a hISTORY oF mETAL AND lIGHT
i. I have, at times, been awake long enough to see the morning star rise. In Christian theology, the morning star can refer to both Jesus and Lucifer, both the brightest star, the star that clings strongest to the surviving dark on the edges of the lightening sky. I, Jesus…I am the bright morning star. Or, How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star. In each case it is the sleepless that bears witness to this particular light. In each case, this light, like all light, dies with the next turn of the Earth.
ii. There were three types of the morning star bludgeon used in violent revolts of the European middle ages. The first were born of metal by master weapon smiths, used by professional soldiers in professional matters of war. The second type were simpler and hand-cut in wood by peasant militia men, unprofessional soldiers in unprofessional matters of rebellion. These holders of the morning star gathered the wood, nails, and spikes needed to fashion their bludgeon themselves, then turned to the local blacksmith for assistance with the welding. The last type were morning stars decorative in nature. Damascened with gold and silver. Mounted on the walls of the rich to demonstrate their commitment to metal and blood.
iii. “Violence is the means of expression of men who lack any other…Everyman is anonymous, but becomes memorable in rebellion…historians have rejoiced that the poor have found voice in violence.” -Sheridan Gilly, The Garibaldi Riots of 1862.
iv. Venus is named after the Roman god of love and beauty. The surface of Venus is obscured by an opaque layer of clouds enveloping the planet’s heart like a hard, hot skein of rock. Venus has no moons or rings; it is a planet dedicated to only itself. A day on Venus lasts 117 days on Earth. Venus is built of scorch and boil and heat and would melt the skin off any earthly life should earthly life ever come to know the core of Venus. Venus is known as Earth’s morning star.
v. Historians have rejoiced that the poor have found voice in violence.
vi. Gods and goddesses of Venus, the morning star, appear in many cultural belief systems. In Slavic mythology, the Zorja are two guardian goddesses that watch over the winged doomsday hound, Simargl, who is chained in the night to the star Polaris. If they fail Simargl will break his chains and devour the entire universe. The Zorja rise every morning to open the gates of their father’s palace, their father the sun god Dazbog.
vii. At-Tariq, translated in English as “The Morning Star,” is the 86th sura of the Qur’an. A chapter sent by Allah to Mohammed reminding humanity that their secrets will be illuminated come judgement day.
viii. In the Aztec religion, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the ruling god of Venus. This god is associated with Quetzalcoatl, white-feathered serpent god, associated with the landing of conquistador Hernan Cortes. In the Aztec calendar, he is paired with Xiuhtecuhtli, god of fire.
ix. What is the reconciliation of the common name between Jesus and Lucifer? Who named the constellations of history? I look at the sky and see the stars as footprints. I look at my feet and see pools of starlight, pools of blood.
x. Morning Star (Vooheheve in the Cheyenne language and Tamilapesni, Dull Knife in Lakota) was a northern Cheyenne chief who resisted western expansion and the federal colonialist government. He represented his tribe at the Treaty of Fort Laramie and led his people out of the Indian territory in Oklahoma back to their ancestral homelands. My mother tells me that my grandfather and his brother set fire to the boarding school that cut hair from head and cut language from tongue. In confrontations with U.S. soldiers, many Cheyenne women and children were made into skin on their pilgrimage home.
xi. Nat King Cole sang a song titled “Morning Star” for the film and album “St. Louis Blues,” a song based on the original by W.C. Handy, considered by many to be the father of the blues. Handy’s father, a deeply religious man, believed that instruments were the devil’s tools. The song is a spiritual devoted to a mother’s love of her son. “I asked my mother/ Is there a morning star? / I was answered by my mother / Yes, there’s a morning star.”
xii. And I saw Venus break the sky above the lake; and I saw Venus as I lay upside-down alone on the beach; and I saw Venus in the eyes of my mother and in the eyes of my lover and in the eyes of the furious hurtling brick at the law; and I saw that Venus was the smoldering core of myself;
xiii. A morning star includes one or more spikes, most often one long spike reaching straight out from the top, many smaller spikes surrounding the particle of the head. Much has been written on the collision of metal and flesh. The body made crushed strawberry, the body made dirt. I want to collect the air that surrounds these weapons and spin it into a new kind of light.
xiv. When a star has grown too large, it collapses from the inside out. The star falls on a volatile core of oxygen. Heat quivers. Energy pulses like wild fingers against the empty velvet of space. Supernova. We’ll see this light for centuries. After the violence a cold and lonely neutron star remains, an artifact for the universe.
xv. See, ghost dance. See, Nina Simone. See Joseph McCarthy and Billie Holiday and Kendrick Lamar. See Buffy Sainte-Marie and the CIA. See the voice as the weapon, see the weapon as the voice. See the first thrown brick. See us build a new home from the rubble of burst stars.