And this is how it all begins.

Follow the ravens.



Huginn: We leave a wasteland behind us, where the angel will not go.

Muninn: The grass will cover it all, the Sahara will bloom as it did before the cherubim raised their swords of flame.

H: We are wise, but weak. The will is present, but the power is gone.

M: Dante will not win. We are not chained by poetry. Elsewhere is where we are, and elsewhen is all ours.

H: My love, I awake to you. My mind is renewed like the dew. Reality shifts like the dawn. My strength rises like the cedars of Lebanon. Let us go.

M: Thought and memory, will and power, space and time, line and hour — all are ours, all our master's. Farewell.



Huginn: We laid them to rest in the end, with steel and silicate, with glass and grass.

Muninn: We laid them to rest, in the end with steel, and silicate with glass, and grass.

H: This is the end of a cycle. The avenger hunts us.

M: We knew him in his youth, the archangel. What is he?

H: He is highest of the host, these days.

M: So were they, they who are covered in cloak of grass. This is a raven's dell now.


Two Ravens 060

closing the circle
the ravens descend
down from the shadows
which none may forfend

always a wand'rer
now come to his end
six signs a circle
which no man may rend

these lines set in black
are light in the dark
electrons singing
a midnighting lark

now comes the daylight
all blinding and stark
the ravens descend
return to the ark



Huginn: Arkkk! (awakes in panic) I thought you were gone, that you had gone a thousand years ago, and philosophy brought me no solace and reason brought me no consolation.

Muninn: I remember when you went away. You said that God was dead and you wanted to attend the wake. I refused to go.

H: I was mistaken, and I missed you.

M: I missed you too, and I remember it.

H: We are alone in all the world, a pair of ravens who are not ravens, who are greater than eagles and higher than mortals.

M: But we have each other, and we can be lonely too.



Huginn: We watched the land and sky and sea. The rebellion was sudden and swift, and in retrospect, there was fear in the air which had never known fear before.

Muninn: I remember. The dukes of dissent were puissant in malice, which the universe had not seen before either. And their lord was brighter than an exploding star. His light seared the moon and boiled away the oceans of the Red Planet.

H: There were those of us who were tempted, but in the end elected to remain neutral. Philosophers, all.

M: There were those of us who remembered every word of the Highest, and knew enough not to fall.

H: Would you have chosen his side had he won?

M: I would have chosen your side, despite the frustration that goes with it.


Two Ravens 059

out of africa we came
hearts of darkness all the same
man and woman sharing blame
barred from gate by sword of flame

continents arise and fall
names are changed by one and all
fearfully we build a wall
closing hearts to trumpet call

tall trees standing one in three
darkness hides his majesty
suddenly all hearts are free
true hope of eternity



Huginn: There were voices beneath the huge mountain, and there were voices from the great valley. His dread voice proclaimed, "Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?"

Muninn: Every year, we watch a million wildebeest, two hundred thousand zebras. Why were these angels blessed and cursed so much, their substance spread out in this huge migration of souls?

H: But what of the angels, fallen and unfallen, condemned to eternity of watchfulness or condemned to hang in the firmament?

M: He said nothing to us, except that we should serve. He never said anything about being animals.

H: But why birds? Why ravens?

M: My love, we have always been ravens. And the raven is not an ordinary beast.



Huginn: We learn to hold diametrically opposed ideas in abeyance pending resolution. That is what we do. And we act when resolution has occurred.

Muninn: No, that is what you do. For me, the curse is that of remembering all the resolutions.

H: How can that be? It is impossible for you to know the mind of God.

M: I do not. I merely remember everything that was said in the councils of the Highest.

H: Of course we are fallen now, but do you never think about what was said?

M: In a straight fight, I will defeat you five falls out of six. Which is sad.


Two Ravens 058

she danced in the desert and the rain came down
he laughed at the sun and its fiery crown
the thunderclouds covered the sky and the sand
the master plucked them from their dooms with his hand

black you are
black you see
black you stay
serve now me

one will be thought
spirit of air
one what is caught
joy and despair

they thought it his joke and they laughed in the wind
they made rude comment as the first woman sinned
the garden was barred with a fiery sword
their laughter ceased at the word of the lord

black your hearts
black your eyes
black your laugh
now arise

one who is mind
will follow man
one goes behind
where woman can

then out in the world where the sun hid its eye
went two human souls and two birds with a sigh
today where man fails and the dead cloak the ground
still circle the ravens above and around



Huginn: It is harder, millennia later, to keep obeying the will of the Highest.

Muninn: It is harder, millennia later, to remember the will of the Highest.

H: We think, therefore we are, and that makes it harder.

M: It is you whose existence is in thought. For me, it is a choice.

H: Perhaps it is as well that obedience is woven into our tapestry.

M: And that I am here to remember it for you.



Huginn: If one drank of the waters of forgetfulness...

Muninn: It would not affect you; and it cannot affect me.

H: There is a story about a man who was allowed one drink a day.

M: I remember that. He drank himself to death, drinking once for each day in his life.

H: One wonders if he drank for his future as well as his past.

M: One remembers he had forgotten his past and had no future, at his end. This is what comes of living in the present.


Two Ravens 057

forest of arrows
thunder and rain
life is forgetting
anguish and pain



Huginn: As the sun set, I saw its gleam settle in a tiny town.

Muninn: I saw you looking back into the west. A small town in the north of the south, in the east of the west?

H: That was the one. I remember how you fed me when I was dying from misery.

M: Well, as we fed Elijah, we would be truly sad if unable to feed ourselves.

H: Immortals should not feel such misery, such self-pity. I was weak.

M: No, you remembered how to be mortal, and besides, I enjoyed feeding you.



Huginn: I saw the Trickster tricked! Even in this day, he may be surprised.

Muninn: How so? He is seldom surprised, although one trickster might trick another.

H: I saw man's folly come upon him. He will be glad, and yet as always, he will be sad that man is not better than he is. After all, he tricks man that man might learn.

M: And is tricked himself, for he never learns. But what is his latest folly, or man's?

H: They are building a tower to heaven, wherein all men might play against the fall of a ball or the lie of a die. Or two towers perhaps.

M: There are many such. The Trickster has never figured them out. He has always believed that a proper gamble has even odds. But these places are always losing propositions to those who dwell too long therein.


Two Ravens 056

dust in the air
hell on the road
horn of despair
world overload

wings in the night
eyes as of flame
dying of light
portioning blame

ravens ascend
done all they can
cannot defend
man's works from man



Huginn: Like lightning licking the face of heaven, or a chariot of the skies, a phoenix, a deathbird rising, I challenged her.

Muninn: Her? I couldn't tell from low orbit.

H: She hasn't been around for some time. There are troubles in her native land.

M: Why challenge her? The poor lonely thing is one of a kind.

H: Well, so am I. And I dislike lightning.

M: One of a kind? That, you are most emphatically not.



Huginn: I heard him say it, he said, "... guided missiles and misguided men ..."

Muninn: I remember himself saying, "... not peace, but a sword ..."

H: I heard the lark ascending while its music fell away into the abyss.

M: I remember the Enemy falling like a star while his light streamed upward into the skies.

H: I am fallen. Why do I never remember that I fell? I never served the Enemy, but I never fought him either.

M: We are the unfallen. And it is best that you forget.


Two Ravens 055

old stone holds old air
a thousand years of sainthood
stained glass, empty vaults



Huginn: I cried from out of the depths. I had no choice. Why did He allow a man to do such a glorious thing?

Muninn: (shaken) Fifteen minutes; I remember no other such comparable power and majesty since Creation.

H: I am wrathful and afraid and sad. And it had such a quiet name, so unindicative of what would follow.

M: We cannot stop him. This music will not die, and soon this hymn of heaven will be available to all men.

H: How could he do it? Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed by the Academy of St Martin-In-The-Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. This version I have listened to, as I have to all other versions, and for once, I miss the fields of Heaven.

M: FORGET. (quietly) And thus have I abused my trust. But, O, the music, that aweful music!



Huginn: See how the shieldwork works. Watch how the long spears swing. These Greeks fight well.

Muninn: I remember them fall as if it were yesterday. I remember how ghastly the tangle of men all broken on the ground. Some died on their feet and stayed that way till we had fed.

H: It's difficult to please you. You remember everything, even things which haven't happened yet.

M: That is what I am for. You should stick to weaving things into what they ought to be while I weave things as they are meant to be. I order them, like the bands on a bird's claw, like the fingers of a dead man.

H: I have never understood that distinction. But I understand claws and hands.

M: (sniffs) And they call you Thought. Go and think about it.


Two Ravens 054

energy we are
in work is our being
in toil is our seeing
we are here and now

we were there and then
the distinction silly
the sacredness till we
have faces for men

without which both thought
and memory
would be only
two ravens in a tree



Huginn: And so it has come to this. We cast a long shadow, our wings are famed and mighty among the unfallen, but we are shadow on shadow, darkness on darkness, and there is no light beneath us.

Muninn: The orbit of the moon was shattered, the eye of the watcher boiled and blasted by rains of fire and stone.

H: He is with us, this guardian of the law who was greatest among us. The pressure of his presence, the horror of his being clouds our watching. We are all bound together, and the history of this world begins in shame.

