Fairies, Myths, & Magic II, Book 2: A Winter Celebration

Greetings, Readers, One and All.

Welcome to the launch of Colleen Chesebro’s new book, a celebration of the winter season’s Fairies, Myths, & Magic. She’s the head poetess over at Word Craft Poetry (her blog), and she’s put me in the mood for a mug of eggnog, a sprig of mistletoe, and a warm fire. I have a review of her book below, but first, I’m turning the post over to Colleen.

Day One: 12/1/22 Yule Blessings Book Tour

Thank you, Diana, for the opportunity to share the news of my new book, just in time for the winter solstice and Yule.

In Fairies, Myths, & Magic II, I researched the mythologies of Yule and the winter solstice. I was surprised to learn how almost all cultures featured a myth about Yule and the winter solstice.

In the northern hemisphere, the date falls on December 21st or 22nd. In the southern hemisphere, the dates are June 20th or 21st. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the day with the least amount of daylight, giving us the longest and darkest night of the year on December 21st.

In the Pagan tradition, the winter solstice represented the figurative death and rebirth of the sun. Yule became a time of great celebration because the people realized spring would bring warmth back to the land.

Did you know there were many female figures of Yule and winter? Many of these women are long forgotten. There’s the Irish Goddess of Winter – The Cailleach Béara, The Night of the Mothers, Frau Holle, and many others. I share their stories through short stories and poetry.

Here’s one of my favorite myths featuring Frau Holle. The wild hunt was a way to explain the wicked storms of winter. Odin bears a resemblance to our Santa Claus and could have been the inspiration for the jolly old soul.

The Wild Hunt

Call down the huntsmen,

upon black horses they ride

with hounds as black as pitch

and staring hideous eyes

their screams and howls

resound against the algid night.

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Odin’s phantoms—the cult of the dead

glide through the ebony sky

a spectral, nocturnal horde

howling on the wind,

Frau Holle riding high.

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When the baying winds blow,

and Yule fires are lit

stay away from nightfall

lest you manifest the restless dead.

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Beware the berserkers…

for the host of wild souls will sweep down

and drag you to your death!

___

Prepare to embrace the darkness and the light in Fairies, Myths, & Magic II.

Colleen’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Colleen-M-Chesebro/e/B01N9MV2RX

Amazon Universal Link: https://mybook.to/FairiesMythsMagicII

About the Book

In this second book in the Fairies, Myths, & Magic series, step into a world where dark fairies and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by winter and the celebration of the winter solstice.

From autumn’s scary fairies to the forgotten female characters of Yule, prepare to embrace the magical winter solstice myths from around the world. Meet Frau Holle in the Wild Hunt, Befana—the Christmas Witch of Italy, and the Japanese goddess Ameratasu who controls the springtime. Prepare to embrace the Scottish trows, the Irish Goddess of Winter—the Cailleach Béara, and Snegurochka—the Snow Girl.

Learn how to make Yuletide rituals part of your celebration by embracing the symbols of Yule by decorating with evergreens and crystals.

My Review:

A celebration of winter is a great description of this highly recommended collection of poetry and short fiction. It’s the companion to the first book “Fairies, Myths, & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Chesebro explores winter legends from around the world, from pagan creatures who steal naughty children in the night to mischievous house elves. From the wild hunt to the origins of traditions such as yule logs, holly, and Father Christmas. The book offers explanatory introductions to winter’s fairies and myths and brings them to life with syllabic poetry and flash fiction.

A few of the legends that struck my fancy were “Ameratasu” from Japan, “Gryla, the Christmas Troll” from Iceland, and “Snegurochka – Snow Girl” from Russia. Some of my favorite stories were “Tomte, the House Elf” and “The Long Walk.”

Chesebro’s syllabic poetry shines, full of beauty, humor, nature, and magic both delightful and haunting. Written in multiple forms and replete with beautiful imagery, it was the highlight of the book for me. A few favorite poems were “Lady Autumn,” “The Wild Hunt,” “Happy Dongzhi Festival,” “Swift Passage,” and “Dreaming.”

