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Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

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poetry

T is for Thyme

AtoZParticipant2017

T is for Thyme

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Cooks have long valued thyme as a flavorful recipe addition and for its preservative qualities. It grows low to the ground and produces flavors ranging from lemon to herbal. All three hundred varieties produce flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

During Medieval times, forms of thyme were known as “Our Lady’s Bedstraw.” John Fletcher’s “Two Noble Kinsmen” mentions, “…daisies smell less, yet most quaint, and sweet thyme true…” Lord Bacon, the first acknowledged English essayist, devoted an essay to gardening, saying, “…burnet, wilde-thyme, and water mints, therefore, are set whole allies to have the pleasure when walked or tread upon…” Elizabethans used thyme to treat head and heart disorders and to settle nervous complaints. Gerard recommends thyme-infused wine for stomach complaints.

To ancient Greeks, thyme can mean “courage” and “to fumigate.” Through the centuries, it acted as a remedy for epilepsy and melancholy, worms and lice. Roman soldiers bathed in thyme to impart courage before battle. Virgil claimed thyme combats fatigue. Ancient Egyptians used thyme to help preserve dead bodies. This association with death continued in Europe where the herb grew to mask odors. The Welsh believe spirits smell of thyme, and folk belief declares the spirits of the recently departed inhabit thyme flowers. Bringing thyme plants into the house welcomes illness. Some gardeners set aside a patch of thyme for the fairy folk since they love the plant.

Thyme, with rosemary, sage, and lavender, is an ingredient in Four Thieves Vinegar, a medieval deterrent of the plague. Thyme is a source for Serpolet oil, an herbal aphrodisiac. As with many herbs, thyme can be dried and burned as a purifier, and inhaling the scent enhances psychic powers, renews energy, and banishes evil. When carried on a person, thyme inspires courage, attracts good health, and protects from negativity. Thus it is a recommended corsage or tucked into a pocket for funerals or other unpleasant occasions. Thyme can also be crafted into a sachet. Thyme can also be added to a bath or placed in a pillow to promote restful, nightmare-free dreams.

The middle Grade novel “Counting Thyme” by Melanie Conklin explores the complicated life of Thyme Owens and her family’s struggles with cancer. A Brian Eastman British television murder mystery series called “Rosemary and Thyme” ran for three seasons from 2003 until 2007. Thomas McCarthy wrote “The Rarest Thyme,” wherein “For you I would have built an herb-garden, not a pathetic patch for mint and chives, but a real olitory, with old-fashioned southernwood and rarest thyme…” “Dear Dark Head” by Padraic Colum waxes romantic with “Oh, mouth of honey, with the thyme for fragrance, who with heart in breast could deny you love?”

thyme fairy

F is for Flax

F is for Flax

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

october_medieval_gardening

Humans have harvested flax since ancient history. Archeologists discovered flax remnants in Stone Age lake-side dwellings in Switzerland. The ancient Egyptians created fine linens from flax fibers, as well as the wrappings for royal mummies. Phoenicians apparently brought linen to Gaul and Britain, and the Romans spread linen production through their empire. The plant most likely originated in the Mediterranean region.

Flax is mentioned in the Bible several times. Leviticus tells priests wore garments made of flax. Exodus instructs the devout on using twined flax linen to create curtains for the tabernacle. When men were sent to scout out Jericho in the Book of Joshua, the men hid under stacks of flax. Ezekiel describes a sail made of fine flaxen linen from Egypt, and the dead are wrapped with flaxen linen before their internment in the tomb.

Walt Whitman’s “Faces” mentions using flax for fabric production in “Faces” (“…Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen, hand grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaughters spun it with the distaff and the wheel…”) and again in “A Carol of Harvest for 1867.” (“…Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania, cut the flax in the Middle States…”) Elizabeth Barrett Browning in “Work and Contemplation,” Jonathan Swift in “To Stella Who Collected and Transcribed His Poems,” and Countee Cullen in “Heritage” mention working with flax, as did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his tribute to “Keats.” Ralph Waldo Emerson lists it among important plants on a farm in “Hamatreya.”

Judy Grahn in “Helen in Hollywood” takes a different approach to the plant, describing a starlet with the line “… her flesh is like flax, a living fiber…” In the Christian Hymn 125, Christ’s compassion for the weak and tempted is described thus: “…He’ll never quench the smoking flax, but raise it to a flame; the bruised reed he never breaks…”

The flower of the plant is described by Longfellow in “The Wreck of the Hesperus” (…blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, her cheeks like the dawn of day, and her bosom white as the hawthorn, that ope in the month of May…”) as did A.E. Housman in “Bring in This Timeless Grave to Throw.” (…but if the Christmas field is kept awns the last gleaner overstept, or shriveled flax whose flower is blue, a single season, never two…”)

Producers grow two types of flax, seed flax which is grown for its linseed oil, and fiber flax grown for the fibers in its stems. Linseed meal is fed to livestock, and chickens fed a diet of flax produce high omega-3 eggs. Flax is included in some skin treatments and makeup products, and consuming it is believed to keep human hearts healthy. Linseed oil is used in oil painting and varnish. Flax continues to be made into textiles, ropes, and papers. In fact, these days, a major flax paper product is cigarette paper.

AtoZParticipant2017

Darkly Never After

The author's horror selfie.

Of all the anthologies in which I have published works, this is one of my favorites. All proceeds from Darkly Never After go to pediatric cancer research. I have two short stories and a scattering of poems included.

One story follows a home health care worker on a swampy assignment. The other looks into the dark influence of jealousy.

However, it is to go out of print soon, so if you want a copy for a good cause, head to:

https://www.amazon.com/Darkly-Never-After-Alex-Hurst/dp/1502374803/

or other outlets and snag a copy!

 

Tattoo

Tattoo

written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

Certain you’d remain

I allowed the ink

to penetrate my heart,

invade my very blood,

color my senses.

 

Then without a word

you ripped from my skin

my love’s masterful art,

fed upon the blood

of my poisoned trust.

april-national-poetry-month-monet-claude-water-lillies

Sadness

Sadness

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

“Why so sad?”

Birdsong inquires.

Sunshine beams its glee.

She just cries.

Feels not the warming

Of living safe and free.

april-national-poetry-month-monet-claude-water-lillies

On Aging

On Aging

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

It’s all there,

A web of lines

With matching spider veins.

Liver-brown

Invades pale skin

Joints creak and snap within.

Wisdom lies

In cloudy eyes

Yet none seek the treasure.

Decades of

Experience

Insight Without measure.

april-national-poetry-month-monet-claude-water-lillies

Misused Potential

Misused Potential

written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

The flame flickers,

Sandalwood scented wax

drowning the wick;

Light sputters, crackles, dies,

plunging the space

into silent blackness

and the scent of misused potential.

april-national-poetry-month-monet-claude-water-lillies

 

Changing Dreams

april-national-poetry-month-monet-claude-water-lillies

Changing Dreams

written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

She changed her dreams

when they came along;

their welfare all that mattered.

 

She sacrificed much

for their well-being;

their happiness consuming.

 

They’ve grown, adults now

getting on with life;

she must rethink herself now.

Withy

Willow in the breeze

bends low her comely branches

to the springtime sun.

weeping-willow

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