“instead we find photos / stored in the cloud / of our parents wires”. My favourite poem is the
last one in the Chapbook, a love poem, as if a love affair in the realm of possibility. Perhaps a
love affair in the technocratic age despite the background violence of a post-modern world
evolving. The Charm, a New Age romance within technology and the natural world. Cutting edge
poetry from above/ground press.
Rebecca Anne Banks lives in Montreal. She is the author of 26 books of
poetry, a family cookbook, a book of children’s stories, a book of World Peace Newsletters and
a primer on marriage discernment all available at Amazon (www.amazon.ca).
She is also the CEO/Artist at Tea at Tympani Lane Records (
www.tympanilanerecords.com) and The Book Reviewer at The Book Reviewer
Jason Christie lives in Ottawa. He is a Poet, Poetry Editor, Technical Writer and Visual Artist,
widely published in journals. He is the author of 3 books of poetry iROBOT, Canada Post,
Unknown Actor, 2 of his Chapbooks were nominated for the bpNichol Chapbook Award,
GOVERNMENT (2013) and Cursed Objects (2014). He has had 4 Chapbooks published by
David Hobberlin. I have been writing poems for over 50 years with modest publishing success. In 2012,
I won the Monica Ladell Award for my poem 'On the Waterfront of Toronto' in the digital publication
(The Big Art Book) by the Scarborough Arts Council. Another poem 'Glass' received an honourable mention
in the chapbook titled 'Open Heart 5' published by The Ontario Poetry Society.
Gwendolyn MacEwen celebrated Canadian Modernist Poet and author was born in Toronto, Ontario. Welcomed into
the Literary Community, at 17 years old her first poem appeared in The Canadian Forum, she quit school at age
18 years to pursue her chosen career of writing. Her first husband was Poet Milton Acorn, her second husband
was Greek Musician Niko Tsingas. She won many awards including The Governor General's Award twice and was
a Writer in Residence at the University of Western Ontario as well as the University of Toronto. She published
more than 20 books and died, by her own hand at the age of 46 in 1987. She is best remembered for
The Drunken Clock, The Shadow-Maker, Trojan Women and The Rising Fire amongst others.
Stéphane Mallarmé, leader of the Symbolist Movement, was born in Paris and excelled at languages,
writing and poetry. He became a teacher and was part of a writer’s circle known as Les Mardistes, as
they met on Tuesdays at Mallarme’s Paris salon. These meetings included Paul Valery, Oscar Wilde, Paul
Verlaine, Rainer Maria Rilke, W.B. Yeats, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Whistler, Rodin amongst others. He married
Christina “Maria” Gerhard, a German governess who gave him a child, Genevieve. He is best known for L’Apres
Midi D’un Faun (The Afternoon of a Faun), Herodiade, Toast Funebre, Un Coup de Des