Dreaming

rosy morn, winter kissed—

fields incandescent

bursting with the glory of a brand-new day

the wheel of the year turns

another month gone

from the sun’s fiery glow

lilac shadows fade

while frost browned grasses

sing anthems to the wind

wild black-headed geese soar

far away from home

beneath the frosty rime

roots tremble with growth,

awaiting the thaw and the

warm rains to come

seeds loiter in the depths

dreaming of the spring

About the Author:

An avid reader, Colleen M. Chesebro rekindled her love of writing poetry after years spent working in the accounting industry. These days, she loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction.

In addition to poetry books, Chesebro’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of her writing community on Word Craft Poetry.com by organizing and sponsoring a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, where participants experiment with traditional and current forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry.

Chesebro is an assistant editor of The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology & Gitty Up Press, a micro-press founded by Charli Mills and Carrot Ranch.

In January 2022, Colleen founded Unicorn Cats Publishing Services to assist poets and authors in creating eBooks and print books for publication. In addition, she creates affordable book covers for Kindle and print books.

Chesebro lives in the house of her dreams in mid-Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes with her husband and two (unicorn) cats, Chloe & Sophie.

Find Colleen here:

Blog: Word Craft Poetry: https://wordcraftpoetry.com

Author Blog: Colleen M. Chesebro, Author, Poet & Unicorn Cats Publishing Services: https://colleenmchesebro.com

Facebook Page: Colleen M. Chesebro, Poet & Author: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085941528913

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/colleen-m-chesebro-6b856b237

Word Craft Poetry “Dreams”

A few days ago, Colleen Chesebro announced the winners of the Word Craft Poetry Syllabic Poetry Contest held to honor the Summer Solstice. The theme was dreams, and poets were instructed to use the syllabic form “tanka prose.” This form combines short prose with a 5-line tanka poem (with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7).

I was delighted and honored that my poem “Am I Dreaming?” came out on top. I’m grateful to the judges for their selection and to Colleen for continually encouraging all of us to learn and write poetry. She’s a whirlwind of energy and creativity.

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Please take a moment to pop over to Word Craft Poetry to read the other top poems, written by Ken Gierke, Merril D. Smith, and Jude Itakali. Not only is their poetry beautiful, but it shows off the depth and versatility of the form and the enormous talent in our writing community.

And if you feel inspired, join in Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenges. They’re great fun. Happy Writing!

Enter the Sacred #TankaTuesday

Sunlight filters through tidal barriers of air and water where animals bloom from salty rocks with the permanence of plants, and gardens wear the guise of animals in this place where swimming is soaring from the edges of canyons, hiding in coral caverns of this wondrously alien world, secretive, and brimming with creatures, some tempered by timidness, others leaping and diving from blue to blue.

enter the sacred

domain of eels and turtles

world beneath our world

taught by schools of parrotfish

to touch a dolphin’s wild joy

 

***

Denise Finn chose the wonderful prompt for this Ekphrastic challenge (poetry based on a visual image). If you click on her name, you can read her entry. As a scuba diver, I’m entranced by the underwater world.

My poem is called a “tanka prose,” a bit of prose followed by a tanka with a syllable count of 5/7/5/7/7.

The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.

Children Forget

Title: Russian Dancers
Artist: Edgar Degas (French, Paris 1834–1917 Paris)
Date: 1899 via https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/459097

Children Forget

women dance their prayers

crowned in wreaths of wild color

in whirling skirts of flowers

arms entwined with arms

else breaking hearts bleed red streams

and children forget

love exists and joy endures

the dark whims of violence

nightmare days of warring men

**

The #TankaTuesday challenge this week explores Ekphrastic poetry inspired by visual art. The artwork was chosen by Colleen from WordCraft Poetry and poet and blogger Selma Martin. Their selection relies heavily on current events, however they wanted to be clear that their choice “is not a celebration of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and they both “support Ukraine in its efforts to maintain its sovereignty.”

