Friday, February 08, 2013

We made this place up. You were used,
brought here to recite Faulkner,
to champion great beasts from the sea,
thwarting the diamond-hearted vistas
of America, sold, bought, traded ...
No, another scene: Closer, a yard
of broken concrete, cowards,
laughing, chasing some old lady,
down the road ... No, closer, closer!

You called the police car. You!
Now my nerves are jangled
and the ambulance is gone
and the TV news crew
never arrived like it does
in the movies and the
music is the reason
why I cannot live
without you.

Closer? Can't be. Just can't.
I mean, it's too close, too soon.
The curtains, full of holes,
like a planetarium at mid-day
of endless siestas: My god,
you stayed here with me?
You endured this tormented
corner of trains going in both
directions and audible
rattlesnakes ripping
through the night
and automobile drivers
who just don't get it
and never will?

Don't you see who I am?
I am a man who cannot
even thinking about leaving
because if I do, it will be
the end of music for me
and I will have to walk down
the straight without your
sweet warm palm
inside my hand and man,
that's just to close, woman.

You got no right, just no right
to shed such salty tears
on my brow as we hide,
trembling, behind walls
stained by forgotten
details, jagged angry
mad loafers who once
made these roadside
spaces home

Friday, February 01, 2013

For Byron

He lived fierce
but not long enough
to clear out
the elegance
hidden beneath
his cloud, red
as the liver

He used all of his hearing
on Deep Purple,
the Allman Brothers
and trains rolling
both ways along
Route 66
moving nightly, daily,
always east and west
for the resupply ...

Semper Fi! Semper Fi!
That was his religion
after the Catholic
do and die ...
His duty was his
faith and he loved
defended even his wife
in death

He lived his life,
left nothing to spare
didn't waste a thing
for the resupply

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

23 Roads to Mythville
An apocalyptic journey across America and meditation on the imposition of order in space, both cyber and dirt real. By experiential author Douglas McDaniel, who explores the mysteries of American networked life. Read more

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Ipswich at War
A few days after Sept. 11, 2001, poet and essayist Douglas McDaniel moved to Ipswich, on the North Shore of Massachusetts. A collection of poems from that period of fear and anxiety, as well as the polemic essay, "Media Arts and War."
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Glasnost Lost
As an act of defiance after the botched election of 2000, experiential author launched himself into a journey into the underworld of American life, or, what he calls: The Science of Descent. Read more

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Godz, Cars & Cannon
Experiential author Douglas McDaniel launches drives into the networked thickets of American life, looking for signs of myth and romance in the age of automotive machines.
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Many Moons the Mythville: The Collected Road Poems
Poetry written during a 10-year span of criss-crossing America in a roving-eye view of the turn-of-the-century landscape of Mythville, or, as the author puts it: "It's all a bunch of Mythville." With work from four separate books by Arizona-based author and poet Douglas McDaniel, the bard-inspired voices of Milton, Blake and Yeats, as well as the saturnine streak of early beat poesy, ring through this collection of poems and essays. From the southwestern deserts to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, "Many Moons to Mythville" is a foot-to-the-floor blast through the mythical roads of American life.
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Human Search Engine

The journey continues as the quest for myth in an age of information overload leads to online life as an editor for Access Internet Magazine. A story about all human search engines as they chase the ghost in the machine.
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William Blake in Cyberspace

Experiential author Douglas McDaniel takes on the visionary art and poetry of William Blake, comparing an otherworldly worldview to that revolutionary, romantic era to our own wild, wired, mythic world.
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The Kachina's Son

Poems about the Four Corners area written while author Douglas McDaniel was living in Telluride, Colorado.
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The Road to Mythville
A collection of poems on the new millennium in America, drawing from decade of bouncing across the country as a journalist and Kerouac-style poet, from the Southwestern deserts to the shores of New England and back again.
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Road to Atenveldt

