POETRY READING: The Legend of Morven Mere, by Keith Johnson

Performed by Hannah Ehman

POEM:

It was thus in the time of siege and famine:

A poor farmer sold his little daughter

To the asrais and nixies of the mere

So that the harvest might not fail again.

Then the farm prospered and all were fed

So no more was thought of the bargain

Though the reeds at the water’s edge

Sang of the prize that was expected.

And Meggan, growing fair but also strong

Took to ploughing with her horse,

Coming on her sixteenth birthday

To till the rich silty fields by the lake.

It was springtime and fine weather

And she and her horse Meadowmane

Worked quietly from shore to headland

As the gulls followed the turned turf.

On a start, a milk-white charger appeared

Its golden mane and tail flashing in the sun

Its dappled flanks afire with rainbow flecks

Snorting and prancing in courtship and display.

‘I know you Brookenhorse’, said the girl

‘The mount of Jenny Greenteeth Grindlelow

Sent from the dark depths of the mere

To claim me as a prize for the tarn-hag’.

Then the enchanted stallion came up

And nuzzled Meadowmane on the cheek

Nipping the old cart horse on the neck

At which the Brookenhorse shape-shifted

And took up the plough collar and traces

Heaving the ploughshare and coulter

With such force that the task was soon done

And the meadow seared with perfect furrows.

At which the Brookenhorse bolted for the lake

Taking with it both the plough and its mistress –

And she trapped by the reins that she had wound

To the handles was dragged beneath the water.

‘Welcome my beauty’ said Mother Grindelow

‘You my drowned princess are my catch now

Take up your deathly pallor and sleeves of green

And sing with us amid the mere of midnight silver’

‘I have my prizes now – my temptress Morgwen Fey –

And the sharp steels of the foreshare and coulter

With which to forge a sword of endless enmity –

The enchanted plough become the stuff of strife’.

But Meggan shunned the hell-bride and her watermaids

And dreamed of the bright spring meadow flowers

And the warm sun and scent of heaving Meadowmane –

Finding at last the Brookenhorse in its watery stall.

At which it flared its nostrils, reared and stamped,

Abject in its thrall to the monstrous Borrag Queen,

Now become once more an ancient broken steed

Mere knucker bones and hide, bleached by the depths.

But Meggan wept that it had lost its rainbow glimmer

And placed her arms around its neck in comfort

Reaching to her kirtle purse to find a scrap of bread

That she had kept to share with Meadowmane.

At which the Brookenhorse glowed fine and white again

Lustrous and resplendent in its strength and beauty

And she broke down the stall gate and freed the horse

Leaping to its back as it bolted for the sunlit sky

Seizing the sword of enmity now become destiny

That mystical Cut Steel – Cleft Evil wand Excalibur

Until at last they came to safety and the light of day

Where she became her maiden self with Meadowmane.

And her father threw his arms around her with joy

Lamenting only the loss of his much-loved plough

But handling with amazement the magic sword

That shone among the peaceful fields of plenty.

So in time a knight came, seeking justice and love

And found at last the sword beaten from the share

Taking it up reverently from the Lady of the Lake

Bringing her and her treasured milk-white foal to Camelot.

Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Festival Moderators: Matthew Toffolo, Rachel Elder

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editors: Kimberly Villarruel, Ryan Haines, John Johnson

Festival Directors: Rachel Elder, Natasha Levy

Camera Operators: Ryan Haines, Temitope Akinterinwa, Efren Zapata, Zack Arch

Poetry Reading: THE YEARNING, by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Performed by Hannah Ehman

Poem:

In a lifetime spent yearning

through which came wishing and dreaming

within many splendid, unquiet enthusiasms

a voice murmured back the word, prayer!

I was needy and you were solicitous,

my mind always straying to paradoxes.

Instead I uncovered brazen devotion,

the perkiness brought such euphoria

and so I screamed, ‘Is that a blessing?’

Mattering and assaultive within theodicy

Urging and purging within my slyness,

shyness or otherness, I could not awaken.

Tossing its ghost into all desires,

‘It’s that barrenness,’ I muttered

Quirkingly back into my memories

craving the eccentric, eclectic fantasy

the yearning, an essential evanescence

an evolutionist laughed at me in retort.

‘It’s that piety,’ I whispered.

The saintliness simply smiled.

