Collage by Sasha Gaynor / Poem by Madi King

Sasha Gaynor. "Misunderstood." Collage. 26 x 14 cm. 2018.

Sasha Gaynor. "Misunderstood." Collage. 26 x 14 cm. 2018.

My Beloved and I intertwine like serpents

Coiling in the dirt

Or under a tree

Slithering spines sharing secrets and sunbeams


Hoping not to be seen

By Those who do not understand

The Pleasures

Of having serpents for bones


Beloved of mine,

Believed to be the bestower of Sin

Scales writhing beneath your skin


Misunderstood, I ask,

Where have you been?

Did God really say,

‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’


— Madi King


Connor Marvin



How do you keep Hope alive

when the whole world has become

a corpse? Parzival says to the Fisher King.

The Fisher King, wounded in his cock,

says, unhealed, become likewise a corpse.

You’re asking the wrong Question.

The emerald that fell from the third-eye of Lucifer

when he was cast out of heaven enters the room

carried by a goddess.

Or: the goddess enters the room holding


We must make a mask for Her

so we are not annihilated by Her presence.

Then the lance enters the room, carried

by a page. Or: this page is bleeding. The

lance bleeds from its tip. Why is the lance still bleeding?

The Lance of Longinus

that pierced the side of Christ on the Cross.

When it was pulled out from His side,

blood and water spilled from the cosmic wound.

Or: a goddess escaped from His heart. SOPHIA.

Or: the Grail caught the blood and water.

MARIA the Grail, the Holy Spirit enters her

and gives birth to god. Grail the Heart,

the Spirit enters Parzival’s Heart and gives virgin birth.

What is an infinite corpse but a landscape?

A delicate dance of putrefaction and growth.

Expansive, sprawling.

The lance also ruined Amfortas, the King.

The King rules only by the love of the Goddess of Sovereignty.

Her love is gone, so he rots alive.

He is the unregenerate Christ, unable to resurrect,

forever mortified, excruciated.

Christ forgave Longinus, but he never forgave himself.

Christ forgave us, but we never forgave ourselves.

The lance is hidden here, deep in the shadow

what humanity wishes to forget.

God came to earth once and we

tortured Him to death.

Why is the lance still bleeding?

You’re getting closer.

Is god beautiful?


If beauty is not inherent, and god is beautiful,

do we then make god when we perceive beauty?

When we find something beautiful?

Did god make us specifically to create more of

Himself? By finding?

God is love. Love is lonely because

it can only exist between things.

Whom does the Grail serve?

Everyone. You’re asking the wrong Questions.

What’s wrong?

A key turns in a lock, a nebula opens.

Galaxies make brutal love,

give ecstatic birth.

The viewer is here to facilitate the discharge

of Beauty.


Power and terror.

We have felt power a bad word.

After all, I am you and what I see is me.

After all, in most Grail myths

the Knight disappears from the world

after drinking Beauty, or spends his days

a mystic hermit devoted to god.

And what kind of power is that?

What a boring movie.

We’d rather scream at the bleeding lance,

you, it’s your fault, you killed god,

we could all line up facing eachother

and call the other our own shadow, like a giant

conveyor belt. Nobody wants to be a giant.

Once you’re visible, they’ll throw stones.

They’ll nail you to a cross.

Or: everybody wants to be a giant, but nobody

wants to be god. No one wants to find Beauty

in everything anymore. It’s either weakness

or privilege, depending on who you ask.

Whom does the Grail serve?


Beauty and Terror, what

a proposition. The blade inside

the tourniquet. The sutures inside

the bullet.


The author walks in carrying

T.S. Elliott’s liver in his teeth.

Checkmate. King me.

Wrap my guilt in god, my gold in

azurine. I can’t stop thinking about

the curve, the mathematics of sacrifice.

A ruby jawbone lies on the floor.

A silicone jellyfish in the Temple of Solomon.

