You sit on your self-made throne and stare at the night sky as clouds gather and dissipate beneath you. Do you even recall why you were cast out, condemned to your cell so vast yet infinitely confining? Does your body remember the touch of his hand the crude hunter who set you aflame with a white heat that paled the sun of summer? What do you imagine as tongues of the Perseids lick across the sky and disappear into the ebony holes that lurk in the corners of your eyes? You move slowly across my world and only the dawn brings you peace.
Between Scylla and Charybdis they cower amidst the ruins fearful to look skyward lest they encourage the rains of hell.
Now and then they visit the corpses, hastily buried grief drowned by the sound of the laugh of the gunner peering down from the hills. It is always night for the soul and lookout must be kept for Charon, who rides silently along the rivers of blood, that flow through her streets.
In the great halls, far removed from the horror, self-professed wise men exchange maps lines randomly drawn, scythes slicing a people. They trade in lives as chattel, reaping a bitter harvest, praying there may only be but seven lean years.
They offer a sop to Cerberus, three villages straddling the river, but the army of the hills knows they will take that and more and waits patiently for the winter when the odor of sanctity no longer arises out of the city to assail their nostrils and Shadrach is no more than a ghost.
First Appeared in Living Poets (UK), Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000.
Deep in the valley of memory on the altar of Ares we sacrifice them, always young each generation we are Abraham unrestrained, the pardon always moments late. We are Olmecs, relying not on the sun’s passage but on a mainspring tightly wound. Our gods hunger and must be sated lest we lose favor and their image change.
In our boneyard priests and victims slowly decompose fade into earth washed deep by tears of Gods powerless to intervene.
First published in The Peninsula Review, Vol. 5, (1998)
He had been there for days although he’d stopped counting since it didn’t ultimately matter. He would leave when the time was right although he had no idea how he would know when that moment arrived. Some things you do on faith he assumed, and this had to be one of those things. He wasn’t sure why he came but he knew he had to be there, And he knew that the cave provided him shelter and there was an allegory hiding deeper in.
The truly sad thing is not that billions were spent on the voyage to our most distant planet only to discover, on arrival it wasn’t a planet at all, merely a dwarf, a near planet and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade. Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.” No one asked Charon what he thought watching it all as he wandered about knowing he will remain moon for so long as there is someone, somewhere assigning names, unless he grows bored, breaks free and wanders off into being a dwarf planet all his own, after all it’s not like Styx would give a damn – better to be a moon of the first order finally and as for those billions, if you can’t leave the solar system every now and again there’s not much purpose in escaping the atmosphere.
So Androcles, how did it feel when, in the pit, the lion sidled over. You saw his paw finally healed and no doubt remembered the thorn you had extracted. Did you rub his mane as his jaws snapped around your thigh his teeth tearing into your flesh. As you saw the blood spill out did you curse the fabulist for his detachment from reality?
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019
It is her time and she knows she is ready for this moment, has been for eons, knows it will come again but none here will remember this day. She stares at them, but they ignore her, and she grows angry, her visage reddens as she slowly retreats, know the interloper will move along, hoping that her return later will provoke the sort of interest she deserves, the sort she know she should command. She teased them weeks ago, but this moment must surpass that, and will, if only the clouds play along with her. She knows clouds are fickle, but even mother nature usually concedes if only begrudgingly, and tonight should be one of those occasions. She will not see them gather, but her arrival will be heard in the collective sigh and the memories she knows they will carry into their eternity.