moschata

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Muscovy ducks?

The species was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 edition of Systema Naturae as Anas moschata,[10] literally meaning “musk duck”. His description only consists of a curt but entirely unequivocal [Anas] facie nuda papillosa (“A duck with a naked and carunculated face”), and his primary reference is his earlier work Fauna Svecica.

Today you will wake up to the word syzygy.  It could be a synonym for a storyteller. Or your own name. Celestine chemistry of a cloud stubbed by monsoon, you will watch Indra herd smoke over water, tease the stampede of rivers through their crab-claw helixes, line the corpuscles of three eclipses in a sacred symmetry. This is how I want to begin again. Fluid. Lucid. Coherent of my inconsistencies, dangling dreamcatchers above the abyss.The etymology of a demon. Danse Macabre from the numen. An interpreter of invisible horizons. The blue-lily lip of Shiva in Halahala. What I am looking for is the bouhali; nepenthe nude as David in Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Algebra of bones, physics of muscle. The rosa moschata of his bloodless back against a crescendo of thirsty mosquitoes. I want to see the faint scream of a sculpture rise, ithyphallic, alabaster that was once aborigine. Show me that which was killed in me to satisfy your calculated civilization.  The barbiturate of your mens sana. The insomnia of your sine die. I will take my Hell. Gladly. Trust me to learn how to pet its hounds. I want unashamed. Don’t clothe me in the memory of your forgiveness. There is nothing in me that needs your approval, there is nothing in me that will negotiate my apology. I have stopped being sorry. I am not your mutated lab rat, your closet full of hazmat. I will not make prisons out of memories. Do not reduce the dragon in my voice to an echo of embers. Call me camphor & find the nearest matchbox. I want to swim through this room in a drum-dance of ghosts. I want to remember always that I am Roma. I want the muslin-mouthed sediments of golden seacoasts. Chemical bridge of a synapse. A marital bed where the axis mundi mounts my neo cortex. A single lotus swimming above the poisoned lake. I resent your monotonous thresholds; the phlegmatic dogma subtracting what is human from what is holy. I want to hold the holy inside the human. The holy of a perfumed twilight, red as my wrists in the aftermath of two razors. I want to meet my God when she sings a lullaby for my brokenness. I don’t want you to tell me how to be strong so frequently that it sounds like a cussword. I want to remain weak, small &  defeated for a while. I want to replace better with braver. In my own time. I want language to gut me to a fishbelly white. I want a language like the photograph of a jaundice-eyed violinist playing at his teacher’s funeral. Beauty in its bitter ferment. A Russian soldier softened to a single piano note in the middle of a dying forest. I want that dirge, its dire urge. The urvogel of every angel who fell disputing His throne. I want a heart like a piñata full of flowers. Every time it is beaten, wings of petals rain on the weapon’s hand. I want to be the Stranger who cries at nameless graves. I am Scorpion on the cusp of Cancer. When I move forward, it will always be sideways. Bring me to something that doesn’t want to wash away my sickness with a calendar of sugar pills, that allows me altars and battlefields in equal measure. I want to dig out what is ancient in me, the mistaken-for-monster, its ophidian prowl, its raven-cursed rudiment & let it teach me how to be unafraid again.

Scherezade Siobhan

The Scary Herbs of Halloween

By Joanna Poncavage 

It’s a dark night in autumn. Days are becoming shorter and colder. Harvest time is ending, and pantries are being stocked with fruits and nuts for winter. Inside, beside a warm fire, an old uncle tells ghost stories. Firelight gleams on a bowl of red apples, ready for fortune telling and games. Spiced cider flows, and young people, some wearing odd costumes, dance under the flickering light of turnip lanterns.

Turnip Lanterns

Many customs of the holiday we call Halloween date to traditions across prehistoric Europe. But turnip lanterns, at least in the United States, have been replaced by easier-to-carve pumpkins, with—let’s face it—more impressive, large, orange shapes. A glowing turnip or pumpkin, however, has the same purpose: to drive away the darkness, scare away the spooks, and light the way to the next party.

Centuries ago, when rooms were illuminated by fire, Europe’s inhabitants were farmers or herders whose lives depended on knowing the rhythms of the year. Halloween (or Samhain, as it once was called) falls on the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. According to the Celtic calendar, which began its holidays on the eve before, Halloween was the start of the new year.

“To understand the significance of these seasonal festivals, we need to step back in time for a moment, closer to the food production cycle than most of us are today,” says Bettina Arnold, co-director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Celtic Studies. Certain food plants had important ties to the holiday’s meaning.

First the Apple

Native to eastern Turkey and southwestern Russia, apples have a long relationship with civilization and its myths and symbols. As members of the rose family, apples and their flowers have associations with Venus, goddess of love and fertility.

Poised on the threshold of the new year, Halloween was viewed as a time when it was possible to see into the future, and fortune telling often involved love and marriage predictions. An apple peel thrown over the shoulder, for instance, could predict the first letter of a true love’s name. Peeling an apple in front of a mirror by candlelight might reveal an image of a lover. And the first person to bite an apple floating in a dish of water would be the first to wed (not to mention that apple bobbing might provide quite an opportunity for real-time flirting).

Grown from seed, apples tend to revert to wild species with small, sour fruit. Gradually, over many thousands of years, improved selections were preserved by grafting. Carried by traders, invaders and Romans into Europe, apples were brought to the New World by the first colonists in the 1600s, and the first orchard was said to be planted near Boston in 1625.

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