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Sometimes A Wild God/ Tom Hirons

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Something a little different. A long rollicking carnivalesque of a poem from Tom Hirons, a writer and mask-maker from Dartmoor. (The image here is one of his Smickelgrim masks - of a bear, appropriately for this poem!) I came across this in the third volume of my latest passion Dark Mountain and this cavalcade of wildness is a good and totemic example of their work.


Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.

He is awkward and does not know the ways

Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.

His voice makes vinegar from wine.


When the wild god arrives at the door,

You will probably fear him.

He reminds you of something dark

That you might have dreamt,

Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.


He will not ring the doorbell;

Instead he scrapes with his fingers

Leaving blood on the paintwork,

Though primroses grow In circles round his feet.


You do not want to let him in.

You are very busy.

It is late, or early, and besides..

You cannot look at him straight

Because he makes you want to cry.


The dog barks.

The wild god smiles,

Holds out his hand.

The dog licks his wounds

And leads him inside.


The wild god stands in your kitchen.

Ivy is taking over your sideboard;

Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades

And wrens have begun to sing

An old song in the mouth of your kettle.


'I haven't much,' you say

And give him the worst of your food.

He sits at the table, bleeding.

He coughs up foxes.

There are otters in his eyes.


When your wife calls down,

You close the door and

Tell her it's fine.

You will not let her see

The strange guest at your table.


The wild god asks for whiskey

And you pour a glass for him,

Then a glass for yourself.

Three snakes are beginning to nest

In your voicebox. You cough.


Oh, limitless space.

Oh, eternal mystery.

Oh, endless cycles of death and birth

Oh, miracle of life.

Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.


You cough again,

Expectorate the snakes and

Water down the whiskey,

Wondering how you got so old

And where your passion went.


The wild god reaches into a bag

Made of moles and nightingale-skin.

He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,

Raises an eyebrow

And all the birds begin to sing.


The fox leaps into your eyes.

Otters rush from the darkness.

The snakes pour through your body.

Your dog howls and upstairs

Your wife both exhalts and weeps at once.


The wild god dances with your dog.

You dance with the sparrows.

A white stag pulls up a stool

And bellows hymns to enchantments.

A pelican leaps from chair to chair.


In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.

Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.

Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.

The hills echo and the grey stones ring

With laughter and madness and pain.


In the middle of the dance,

The house takes off from the ground.

Clouds climb through the windows;

Lightning pounds its fists on the table.

The moon leans in through the window.


The wild god points to your side.

You are bleeding heavily.

You have been bleeding for a long time,

Possibly since you were born.

There is a bear in the wound.


'Why did you leave me to die?'

Asks the wild god and you say:

'I was busy surviving.

The shops were all closed;

I didn't know how. I'm sorry.'


Listen to them:


The fox in your neck and

The snakes in your arms and

The wren and the sparrow and the deer

The great un-nameable beasts

In your liver and your kidneys and your heart.


There is a symphony of howling.

A cacophony of dissent.

The wild god nods his head and

You wake on the floor holding a knife,

A bottle and a handful of black fur.


Your dog is asleep on the table.

Your wife is stirring, far above.

Your cheeks are wet with tears;

Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.

A black bear is sitting by the fire.


Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.

He is awkward and does not know the ways

Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.

His voice makes vinegar from wine.


Pour it on the wounds.


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14 Comments


Anne Kingston
Anne Kingston
Jul 03, 2023

Goodness me, what a landing in my bones. Glorious trickling through the tissues, swirling in the gut and opening to remembering. Grateful for the reminder.

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Ignacio Cantu
Ignacio Cantu
Jun 14, 2023

I welcome the wild god with open arms: the wild waters, the wild winds, the unfettered fierceness of life. I don’t care for the ways of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver. Give me the wild! Thanks for this wonderful poem. ❤️

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Alistair Appleton
Alistair Appleton
Jul 04, 2023
Replying to

My pleasure!

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jun 10, 2023

Ps we are at Dartington ( the massive Estate ) atm - it’s magic

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jun 14, 2023
Replying to

It’s an amazing place - wasn’t expecting it . What are you doing there at the end of the month Alistair?

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jun 10, 2023

Wonderful poem full of uncomfortable imagery. So hard to open up to this ‘ visitor’ who has always been knocking to be let in or out.

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NikkyP
NikkyP
Jun 08, 2023

I love this. Hard to let him blow through your life sometimes isn’t it? 😅

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Gill Jewell
Gill Jewell
Jun 10, 2023
Replying to

Me too . I just love this poem , it’s richness of imagery & reality. Very hard to open up like this .

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