'Buried In A Living Grave' & 'A Notable Enchanter': Two Poems by Ray Ball



BURIED IN A LIVING GRAVE


All venomous Wormes

were from the beginning

unreconcileable to God.


I could not let another man’s

mouth speake it.


Wilderness arising

out of the mortality of flesh.


A deeper secret contayned.

Serpents cast their skin

among thorns and bryars.



* This is an erasure poem. The original text is the epistle dedicatory of Edward Topsell, Historie of Serpents. Or, The Second book of Living Creatures: Wherein is contained their Divine, Naturall, and Morall descriptions with their lively Figures, Names, Conditions, Kindes, and Natures of all venomous Beasts…. (London, 1608).





A NOTABLE ENCHANTER


He did charm an excellent young man

to prove the verse of the poet lodged

in the saddle of dark night. With a charm,

he returned the prince’s nephew saying


come within that circle with the seed

of a vulgar tree that ripens in practice.


Afterward his arm was of the lineage

of Viper. In winter he practiced

this sport, pressed the roots of Dragonwort,

the brain of a Hare, a secret piece of herb


to grow himself into many other shapes.

Earth engendered of marrow and showers of rain.



* This is an erasure poem. The original text is Edward Topsell, Historie of Serpents. Or, The Second book of Living Creatures: Wherein is contained their Divine, Naturall, and Morall descriptions with their lively Figures, Names, Conditions, Kindes, and Natures of all venomous Beasts…. (London, 1608), 1-6.





Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor, a Best of the Net and Pushcart-nominated poet, and an editor at Alaska Women Speak. Her chapbook Tithe of Salt came out with Louisiana Literature Press in the spring of 2019, and she has recent publications in Human/Kind Journal, Rivet, and SWWIM Every Day. You can find her in the classroom, in the archives, or on Twitter @ProfessorBall.

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