an art poke-in-your-eye

I got an email once from an random fan of the art back on my old, defunctified website, barkingreed. She wanted to know if I was OK with a shirt she had created using a piece of one of my sketches and a line from one of my poems. I thought the shirt was flattering and cool and nifty and sweet, so I immediately wrote back and asked how I could buy one.

As it turned out, she hand-painted them, and was only making them as gifts for her friends. She refused my money and sent me a shirt. Which makes her the maximum utmost.

I get a lot of compliments on the shirt from friends and strangers alike, so I thought I'd share it with you and post the poem from which the line is plucked. I have been trying to write more poetry lately, but this one still remains one of my favorites. Be sure to read it out loud (especially if you are at work), because poetry dies a little if it's never brought to life by speaking.

Oh, and you can see a corner of my "work in progress" just behind me - a bit of a tease.


This is the stuff of which dreams are made,
and I have got a bolt of it,
stolen from the back of a man twice the mystery:
once, for the clothing that he wears
and twice, for the swagger of his airs.

And I will make of it a shirt,
to garb you with the metaphors of madmen and crescent moons,
of loons upon a blood-red lake,
of plotting rakes with bed-drawn eyes
and ears cropped by claws of angered crows,
whose plumage shows of lusty living and archangel nights,
where stars are lights by which to fly
and someday maybe die, God knows.

And I will cut a strip or two
to wrap you ‘round your neck and waist,
so you may taste the mellowed meads of Viking tales
and meet your lips with tankards of their ale.
Without the drawing of a blade
you will lick the salted blood they drew
upon your unbroken lips
and feel the sway of rowing in your hips
and the twisting, turning of battle.

And I will form for you a crown
to hear the rattle of the dying
in raided villages where the Norsemen went
until their lusting angers spent.
From there, the cloth upon your hair
will find you in the harems of a shah,
amid sumptuous pleasures of decadence
piled high for whims as yet undreamed
in worlds of whirling scimitars
and swirling sands piled high to shifting dunes.

And then with wrappings on your feet
you’ll meet the stones of age-worn ruins,
where runes on walls mutely speak mysteries
of long-gone magic incantations
and the elations of hair-shirt mystics
who ate the eyes of vampire bats
and kept rats within their beards.
When you float through these halls,
folded in their crumbling walls
and out before a vast expanse of sea,
full-fathomed dreaming will you then will be.

So lastly, I will make you leggings
to take you dreaming to days gone by,
through the haze of days lived by -
to live again those times when you were you but not yet fully you.
And you will follow the founding formations
of the ways you now have come to be.
You will wonder to see it all -
to see the magic and the mystery and the marvel of it all.

And then you will awake and dream the true
and then you will awake to then be you.


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