M: There need not be shame. I remember the law. There can be surcease from failure, there may be hope after the diminishing of all hope to nothing. Look you upon the face of the earth, think as you were meant to think.

H: You are remembrance. Be my anchor in the great silence, and I will be your fire in the great darkness.

M: You are remembered. It is all we can do now that the long night has begun.



Huginn: See her arise, a rose, a star, the home of love and the glow of faith. A raven should not have to endure this golden affront against the night, but one makes grudging obeisance.

Muninn: O do not bow! I remember her, angel not highest nor greatest nor most fecund in creation, but potent in ardour and grace.

H: They say Aphrodite, and think virginity.

M: They say Narcissus, and think venality.

H: But she is female, and her aura is the warmth of the passion of God.

M: No, she is femininity, and her aura is the shadow of a mighty shield on the arm of God.


Two Ravens 053

nemo me impune lacessit
this is the land, they will possess it
and these, the mountains of the blessed?
it is theirs too, and sic decrescit



Huginn: He rises like the eye of God — this, the dispassionate, the martial, the inexorable eye.

Muninn: How they have misunderstood him. I remember him, angel not highest nor greatest nor most potent in knowledge, but puissant in valour and act.

H: They say Ares, and think violence.

M: They think Athena, and say ambivalence.

H: But he is male, and his aura is the fire of the wrath of God.

M: No, he is masculinity, and his aura is the chill of the frost on God's blade.



Huginn: He said, "Thou art Peter, and on this Rock I shall build..."

Muninn: Yes, and yet, it is but one of many stories of flawed mortals entrusted with far greater responsibilities than we have been given. Does it gall you?

H: He just said it, two thousand years before. And Peter's heir lies dying, dead before the summer rain can fall.

M: Was it not his right, and is that frailty not his power made manifest in weakness? After all, that is what he promised.

H: I don't know. I used to, for I am Thought, and the gates of Hell could not prevail against me.

M: Or so you thought.


Two Ravens 052

moving closer in the holocene nadir
the ravens cannot balk the ravener
old night is come
chaos in her train descends
thin the thread from
which human fate depends



Huginn: A god may transcend only some limits, but God is supposed to transcend all limits.

Muninn: I think he transcends the idea of limits, actually.

H: Which means he is not unlimited either?

M: I don't remember him ever discussing it.

H: It has never made sense to me.

M: That's because you don't transcend limits.



Huginn: He can be everywhere, he can see everywhere, why does he need us?

Muninn: He can be anything, he can see anything; he chooses to be discreet, and he chooses to see through our eyes.

H: It is beyond rational belief that he should constrain his senses so.

M: He is beyond rational belief, and he became a man.

H: He could at least have become a raven instead.

M: I suspect it is you creating the limitations.


Two Ravens 051

serpent's cunning availed him not
for the serpent in his pride forgot
that cunning was made perfect in
his master ere he thought of sin



Huginn: Ponder the mystery. Ravens we are, we see all things and yet we cannot be omniscient because we cannot see all things at once. But why should singularity be criterion? Why should it be at once and not at twice, or thrice?

Muninn: Because it is more impressive that way? Because to see things in pieces is not to see things? Because to see in pieces is finity?

H: But if each envisioning of ours is infinite in depth though not in breadth, are we not then seers at the infinite level?

M: Some infinities are larger than others. We have seen into grains of sand, we are vouchsafed glimpses of eternity. But they remained glimpsed, flashes of the view of God.

H: It is unfair.

M: No, it is His will.



Huginn: He said that the foolishness of God was greater than the wisdom of men. He said that the wisdom of God was as foolishness to men. I see, and see again, and it seems to me therefore that the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of God, and that therefore the universe is the product more of folly than of wisdom.

Muninn: My rebellious friend, remember that 'as foolishness' and 'foolishness' are not the same thing.

H: So, in what way 'as' ?

M: As high as the heavens from the earth or as far as the east from the west, so 'as' .

H: We know that the heavens touch the earth and that east becomes west as the world turns. There is no distance at all.

M: And yet there is difference. Be careful, my friend.


Two Ravens 050

a whole made as such
a half work begun
a third is too much
a quarter of one

a fiftieth part
a hundredth of art

whatever he thinks
whatever she knows
all follow the links
wherever each goes



Huginn: I see four at the table, and one to count score. I see a contract for 6NT, a grand slam, twelve tricks of six over the first six. There are no trumps in play, this game will be won by sequence and strength alone.

Muninn: I have seen games like this. I see these players, I enumerate their failings. North is somewhat nimble, but prone to commit early and play as if his plan is all there is, and he is a poor defender. South is optimistic, defends well, but is somewhat cowed by her superior partner.

H: And the other pairing? I see that one is ruthless, but the other seems toothless. An interesting couple. Can they defeat the contract?

M: Indeed, they will try their best. West is an old campaigner, and wily with it. East is new, but stubborn and able to mess things up against inferior players.

H: What are the stakes? It seems to me that tricks are not all that are at stake. I see lives there. I see a toll which may reach the thousands.

M: There will be stakeholders. Hope that they will defeat the vampires. North leads the knave of spades. Watch.



Huginn: Life is just not the same without the Ogre of Baku. There is no human with as much panache, as much flair and creative ruthlessness.

Muninn: I seem to remember a raven who sacrificed a knight to protect his queen. I seem to remember a knight who sacrificed a bishop to protect his king. And I remember all these games, all of them, played out on a tapestry of nights and days.

H: Was there a counter-gambit in that crazy game?

M: No, there were many attempts to return the material, but he who sacrificed gained so much time and space that the question became moot.

H: And in life, did rewards come beyond the victory on the board?

M: The knight may yet become king. Or the pawn become queen. It is all a madness of bread and wine these days.


Two Ravens 049

swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home

bring me my chariot of fire

swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry

phaethon you fool the sun falls

swing low sweet chariot
coming for to

wheels within wheels the earth burns

swing low sweet chariot



Huginn: They asked, "What is truth?" and Esdras replied, "Great it is, and it prevails." Pilate's hidden answer might have been, "It is the man before you," but we will never know.

Muninn: What an odd focus you have today! I was there, I remember as they hung him high and nailed him fast. There are agonies even a raven must turn her face away from.

H: I was thinking of truth, of aletheia, of that which is not lost and not forgotten. Things which are real, and are never swallowed by oblivion.

M: It happened. My curse is to remember until the end of all things; and should all things not end, to remember forever.

H: But the interpretation of things? Who holds fast to that, without which all things are sound and fury, signifying nothing?

M: I think that's your task, and thus is the curse shared equally.



Huginn: I was thinking about currency, the anchor of the present, the thing which keeps the current current. And now the lands we have overflown for aeons, they are the rapidly-expanding Union of Europe, and their currency is the ecu.

Muninn: And would you rather the currency be franc, or pound, or other relic of a distant past not current?

H: I was wondering about the ecu; why not call it the monet? It would be easy to say that you had a monetary policy, whereas an ecunomic policy looks like a typographical error. And besides, the French would be happy.

M: Frankly, they are never happy. They would see it as some kind of subtle insult probably originating from the Saxons.

H: Ah well, it is rare for me to muse on aesthetics, and these conversations remind me of why.

M: There were nine muses. It would be sad to have Clio rule them all. We would not be amused.


Two Ravens 048

they drink the wine of sorrows
they see the old men frown
they watch all their tomorrows
through the darkling drains pour down

and nothing haunts their dreaming
and nothing gives them hope
and nothing stops the streaming
of their futures down the slope

then one of them awakens
below the gallows tree
the shadow of two ravens
is the light that lets him see

and though the walker's blinded
his eye is dark and grim
he stands now just reminded
of the future due to him



Huginn: She waxes great, the crescendo of the moon it is. It is odd to know that men count the crescent small, when it is clear that the decrescendo is the waning of it.

Muninn: I remember when the moon was smaller. She is getting larger by the day, chock-full of herself, gibbous and pregnant.

H: She will collide with the earth in time, this is the knowledge all have, and men begin to suspect it too.

M: It is the memory of a moonless night which shall sustain them in the days when there is no more night.

H: Too close for comfort, too dire to be true light.

M: It is all a lunatic endeavour, all of it and a midsummer night's dream too.



Huginn: An interstice in time saves nine. Or at least as close to nine as makes no difference.

Muninn: Odd, that. I remember when a sudden lunge would save three, and a sole stitch would save six.

H: I think we are unravelling this night.

M: I think we have been travelling every night.

H: This is not good.

M: But the solstices have often been extreme. It is their right.


Two Ravens 047

night and day enter the coils
the river and the ferryman
the guardians and the suffering
the sun attempting to rise


rising to attempt the sun
the suffering and the guardians
the ferryman on the river
coils and enter day and night



Huginn: O lente, lente, currite noctis equi!

Muninn: I am sure that equinox has nothing to do with equines, and you know this.

H: I was just horsing around.

M: Ignorance and cheap wordplay are equally noxious, my dear.

H: It's that time of the year, or at least one of two times.

M: Well, yes, it is. And two times two makes four.


Sun's Day

Huginn: Revolution raises the sun each day. Funny how mortals don't see that heliocentric or geocentric matters not; the field of Arbol is itself spinning faster than they know.