Post-digital decay mechanism. I can’t stop

my heart from swinging. Giggling like

a sacred curve of childhood suspended

from an oak tree. A leap into the gap.

Look, I snuck out the back door.

The sun is shining and my blood with it.

Like a drunken golden fiddle,

mouthing a swarm of backwards kisses.

Right down the chimney.


It is winter and

three drops of blood on the snow.

Black crow pecking at the corpse

of a falcon. Everything in this reminds me of

her, my love, the Goddess, Her, what difference.

The delicate mixture of red holly,

black ivy, and white mistletoe. The fleshy

fruit with a stone or pit. I know what

is meant by this, stone pit, I too

have abandoned the mineshaft.

Everything reminds me of love in this moment,

the warm red melting the cold white

the shining black presiding. The heart

when the whole world has become a corpse

putrefies, blackens, ripens, becomes liquor, separates.

This is then calcined, or burned to a fine white ash.

Everything impure leaves with the smoke.

The ash begins to roil and seethe red as it is elevated

in volume and frequency. The spirits, liquor of the putrefied heart

are then recombined in the crucible, resurrecting the stone.

If an acorn is an oak tree, what then is a fruit?

I am your heart, says the Fisher King to Parzival,

who is wound up in staring at the Grail.

Three drops red of blood fall from the lance into the chalice.

Remember, the lance wounded the Fisher King.

The Grail is also the heart. The Castle is the heart.

Mary is the Heart giving birth to the Heart. The Wasteland

is the heart. Step back from the page, the earth is the heart.

The sun, the Father, Mother, is the heart. Look at the universe

spinning silently in this teardrop. Everything inside is the heart.

Step backwards infinitely and nothing can ever be found

that is not your heart.

Tell me, O King,

what is it that ails thee?


* Connor Marvin is a poet and devotee of the Arthurian tradition, known for his powerfully evocative slam poetry. He performs regularly at the Mercury Café in Denver, Colorado.

Boom Shiva: A Review of Rapture by YashAkasha

Netanel Miles-Yépez

"The Dance of Shiva" by Netanel Miles-Yépez

"The Dance of Shiva" by Netanel Miles-Yépez

“Hip-hop . . . is to cause peace, love, unity . . .”

—   KRS-One

So opens Rapture, the debut album of YashAkasha (a.k.a., Yasha Wagner), a Colorado-based “medicinal hip-hop” artist and rapper. Just twenty-one years old, YashAkasha is already a veteran of the festival scene, deeply embedded in the culture of South American medicine work, and connected to various radical spiritual lineages. He announces his syncretic spiritual and musical inheritance at the outset, calling on “the ancestors,” a crowd of spiritual masters, poets, and hip-hop artists, all thrown together—Lao Tzu, Hafez, Pushkin, the Roots, Shakespeare, and Immortal Technique—“for teaching me to speak . . . for the benefit of all beings.”

Unique to the artists connected with the festival culture—whether folk, reggae, or hip-hop-influenced—are various degrees of “conscious lyrics,” lyrics reflecting exposure to diverse spiritual traditions, yoga, indigenous medicine, and sacred activism. In the upper echelon are artists such as Nakho and Medicine for the People, Trevor Hall, and Matisyahu; but these are just the names of a few successful artists riding the crest of the wave of conscious music today.

Rapture is the pure impulse born of the festivals, a do-it-yourself musical throw-down of youthful enthusiasm and commitment to change-making possibilities that will drive a crowd of ecstatic dancers.

Opening with “Boom Shiva” (feat. Hannah Apollonia)—a bass-driven song with an “invocation to the spirit” from Taino elder, Maestro Manuel Rufino—Rapture gets off to a rousing start with a whirling soup of rhyming spiritual references—from "Kabbalah," "Mahakala," to the “Heart of Allah”—all anchored in a chorus dropping the Hindu divinity, Shiva, on the listener like a bomb—“Boom! Shiva, Shankara, Om Nama Shivaya”—somehow invoking and combing the destroyer of the Hindu trinity with his other identity as shankara, the ‘giver of joy,’ at one and the same time. 

