Billie Chernicoff: A Marian Alphabet

[Hers is the extraordinary opening poem in Homage to the Alphabet, an online gathering of poets, published by Metambesen and including individual poems, each using the letters of our or any other alphabet in sequential order. Initiated by master poet Robert Kelly, other contributors include Lila Dunlap, Mikhail Horowitz, Charlotte Mandell, Joel Newberger, Tamas Panitz, Charles Stein, Peter Lamborn Wilson, and Maggie Louisa Zavgren.]


A, as any

girl can tell you,


seed grenade,

Apple of Granada.

What has she

to do with Apollo,

our Eva, a seed

on her tongue.


B, her belly

bees in the marigolds,

be it done to me.

Holds every element

in her house.


Christ is only an open mind.


Dea, open


the Delta,

estuarine, uterine.



her trident

or vulva,

a mermaid

combing her hair.

Etruscan, Eritrean,


lightning in her hair,

her lyre.


Not far, never far.


Grail glyph. Grotto. Glade.

Girl bent over the book in her lap.


Hi, Helios!



I greet, I praise

& receive him, I do.


O Jew,

how you jaw,

you mouth harp,

jujube, apple

that ripens

into a date,


and lasts forever.


K, an angel

holding a Lily.

Mirabili dictu,

just like That.


M, the center

of woman, the

Om of her


the image


a word

come down

in her, pressing

her open,

& more,

Mem, la mer,

her waters

break & nothing

is as before.


N, a tent,

three sticks, a fire.

She leans on a tree

to labor.


O in itself

an ode

to Our Lady.


A page of cups,

a newsy fish

how you go on,

my darling.



a begetting




from a jar,

U, a jar


with nothing,

Q the sound of

blowing soft

across the mouth of U.


R, rapture,

head on fire.


her roving heart,

her mirth.


Swan, her symbol,

an order of solitude.

I am alone so well

in her presence,

the well of her silence.


Runic T,

the restless

truth, agrees

to be here

among the trees.


Undo, unknot

unravel. Unfasten

unto me.


Open your eyes

on the verge of Paradise.

Virgin girl-guide,

mediatrix. The Way,

if you can bear her blaze.


Welcome dreams

of wolves in winter,

let us draw near

to her blue fire together.



X, ineluctable



of love, my God,

if only a kiss

were enough.


I don’t know why,

Yeshua, I feel

scared & ashamed

of this, us,

myself, I raise

my arms & cry out.

Not why.



Z, I zigzag,

resurrect Isis

take refuge

in zero, O,

measureless Lady,

virgin plenum

where it begins.