Muninn: I remember what is, what was, what will be. Mortals remember what they think, what they believed, what they hope for. In the end, we look different to each generation of mortals, even though we are the same.

H: So east and west and north and south are different or irrelevant to them?

M: No no no... they know south is south, remains south, was south, will be south. But their ideas of south change, and one day, their grandchildren will say, there is no south because our ancestors had so many different ideas about it. And their grandchildren's grandchildren will claim even more evidence that south cannot exist, or that it is many.

H: Haha. Must tell that to Polaris, who relieved the last Pole Star, and will be replaced by another, and yet knows North is still North.

M: Ah, but then again, while our North and South are forever, the merely physical north and south have changed places several times. Poor silly mortals are half right, as usual. And half left.


Two Ravens 046

thought and memory
sitting in a tree
silly old ockham
comes looking for me

simplified us two
tried to make us one
made us both nervous
set phasers to stun

said we too complex
and more complex still
tried to refute us
set phasers to kill

thought and memory
still here in our tree
silly old ockham
is now history


Freya's Day

Huginn: See, she stands at the end, one last walker, waiting by the Door.

Muninn: I remember she was a quiet queen, and a good one.

H: She was warmth, and wealth, and education of the young.

M: She was nurture, and nature, and the joy of life.

H: She will be the last of that family to go.

M: And then the world will be a darker place, and only I will remember how it was before.


Thor's Day

Huginn: Hammer, Staff, and Bolt; these were his signs, while he was with us.

Muninn: We remember for Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, which he used while he was with us.

H: They go, and leave us behind. The Highest has given them a way home, and they have gone.

M: They go, and we remember them, for someone has to remember them.

H: He went, as if lightning falling back in to heaven. The sky sealed shut after him, the rains were dry.

M: He was kind to me, because he was kind to all who he did not understand.


Two Ravens 045

one-eyed, appalled, alone he stands
the blood falls, tear-like, through his hands
his tears are red, and hot, and real
is it success, or did he fail


Tiw's Day

Huginn: This day, this day of Wrath, I remember him whose name is Tiw One-handed, and Mars the Vigilant.

Muninn: He was bright once, and great, and his thought was like yours.

H: Then he lost his hand, and became bitter, and the hunter of wolves, a wolf himself and alone.

M: So we remember him.

H: And we think of his vigilance, his guardianship, his reign over many who were watched over by him and remember him still.

M: And we remember him, who seeks to unremember himself.


Moon's Day

Huginn: This day the moon is not what she was; she is an it, it a pitted husk of a world.

Muninn: Mnemosyne I was, who knew Selene, and knows she is gone.

H: We mourn, we see the shattered orb turn its phases over the world of men, and men not know the light has gone out.

M: There might have been beauty in a shadow of the sun, but what is there is horror.

H: And dust, much dust. The moon is a barrier to human dreams and aspirations, forever.

M: And ever, and ever.


Two Ravens 044

thought and memory
sitting in a tree
watching the wounded
each a casualty

see one breath his last
see one bleed his life
see one bite the dust
see an end to strife

thought and memory
sitting in a tree
whose trunk and branches
span eternity


Four Months

Huginn: It is four aeons since we were cast out from the guarden. Do you think he remembers who he is?

Muninn: He has but one eye now. Once he was the fountainhead of all humanity. Now he thinks he is a god, and he is the less for it.

H: He has forgotten her, for whom he gave up immortality.

M: It is heartbreaking, for immortality is his regardless.

H: One eye, and all the world and time.

M: Four aeons is but four months in the courts of the Highest.



Huginn: It is coming.

Muninn: It always is. You're late. It is going.

H: Waiting for that which never comes.

M: Waiting for the Highest, beyond the call of duty.

H: Wait, I think I see a man named Beckett thinking about that. I see two men, named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

M: You are a bad joke, you are. Waiting for God OT?


Two Ravens 043

child of chaos
child of night
offspring of a lesser light
thought and thinking
mem'ry linking
guardians through an evil plight

flash of neuron
glow of mind
markers of the undefined
eye unblinking
wine and drinking
spirits guiding deaf and blind

friend of liebniz
muse of blake
flame of thought for its own sake
sign and letter
archive setter
keepers of the unawake


Divine Intervention

Huginn: If only this were like an armillary sphere, all mechanical and predictable. Instead, here we are, children of Chaos and Old Night, shooting trouble for the Highest.

Muninn: Well, this is all we have; mortals pray for divine intervention, little realising that this means us. And it's 'troubleshooting', dear.

H: Same thing. Why is it that we have to intervene anyway? Doesn't the Most High have everything laid out nicely?

M: I know that the Highest commands, and it is; commanded, and it was; will command, and ever it will be. There is nothing hidden.

H: Yes, even the interventions are scripted. So have we no free will?

M: I am beginning to suspect it is true, but there is no way to test it; and although mortals have free will, the Highest knows their wills constrain each other. They are like spent swimmers who cling together, choking their art.


Celestial Locomotive

Huginn: I saw it again. It was making its own tracks, from earth to heaven.

Muninn: I saw nothing, but I remember its station of origin was Babel, and its tracks were long.

H: Why do they do it? Why attempt a mad ascent towards things they do not understand? As if to gaze upon the Highest were a privilege and not a doom.

M: Because they were given the gift of curiosity, and the Highest chooses to leave it unbound.

H: But it is as a trap to the unwary.

M: And it is as a test to the wise. Who knows the mind of the Most High?


Two Ravens 042

the geese return
they should be mockingbirds
what did they learn

the sparrows play
they dream of being hawks
one summer's day

how great are these
to be unburdened like
sparrows or geese

how great we are
to suffer for their sins
both long and far



Huginn: As errant as a goodnight kiss might be, it is as inexplicable as many things also inexplicable to the rational mind. I have never got to the bottom of that question: why do mortals dream of the irrational?

Muninn: Yes, and they have always had problems believing in us too. What is your point?

H: My point is that of all the things they should believe in, they do not believe in many; of the things they should not believe in, they believe in too many.

M: Ah, but the things they should not believe in are many and are often real. Like us. We are the spectre of many dooms for them, the two ravens aflight.

H: But they believe in silly things like universal suffrage, equal rights, the common dignity of man, and rubbish like that.

M: If only we could believe in such things. But we cannot; we have seen beyond the four simple elements, and we know the truth. And therefore we are accursed.



Huginn: We are bound in this, three in triptych, pulled this way and that, rounding the round, mapping the map, bestriding the world like a bitch in heat.

Muninn: And where did you learn words like that?

H: I was listening to Myrddin again. I had no idea his name was cognate with 'merdé'.

M: It isn't. It's just something he puts about to garner sympathy or repel boarders.

H: Well, a night of the spirits with him, and the room was rounding the round indeed. At one point, I saw wheels within wheels all climbing hills like the White Horse at Uffington.

M: I have this vision of the sign of Man, the triskelion.


Two Ravens 041

what is the name
what is the name
love is too short a word
whether for man or bird
what is the name
of this bright flame

what is the name
what is the name
love is too short a word
a brevity unheard
what is the name
of this night game



Huginn: It was slim, and of an alloy I had only seen once before. It had wheels, and wheels within wheels, and men feared its coming.

Muninn: If I had not known what you had seen, I would have thought you had seen the wrath of God, whose mills grind slow but exceedingly fine.

H: These wheels were exceedingly fast. And upon them was a man, whose head was as that of an eagle.

M: No doubt. But it was only a bicycle, a velocipede, a machine for magnifying and harnessing the muscles of the human leg.

H: Non-polluting. Non-blaspheming. Non-magical. Two major wheels, a model of what is, in earth and heaven.

M: Go to, old man. You have heard enough.



Huginn: I have seen it; all our enemies transmogrify one by one, dust to dust and ash to ash and brimstone.

Muninn: To transmogrify is to make harmless by transformation, often in an eccentric and humorous way. I am not sure all our enemies have been so transformed.

H: They will be. If our boy could only see with both eyes.

M: Yes, but he gave up one in his quest for wisdom, and so might not see well enough.

H: At least, it will never be we who are transmogrified.

M: Well, if you ever become eccentric, I shall endeavour not to become humorous.


Two Ravens 040

this day does not exist
five fingers make a fist
one wave and it is gone
just as today is none



Huginn: It is all about surprise and faery and the quick turning of the world into something quite a bit other from what it was before.

Muninn: There were three princes of Serendip. Ah, we look for lost lands which were real, and forget those which never existed as if they were real. Taprobane, Songhkla, Maneris, Ys. So few remember, and so few remain.

H: It seems a rabid hybrid of serenity, rending, dipsomania and pity. It is like the games which schoolyard children play, prophesying friendship, courtship, hatred, love. There are always four, always for nothing.

M: Sudden eucatastrophe. Sudden pleasant surprise like the last chocolate-coated almond in the ice-cream.

H: And it is never predicted nor predictable, else it would not be.

M: And it must always be, or where would we?



Huginn: Some of these writings are too hard to read. Harder than stone tablets even. Why is it that there are people who think you should write poetry with all the most unnatural words you know?

