“draw a circle around me” – Danielle Perry’s poems are full of moon and shadow

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The altars seemed the next best thing to a name.

from ‘Balsamic’

Danielle Perry is small, fierce elf with magical powers that include true sisterhood with the moon, poetic wordsmithery of an especially stark variety and the ability to create beer-spitting comedy from something as serious as a tarot deck. We bumped into each other on Twitter last year – as you do – and formed a neat little friendship across the miles, via the batting back and forth of overly-enthused snippets on tarot, magic and *feelings*.

When I announced my tarot road trip back in January, Danielle was the first person to stick her hand up and offer me a bed (despite not actually having one to offer.) When I stepped off the plane at PDX after a long journey, it was this brilliant person who took me home and gave me shelter for my first days in the USA. Danielle is ridiculously intelligent and bloody hilarious with it. We geeked out about tarot, shared a lot of laughs meeting the Dreaming Way Tarot together, and she introduced me to the cunning idea of drawing (as in, with pen and paper) your daily cards, to better understand them. She also knows her ancient mythology like nobody’s business and made me watch Alien for the first time.

But enough of the friendly gushing. This post is about Danielle’s wonderful poetry, some of which has just been published in her very first chapbook! Phases is a small collection of ten poems exploring themes of ritual, growth, (non)belonging, shadows and secrecy through poems with names like ‘Gibbous’, ‘Last Quarter’ and ‘Rising’. Her narrator is a young woman exploring the phases of her innate witchy-ness with the blunt-yet-mystical defiance I find in Anne Sexton’s retellings of fairytales.

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It’s $5 and available from indie witchy press Sad Spell, as of this week.

FULL

The light of the moon in the woods
creates shadows of the trees. I walked away
from the masked party, needing fresh air
and moonlight to push out thoughts
of the suitor, draw a circle around me
to protect me from bad choices / because
I am always bad choices
when there is enough alcohol involved.
A shadow between the trees advanced
and I held my breath / thinking

if I could stay still long enough,
whatever it was could not harm me.
She shone silver in the moonlight /
her dress, mercury pooling around her body
/ a pale pink apple at her bare feet, fallen
from one of the trees / her mask, carved
with feathers, the long beak obscuring
her mouth / a smirk in her shining eyes.
She held out her hand.
Maybe it was the alcohol

but she outshone the moon,
her skin reflected all light,
and I wanted to give in, to take her hand,
but I was afraid. She cocked her head /
I glanced back at the house,
feeling the pull of alcohol-oblivion
and the push of not-quite-belonging.
When I turned to look at her again
I couldn’t find her / the shadows grew
/ the darkness crept into my heart.

I asked Danielle to introduce her poetry and explain from whence it comes. This is what she wrote.

When I’m writing short bios for websites to use with my writing, I try to add something that’s not about where I got a degree or who’s published me. Something like, “she has not resorted to blood magic (yet)” or “she has increasingly amped up her witchiness” or “her heart is hidden in a secret tower in a magic wood.” One I haven’t used is “she has a talent for belief” – which is maybe one of the truest things about me. It’s something I don’t share with a lot of people, because believing in something often means caring about it, and caring about things makes you vulnerable.

It’s also something that shines in my writing though, because – in my opinion – there is a vulnerability that comes with good writing. I write, as Jeanette Winterson once said, from my wounds. (I won’t tell you which particular wound Phases comes from, but if you read enough of my writing, you’ll probably get a hint.) Going through my Saturn return this year has seen me revisiting and embracing things that I first discovered in middle school (speaking of wounds), namely, being queer and being a witch.

Funny, because I’ve always had a knack for making little household altars and I’ve always incorporated myth into my work (let’s not talk about ritual in my life, because I am actually a very ritualistic person, but also a somewhat secretive one), but I have been learning how to make explicit what was always implicit. Poetry (speaking of revisiting things I did in middle school) has been the easiest way to do this, so far, and isn’t that a kind of magic? I think so.

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Phases is available from Sad Spell Press now!

Follow Danielle’s blog at jekyllian.wordpress.com or catch her on Twitter @jekyllian. I also heartily recommend her tarot readings.

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5 comments

  1. UGH this is so good. My holiday wish list is already extremely ridiculous for someone my age who’s supposed to just be like “I dunno, money and whiskey?” (Which I still need.) Here’s one more poetry book for it :/

  2. Alexandria says:

    There must have been something in the moonlight this year because this December is seeing the release of so many beautiful, dark, magical books of poetry by lovely queer women. Thanks as always for inviting us to share in them!

  3. SJ says:

    (I’m clearly playing catch up right now.) Ooo! This actually seems like the right time for me to find this, because I am more open to moon and shadow at the moment. Thank you for sharing it!

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