Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Upright Man

The first was a gift, of course—well, aren't they always?

—that Kelly gave you (he'd made it himself) one night

after one of those early sabbats in Shirley's basement.

Rite concluded, circle down, the rest had gone

upstairs to drink and party, but we—the young,

the pious, the naked—had stayed down by the fire.


Then suddenly it was on you, he was on you,

and the rite began, the real one: antlered

(the antlers screwed, had we known it,

into a yellow construction worker's helmet),

cowled with a bag-mask of faux brown fur,

with eye-holes, but no face.


Then there where you stood became our center:

your stocky body, firm as an earth-fast stone,

a rooted tree, our axis mundi, your thick veined cock

—with its own cowl—standing, throbbing,

with you, your antlers assaulting heaven


and we were dancing, dancing around you,

wheeling with you as our pole, while upstairs

they nattered and drank their silly cocktails.


That was both after and before the days of wood,

paint, and leather, but the antlers at least were real,

and so was the dance, and now,


some forty years on, our dance that night

has still not ended.


O Upright Man, O Lord:

 may this dance never end.



For Uncle Wolf


In Memory










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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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