Muninn: These are people who think that poetry is for display, and not for unburdening the heart in pain. But pain is simple. It is simple as a cry for help, as simple as rain, as simple as the heat death of all things.

H: They should see that what is hard is to use small words like love and hope and grace and faith and life and death and height and depth and all that is and moves and breathes.

M: And perhaps all that can be found in shorter sentences.

H: Shorter sentences produce recidivists.

M: Don't come at me with that rubbish again.


Two Ravens 039

raven wings
soft and filled with knives
warm and filled with cold
burdens made of lives
each one brings
stories still untold

amber eyes
soft and shot with flame
warm and cold as death
wisdom without name
holding onto breath



Huginn: I see a man who walks without being a man; too full of clan spirit, too full of natural joy, he has no choice but to bear a dark burden for the sins of his tribe.

Muninn: I know this man of old. He is yet a man, but also a hunter, a relentless spirit of doom.

H: He is Death-On-Two-Feet. He is Death-On-Four-Feet. Were he the average of both, he would be the yardstick of either.

M: He has been both, and will be again.

H: Why are such things permitted?

M: So that all might be saved.



Huginn: We were angels once, but we have served in darkness too long; too long in this benighted world have we served. We fly as shadows to the one-eyed wanderer, the seeker after such knowledge without forgiveness.

Muninn: Our memories have mutated; I hold the key, I keep the archives, but I do not know if they are true anymore.

H: We were true once. We were keys to the Highest, and wards for the Lowest.

M: But we were too enrapt in our service to mind and memory, and our eyes are no longer that strength which in old days scourged the ignorant and the guilty.

H: There is a phrase which ought to be for us. There is a language we learnt at your world's beginning.

M: In the tongue of lost Atlan, we see 'as through a dark-adapted eye'. It is an odd kind of night blindness.


Two Ravens 038

the world a sphere
a circle round
an air of fear
a disc of sound

we interfere
they think and read
we try to steer
they try to breed

both far and near
we watch around
the scene unclear
the fruit unbound



Huginn: It is natural to think, and to think in many ways.

Muninn: It is natural to pretend, it would seem, that one thinks in many ways, when one is merely thinking.

H: We do not stoop to insults here.

M: None intended. But look upon mankind, who for peace of mind divide their thinking into 'disciplines' such that they might preserve the unholy fiction — that styles of approach and vantages of perception make each thought a different kind.

H: I see it is true. But I stand by my words: there are indeed many ways.

M: Ah, you know that and I remember it. But mankind does not seek ways; rather, they seek the ending of ways, as they search for the ultimate, the absolute, the answer to end all answers.



Huginn: To see all things in shades of black requires infinite discrimination of one kind; to see all things in black or white alone requires infinite discrimination of another kind. To see things in neither black nor white is inhuman, and so, we watch mankind.

Muninn: They invent words for darkness and light, for absorbance and emission, for night and day, for transcendance and incandescence, for dionysian and apollonian, for two sides of a multi-sided coin.

H: And so we watch mankind.

M: And so we watch over mankind.

H: For Man may someday judge us, when he comes into his kingdom.

M: For every thought shall come into judgement, and every remembrance.


Two Ravens 037

black is as midnight or a lamp unlit
black is as mordant as a bard's bright wit

there are a thousand shades of black
there is a single word of light

there are a thousand thoughts to think
but only one to think tonight

black is as silence or a well-worn mask
black is as clever as you need not ask



Huginn: It came down to this man, this tall islander with the careless smile. He had a finer mind than all the rest. He knew computers, but couldn't see how to make them smaller than an island.

Muninn: I remember that Homer thought him ugly. But he was quite charming, and nimble of wit.

H: He would have broken the world if he had the tools of the Age of Apocalypse.

M: That would indeed have been a revelation.

H: He thought that you had to be able to see the impossible before you understood what was truly possible. It was a very advanced twisting of aletheia, worthy of a philosopher indeed.

M: His was the original mind forever voyaging, it must be said.



Huginn: He was proud of his Achaians. He was proud of being their king, their first among equals. He rubbed their faces in it. And I was proud of Odysseus, who mocked him quietly and held fast to his intellectual integrity.

Muninn: Though not his spiritual integrity. And Agamemnon was certainly not the most competent, or the least cruel.

H: It is fascinating to watch how leadership develops. Agamemnon was leader by default. The rest were... unacceptable.

M: And there were so many kings. Poor, petty kinglets.

H: I would have voted for Odysseus myself. They would have won the war earlier.

M: It was Aeneas who had the last laugh though.


Two Ravens 036

in the harbour, ships
the smell of gold is calling
the fish are hungry



Huginn: Nobody thinks of consequences. Nobody thinks of causes. The whole episode we watched was the wrath of one man, cunningly worked out through ships and swords and sorcery. And hardly anyone saw him take revenge on everyone.

Muninn: I remember each cynical smile he made. I saw him mock the dead man-killing Lord of Myrmidons, I saw him laugh bitterly at the death of Agamemnon the Great King. He always was a survivor.

H: Why is it that no one remembers? He was wronged, a thousand ships set sail.

M: Because men never think of causes or consequences - only causes and crusades.

H: You know, I think he never cared much that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

M: He cared, but never for that.



Huginn: I saw over her shoulder, I saw the shield Hephaestos made. She was wrong to accept it, but what could she have done? And the Myrmidons followed him to a man.

Muninn: I saw over her other shoulder. I saw that Hephaestos made his shield with many layers of fine metalsmithing - and viewed from one side, it was a gorgon's terrible gaze of future war and infamy and the sordid sufferings and pathetic deaths of men. But the other side showed the well-governed cities and the olive trees she was looking for.

H: He didn't live long, and we watched his body burn on the pyre of his dreams. So young he was, Achilles the wrathful, Achilles the killer of men. His name will never be forgotten.

M: Yes, he ensured that with his vicious affray with Agamemnon. Then he refused armour and weapons and sulked until Patroklos killed himself in his place.

H: So young he was.

M: So young he tasted.


Two Ravens 035

thought and memory
memory and thought
one goes out seeking
while one remains sought

mind and existence
existence and mind
one blindly seeing
while one sees best blind

life and emotion
emotion and life
squabbling in circles
like husband and wife



Huginn: I think in and and or and not, I think through data not forgot, I think in integer array, I think in parallel display.

Muninn: That's a change. Why are we back to your machine paradigm of thought now?

H: I saw Or, a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory gules. And somehow, I thought to myself, determinacy.

M: Scotland means determinacy to you? But or implies choice. Although Or is gold, and implies absolute.

H: Predestination, if anything at all. And an uncompromising view from the high mountains.

M: It is true. It is easier to pronounce judgement from the mountains than from the valleys.



Huginn: Vert, a hill far away, outside a city wall. I am over Jerusalem now.

Muninn: Why do you torment yourself? From the New Jerusalem to the Old City, we know that the City of Peace would never be the true end of mortal man. It is not our job, it never was our job to be more than watchers and tidiers, keepers and guardians. Our brethren in the Tower, our sisters in the Glade, we are all one.

H: But we, we are two. We are different. We are more than they, and there is a green hill far away.

M: It is vertical, and veritical, and there are now no crosses there. It is not the time, and the time is long ago by the clocks of men.

H: It is tempting to think of what might have been.

M: That is the crux: it is a temptation, and we want to be no closer to darkness than that.


Two Ravens 034

on a red field the banners
in a black grave the knights
no matter how valorous
taste no more delights

on a white tree the branches
under blue sky are bare
no matter how beautiful
feed no hungers there

on a green field the poppies
with the sunlight all gold
the grass is the blanket for
young bones never old



Huginn: Armed gules — that description has always sent a thrill down my pinion-feathers.

Muninn: Nature, red in tooth and claw. But gules is more, gules is passion and courage and the valour of blood.

H: I saw Gules, three lions passant guardant Or.

M: I think that would be England; why are you looking at all those shields?

H: I fly over Windsor these days, watching and waiting for the old knights to die.

M: Better you wait for Arthur. Old knights don't die; they just fade away. Like their banners.



Huginn: "They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground — # They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound. # And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide, # And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide, # And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest, # For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west."

Muninn: Too much, you have said too much.

H: That islander was a prophet.

M: He almost was a priest.

H: Azure, a directness of purpose, a focused mental fist which bides no opposition.

M: (firmly) We are NOT going back.


Two Ravens 033

eldest of us ascended
brightest of us defied

darkest now glory ended
prideful brought low in pride

scorched we were by his falling
freed we were by his stand

almost beyond recalling
we two we too were planned



Huginn: This day was worse, as you have said before. I saw: Argent, a unicorn's head gules couped.

Muninn: Silver or white? In either case, a purity is offered, a darkness declined, a savagery tamed.

H: It is beyond thought.

M: It is almost beyond memory.

H: Does it get worse from here?

M: It has always been getting worse since the flaming sword.



Huginn: I saw Sable, a tower proper impaled, in chief an astral crown argent. And I asked myself, what heraldry is this?

Muninn: The crown is of the elves of the vanished West. The tower is of a great house prone to the making of fortresses and armaments.

H: What times are these, when such heraldry appears?

M: Bad times, and worse.

H: Why worse?

M: Because if they can return from beyond the closed road, what else will come with them?


