Today represents a rather rare occurrence since the thirteenth of any month seldom happens on a Friday, normally only once a year; however, this day seems even more unusual because March stands as the second consecutive month containing a Friday the Thirteenth, a quirky combination occurring for the first time in the new century. In the minds of many, no day has closer associations in superstition with lore of bad luck and tragic circumstances than Friday the Thirteenth. Indeed, a significant percentage of the population still holds superstitious beliefs concerning Friday the Thirteenth.
Large portions of the public are leery of the number 13, possessing a fear known as triskaidekaphobia. In addition, Friday often has been connected in history and mythological tales with difficult events or the arrival of bad news. Consequently, in legend and in elements of popular culture, particularly films like those in the Friday the Thirteenth series, dread of days like today has been furthered. In fact, the fear of Friday the Thirteenth is known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, a psychological term, or friggatriskaidekaphobia, a term named for Frigga, the Scandinavian goddess of Friday, considered by some to be a witch.
Fear of Friday the Thirteenth crosses various Western cultures, but it is more prevalent in Christian societies. Christians think of the fact that thirteen individuals were present at the Last Supper, Judas representing the thirteenth person and the one who would betray Jesus, leading to his death. For this reason, many have considered it bad luck to have thirteen diners at a table. Additionally, Christ was crucified on a Friday. Others suggest the great flood in the Bible came on a Friday. In Great Britain, folklore further provides a link in the suggestion of Friday as an ominous day, since public executions often occurred on Fridays and there were believed to be thirteen steps leading to the hangman’s noose at the gallows.
In any case, the general public’s distrust and continuing wariness of engaging in activities on Friday the Thirteen exists as perhaps the main superstition in contemporary culture. Therefore, today seems the perfect occasion to reintroduce readers to Allan Peterson’s “Superstition,” a poem that first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue (Volume VII, Number 2) of Valparaiso Poetry Review.
I believe in the hot & dry, that’s why Florida.
I try circle for possession
and Far East, though that’s impossible for globes,
and something from the sky.
Meteors, nickel-filled, crystals as fragments
of a solid throne
because of heaven being ice, and shattering
despite some wishes,
I wear topaz for heat, strewn in my iris like straw,
lark’s eye wrapped in a wolf skin.
Thursdays I wear no rubies and put my watch aside,
add up my lucky days
avoid the rain and the ice saints, the uneven.
I am interested how nothing
is the fault of the afflicted, the malady is just
their bad shadow dragging them down.
How moth, a messenger, jimmied the house and died
by the light without telling us anything.
Allan Peterson’s second book of poetry, All the Lavish in Common (2006) was selected for the Juniper Prize and published by the University of Massachusetts Press. His first collection, Anonymous Or, won the Defined Providence Press competition and was released in 2002. Peterson’s numerous journal publications include Adirondack Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Bellingham Review, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Laurel Review, Mid-American Review, Natural Bridge, Perihelion, Prairie Schooner, and West Wind, among others. His poetry also was selected by Ted Kooser as a feature in 2007 of the American Life in Poetry series sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Poetry Foundation.