The problem, or one of them, is the lack of music today. We have all manner of what people call music, but not the music of the sort we need, needed once and found, as we stormed the bastions and bastards who mired us in war, who shunned darker brothers and sisters, who made alienable basic rights to half of us without rhyme or reason, save greed and fear of loss of status, power.
Where are the songs now, calling us, you, to regain the victories, no matter how small that we won with our sweat and often our blood, eroded or taken over time by those who live in the shadows, who crawl out in the dark, who dread the light we would so willingly shine on them again.
We sat in the tent and you complained again of our condition, knowing what lies just out of reach. He speaks to me, not you and there is little you can do to hide your jealousy. I often wonder what might have happened if I had wiped the blood of the lamb from your lintel. It was you who watched the calf take shape and did nothing, seeing it a personal tribute, and ordained its fashion and for your sin we shall be together forgotten men in the land of Moab.
A millennium ago the army of the lord dressed in mail and rode proud steeds across barren lands, swords flashing in a red roasting sun washed in the blood of the infidels. They stopped for prayer blessing the bodies left along the dirt track left by their hooves, a common grave for common faces differing only in the color of skin and hair.
In this millennium the army of the lord slouches outside the mall rubbing hands against the chill, the bell bleating against the night, a barren moon reflects off the red kettle. As they locked the doors he pulled the flask from his hip pocket and thought of the bodies passing by, swerving to avoid him, and the forty dollars he would get would warm his frozen skin.
First Appeared in Lullwater Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1998. Reprinted in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005.
Mark your doorpost with the blood of the lamb for this may be the night when God’s emissary arrives for the killing of the first born. Will he be a night bird half raven, half vulture or an aged man concealing his weapon in shabby robes.
Mark your doorpost and check it often for if your neighbor wipes the blood away, you will be visited and no amount of pleading will deter him from his task. There are no interim plagues remaining to buy you time, if he chooses to come tonight.
Put your ear against the window and listen for him. Will he come on cat’s paws or the rasp of lungs slowly drowning?. Will coins jangle in his pocket, to pay your fare to the ferryman?
But if you do not believe, perhaps he will forget to come.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)
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.
It looks perfectly normal, the kind of restaurant you would seek out on a Friday night in a distant city. The people look like those you know or could know, those from home for instance. She is not remarkable, blonde, older, a slightly twisted smile, blue eyes, but on meeting there is a sudden distance as though this is not a normal world, certainly not the world where you first met a cousin, and you have a nagging feeling, which grows during the meal that one of you is an alien, an avatar from some other world, parallel perhaps, and this reality is anything but, although the pennette is quite remarkable. Would you meet your first true relative at age 62 you know that while blood may be thicker than water, it also congeals just as easily.