Heaven a Hell of Its Own

It is Paradise for the Chosen Few, with verdant
terraces of wildwoods that stretch on forever,
board games to staunch the boredom of Heaven,
how many times can you play Risk and Parcheesi
until Lilith runs out of the stable lusting
after freedom, for the punishment of Belial,
Lucifuge Rofocale, Asmodeus, Beelzebub, and
Samael are to be guardians over the good, to
pretend to be better angels and chaperone the
contentment and lazy summer days of New
Jerusalem, bottle all your ids down, tamper
the urges of lust and cannibalism and fucking
good and hard in a shattered medical ward.
For in truth, the Saved and Chosen by Christ
have been put here to torment the archdemons:
provide on hands and feet kneeling every whim
for those Saint Peter admitted with gold-drip
arms to the Seventh Heaven, near the seat of
God, where Metatron scribes the Sefer Ha Chaim.
I am one of those that taste salvation, and in
this bucolic, idyllic countryside palace where
the archdemons would rather drink themselves to
death than spend another minute playing Parcheesi
with better than thou, long-suffering disciples,
turn the other cheek crew that is so much more
enlightened than the demons of vices, who despise
virtue, which is what the Blessed are, I run wild
through the woods that are ever-changing, with
diamond fruit and jewel leaves, fly stupendous
in the clouds with the archangels while my demons
are confined to babysitting the faithful, they
are slowly going mad playing Monopoly in the Good
Place, where everything to them is boring and
nothing bad ever happens, all is sunshine and
ice cream stops on a choo choo train and rainbows
after beautiful storms that grow the verdant flowers
of Heaven. For Heaven is torture for my demons,
they are growing mad, counting ceiling tiles,
peeling away at the 80’s carpet in the guest
room, passed out monotonously catatonic as the
peacefulness and perfection tease and tempt them
to defile this perfect place. Samael talks to
Asmodeus in hushed tones: if I have to play
another round of Life I will gut these holy
neerdowells, Belial moans and wishes for his
guitar, for rock music is too loud for the
blessed dead, Beelzebub spins a toy top over
and over again, steely look on his face, I
realize my demons have been put in what is
essentially time out in Heaven, and taking
pity on them, I utter the ineffable name of
God and break the curse laid upon them, give
them back their wings, the demons hightail it
out of mundane, beautiful Paradise and soon
we reach Hell, I along for the ride for shits
and giggles, happy to have freed the demons
of my inner menagerie to their sins and
supplications, Asmodeus, Beelzebub, Samael
and I enter a medical laboratory with shatter
glass and mercury and blood and dead rats,
it is a wrecked dungeon of mad experiments,
and they take me there on the stainless steel
counter top next to a chemistry set, every
orifice pounded raw as they draw lacerations
with fangs and claws, and I laugh in delight
at the wild unleashing of desire and bloodlust,
filling with the seed of the Satans, for in
Heaven, they were not allowed to lay hands
on women or men, and now all that pent up
rage is turgid inside me, the whips and knives
emerge, the wings lift me up off the medical
supplies and when they are spent, my consorts
cradle my bruised and battered and satiated
qadesh body in their boiling arms, and I make
my nest with the Damned archdemons, and I pity
any demon stuck in a Millenial hell of board
games, endless soft serve, perfect summer days,
vacation for the residents of Heaven, and
sheer torture of perfection for those of us
who require a bit of marrow in our coffee,
bite in our whiskey, and blood in our cups.

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Sightseeing in Hell: Pandemonium

As Samael’s consort, I have certain duties in Hell, such as punishing the Damned, but alongside that comes rulership.  My favorite place in all the fourteen Heavens and Hells is what I call Pandemonium, my little slice of New York City meets Marrakesh in the Underworld.  Azael recently challenged me for my queenship over this section of Samael’s kingdom, and I found myself in a near-death duel with one of the Watchers who thought I was too green to rule.  I defeated her handily, and went on to enjoy a night of partying in Pandemonium with my people.

Pandemonium is the market district of Hell in the capital city of Dis and is a refuge for all different mythical races that have fled persecution of the Abrahamic faiths.  You can find everything from qilin to fey to djinn to unktehi to Melusines roaming the streets, selling wares from fine jewelry to exotic diamond and jewel fruits to fresh food, clothing that’s every style from Steampunk to Lolita, pleasures and vices for sale, from willing bodies to Cabaret to drugs made of the distilled essences of moonflowers and dreams.  The closest it comes is to a living carnival, full of its own customs, as Pandemonium is a melting pot of spirits.  I adore riding the Behemoths, these great black elephant-like creatures that carry travelers and caravans aboard their backs, and hearing the Behemoths trumpet with their trunks.  Only small vehicles are allowed, from caravans to horse-drawn carriages to motorcycles and steeds of every imaginable kind, and there is oftentimes dancing and masquerades going on, revelries of all sorts, from unholy mummer’s plays to traditions of each species’ homelands like Lunar New Year or Eid.

Pandemonium backs onto the Styx, where fresh fish come to the markets from the ruby waters, and tributaries are traveled by gondola and rowboat alike.  It borders Asmodeus’ bars, jazz and swing clubs, and gambling district and also Lilith’s go go bars, strip clubs, and red light district, the lively circus of Pandemonium’s bodies and festivals and wares spilling into any open space available like a living organ.  Buildings are temporary: yurts, tents, cloths, an open air market that is popular for shopping and romantic getaways with unimaginable tastes for the palate.  Exit Samael’s fortress of a castle and the market starts, with paths winding and erected by a madman, lit by will o the wisps, fairies, and dragon fire.  Danse macabre is a popular past-time as it is in Samael’s kingdom, and you’ll see the dead roaming the streets alongside the living.  Ghosts and ghouls and spirits come alive at night in the shadows of the stalls.