This poem is a syllabic form called a chōka with syllable counts of 5-7-7-5-7-5-7-7-7.

I chose to write about women as the bearers of hope, the guardians of children, and the protectors of joy and love during the dark days of war. (I know countless men share these qualities too).

Man in Control: Flash Fiction

Pixabay image

Brandon donned his latest acquisition—a  genuine silk suit. The industrious little silkworms bordered on extinct, and he finally ranked among the international elite who could afford their cocoons. His was new money, thanks to polished attorneys and creative accountants, both armed with tarnished ethics. 

He’d given himself two hours to make the one-hour trip from his penthouse to the corporate highrise across the gorge—one of a host of towers. And not the tallest. But he was only thirty-five, and the world was his chessboard, the match a move away from mate. In a few hours, a significant portion of the conglomerate’s assets would fall under his control.

He slipped into the leather recliner of his midnight-blue slider and tossed his briefcase on the seat beside him. “Headquarters. Skip the traffic and take the flyover.”

The slider’s cyber-system hummed to life. “Flyover not recommended.”

“Heavy traffic?”

“No traffic detected.”

Brandon mugged a face. “Then take the flyover.”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Why not?”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Override.” Brandon detached the console and typed his passcode, pleased to finally use the feature. He liked the idea of control, driving the slider instead of the slider driving him. The upgrade had cost him a small fortune. It would pay for itself that morning.

As the vehicle glided forward, Brandon closed his eyes and relaxed his shoulders. The slider veered from the congested rails onto the flyover, cruising into the pre-dawn darkness.

At the peak over the gorge, the slider decelerated and stopped. Brandon glanced out the window at the black depths below. Sunrise would soon carve sharp shadows across the cliffs and turn the river into molten gold.  “Proceed.”

“Not recommended.”

“Overide.” He typed in the code.

“Not recommended.”

“God damn it. Override.” He stabbed the console and received the same reply. After a quick check of his watch, he peered into the darkness ahead. “Is there a traffic problem?”

“No traffic detected.”

“What the hell? How long to back up and take the other route?”

“Estimated time three hours.”

Brandon barked a curse. He leaned forward and rubbed his hands together, changing tactics. “Override slider functions.”

“Not recommended.”

“Override braking system.”

“Not recommended.”

“Okay, how about override acceleration?”

“Not recommended.”

Brandon’s fist slammed onto the console, and the glass screen cracked. He tossed the damaged hardware onto the passenger seat. There was no point. His fate was sealed. He’d lost out on the biggest deal of his life.

“Cyber system impaired, reverting to manual overrides.”

“Ha!” Brandon checked the time. He’d make it if he flew. With the brake released, he pressed forward on the throttle. The slider responded, accelerated. With a laugh, he opened her up, and the bitch roared like a beast with a taste for speed.

The machine screamed down the other side of the flyover, lurched sideways on a damaged span of rail, and leaped into the sky. The sunrise blinded him as the slider plummeted, its throttle clutched in his white-knuckled hands. The golden river smashed the windshield into his face, his life, in the end, beyond his control.

***

destiny

disavowed

underlings deal and grasp

gold with white-knuckled fists

rapt in night’s deceptive dreams they fly

eyes blinded by a distant sunrise

snared by reckless desire

seconds gained and years lost

illusions

of control

***

It’s been a long time since I shared a flash story. I hope you enjoyed it.

I combined it with a syllabic poem in response to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday Wordcraft Challenge. Her challenge was to make up our own syllabic form! Well, that was fun. The one above has syllables 3/3/6/6/9/9/6/6/3/3. I named it a Distillate because it’s a distillation of a larger story. My guess is that every story’s theme can be captured in a poem, no matter how large the book. What do you think?

