. Glastonbury A deathless tree stood witness while The marshlands round a nearby isle Were drained and bared a hill forlorn; A lonesome tree, long in exile Since Joseph sailed from the Nile— The Glastonbury Thorn. That staff once thrust into the earth Had burgeoned to a blessed girth And saw how Roman stalks of corn Spread after news of our Lord’s birth. It flowered midst the winter’s dearth, The Glastonbury Thorn. It well remembered Arthur’s brawn: How, wounded, he was carried on A boat to sleep, and ebbed to lore. It heard the name of ‘Avalon’ Dissolve in mist, and then respawn As ‘Glastonbury Tor.’ For centuries it watched kings sup. Each praised the Lamb, but was a pup Next to the fallen Cornish Boar. And so a thorn sprig drifted up To settle in an abbot’s cup Near Glastonbury Tor. The abbot sulked in sin and shame: His abbey razed by time and flame, He had no money to adorn Its black walls or restore its fame. He called to yonder hill the name Of Glastonbury Thorn. The abbot raised his cup to swig. What’s this? He thought. A sacred sprig? He plucked it out; it soared, wind-borne, Into the yard beside a pig. He ordered idle monks to dig Beneath that infant thorn. Five meters deep, they heard a ‘ting.’ A nameless tomb? And one more thing— A christened cross of lead that bore: ‘Here Arthur lies, of whom all sing, Here lies the Once and Future King.’ Here near Glastonbury Tor! The tomb pried open, two were seen: The first enormous, fearsome, mean— A skeleton of iron ore. The smaller form befit a queen, With shapely bones of pearl, serene, Like that Glass Isle of yore. Her blonde bouquet of curls, well-brushed, Smelled fresh, though Arthur’s sword was rust, There under Glastonbury Tor. A monk’s eyes bulged, his fingers thrust— The tresses wilted into dust, Now golden nevermore. The monks all kneeled; the abbot prayed. The pilgrims trekked in droves and paid To see King Arthur in a drawer. From London, Longshanks’ carriage strayed To see the artifacts re-laid Near Glastonbury Tor. This legend quickened back to clay Our deathless tree saw far away— The lonesome Glastonbury Thorn. For mortals efforts cast in grey, Grand myths can always shine a ray Where chivalry is sworn. For centuries this sentry stood. Now hewn by hate, its sacred wood, Unbranched, a trunk, squats blind to warn: The past fell down because it could. A spiteful present saw no good In Glastonbury’s Thorn. Its flowers bloom no more—but there, Is that a sprig upon the air? There! Taking root to be reborn, A witness to our constant prayer— The coming of the savior pair. The Glastonbury Thorn. . . Ode to the Grail No serving dish was ever more bejeweled Or dull compared to heaven’s sparkling sea. The stomachs that desired rich food you’ve fueled With simple wafers, served on gaudy gold Finer than any midst the earth’s debris. Since Perceval eye-groped your precious Braille, Your curious purpose, changing course, has rolled Through countries great and lowly like a gale. No stone has been a source of wider bliss Or sustenance that tumbled from the sky. Base alchemists have not transformed your like. No phoenix, raising life from the abyss, Or dove of peace can make your methods fly. But since the Templars watched you, sacred gem, Your mystery’s been hunted by the Reich, And hollow costs have sprouted with your stem. No chalice ever held such special juice— Christ’s iron ichor, warming Joseph’s well, Or liquor John Paul passed en masse, in a shell Of agate red—or emerald reduced To jaded glass, so brilliant none could tell. The trophies won by athletes who perform For sport all spill the virtue you compel. Through Europe’s canopy your palmers swarm, The errant quests of frail, benighted youths Since Galahad set you among the stars. No poet’s monument can praise your form Of beauty when you model varied truths. The curators alone know what you are— Each wounded relic flashes Jesus’ scar. . . Andrew Benson Brown was a graduate student at George Mason University before taking too many classes outside his discipline coincided with the reality of Debt. He now works as a children’s caseworker in rural Missouri. In his spare time he reads obscure classics, writes things of little market value, and exercises far more than is befitting for a modern intellectual.