The Hellmount

By Solon Orientalis

Galahad set forth unarmed
            empty-handed along his way
To tame the dark
            horse which burned
And brayed, and stamped
            and trampled holy monast’ry’s
And crushed once Godly Villagers
            and set good kingdoms to greek-flame.
This fire horse, spirited beast
            begged a goodly knight to tame,
Lest it wander its way fore’er
            lest its legacy be e’er ash.
Unbridled, this stallion
            scourged Albion for a year,
Before word reached Arthur’s court
            that Camelot was in fear.
Galahad unarmed did ride
            determined, not to slay the beast,
But to set hands on its hide,
            on its black back to ride.
Galahad saw the path of wreck
            forest cut clear, lit fire by shear,
Set to ash next to split half
            oaks and scorched earth.
Galahad from here, seeing fresh embers
            proceeded afoot, chasing the steed,
Bursting for challenge,
            burning for the struggle,
He proceeded ‘long the trail
            to the horse from Hell.
There Galahad saw
the flame snorting thestral,
Richly muscled, batwinged,
trailblazing monster.
The devil-horse gnawed at
            the blood covered column
Of an earl’s manor saved by
            a blessed lamb’s blood.
In the window was a passing fair
            maid, of reknowned appearance,
A treat, a trophy, a tower prize
            for the intrepid column climber.
Yet, here to climb, a nightmare horse
            was set to her devour.
So woe was she, with Helen’s tears
            weeping, the Earl’s daughter.
Galahad called to horse,
            “I have come to ride thee.”
The horse abandoned it’s siege
            and began a new predation.
Snorting, stomping, wind and fire
            came to crush fair Galahad.
Step aside fair Galahad!
            let him by before you die!
But “sense” and cowardice were none
            to th’ becoming holy knight.
For his soul sang then,
            and ever after sang:
“But I have no love, no fear, no doubt
            beyond my hands, and Spirit here
Has love and fear and doubt and pain
            so I must him astride, my gain
Is by his bridle, bareback untamed riding.
            saddle him not, but set astride him
that I fly.”
And astride him Galahad did,
            and fly he did by bucking,
But new this was, the thestral ‘wared,
            alive now too. The contestants yearning
For another bout, the horse reared,
            for another run, another joust,
For knights two to be knights one.
            by struggle and fight this knot is tied.
Galahad sprung on the horse again,
            and was again thrown to the ashen dust.
Galahad struggled up once again,
            beating off the dust and the weary-making failure.
The lady saved by Galahad,
            for so long as he lived,
Called out to the monk novitiate,
            “Oh why did you not bring a sword to slay,
That vile, awful, (exciting), beast?
Are you dumb, or blind, or merely a fool?”
Galahad, chastening her in stride,
said, “Lady, it’s not you I seek to ride.
“Your calls gall me not
but to balk at your gall.
Your beauty is marred,
by such gout-giving calls.
Though much of you spoken,
there’s little to see.
I’d rather this horse.
‘Tis comelier than thee.”
At this the lady growled and pouted and sighed,
            and perhaps, just, a little, kindling flame inside
Was set for the monk to-be-matde-knight.
            Galling her, Galahad set her alight.
But back to our story:
           Galahad worried much.
After his seventh ride,
            with the sun nearly set,
The horse was still fresh,
            and he was much froth.
And by this, he, saintly,
            was still passing wroth.
But the horse would not bend.
            Wild mustang wouldn’t break,
And wildness, trumping saint,
            seemed to rule the day.
The earl, with his daughter
            watched the struggle on their door,
Worry etched upon their brow,
            fear melting upon their lips.
Sundown lit the world red-orange.
            A final showdown seemed the next
And the next and then, came the next, and then.
           And only one was worn.
The clock six’d, and the sun set.
            The dawn and the day fled.
And all ease and hope,
            which to day were wed,
With their husbandman,
            had taken their leave.
Galahad, worn and set with strife,
            Set his jaw and feet and life
For another round and another ride.
            At every round he, Jolt!, took flight.
Not one moment
             would the horse let ride
Even the fairest of men,
            someday greatest of knights.
 And the night came.
            Galahad sat down.
The worse waited,
            And watched and gnawed.
The night stilled.
            The moon rose high.
Galahad drank
            From the nearby spring.
The horse drank the same.
            The moon reflected wavy
In these dear loving waters,
            In these hallow loving shores.
And little light reflected
            Beyond the high moon.
The horse snorted fire,
            But even he was dark.
Galahad laid aside his bridle
            And addressed the dark horse.
“You will not be bridled.
            Will you be rid wild?
No saddle, bit or whip
            Only the will of a worthy rider?”
Up did the dear Galahad,
            With none but his own self
And the water they had both drank of
            And the will, his highest wealth
And that which washed will, life.
            He set another bout.
“Thunder-horse, lightning steed,
            You shall I ride.”
And now, as the moon
             began to wane
They rode once more,
             with splintering wills
Against shields of honor,
             a joust of the soul,
And for the barest of moments,
             Galahad rode.
Thrown again!
            But undismayed,
Galahad willing
            beyond all willing
Stepped beyond
            the night of all nights
A step forward, beyond,
             with every ride.
And with every fall,
            Galahad was straightened,
Every crunch of bones,
            Every spitting of blood,
Every headsmack, Stars!
            Every bloody-bitten tongue,
Did straight the ever-bowed,
            Humble monks back,
Beating the flesh and brusing, the body
           begging to give the horse dominion.
But there can be no coward-yielding
            In the soul of a Holy Knight.
And such a soldier of providence
            Was the monk becoming,
By beating upon beating
            And wound upon wound.
And the night wore on.
            And Galahad waxed.
The sun broke the night
            With a single ray
And the day came horizon-