The other binding element of the lyrics come from the Hasidic spiritual tradition of YashAkasha’s Ukranian Jewish ancestors, with its emphasis on ‘the broken heart which speaks and heals,’ reflected in the opening lyrics . . .


Words that are spoken

from-a heart-that-is-broken




And then a nearly direct reference to the teaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism (in Hannah Apollonia’s repeated refrain, “So many worlds inside these words”) that in every word of prayer are entire worlds.

Perhaps the strongest track on the album, “Transtribal Codex” (feat. Tr9nsfer) follows immediately after, with its beautiful chorus from Liv Phoenix and Steven (Newmanium) Newman repeated in English and Spanish—“I am opening my heart, I’m singin’ from my heart”—and a complex assemblage of standout rapping in English, Russian, and Italian. Wagner, who is fluent in Russian, manages a compelling set of lyrics in that language which he then follows with an impressive adaptation into an equally compelling English . . .


Love without end,

like a tale without end,

stretches out to vast—distance

around every bend.

We struggle and strive,

yeah, we laugh and we cry,

but only this love will live on when we die.


Equally strong is a richly complex, symbolically deep, and musically original guest appearance from Tr9nsfer (the MC name of rapper and slam poet, Daniel Battigalli-Ansell, known for A Love Note), who raps in Italian . . .


Incantata al Massimo dale luce lucido di dio.

Un sogno di esere uno io quando tutto e tutto e tutti sono nessuno.

(Enchanted to the maximum by the lucid light of God.

A dream of being ‘I’ when everything is everything and everybody is nobody.)

Also rising strong above the mid-line is “Animystic Linguistics,” an homage to the divine feminine, with its epic feature from Lily Fangz (the sharp-edged, popular hip-hop artist and rapper out of Denver, known for her equally strong singing, rapping, and layers of conscious lyrics), who brings in her own powerful and pulsing story of empowerment, almost an anthem for the re-emergence of the voice of divine feminine in all women, in all men, and in the planet. First calling out the abuses of women and the feminine in the past and present, she then lets the electric light of shakti, the divine feminine energy, erupt . . .


She was told not to blossom or bloom as a rose,

she was left in the cold in a room all alone [. . .]

but [. . .] the lighting has spoken, no room for a token,

locked-out, she was locked-out, but she broke in,

shakti awoken, now she’s spoken, spoken!


Finally, Fangz brings us a message from the Mother who has no intention of going back into hiding . . .


We must listen to the ancient words she say:

“A million ways to kiss the ground,

A million ways to pray.

We must keep steady for a world where children play.

Stand up tall like trees, we can lean and we can sway,

But never bend and never break,

We’ve got a brilliant world to make.”

Hey, ey, ey, that’s what she say.

That’s what she say.

She’s spoken.

She knows it.

She’s chosen.

She’s spoken.

She knows it.

She’s chosen.

She’s broke in.

Amid a series of interesting esoteric and activist-themed tracks—“Red and Yellow Brick Road,” “Temple of Solomon,” “The Holy Grail,” and “To the People”—referencing Sufi sages, warriors of peace, toad lickin’ psychedics, and muggles, is the crowd-pleasing “International Anthem” (feat. Felicia Chavando and C. Waters), often performed in public with the audience enthusiastically singing the chorus—“Earth, tribe, medicine, rainbow warrior, rockin’ on the beat in the sweet euphoria!”

Indeed, “sweet euphoria” might be the best expression for the experience of listing to Rapture, after which, like the festival dancer who, spinning ecstatically in the grass to the music coming from the stage, suddenly, in its absence, feels dizzy and falls to the ground, exhausted, a playful smile on her face.


* Netanel Miles-Yépez is a poet, artist, and Sufi spiritual teacher residing in Boulder, Colorado.