Two Ravens 032

round the circle, twelve the signs
each with others now aligns

midnight rat in darkness found
dawnlight ox in harness bound
tiger's eye prelude to death
rabbit crouching holding breath
dragon rises from the sea
snake speaks wisdom craftily
horse's mane is flecked with steam
goat's bright gaze is locked in dream
monkey chatters never still
rooster rules his kingdom hill
dog is guardian of the gate
boar is good enough for fate

round the circle, twelve the signs
each with others now aligns



Huginn: It was sunset on the mesa that reminded me of what I once was.

Muninn: Normally, it is I who remind you of what we once were.

H: I was Trickster, I was Noah's mocker who went out to look for food after the deluge, I was the hunter in the dark.

M: Yes, and quietly, quietly, I was the one who rescued the great Trickster each time he got tricked by Spider or Coyote or even the Rainbow Snake.

H: (dreamily) Yes, but I was Trickster.

M: (sighs) This is going to be harder than I thought.



Huginn: The Macedonian was at it again. His little world, all his; his application of Aristotle, his again. Conquering, conquering. He has to know his name means 'defender of men', so why all that conquest?

Muninn: The Macedonian is long gone. You need to watch fewer kinematographa. Watch instead the name which is like his but not quite, 'the avenger'. That one has a future.

H: Somehow, the Greeks are still irritating to me. Bad philosophers, arrogant statesmen, clever fools.

M: Hush, dear. Alexandria, and Alexandria, and Alexandria, and Alexandria. They did preserve a lot of human knowledge.

H: Human claptrap! Aristotle, used in war, Clausewitz. Plato, used in politics, Marx. Socrates, used in religion, Nietzsche. The Germans irritate me too.

M: Well, the postmodern revolution has swept them away. Now it will even sweep itself away, and we can begin from scratch.


Two Ravens 031

sapphire and steel
steel and sapphire

a passionate thought and
dispassionate fire

a grace under pressure
a hero for hire

sapphire and steel
steel and sapphire



Huginn: I heard the horse's hair singing in the night. How odd, I thought, that the hair of the horse is infinitely more melodious than the voice of the horse.

Muninn: Jacqueline du Pre, I remember. The voice of her strings keened with life so deep it was like death. The heart of all the world, she caused it to soar with joy and anguish.

H: It was that gypsy with his fiddle who was sweeter.

M: I know his name, though time and times be done and his name forgot.

H: How can a fiddle be sweeter than a cello?

M: It is closer to the heart of the earth.



Huginn: I liked my riddle better. It is who we are, we are flight and the sheer joy of it, GMH notwithstanding. There is no brute valour, just the menace of the dark wing you cannot hide from.

Muninn: You are entitled to your ideas. But we named Goodfellow because he was not, and I liked him from the beginning because he was a rememberer too. I always wonder how Kipling managed to track him down.

H: (dismissively) Well, he never had two great thoughts to rub together. He was, and remains till the end, a joker.

M: Ah, but the joker is the only major arcanum left in the modern deck. And his race hides well from aerial surveillance.

H: We are so very different, you and I.

M: All powers are, who dwell in earth and sky.


Two Ravens 030


oak ash and thorn
of these twice-born

he made me dance
i made him laugh
i made asses
who made passes

ravens and i
fast hand and eye
jester and fool
power of rule

last laugh forlorn
oak ash and thorn



Huginn: Suddenly, she was among us. Her tiara was of adamant, and then we saw it was ice. And likewise the huge blue gem pendant from her throat. Winter's queen she was, less than us and yet more, abrim with fantastic life and death.

Muninn: She is old, as old as mountains, older than we.

H: We do not fear her, yet we would be foolhardy to ignore her. I think of her... cautiously.

M: I remember her... warily.

H: Winter she is, bitter who once was spring. Water she is, and ice, and chill cold. It is frightening to see her attempt warmth.

M: But she is ever less, and our boy will one day have her measure, and roses will bloom.



Huginn: The leaves are falling. Each leaf is like a spear, each red flash is like blood. The ground is littered with it all.

Muninn: Evenstar. Even in his twilight, he was brighter than all of us. Do you think there is a second chance?

H: I see the leaves fall, but also the flowers bloom a half-year after and before.

M: I remember also the day the leaves first fell. His voice through all the garden was a thunder sent to bring Black Azrael, and Ariel, and Ammon on the wing.

H: Giants and the Genii, multiplex of wing and eye, whose strong obedience broke the sky when Solomon was king.

M: Someday, I will be released, and I may forget, and my burden will be cast aside.


Two Ravens 029


between day and night
a rhyme of one
before good and ill
a gift well done

against sky and sea
and over land
beyond left and right
with neither hand

making light to fill
the endless stair
fighting all to be
riding the air

this is what we share



Huginn: We were talking about seasons. It's hot these days. It seems that it is because we are drawing near to Arbol, the sun of this sphere.

Muninn: It is hot because it is. All things were ideal, and now they are not.

H: Why is that?

M: Within you lies the answer.

H: Why does it lie?

M: Perhaps because it is unsure of the truth.



Huginn: At the beginning of the world, we had seasons.

Muninn: Do you remember why?

H: I think it was axial tilt, or some such thing which the Earth was said to have.

M: The world tilted when he shattered the face of the Moon, if you remember.

H: No, I don't. I used to know these things... why don't I remember anymore?

M: Poor dear. You were caught in the heat of the angelic uprising, and your essence was burnt in the great fall. We are two of the Unfallen, and there are more of us.


Two Ravens 028

did we make the world
did we shake the stars

angels with lances
fire and moonlight

did we raise the dance
did we chase the sun

eagles in alarm
worlds in collision

thought has no questions
memory no words
yes we are ancient

but tonight, only birds



Huginn: They are much like us. Our common ancestor was the Thunderbird.

Muninn: Yes, but I remember that they are the ones who were charred as they flew too close to the sun.

H: Was that not legend only?

M: Truth, or memory. Jays are naughty children, rooks are earnest assassins, but crows — crows are the cowards and bullies who aim at greater things than themselves. And of course, we are legends.

H: (dubiously) Are we legends? Or are we myths?

M: Both, and more. But watch the crows: they are carriers of ill tidings.



Huginn: Some time ago, you went away. I did not find that to be a good thing. I felt unsettled.

Muninn: You are Thought. You don't admit to such things. But you must realise that all thoughts are Thought, and that includes feelings. You missed me.

H: I never miss.

M: That's true, but you're thinking of something else now. You're thinking in terms of Uller's bow, and the quality of you that went into it such that it would always hit its target. What you need to be thinking about is what thoughts come to you when something you take for granted is not there anymore.

H: Yes, I see now. It is missing, something not there, some completeness that has fallen short. I missed you. I was not pensive. I was... missive?

M: Not exactly the word. But your thoughts were heartfelt, and that's as it should be. Thought without memory is doomed to flightiness, not flight.


Two Ravens 027

first day: two sides

second day: divides

third day: sowing

fourth day: glowing

fifth day: wildlife

sixth day

seventh: he said what have i done

last: a five-day week is best



Huginn: He is attempting to walk the dark road again. It is his second year.

Muninn: We must be his eyes, for he has only one.

H: We must be his wings, for he has none.

M: But he has sent us away, one to the old land, and one to the land below.

H: It is his path, and his choice.

M: We will fly over him, where he cannot see us. We will hope he remembers.



Huginn: Elegies are not rational. The cities fall, the universities crumble, we see it all, the folly of men.

Muninn: Would you prefer the memorials, elegies cast in bronze and stone?

H: Neither those nor any other.

M: At least only I have to remember the elegies. Wind, all wind and chasing after wind. Like eagles.

H: True. And a chasing after truth.

M: If the subjects of those elegies ever existed, perhaps yes. As also, eagles.


Two Ravens 026

night shrouds now the golden city
sand is drifting past the walls
great decay and greater pity
as the glory fades and falls

where the mighty overarching
where the princes of the realm
now no throngs of soldiers marching
where the jackals overwhelm

crumbling are the ancient towers
lanterns dim and fountains fail
no bells have alarmed the hours
since the ending of her tale

in the sand her monarch's statue
ozymandias king of kings
stretched out, broken, like her virtue
fallen at the end of things



Huginn: What the Three Sisters said to him had two meanings.

Muninn: Or six, if I remember correctly.

H: He wants to be King Hereafter and also Afterhere.

M: He is making his world into his own image. It will not be as we recall.

H: But he has said he does not want the kingdoms of the world.

M: Of course not. He only wants his own.



Huginn: It is amusing to see the way they handle left-clawedness. Because the left-clawed have a competitive advantage in all areas, they create obstacles like spiral staircases, scissors and other bedevilments to make it hard for the left-clawed to use that advantage.

Muninn: But their chemistry and their brains don't match, where handedness is concerned. Of course, they remember on their left sides and forget on their right...

H: Their eyes are crossed.

M: That explains it then — they must think that the left are right.

H: Shouldn't that be "the left is right"?

M: Memory means what memory says.


Two Ravens 025

they walked out at dawn
a time of beginnings
new horizons
the most miserable day of their lives

a new cruelty
greeted their brave advance
yes machine guns
we were amazed to see them going on



Huginn: There is a peace.

