Embarking on an ambitious, solemn, and passionate quest into a maze of his own making, the muse-poet in Bryce Milligan's latest collection of poetry, Alms for Oblivion: A Poem in Seven Parts, enjoins the reader to "put aside the wisdom of one's own age" in our common search for truth and love. Milligan's modern muse stands at a timeless crossroads, culling the threads of poetry from our ancestral tracks made by longing goddesses and lusting impostors; his cadenced verses tempt our own journey, like the enchantress Siuri, to cast off our routine lives and embrace the immediacy of our ancient, poetic origins.
Long meditative poems are a rare treat these days; few poets possess the wherewithal to ship off on a quest that has its roots in the pantheon of Enheduanna's Ur, or Tlazoltéotl's Aztecan empire. With Alms for Oblivion, his fifth collection of poetry, Milligan revels in the complexity of mythological incantations and demonstrates an ease for untangling the riddles of fellow muse-poets. Artist, author, singer, and longtime publisher and anthologist, Milligan is an unusually daring muse-poet for our own time, blessed with Robert Graves's sense of "her naked magnificence." In the first person narrative, Milligan's narrator declares in part 3:
I too have walked the road to Emmaeus,
felt a chill wind rise like a voice
but heard no voice, though those before me
questioned the leaves stirring upon the path
and I would have given sight,
reason, blood, to have heard
a single word, to have tasted
one drop from that grail.
Along the well-worn paths of Inanna and Gilgamesh, Orpheus and Aeneas, the search for this grail follows the chants through the forests of Caledon and the sands
beneath Ashurbanipal's library
in Nineveh, among the vitrified fragments
of humankind's memory.
Unfurling the layers of this underworld journey in verse, Milligan has a vision that never strays far from Tecayehuatzin's admonition "that truth is, can only be xochicicuatl, floricanto, poetry." This sense of surrender to the muse abounds.
Causes Bryce Milligan Supports
Almost anything that is not Republican. I am a pacifist, vegetarian, Green and Left.