Dare to Choose #TankaTuesday

Pixabay image by Pretty Sleepy

Dare to Choose

clockwork

doorways beckon

gears and pistons fastened

we seek a master’s silver key

to click

 

unlock

we brave of heart

silence snaps with a snick

cogs whir and teeth weave as hands tick

time twirls

 

in loops

knobs thump, rings spin

through creamy clouds of steam

oil and grease, wheels whirl, and rust flakes

doors break

 

open

to infinite

portals, countless choices

through keyholes we peek before doors 

creak closed

 

defy

the gyrations

clockwork machinations

we wield the ancient key and dare

to choose

***

I had the pleasure of choosing the image for February’s Ekphrastic prompt, and then struggled mightily to write for it! This poem is a Crown Cinquain, five stanzas, each with syllable count of 2/4/6/8/2.

The weekly #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry challenge is the brainstorm of Colleen at Wordcraft Poetry. Think about joining in. It’s great fun.

Solstice: #Tanka Tuesday

pixabay image

Solstice

Winter dawns, heralded by dreary skies and the sun’s retreat. Wind-whipped rain blusters, casting free the remnants of autumn’s crinkled leaves. Woodland creatures burrow into the roots of things, latent, enduring, and twinkling colors gleam in frost-rimmed windows, a warm false-light to see us through the darkness. Oh, do not despair during these days of dying, for the magic of this wise world welcomes the first day of winter with the return of light.

mornings by moonglow

shadows hushed in shades of blue

twilit afternoons

winter’s darkness shrouds the day

while solstice promises spring

***

This tanka prose is in response to Colleen’s #TankaTuesday challenge. A “tanka prose” is a piece of prose followed by a tanka with syllable count 5/7/5/7/7. For inspiration, she prompted us to write about any festival or tradition we celebrate during the month of December. Happy Solstice!

Hawaiian Haiku

While visiting my brother in Hawaii, I couldn’t resist a little haiku based on the beautiful island of Oahu.

aquamarine sea

wind-stippled sparkling silver

laps on silken sand

tricksters somersault

sailboards soar with wind-borne kites

breathtaking in flight

We visited the memorial at Pearl Harbor

sacred burial

Battleship Arizona

beneath azure waves

Hawaiian sunsets

eruptions of vermillion

cauldrons in the sky

We hiked to the sacred ruins of the queen’s summer palace through a bamboo forest.

ruins in the jungle

bamboo clatters in the breeze

musical pathways

Thanks for taking a poetic journey with me.

And this is what I arrived home to:

My backyard.

everywhere we roam

a precious world awaits us

where beauty abounds

NaNoWriMo Update:

NaNoWriMo, (or as my husband calls it, Ninny Rhino) is going well. I’m ahead of schedule, though that probably won’t last. To everyone who’s writing up a storm… keep going! To everyone else, take advantage of the month of light blogging, enjoy, and relax!

Winter Calls

pixabay image

Winter Calls

We flow into autumn

from summer’s embrace

when twilight hastens and the sun rides low

ripening abundance

a gilded farewell

Quilted paths of crimson

through colors we roam

mugs of cloved cider and a cinnamon moon

our pumpkin’s grin candled

memories loosen

When scents of woodsmoke curl

on crisp, crackling morns

will you weave me a shawl from skeins of soft wool

hold me warm by the fire

for my winter calls

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This poem is a double ennead – a syllabic form consisting of three stanzas of 33 syllables in a 6/5/11/6/5 pattern for a total off 99 syllables. The challenge is hosted by Colleen Chesebro over at Carrot Ranch. It runs once a month and I invite you to check it out. Colleen’s prompt this month was “Autumn” and she encouraged us to use our senses. Happy Writing.

Dark Angel

Pixabay image

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smoky kisses linger
in a fool’s wild heart
prisoner of the dark angel’s velvet smile
devoured by haunted lips
her dance of desire

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This poem was written in response to Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 7 at Carrot Ranch. We were instructed to use the Magnetic Poetry Oracle and write one stanza with syllables 6/5/11/6/5.