By Douglas McDaniel

How do we embrace this? Isn't the Society for Creative Anachronism, a clan of modern folk who dress up and act like people from medieval times, merely an endorsement for one of the most brutal epochs in world history? Life was cheap during the Crusades, during the Inquisition, and the End Was Near on a daily basis shortly before and long after the first millennium.
They were wrong, of course, too, but spent rivers of blood to prove otherwise. Sure, there was kindness and gentleness then, too. But to listen to these anachronists speak, everyone in the 12th century spoke in rhyme, and only utopians believe that.
No, it was the real world back then. Reinactors celebrate the pageantry and beauty of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and yes, even now, there are Muslims re-enacting the tragic Knights Templar loss at the Horn of Hattin, when white Christian men died not so much by the sword, but by thirst. Then, when all was lost, their heads were cut off, their women were raped, killed, and fed to the wolves.
Wanna re-enact the Plagues of Europe? These people do. In the original score, millions died. Wanna rush head first into the melee, on a fool's errand sent by the king? Sure, go right ahead. Someday they will re-enact the Battle of Fallujah, perhaps, and it will all seem so bloodless and fun.
How do we endorse this? How do we embrace it with clear understanding, compassion even? Are you chivalrous enough?
As we walk through the trees, let us summon the Muses to invoke their aid for this adventurous song. When we take our internal irrational rationalist out for a stroll in an attempt to demystify the way of elves to men, we do our gothic truths deep harm. Although our intent is to be armed with swords forged in light, by the time we get to the gate of Atenveldt, we are more wounded than whole. Dragging the mundane world behind us is, well, the road to woe.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed leper is king, sure enough: So it`s time! Open thyne eyes. Let those blinders go. Let 'em go, just let your eyes roll!
You will find wisdom in simply leaving your current century home, just as these elves shed their garments and tools of modernity at the gate of Atenveldt.
One thing is for sure: It costs these fair folk a fortune to dress up their mundane lives into something more pleasing to their own egos. Even outside the gate some kind of keeper of the regalia, or perhaps some kind of seamstress, is measuring you up for a monk's robe, battle armor or even a king's crown (this is America, right? Anyone can dream of being a one-eyed leper someday). But is it also not better to see the Hopi snake dancers spinning up a wheel, or the Yoruban heirs moving to the talking drum of the rhythm possessor, Dambala, or the German girls going oompa, loompa with heavy breasts and jugs of beer, dancing to their polka music? Yes, ‘tis far better to watch modernity fall away with cruel truths and brooding satisfaction that, as it in turn turns its back on Atenveldt, the 21st century has spoken its peace and you are in some way wiser as it disappears, like some limping haunt, into the woods of err.
And you, dear adventurer, harken and hear: At the gates of Atenveldt, turn off your clock, or better yet, leave your watch and 21st century conceits at home. That is the way of the elves, their scribes, their kings and queens, their bards, and yes, their hideous gnome.

II. The Gate

As the evening passes into a grander version of the dark, damp cold, the citizens of Atenveldt gather under the soccer lights of Encanto Park. From a distance, you can see the steam blowing from the nostrils of the pikemen, archers and knights as they don their wares of war. With each new attachment symbolizing the armaments of a supposedly better-forgotten age, rest assured by the notice: Atenveldt is a protected place with more barbs than bards.
The soccer lights glow soft in the mystic mists as the mundane world disappears.
They bring bags of equipment, lay them in the wet grass, then unload for some kind of post-Halloween feast for the eyes. The terminology for their varied style of dress, even the exact period (sometime between 1000 A. D. and 1400 A.D.) is elusive as is the sense and meaning for all of this escapist activity.
They are, if nothing else, a highly social bunch. A few days before, the court of Atenveldt met at the Monastery at 28th Street and Indian School Road, fully dressed in their regalia as bards sang, knights drank and maidens, um, swooned. Of all places in Phoenix that are commercially lined up with this kind of medieval market share, the odd corners and angles of the mostly outdoors establishment seem to fit with the mysteries of the group, which are considerable.
You first meet many of the deputy baronial officers as they warm themselves by the fire during a light rain. They are soaked but happy. Introduced to the Baroness Edine Fairfield, you are thus linked up to pretty much anyone you would like to know. Being a baroness is all about making introductions. Her husband, Rhys ap Treahern, is also about, bouncing around with the group, bawdy and in the brew, thinking he'd stick around the Monastery while the womenfolk disappear back into the mundane world, one by one, to attend to the minor elves, or, perhaps, watch some episode on the Sci-Fi channel once the dishes are done and the kids are safely in bed.
Finally, you meet the bard of the group, XXXX, who says he was commanded by the king and queen to drive all the up from Bisbee, where he lives, to deliver his songs of the wood, bardic taunts, and so on.
After all this, one has no choice, really, to be drawn to the gates of Atenveldt, which appear every Wednesday night at Encanto Park, rain or shine.
Hear that sound coming from the fields of Atenveldt? ‘Tis the clatter of arms crashing. The clash is on. There is no time to waste . . .

