Saturday, March 17, 2012


Painting by Boris Vallejo


On soft nights I just nuzzle Erin
to the lovely Celtic accompaniment
of bodhran, pipes, flute, and whistle,

but on the hard nights I always become
Lugh, who was the Irish God of War,
as well as a wright, smith, champion
swordsmen, king, harpist, historian,
and poet,

atop my tall white war steed,
my great hound Fallinis at my side,
hearing my battle name Longhand
being chanted above the hellish din;

finding myself always then in silence,
always at the Second Battle of Tuirreadh,
out in front of my loyal troops, facing
the sorcerer, my grandfather Balor--
he of the evil-eye, that which when opened
kills all it looks upon, me like David,
carrying only a sling-rod, but each time
on that dream day as Balor lifts
the pigskin patch over his enchantment,
I loose my tathlum, shooting it true,
striking that poisonous orb corneal center,
driving it maliciously back into his brain,
bringing him down with a loud thud;

just as his murderous troops begin their screaming surge,
and I am handed Areadbhair, my personal lightning,
the greatest of mythical spears, the most blood-thirsty
of weapons, pulled from its poppyseed pail, struggling
against its thongs, it begins to roar, belching fireballs
from its volatile tip,

as I rush toward the enemy ranks, burning through
their shields, helmets, and viscera
like a hot dagger through lard, killing everything
and everyone for an hour, the spear never tiring
of the meticulous slaying,

until I stand on a steaming pile of corpses
and freshly-hacked body parts, quickly sheathing
the poppyseed-soaked scabbord
over the bloody maw twitching
at the end of my tired arms,

always awakened before the celebration,
still only a dream champion, who
must face yet another dun day
in a world of grey shadows.

Glenn Buttkus

March 2012

Listed as #19 over at dVerse Poets-Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Claudia said...'re on a roll...great story telling here glenn...vivid pictures and all the action leaves me breathless...the part i like most though is the bit softer part with david, carrying only a sling-rod..

Brian Miller said...

ah but you are a hero g...and you wield the pen personal lightning, i like that...cause i think poets can catch lightning in a bottle...and you often do...

Charles Miller said...

A very detailed of a dream world, rich in color and sense, pulling us in and morphing in imagination with your hero. interesting that you use the Vallejo picture, since it reminds us readers that modern day fairy tales come in the form of comic books and pulp fiction novels. This poem fits in quite well with the tradition of Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan stories, amongst others.

Anonymous said...

So Lugh with Lightening (Knowledge, Wisdom, Light of G-d) "blinded" the evil-eyed Balor, Balor which makes me think of the Baal of Baalim....wonderful thematic metonymy and imagery, love the painting as well

Ginny Brannan said...

Such a fascinating tale of Celtic mythology. I love how you started with "On soft nights..." and then went on to "but on the hard nights." It draws one in to learn the what is the difference, what will happen. After reading I had to look up this Lugh and learn more. Thanks for sharing, and teaching us of this legend.