Conjuring Lilith's Demons


Lilith's Demon started with insomnia and a feral cat. The feral cat, Liza (with a z), came into our lives one day stalking breakfast near the tree where my wife feeds the birds. My beloved brought her into the house because she did not want her precious birds killed. One you bring in a feral, feed them delicious, high nutrition wet food, give them a safe place to sleep, they are yours. Forever. Liza was still irascible, even after a good meal and a comfortable place to sleep. She bit my wife's ankle in the first forty-eight hours. She never much liked our two large, lumbering dogs. Still, my wife believes that fate brings us animals. Liza became part of our pack, though I am not sure how much affection she ever had for any of us.

Being a feral, Liza was a night hunter, even living in our home. The sun would set and she would begin her wandering about the house, searching for small vertebrates. She spent most of the night crouched near couches, ready to pounce. She was rewarded each morning with breakfast, then she retired for sleep in the sun. One summer, while Liza was in our home, insomnia visited me. Night after night, I was awake between two and five am. Wide awake; mind completely engaged. Liza was the only creature stirring with me. In these dark hours, I wrote. Liza was an inspiration to imagine the creatures of the night and their activities. In one of the poems of Lilith's Demons, I imagine a demon watching a feral cat. Rivka, Lilith's demon, kills the feral cat saying, "She will not / know the moment / her life passes to me."

Over a number of days, these nighttime reveries with Liza became an imagined world of Lilith as I wrote poem after poem in the voices of Lilith's demons. As I imagined her, Lilith commands a night world filled with demons that she gave birth to at dusk. This imaginative space invited me to think about how Lilith exists in the modern world--what she likes and what she does not like about how we live today. Her demons--and a few angels--comment on Lilith's reflections on our world.

While the mythology of Lilith's Demons is old world--engaging the idea of Lilith and a Jewish, feminist cosmology--I think the collection is always quite contemporary in its comments on women and the states of feminisms today.

In each of my poetry collections, I always embed a secret. These secrets are invisible to most readers but are things inside the text that I find delightful and unexpected. The secret is something squirreled away inside the book that brings me happiness and joy. Usually, I do not share the secrets inside my books, but this one is worth telling. In the myth, Lilith gives birth to one hundred demons at dusk every night. In Lilith's Demons, there are one hundred demons named in the book. If you read Lilith's Demons, feel free to circle the demons as they are named and called--and count along with me!