III. The Baron

As you walk onto the field, and therefore completely through the threshold gate, you notice a knight leaning against a light pole. He is taking a breather, that is, sucking down a cigarette between fights. He is actually from the Barony of Twin Moons, which is the East Valley chapter. He doesn`t have much time to talk. Just as he is trying to describe a recent battle between multiple baronies in the boonies near Winkleman, he is called back into battle, tossing his cigarette onto the wet grass.
Indeed, as another knight is seen with a cancer stick poking through his battle mask as he heads back into the melee, it is easy to see how hard it really is to let go of all of the mundane world.
The Baron Rhys ap Treahern is found beneath a tree, pulling on his battle pants like Leon before the Super Bowl. The baron, during the day, is a systems administrator. In fact, a lot of these people are systems this, techie that ... part of the Dungeon and Dragons tradition that once laid path to Internet geekdom in the late last century. He talks business and software as he pulls his tortoise shell together to his body.
"There is definitely a correlation, but it is not necessarily just the software business," he says. "It is more a bit of escapism. Just a slightly higher percentage are computer people ... those who are the people who tend to be really creative, who can also focus a tremendous amount of time on one thing."
People in the organization choose their own roles initially, but the best and brightest rise to become members of the Court made up of barons and baronesses, seneschals, heralds, keepers of the regalia, chroniclers, ministers of the arts and sciences. There are all kinds of people who coexist in this space as they try to create a miniature human tribe of a 10th- to 14th-century court.
In fact, by all reports, it is no simple thing being king or queen. They only reign for six months at a time. One of the reasons: The pressure to perform is all-consuming, and the political intrigues can be waring, so much so that at least one such married pair got divorced due to the kind of stress of managing a kingdom that would make the problems faced by a little league coach and team mom pale by comparison.
The Baron, now fully amped up in his crossover palm symbol on his chest, a heraldy that serves as his avatar to this interior realm, says even his current status can be overwhelming in terms of the duties required.
"Suddenly," he says, thinking about how he at times completely forgets about his regular hours, "I realized my whole life had become the tournament, the dealings of the court."
Unfortunately, the Baroness wasn`t around this night. One of her children had to be taken home after vomiting. Indeed, the real world, regardless of all this fantasy, is always close at hand.

IV. The Scribe & the X-Queen

Lady Urgula, a scribe for the barony, refers often to the real world as "mundane." Members shed their skin when they go into character, going so far as to leave their cell phones at home and watches in their cars.
"This is fun, make-believe," she says. "Some people go to Hawaii. I go to another century."
As HG Deille of Farnham, the barony herald, acquaints those interested in the meaning of the curious symbolism of the knightly dress, the battle out on the field is intensifying. Much like a clash of football pads (NFL football pads, nothing high school about the way these fully grown adults go at it), the sound is startling when you are so close. The violence is downright alluring.
"We pretend we are all nobles, and we have our own family heraldy to register to," she says, attempting to explain what can only be described as what the media critic Marshall McLuhan once proclaimed: The medium is the message. "The purpose of the heraldry is to identify yourself to your opponent, based on your shield."
Just as heraldry is like a corporate logo, then the symbol on the shield or on the chest is your avatar, the mask you wear to represent your other self as you walk through space ... either killing people, sending them to hell, or, depending on your mood, making them well.
"It's your business card," Deille of Farnham says. "In an illiterate world, that's your announcement."
The woman herald has seen it all since she was once a queen, but has since decided that, due to the energies involved, after looking over the trees, it is much better to be something else: A human being. Of her experience as queen, she says: "You see an aspect of the society that you can't see any other way. Where there are other people involved, there are a lot of politics, so you have to manage accordingly. You are on a platter and everybody else is watching you."

V. Choosing Ground

East of the field, facing the battle, many of the womenfolk, fair maidens and weary knights rest on a big grassy knoll. They sit in lawn chairs, with all kinds of black bags and equipment strewn about. As the night wears on, there is an odd stillness about the way they sit and chat. There is little movement as they stand together. The mind comes to songs by Led Zeppelin, of quotes out of some Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail, about what's it all about, Alfie?
"Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you are on," sang Robert Plant a long time ago in "Stairway to Heaven." Or Jethro Tull, "Bring me my broadsword and my cross of gold as a talisman and clear understanding."
At all times, the field is the bread and circus here. It is the show: the battle. As they clash, we can choose our ground or choose to fight. We can walk back into the woods, the new century, too. But know this: A sentimental occurrence such as the Society for Creative Anachronism exists for a reason. Perhaps that reason is part and parcel of a multitude of things, the need to escape and the need to join in.
At the back end of the mystery, though, it reappears, this echo of a brutal time, because it is necessary. It reflects on our own time, which is really no different. Yes, there is more honor in sticking your sword through a man's eye than blowing him apart with a cruise missile from a great distance, but the penetrating power of this statement is everything, right? Archers are archers, at any date.
And these masks, these avatars, are worn everywhere. In online life, at the office, even at home, in the quiet closeted places of the heart. The point of all this: Sure, they may be a little nerdy. Sure, they merely reflect both the good works spun by the fair maiden and the natural course of destruction of the field of black knight. Both are necessary in the continuum of life. Everyone is in costume. Look down the lane, at the very symbolism of T-shirts strolling, peacefully in every mall in America. Skulls, crossbones, knights with their bloody swords. So, join the fray, the festival, the fair, mundane maidens with shopping bags full of baubles and botox and busy gents in your ties, climbing into your decorator Humvees. It's all a broken down carnival. At least they admit it.

Douglas McDaniel, a local freelance writer and poet, is the publisher at and longtime blogger at He can be e-mailed at

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Monday, August 30, 2004

Saturday, August 21, 2004