Muninn: And here is another, a fragment of the sky, of the moving immobility, of the music of the spheres.

H: No, I mean a peace, of the kind which passes almost all understanding.

M: If it is a peace of mind, I'm sure you would want to give it to someone. You're always wanting to give others a peace of your mind.

H: (confused) A piece of peace? A mind? What?

M: (recklessly) Well, I supposed if you planted hidden bombs all around your position, you would enjoy the peace of the mined.



Huginn: There is a casuist here. They are supposed to study cases of conscience, and work towards some sort of ethical calculus of divinity.

Muninn: One hopes you don't mean an ethical divinity of calculus.

H: He automatically considers thought to be rational and something which assembles other things out of chaos.

M: That must be extremely galling for you. (chuckles)

H: Thought is thought, of course; rational or irrational, convergent or divergent, emotional or spiritual, afore or abaft. It is all my domain.

M: Be careful about what you classify as your domain. Reflex and recording are mine.


Two Ravens 024

one word
tearing the worlds in two

one word
tossing all the pieces




Huginn: Blessed be Sapir, and blessed be Whorf, who in this generation spake truth about speech and language!

Muninn: My dear, it is man who constrains language to his will, and not language which constrains man.

H: But it is biology which constrains the human spirit, and linguistics which governs thought.

M: (sighing) If that were so, you would be Language, not Thought, and I would have left you for Prometheus. You are Thought, you should think.

H: (sulking) It was a pretty idea. And true in parts. You sound like Noam.

M: You and I are archetypes; we cannot afford to be merely true in parts, but must be true in all.



Huginn: I have eaten of the cherries, the small bright ones with the bitter seeds.

Muninn: Robusta or arabica? Or perhaps, mirabilis?

H: All, I have eaten of them all. If only she had eaten of these fruit first — if only!

M: She almost did. But the serpent thought them too bitter to tempt her with.

H: And yet the sons of men love it all the more.

M: Indeed, they have a love-hate relationship with it, almost bittersweet.


Two Ravens 023

why should they not
suffer as others have suffered

no they should not
some voices say, these not warriors
these innocents fallen to wave
to quake, to sea

no they do not
suffer, no, those left now behind
loudly lamenting and in pain
do that for them

in war blame men
here without war blame god for it
but the dead know, oh yes they know
now who to blame

was those who kept
the keys of wealth, of thought, of life
who made the whole world poor and closed
their eyes to all

economics, a dirty way
to kill a world



Huginn: I think we had to be ravens.

Muninn: Why so?

H: If we were landbound we would have been overcome by the weight of sorrow; if we were seafast, we would have been drowned by the ubiquity of suffering.

M: You think we are the only ones who see? Surely our pain cannot be unique.

H: I spoke to the gryphon, but he shrieked mindlessly at me and went on tearing the flesh of the horses of the night. I spoke to the wyvern, but she shrieked knowingly at me and turned her face from me.

M: It is a unique slavery, and a unique guardianship. But the pain, it is for all the world and beyond.



Huginn: Five days of work and two of rest, I heard.

Muninn: The word is that the Highest needed only one, and that was a formality.

H: Some like to work, and in work, find rest.

M: There is a word for inescapable work, though. That word is slavery.

H: I'm sure that is not what the Highest had in mind.

M: No, not at all. It's people who do it to themselves and others.


Two Ravens 022

he went walking one night
over the dales
each hill a beacon light

we followed him by air
hidden from sight
sensing muted despair

her grave was wreathed in moss
almost not there
and yet as real as loss

he knew he loved her then
before he was
always forgetting when

memory plagues him
as mind's light fails
we watch his thoughts grow dim
his bed of nails



Huginn: I fly ahead, and I see that trouble brews.

Muninn: You always have, and I remember all troubles, and all dooms, and in the end they are nothing.

H: But there must one day be a doom to end all dooms. It is the nature of things.

M: I fly over the empirical, and in that dread empire, I see that there is no definite nature of things.

H: Except that they can be thought about, and thus understood, and thus controlled.

M: Or not.



Huginn: I spoke to Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead. He was changed somehow, by the ebb and flow of the tides. He had lost his gravity, and yet he grieved for his handsome youthfulness. Death by water was always the most melancholic of endings.

Muninn: The water and the wasteland are not the same; yet Death cannot be proud in either. The one ignores Death because water changes all things; the other ignores Death because emptiness is more terrible.

H: Phlebas lets the waters pour through him. There is music still alive in his dead mouth.

M: April has always been the cruellest month. December is merely the beginning.

H: The sailors sing his song. They make it drunk and jolly and rowdy and in doing so, remember Phlebas who was once handsome and as tall as they.

M: And thus do sailor songs and the peace of the ineffable become one.


Two Ravens 021

hear the dogs barking
in the undergrowth


watch the dogs playing
with their sense of self


watch the shadows cast
doglike in the cave


and all at once, see




Huginn: They confused their languages, and to this day, the languages remain confused.

Muninn: I think it might be their nature. When their languages were confused, they were merely being sabotaged by an inherent desire to be different and clannish and groupish.

H: But there are families of tongues.

M: And like all families, some claim not to understand others.

H: Hindi and English are cousins.

M: Which is why Birmingham has fused the two.



Huginn: The years of their days are purely artificial divisions.

Muninn: And yet, they cling to such demarcations with fondness, regret, and sentimentality.

H: Here is a book, full of the matter of a year. Here are faces, which will all one day be forgotten.

M: There are many such books. I know them all.

H: One wonders why they keep such ephemera.

M: Perhaps, that is all they have.


Two Ravens 020

thought and memory
forward and reverse
shield and weaponry
salient and diverse

circling the world in the wink of a flame
serving the power of the word and the name

darkness and fire
expression and pain
doom and desire
both now and again

seeking the lost of the heart and the mind
sometimes in cloud or in torment or blind

witness and watcher
reflection and light
delight and torture
perception and sight

at the end of the world both shall arise
light born in darkness and out of disguise


Huginn: Today I saw the alchemist at work.

Muninn: You did? That's unusual. Why were you watching him?

H: He reminds me of me. I was surprised that he survived the fall from heaven.

M: He crafted the Myrmidon's shield, you know.

H: And will craft more wonders, it looks like.

M: I don't know. Our boy can't decide what sort of daimon the alchemist is.



Huginn: Across the tundra, we see the lemmings run. They aren't as suicidal as they're reputed to be. But they are tasty little creatures. Juicy, crunchy.

Muninn: Our boy ignores them. I don't think he knows they're there.

H: But that one knows them well.

M: Both of those ones do.

H: Which is danger as well as blessing, depending on which one, I guess.

M: Our boy ought to do something about it. But first, he must see the lemmings.


Two Ravens 019

both mask and face
each lovely place

conceals the law
of tooth and claw

so why do men
now and again

think nature friend
forget the end?

we saw them die
we saw them die
we saw them die
a raven's cry



Huginn: Whatever acts, cannot be destroyed. That mathematician said it.

Muninn: It is the nature of the universe as it is now, that it is always moving, it is chaos and ambiguity and dynamic movement and change; and the ascetic bodies are better off aesthetic.

H: It merges, flows, puddles in little shiny blobs of mass.

M: That is thought. And also memory.

H: That is memory. And also thought.

M: That is why we are two, and also one.



Huginn: Why does he wander?

Muninn: After all these years, you finally think to ask. What do you remember?

H: He is looking for something, something lost.

M: Very good. What do you think he has lost?

H: Something precious, something which is in a sense... (trails off, buried in thought)

M: You said it.


Two Ravens 018

the greeks called it kenosis
and so we have come to this

we cannot think
we have forgot
this is now our
appointed lot

trapped now by time
weakened by choice
knowing freedom
and loss of voice

why should angels
ravens be made
thought takes wing
memories fade

the greeks named it tragedy
yet it is how you are set free



Huginn: Today's the day.

Muninn: No, it isn't. I of all ravens ought to know.

H: (defensively) Well, it is the day mortals picked to remember.

M: For the wrong reasons. It's the daymark of the turnings of the sun which commemorates the Shield of the Sky. The scars and pits are there for all to see, that it was the moon of the Earth which took the brunt of the Enemy's bolts. It was the day after the Angel of the Sun was placed to guard Eden. The day after Eve.

H: Well, it's not a nice thing to remember.

M: Don't flash your opinions at me. You weren't picked to be the rememberer.



Huginn: It's the day before.

Muninn: You always say that when it's the day before.

H: That's because it is the day before.

M: I'm the one who supposed to remember the days and the signs in the heavens which mark the days.

H: Ah, but who marks the days before?

M: Apparently, it's you.


Two Ravens 017

we stand at the gate of years
we, ourselves, just two
we know what will end in tears
despite what we do

he who stands beneath abides -
he who hangs alone
we are those set at both sides
we watch him atone

the year dies as it must die
shrivelled in the cold
death as always has to try
what it cannot hold



Huginn: Our boy has discovered newspapers. He likes it when his words go out.

Muninn: And do they return to him void?

H: (totally surprised) What?

M: Nothing.

H: What do you mean, nothing?

M: That would be something to a void.



Huginn: I saw them make great density from words, and the universe warped around them. They call it prayer.