Poetry Reading: AI! AI! AI! (A Tatarus for Youth), by David Estringel

Performed by Hannah Ehman

AI! AI! AI! (A Tartarus for Youth), by David Estringel

I.

AI! AI! AI!

Sated with stolen life,

emerged from mother’s Night,

there is longing to be free

from the warmth of darkened humours–

to be crowned by The Light of Artificial Gods.

Our worlds quake and rip,

tossing us upon gory shores

beyond fertile crests,

illuminated by a cold Sun.

Messengers sweep down in clouds of winged oblivion

to wet lips with Lethe’s waters

upon cruel fingertips.

“Shhhh.”

II.

AI! AI! AI!

Blinded,

light brings pain

in rushes of movement and sound

that sting the flesh.

Icy

with invasions

of steel and sterile prodding,

souls rouse to profess philosophies

in cries and screams

that crack the air,

unheard

like the falling of leaves upon the ground

from distant trees

III.

AI! AI! AI!

Swaddled bodies,

searched in vain for the safety of familiarity,

tell much, tell little

like symbols in scrying mirrors.

Their fictions, written with sweat and tears,

anointing

foreheads, eyes, and lips

with benedictions of shameful regret.

As if it were better to have the heads of babes

dashed and bloodied

upon the Rock,

than to suffer Spartan destinies, impaired.

Left only to linger—a world apart—

in bloodless mediocrity.

IV.

AI! AI! AI!

What are these ragged paths

to be stumbled upon

under tender foot,

with stones that cut

and scratching thorns from the briar

that temper flesh,

supple and pink,

making hard what was once soft to the touch.

Fed by an earth

that feasts on cuts,

bodies devolve to walk upright—and alone

upon roads, paved with the hands and backs

of brethren.

Knuckles crunching beneath soles like so much gravel.

V.

AI! AI! AI!

O, the passion of attainment,

upon which the masses engorge,

aimless in its metal

and promises

of faceless adulations

and the settling of laurelled wreathes

upon heads of cartilage!

How empty, these violent strikes against the Self,

incessant and passionless,

carving out pounds of flesh,

victory for victory,

‘til nothing remains–

all for narratives

that are not their own.

VI.

AI! AI! AI!

How thirsty are these–

the razor-tongued buds of spring.

Driven

to the drinking of others’ tears

for satisfaction of sanguine thirsts.

To revel

in the tearing

of white petals

from tender stems

with poisoned fingertips,

delighting in themselves,

as if masters of ceremonies

at blood-lettings

and vivisections.

VII.

AI! AI! AI!

The sooth of touch’s fidelity

has melted away–

soured–

like cream in the sun.

Replaced,

the quality of distance

makes, explicit, one’s worth,

across arid plains

of air and silence.

Fallen away, the allures and charms

of communion,

only to make room

for the play of shadows

on Plato’s walls.

VIII.

AI! AI! AI!

There is a science,

oppressive

and cold,

behind the collisions of heavenly bodies of light (in love)—

clashing

explosions of atoms

over chasms—

the spaces in between—

that define and separate.

Souls, burning brightly,

cannot coexist

in their starry majesties

without a surrendering of fire.

My Ares takes your Aphrodite.

IX,

AI! AI! AI!

Upon paths paved with gold,

under the azure

of a fanning sky,

herds

are driven in blithe procession

to the precipice.

Cast into the maw

of their society.

Without the iron shielding of wings,

they perish,

masticated,

like everyman’s meat,

leaving them shades

that stain the wintry air.

X.

I, I, I,

will crawl to the grave,

worn

and weary,

upon the Earth I have salted

with tears,

violent and hot–

but harmonious–

in Time’s own poetry,

where I will find

the Peace and Solace of Rest,

drinking from a forgetful cup,

enshrouded

by the arms of my brother—

The Undergloom.

Poetry Reading: ABOUT YOU, by Joyce Villeta

Performed by Hannah Ehman

About You, by Joyce Villeta

Crazy I still weep about you
Cry myself to sleep about you
Still I cannot be without you
Thinking how I felt about you
Thought that I could be without you
Never can I be without you
Everything I love about you
My heart bled and throbbed without you
Broken, sick and dead without you
I still hurt and drown without you
Empty and left lost without you
I still write and dream about you
Of all things I am without you
What hurts most you’re fine without me