            Borne without fog or cloud.
And the rides became longer,
            The falls less stiff.
And the inimitable Galahad,
            Had his final drift.
And the morning became day,
            And the horse became docile,
Not weakened, not worn,
            But willing to the Will
Of the host leader and
            Stepping to his own directed gait,
No, no. Not broken,
            for brokenness is death.
The noon approached.
            The sun in the spring
Reflected dazzling like
            The lake at the opening of the
Gates of Heaven, containing
            The clams with the pearls
For those very same gates,
            Which would open perfectly.
And lo! A dragon
            Screaming fire in the sky.
Carrying heat to cool the sun
            Carry scales to light the law.
The dragon set between
            Galahad and his steed,
Declaring “This be my cub!
            Find another to ride.”
Galahad having so wrestled
            And grown to ride the dark horse,
Said to the snake
            Which towered above,
Eden’s beast
            In red scale robes,
“The steed is of the rider,
            The land of the conqueror,
The owner the possessor.
            Begone falsehood’s begetter!”
The dragon reared and blew great flame
            Scorching earth and sky.
Galahad, lifted by his steed,
            Declared from on high:
Unmanning me shan’t so
            Easy or quick or well-assisted,
Spirited I, burning I
            Shan’t be crushed by cowardice.
And the vile beast, sneaking reptile,
            Whispering in ashen ears,
Said with burning breath,
            “I do bring death,
                        And the steaming of tears wept.
I’ll dry your eyes and then your bones
            Yield to me what is mine.”
Scoffing with the bravery of a conqueror
            Flying the victor’s banner,
Galahad replied as one whose back
            was straight by torment and trial.
“I’d rather burn than lie before you,
            Prostrate, set for your bidding.
Burn the world, it will still stand.
            Burn my soul, and I stand not.”
And the dragon saw the tonsure made a helm,
            And laughed as a caught-out boaster.
“I see I’ve a death watcher,
            A cross-keeper on my hands.”
And the robed dragon took
            the visage of a man,
In crimson, scarlet,
             with a blood red skullcap,
And a miter, and a ring,
             an episcopal guise.
Fitting to call “Father,”
             the father of lies.
“Even your leaders,
            your church, your abbot,
All have declared that
            the dark horse is mine.
They bid you kill it.
            They bid you die.
They bid you whip and mortify
            And give all flesh and drink aside.
Surely you know,
            Surely you see, you feel
That blood drinking, man eating
            Host crushing steed is mine.”
But still Galahad would not yield,
            and seeing holy church profaned,
Was incensed, terrible thurible flamed,
            A worshipful rage did burn ‘gainst the snake.
“Snake why give your desire you?
            To play me false? To play me fool?
I know more and better this.
            I am one who knows the bliss
Of rightness, where only
            In wrongness you lay.”
And with this the hell-
            steed, sanctified,
Bit down on the neck
            of the guisèd snake,
And the dragon howled,
             the lie revealed.
The blood spilt sour
             and slew the earth,
But that holy spirit
             of the warrior saint,
Would not yield in tearing
             out wickedness’ heart,
And finally the dragon,
             bested, withdrew,
And wept in pain,
             scheming in vain,
Plotting against one who
             arrows would not pierce,
For his shield was his very
             unwillingness to yield,
His manly spirit,
             which he rode in the sky,
And after this the Earl,
            Accosted the Hero with offers,
To wine and to wed,
            His oft discussed daughter,
But the knight pointed to
            His religious, priestly habit,
And his shaved shiny tonsure,
            And said he was quite unsure,
Of his ability to approach,
            The wedding dressed altar.
“For, I am to be a Holy Knight,
            A vow doth steady bind me,
Of chastity and continence,
            And fortitude besides.”
“And why ride you a demon?”
            The foolish earl asked.
At this Galahad smiled.
            And said “Flesh-worldly earl,
Has it not always been told,
            In word and in deed,
That all Heaven’s Holy Knights
            Do ride a dark winged steed.
That all holy knights, mere
             men, downward wend
And burn for many hours,
             for glory they descend
And by fire, they, made
            holy, upward may return,
Having taken their own souls,
             horses which ever burn.
Made Holy Knights they
             ascend from the abyss,
Riding on high
            a steed such as this.”
And the Earl became afraid
            of the broad shouldered man,
Who barbaric and bold, was like
             the saint-soldiers of old,
And seeing this, this fear,
             in the earl, he knew
That the time for leaving
             had come to hand
For the fear of the weak
             will gall the strong,
Who would them protect,
            though loving, them hate.
Gratefulness lasts only
            til needfulness end,
For all but the saints,
             and even them in their days.
The earl withdrew and
             damned him “demon knight”
“You will steal my daughter,
             my title and lands,”
All which had been offered
             was now fenced away,
And honor impugned by one
            who feared the rest of his days
Men stronger than he,
            greater, keener of spirit,
Stronger of will,
             and deeper of soul.
And Galahad, wounded,
             by his would-be benefactor,
Adoptive father,
            were he only more compliant,
If he only hid his
            thunderhorse made holy,
If he only hid his
            saintly, battle-made self.
Yet, let not the weak mar
             the glory of the great!
Let the weak fear the strong,
             if they shan’t love them their due!
They shall love them
             when they’re dead,
And will boast
            of having known them,
And the saints shall still be saints,
            The glorious keep their glory.
For such is true of those
             who are strong and holy,
Of these Galahad was the foremost,
             grail-gifted, only
Too lovely to be loved,
except by those who were the same.

Published by Solon Orientalis

A poet rooted in the East and planted in Texas

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