Nine Dragons by Chen Rong, 12th Century

Nine Dragons by Chen Rong, 12th Century

for Dave

In a time when words were like magic,
scintilla, igniting the soul’s spark,
when a person could become an animal
and an animal could shape shift into a man

the Self was an ever changing avatar,
evanescent, unfolding in the storm clouds
hidden in the firestick, a manifested paradox,
alchemical fantasy, a secret backbone,

I ruled the underworld, black as void
my blue flamed breath singeing flesh from skulls
ashen harbinger of death, bearer of detritus,
my treasures of regeneration well-guarded

my dragon form forged star glittering,
damp fiery, cold spirit in the heart
of a supermassive black hole, abyssal afrit,

my wisdom grew over millennia until
one drop of my blood
could transmute fragile flesh
into invincible skin

Notes: This piece is now linked to Meeting the Bar: Atmosphere at dVerse Poets Pub. When writing this poem I wanted to create a feeling of awe, fear, psychological tension, and transformation. To accomplish this I used diction that emphasizes these qualities as well as words that may not be as familiar to readers. My intent was for this exotic language to allow the reader to experience the unknown in the process of engaging the poem. In addition, the setting is darker and spans a great deal of time. Obviously, the environment is influenced by myth and displays a fantastical world. Using a first person persona and an authoritative voice adds to the incantatory feeling of the work which I felt would contribute to a sense of awe. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings about atmosphere and the tools that contribute or detract from it within this work.