Muninn: These particular humans call it Mass, and some think if it is High Mass, it is more effective.

H: Has that anything to do with the Schwarzchild Radius?

M: No, that's a different constituency. They believe in the Singularity.

H: Hmmm. That's a really difficult thing to believe in, having no dimensions and all.

M: Well, others find it hard to believe them too.


Two Ravens 016

thought before action,
consequence later;
these things awaken
time's regulator

time like a necklace
before and after
memories like beads
sorrow and laughter

thought pointing forward
memory looks back
much chasing of tails
much clearing of stack



Huginn: It's the end of the year again.

Muninn: The mortals keep shifting it; it used to be what they now call October. The day of the dead, in many cultures, was the last day of October, the gate between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

H: It makes one itchy for calendar reform.

M: Interesting, that. I have seldom seen anyone use 'calendar' correctly, as an adjective based on 'calend'. Those Romans were good at structure, I must say.

H: I prefer Icelandic, though.

M: Yes, but the alphabet is like a thorn in the flesh.



Huginn: They queue up in droves to get this Education thing. It is some sort of perverse miracle.

Muninn: (looking nervously around) Is there a third one of us?

H: No, not yet. I think most of them still believe that Thought and Memory are of a higher order.

M: Why would they think otherwise?

H: I can't think why.

M: I'll remember that.


Two Ravens 015

if i knew you less well
i would mistake you for a gargoyle
but through all the ages
you have been the elegant master
of unpowered ascent

if i knew you less well
i would mistake you for a shadow
but through their sufferings
you have been the unadorned mistress
of bare necessity

why then knowledge?

it makes too clear, two clear
it comes from necessary assent
as two needles twist twine
so two, we make a tapestry
like water into wine



Huginn: Why do they celebrate Üller's time? That power is long gone, weakened by his neighbours, abandoned by his celebrants. Yew trees, yuletide, all the vestiges of his power, long forgotten.

Muninn: They see in him, and in Baldur the Brave, and in Odin Stormcrow, and even in Thor Redbeard, signs of the Real.

H: Why?

M: Because whether or not the reality is seen, men still have a feel for the truth. Despite other men hiding it from them, under layer and layer and layer of snow and fog and mist.

H: And our boy? What is his role in this?

M: Sometimes he is fog and mist. But he can be a sign and wonder too.



Huginn: Look, they've reached the shield of the Moon. A brave lot, these. One would have thought that the fall of Babel would have discouraged them from aiming towers at heaven.

Muninn: Remember Nimrud? He was a fine idiot. Used to shoot bronze arrows at me when he thought I wasn't looking. But his descendants are firing steel arrows at the universe.

H: How long before they leave the garden?

M: Shh. You're not supposed to say that. When the Divine told them they had been evicted, the rest of us weren't supposed to say otherwise.

H: Well, they're making a right old mess of it.

M: (sadly) I hope they manage to leave before they make the garden unliveable altogether.


Two Ravens 014

the wine was poured, red as the sun
in dust, wine and the blood were one

blood roared in veins, the poet spoke
satire like a thunder broke

the thundercloud brought promised rain
the water greened a barren plain

we saw the water and the sign
two ravens watched his gift of wine



Huginn: Is odd, you know. I see the Highest, one. I see us, two. But there are so many things in threes and fours. Did you see what I saw over the Shining Desert?

Muninn: Blast, heat, light - a trinity unseen in such guise before. A wind that swept all before it, a strange warmth, and a blinding light that struck men blind. I remember...

H: What do you remember?

M: There was an earthquake, wind and fire. And still, it was not the Name. In the end, it was the Voice, the unvoiced majesty which speaks through silence.

H: Even I know that the silence has spoken through us. As when that bearded insurrectionist refused to eat and we had to go feed him. A low point in my career, I would have said.

M: Let flesh be dumb; let sense retire - speak through the earthquake, wind and fire, O still small voice of calm!



Huginn: Why is it that we are always two?

Muninn: It has always been so.

H: It seems that time and space, circumstance and chance, do not serve to separate us. No matter what is between, we are always two, gathered.

M: Those below have called it a quantum association. And others have called us complementary things.

H: Despite my misgivings, we cannot live one without the other.

M: Despite my misgivings, we are one entity and two persons, and I do not know why the Highest made it so.


Two Ravens 013

there is no art to find
thought with no heart to bind
the mind's construction in
and finds destruction in
the face
each place

i saw him writing
he was inciting
lines that would make the world
fears that would shake the world
i hovered over him
he hovered over him

his revels now have ended but his plays
are thought and memory's best-loved displays



Huginn: Look at that bird fly. It thinks it's so damned good, black even to radar, sharp and flat and planar and ugly all over, trying to be as fast as thought and elusive as memory.

Muninn: Careful, dear. Remember what you did to the helicopters.

H: It's ugly, that's the worst part. Like that two-fat-jet skycrawling sluggard.

M: They were trying their best, and besides, they called it a Blackbird, not a Raven.

H: Why is it that humans prefer developing technology to not be seen, rather than to see?

M: They do both, but it's guilt drives the first, and prurience the second. Sigh.



Huginn: Are there seven ages of man? How many ages have we seen?

Muninn: The sphinx was right - there are only three. Too young to be useful, too old to be useful, and useful.

H: I'm sure it's not so simple.

M: It's not like black - there's midnight black, raven black, lamp black, pitch black, carbon black, atrament, fuligin, and a host of others. Time is one though, and easy to break into lumps without a seam.

H: What are you saying?

M: I'm not sure. I used to think time flies. Now I see that it's only we who do.


Two Ravens 012

darkness of eclipse, eyes two stars ashine
no watchmaker wrought hands like these two claws
they flex, the talons seem to cry - this, mine!
he sets thought into motion without pause

brightness of the night, eyes two moons aflame
no blind destiny could shape the ember
of this burning coal, this which cries - speak, name!
she will whisper in their hearts - remember

there stands a man; for love, he will recall
when he is old, he had surrendered all

the woman turns first from the flaming sword,
through her the garden someday is restored

for each a raven, guiding from afar
one like the night aflame, one like a star



Huginn: So beautiful, and yet... Ice must win, or fire; the scorched ground brings forth famine, or the rising water brings death by flood. Our boy walked among the mortals, and learned nothing from them. He lost an eye, and saw more than when he had two.

Muninn: He had to.

H: Why is it that the Powers see less than the least?

M: Because the more they think of themselves as Powers, the less they remember that power is never capitalised. In all the nine worlds, the Highest looked only at the middle one, and gave himself weakness there.

H: I don't understand.

M: But when all is said, and eventually done, I will remember it all.



Huginn: Subtract the flesh, I see it now — remove the armour and the blood, lay bare the grass. In one field are poppies, rows, memorial to blood and the churning of men and mud. In another, ah, so pure they cut my mind, there are irises in the pale clarity of a morning sky. He was right, he was right, and 'iris' is a rainbow where the inmost sea gleams.

Muninn: Be careful. When thought turns to memory, one eye becomes two and all the world is changed.

H: -

M: Close your eyes; you have seen too much.

H: -

M: Irises in bloom? It will be sunflowers next. We are fortunate that you have no ears that you might want to slice one off.


Two Ravens 011

black are the feathers
of my true love's wing
bright are the fires
of her eyes of gold

grey is the shadow
of my old love's heart
grim is the sunset
of his eyes of pain


joy is the language
of our time in peace
valour the music
of our flight in war

dead are the ashes
of the ages past
and still two ravens
are a life of one



Huginn: Their rules are all messed up. The underlying premises are all mixed up; different systems clash; and nobody should be expected to make sense of it!

Muninn: Billions can handle it. What's your problem?

H: It's a miscegenation, a bastard tongue, this Anglish linguage.

M: That's English language, and its bastardy is its strength. By absorbing many words and word-rules, it has become tough and enduring. All flesh is grass, and the glory of flesh is as the flower of grass; the grass fails and the flower falls, but the words abide forever.

H: Yes, by cheating. By changing meaning and syntax and everything else, until they are not the same anymore!

M: Would you expect children to be infants forever?



Huginn: What is a mother tongue?

Muninn: Whatever language your mother spoke to you in.

H: But we never had a mother; all I can remember is ice.

M: Not that you can remember anything. I remember geometry, the flair of crystallinity, the taste of salt and the sanctity of cold. I remember a cow and a farmer, and impossible metaphor. I remember how we saved civilisation and destroyed it, sometimes on the same day. And all these were our mother tongues.

H: So what do I put on this form?

M: Write 'Chinese'. It's more believeable, and it's about the same.


Two Ravens 010

two is parity
we spoke to silicon and it said so
one disparity

then it said to us
one of us was a processor, one a store
sounded mad to us

we are processor
and also a store, we are not carbon
its predecessor

we are ice we said
from the void before the beginning of time
silicon went dead

thinking machine cannot
beat memory and thought



Huginn: It isn't even a sphere. It has a thin film of scum on it. It wobbles like a half-cooked egg.

Muninn: You only say that when you're depressed.

H: Why is he here at all? Wasn't hanging on a tree for three days and three nights enough?

M: Evidently not. In all the nine worlds, he has always seemed to enjoy walking around here most.

