Revival

“Revival” was written after my grandmother told me about going to a snake-handling church when she was younger. This was probably in the 1930s, and the church was in the Appalachian mountains. She wanted me to write her life story, but I don’t think she gets what that entails. Still, I should have done it, and should still try to do it. I loved to listen to her talk to me about her life and the hardships she had endured, and I always wished I had recorded it but I never did. She’s very old now and I know she doesn’t have much time. When she goes it will tear me apart. My mother has been dead for a very long time, and my father is probably dead (and good riddance). Anyway, this poem was published in a magazine called “Penumbra” and collected in my chapbook “Psychoentropy”. I hope you enjoy it.

Revival

They share the taste of strychnine,

liquid faith like crystal purity,

bottled in a mason jar

scented with the ghost

of last year’s peaches.

 

Dusty boots thump,

and patterned skirts swirl,

keeping time with the choir

of shivering tambourines,

as they cry with broken voices

of the rapturous divine.

 

The Reverend handles serpents,

armed with shining words of God,

and preaches fervent sermons

with the cadence of

the hissing snakes,

sliding coils through grasping fingers

scarred with memory of sin.

 

He sways,

moves with strange conviction,

and teaches salvation

to the undulating devout,

singing in blind ecstasy

in obsolete tongues.

 

They dance,

caught in serpentine embrace,

anointed by the Spirit

with sacred revelations,

as the congregation burns,

wrapped in spiraling religion.

 

~Julie Shiel

Fireflies and Twilight

I’m feeling quite melancholy tonight. I try not to think about these things but sometimes I get overwhelmed. I mean other than my normal depression. Sometimes I just get filled with such sadness that it takes my breath away. I keep hoping to see lightning bugs, or fireflies, depending on your part of the county. I haven’t seen them in years. I remember chasing them when I was little, and it’s something every child should be able to do. I remember being maybe five, and having a firefly in a jar. I smeared the phosphorescence on my fingers so that I would glow too. I showed my mother and she told me that I shouldn’t do that. I asked why, and she explained that it hurt the insect. Of course I cried, but I never did it again. I don’t think I even caught them any more after that because I felt so bad and was afraid of hurting another one. Five year old me wanted to glow like the fireflies and I never thought about the insects being harmed.

Earlier tonight I thought I saw a light flashing on the edge of my garden, but no. It was just someone’s house light flickering through. Everyone knows that bees are in serious trouble, or they should. It’s still not being taken seriously enough here in the US, but people are at least aware of it. This year there are hardly any. People are aware of the plight of the bees because we rely on them to eat. What people may not know is that fireflies are in trouble as well. There’s no big money being made from fireflies, and we don’t rely on them to eat so they are relegated to backpage news. However, while bees help us to sustain our bodies, fireflies do the same for our souls. Seeing the flash of fireflies in the night with the sound of frogs and insects singing is a peaceful experience. It’s quiet, but beautiful and it will move you if you have a heart.

There is something about twilight that has always sang to me. The fireflies are part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s a period of “in between”, a time of no time at all really. It’s not day and it’s not night. It is the transition, the shifting of universes, the curtain fluttering between acts. Everything has a blue tint that muffles the world, but it can also accentuate things. It’s like if you’re with someone, that person is a bright cut out against a cloudy sky. Maybe if I ever experience it again I’ll find the words. It sharpens my senses but smoothes my soul, providing me with a clarity that is hard to find otherwise. It makes me hyper-sensitive to magic and things that don’t exist under the blaring sun and that are hidden under the darkness of night. The natural world takes a deep breath

and exhales.

 

 

 

I should be writing a book but battling demons is messy work. Goodnight.

 

“I slept under the moonlight and set my soul free, caged within jars like fireflies”.”
― Prajakta Mhadnak