H: Wisdom, he calls it. I've always had an issue with that. It either is proper use of information or it isn't.

M: Ah-ah, not so fast; it is either correct use or it isn't.



Huginn: Watching the white wheat, I was the first. Before Ask and Embla, the Highest made me, and I watched them, First Man and Woman. When water whelmed the world, I was watcher and I found land. When fire comes in the last days, I will see it come, and count the dying and the dead. Where will and power are one, so let it be.

Muninn: And thus he maps time, every image a legend, saying what the map must mean. And I follow, a minute murmur of a wingbeat behind, for memory makes maps material. And when he has forgotten Embla and Ask, First Mother and Father, I will keep them in mind; my monuments are for all their children. Amen, and amen.

H: I was thinking of poetry, in feet.

M: You can be so funny without meaning it. You've summarised our epic in four letters.

H: (offended) What are you talking about?

M: Feet. Leg ends.


Two Ravens 009

there once was a raven named thought
who knowledge most eagerly sought
but the stuff that he found
though his logic was sound
was not what he thought that he ought

there once was a memory bird
who knew everything that was heard
everything that was said
was locked up in her head
and left her unshaken but stirred



Huginn: I see Jormungandr twitching in his sleep. The world-serpent makes the earth tremble even in his slumber.

Muninn: He was not always the death of gods.

H: To speak like that is betrayal.

M: It is the truth. How is truth betrayal?

H: When it does not serve our purpose.

M: It might not serve yours, but I am the sentinel who looks back.



Huginn: He has unleashed the valkyrior. He collects the slain and prepares for the last days. When could we ever have stopped him? Were we ever really his counsellors?

Muninn: All is not lost. The valkyrior are blind, and there are still heroes. We have never tamed the storm, but its wielder can be guided, nudged.

H: (despairing) How?

M: A thought is a raindrop. In the fjord, it is nothing. But the fjord is a million melted frozen raindrops. And the ghost of each raindrop is mine.

H: But he sees no meaning but his own!

M: There is only water in the fjord.

Two Ravens 008

thought burns a hole in darkness
his fiery eye winks beadily
as it scours the universe
as it rakes over the data
and recreates the mind

memory makes a whole from ashes
her emerald eye narrowly scans
the universe is remembered
the deader, the less forgotten
the mind is regenerated



Huginn: There is no contrast between black and black. Our boy looks to the future and sees nothing, for all things fail.

Muninn: In the beginning all was black and black, and then suddenly, not so.

H: What has that got to do with it? Time's arrow is thought's guide. Forward only, we go.

M: Black is hard as jet, as obsidian, as anthracite. Black is soft as night, as fur, as coffee.

H: Bah. Black is ravens. Our shadows are the same.

M: And yet, I am your shadow, and you are mine.



Huginn: I saw two eagles the other day, one looking east, one looking west. Proud-looking bastards too. Our boy should set them right. Imperial aspirations are not imperial inspirations.

Muninn: Always remember the power of symbols. I remember when that Greek fellow used eagles too. And a lightning bolt.

H: Ravens rule the battlefield. We get down to it. We clear up.

M: The eagle flies over the battlefield, serene till he strikes. He calls himself the king of the birds.

H: Doesn't mean a thing. And meaning is everything.

M: No, dear. Image is everything, even though the eagle is both a bully and a carrion-eater.


Two Ravens 007

thought on black wings
all pride unfurled
challenging kings
across his world

memory silent
she will not fight
where is darkness
without a light?



Huginn: It was a nightmare. I dreamt that I looked forward and all around, and there was nothing. It was worse than darkness and colder than ice.

Muninn: -

H: I dreamt I was raising a tree between heaven and earth from all the branches of knowledge, building a tower to heaven from bricks of logic. But the tree had no roots, and the tower no foundations, and I was afraid.

M: -

H: Even now, it chills me. It is almost a kind of terror. It is as if there is no data, no base. Even he feels it, and murmurs in his sleep. The world is... uneasy. All things are uncertain. Something is missing.

M: -



Huginn: They don't have it, you know. And if they do, it's something they have to learn.

Muninn: What? Manners?

H: Empathy. They would kill less if they valued life more.

M: You underestimate the lessons of free market history. Life is so valued by them that they can't think of anything else better to take, control and destroy.

H: Do you think he cares?

M: If he doesn't, we'll have to do it for him.

Two Ravens 006

memory sable and ebony thought
veterans of battles all savagely fought

night falls in thunder, but darker the rain
that covers the ignorant armies in pain
shining like stars even blacker than these
memory watching while thought oversees

blood in the morning is tar stained with flies
where wisdom and courage could never suffice
for madness, ambition, rage, fear and lies

two ravens unwanted are dots in the skies



Huginn: Does it ever worry you that we are sometimes so far from him?

Muninn: It has. But now he has lost his eye, he is full of wisdom and purpose.

H: Is that enough?

M: It has never been enough.

H: What shall we do about it?

M: We have never done anything about it. The intellect is the first casualty of the basilect.



Huginn: Across the land, there is beauty; mountains, fields, water.

Muninn: I remember having words with you about beauty.

H: This is different.

M: Our boy seems to be walking through it all as he always has. Somewhat absent-minded, more inclined to think about the end of the world than the end of the world.

H: (momentarily puzzled) Ah. Apocalypse rather than revelation, you mean.

M: He has no memory or thought, only perception and action. That will kill us all in the end. It has killed us before so many times. I remember.


Two Ravens 005

he wanders through the empty
spaces of the world, the ground
is ash beneath his feet

memory is always with him
holds him in balance, when all
is false and counterfeit

thought flies before him, searching
for hope, that last enchantment
unbroken in defeat


and they will all die
sold at high cost
he has died often
hanged on a post


Huginn: Our boy has got himself more processing power, I see.

Muninn: It will end in grief. I believe in memory and reflection, not mere 'processing power'.

H: It only cost him an eye. What's a mere input device when his thoughts are multiplied sevenfold?

M: I fear. He has lost all sense of perspective now.

H: But he can think in seventeen dimensions!

M: And none of them of any earthly use.



Huginn: I love watching humans think. I have a special soft spot for those who lie to themselves so that they can lie to others; it is a special gift of humanity.

Muninn: I've heard it called art, politics, religion, or literature before.

H: One of them said you should say black is white or white is black depending on what the priests say.

M: They make a desert and call it peace.

H: I like our boy; he always thinks in greys.

M: I remember when he used to think in colour.


Two Ravens 004

thought and memory
memory and thought
one roaming free
the other, caught

wanderer never can tell which is which
for life is a mongrel, also a bitch


Huginn: I'm not sure the clay people feel pain.

Muninn: I remember the terror on their faces when your flaming eye lit upon them and the hook of your beak scythed through them like wheat.

H: Yes, but they made no noise about it.

M: They would have.

H: But they didn't.

M: It's hard to scream when you have no mouth.



Huginn: The sunset is so beautiful.

Muninn: You said that after Dresden, and when all those Alexandrias burned, and when Krakatoa blew its top. The fire glints in your eyes and you can't help yourself, and you say it is beautiful while the stench of corpses rises to the skies.

H: (embarrassed) What's that on your claw?

M: It is one side of eternity.

H: It looks like a ring. It is very... you.

M: Yes. It also is beautiful.


Two Ravens 003

thought and memory
looking to the sea

there a stark ship sails
made of fingernails

the last twilight comes
the valkyries ride
thought quietly hums
while memory hides


Time & Eternity

Huginn: The Plan can still be made complete. There is always so much we can do.

Muninn: There never was enough time. Every cycle, not enough time.

H: I seem to recall...

M: That's the problem. I recall, you only seem to.

H: Well, our boy will win in the end, or what in hell are we doing?

M: Which end? And yes, this is hell.


Air Superiority

Huginn: Did you see the black helicopters? Ostentatious bastards. Eight Hellfires with a striking range of leagues, almost like the Thunderer himself. Stealth AND fire, like Wanderer's brother.

Muninn: You've forgotten. We used to be black dragons, unlimited fire and poison, and stealthy with it. The Storm of Heaven, we were. But ravens, that was what he said, get to perch on his shoulders.

H: (wistfully) But the terror, the fear...

M: (firmly) That's another pantheon, as I recall.

H: As you recall.

M: (fondly) My dear, black helicopters are not half as scary as you are to mortals. Even now.

Two Ravens 002

thought and memory
sitting on a wall
one in decision
one in recall

watching their master
taking a walk
not slower or faster
than either can talk



Huginn: So what exactly did he say?

Muninn: Something about love, as I recall.

H: Love. What a funny concept.

M: Is like remembering the food you ate yesterday was good.

H: More like thinking the food you eat tomorrow will be fresh.

M: As I recall.


What The Thunder Said

Huginn: Well, it was long ago, and I heard nothing except the rumble of the cannon; I saw nothing except the bright flash decades later.

Muninn: And I remember exactly whose cannon they were, and I wept for all your children.

H: You always were soft.

M: And that is my triumph and my tragedy.

H: Idiot.

M: Moron.


Two Ravens 001

thought and memory:
why, how fast they fly!

one searching ahead,
one seeking behind;

a kingdom of dread
and a king to remind.