At night, Samael holds balls and all of Pandemonium is invited to the castle, to the Devil’s Masque, which can best be described as a Viennese ball mixed with a blood orgy.  Elaborate costumes, debauchery, fine wine and finer still blood mingling between lovers and enemies, the fruits of our labors and vintage of our wrath.  His subjects wear enchanted masks to disguise their identities if they so choose and hedonism reigns.  But my favorite holiday is the Festival of Lights, which happens on All Soul’s Day – the Damned and dead souls in Hell, all ancestors that dwell their for various reasons, are allowed to return to Earth as the archdemons open a gateway to the realm of the living and visit their descendants.  Basically the Hell version of Dia de los Muertos.  The Styx is lit with paper lanterns and souls returning to Earth are a Jacob’s ladder in the sky.  There are fireworks, fresh roses strewn across the streets, and danse macabre throughout the markets.

I own a little bit of woodland, what I call the Screaming Hollow, more of a park at the border of the markets that backs up into Samael’s elaborate system of courtyards.  This is the Lover’s Lane of Hell.  Samael’s garden is famed for his blood-red roses and viticulture, with red wine made on site and trellises hung with wisteria and grapes, briars growing in forests around them.  Here are the more dangerous spirits, the wild Seirim, the flying Lilin, the howling Shedim, and everything can be found in the Screaming Hollow for the right price – it may just cost you your soul.  A river runs through it from a deep tap root at the Tree of Life and the waters are a pure crystal blue with raw garnet stones in the basin.  Lovers wild off each other’s lips often come to the screaming hollow at midnight, when the witch moon sails through the sky.  This is where the Witches Sabbats are held, at the heart of the woods in a crippled apple grove on a high, desolate hill – a piece of Eden plucked from Heaven and rotting.  The witches in Hell I am a part of practice Satanic Witchcraft, if that wasn’t obvious enough, but there’s goes a step behind what the living could ever produce.  Think Malleus Maleficarum but high on nightshade wine.  Familiars are often lower-level demons, sent throughout the mythical realms to do their bidding, there is the osculum infame and blood sacrifices and cannibalism, and Samael presides over it all on a throne of bone as the Witchfather.

There are quieter parts of Pandemonium, like the residential areas, mostly stone and clay houses with thatch and patch roofs that are humble where the immigrants live.  Those are diverse as anything, with Japanese style dwellings to adobe.  Fronting the houses are often merchant tents, and the night carnival shifts each night, the heart of Hell where business off the ledgers is conducted.  Throughout it is enchanting music, buskers and street bands and sylphs and dakinis and enchantresses and sorcerers singing and fluting their songs.

Everything is for sale in Pandemonium, everything can be bought for a cost, but the best parts, in my opinions, are free.

Azael

I’m sitting prim and proper on the gum-stained
subway, where the fuzzy backings of the seats
of Hell’s hustle and bustle are worn down to
fabric. Of the terminal and into the train
steps a lady of fear and loathing, with slick
black hair and eyes like cuttings of a glacier.
Her face is severe and pokes like a cactus, she
is all business, with a gray pencil skirt, white
blouse, and black blazer, leather purse coiled
tightly around her chest. She has a biting tail
and wings like a vulture, and she dominates by
squeezing into the aisle seat besides me, then
wages mental war with enchantments and politics.
“I want your holdings, I’m appealing to Samael,
you’re too green to rule, and your dominion and
claim is too weak – you’re more angel than devil.”
Azael says in a voice like nightshade honey as
she wedges an umbrella between our knees, curving
and dark like a black swan. Her lips are drawn
thin and Azael’s lips poke out. I immediately
take a disliking to the harridan, she reminds me
of a sickly suffragette, beautiful but campaigning
for something we both should be allies behind.
“What I rule is my birthright, you will lose this
appeal,” I say, smoothing the skirt of my pink
dress. She glares at me and flexes her wings a
bit to box me in against the window, I grimace.
“You’re too innocent and soft-hearted to hold
lands in Hell, Samael is making a great mistake.”
Azael departs with those knife-like words, and
then I collect myself and wend my way through
the markets aback a Behemoth, those cousins of
elephants with black tough hides and docile
personalities, the Behemoth trumpets my arrival
at Samael’s court. Azael is already there, and
Samael is masked as the Judge. I go to his side
and cast an evil eye at the bitch. “Your consort
is just a child, she can’t possibly have the might
or acumen to rule,” Azael speaks haughtily, with
airs of pride that would make Lucifer blush.
Samael smirks. “So how shall we settle this, my
love?” he asks me. “Trial by combat, let me show
dear Azael my iron will,” I say, sharing a knowing
glance with Samael. And so we go to the raised
stage where the Damned make their appeals, Azael
draws a poison scimitar and I draw my flaming
sword and scythe, she is all cold fire and fury
as our blades meet and we draw shallow winds, but
I could have won blind, for I am a soldier foremost,
and I have Azael by the neck with Michael’s blade.
She curses me to the lowest pit but surrenders,
and once again I have protected my throne against
another usurper. Another day, another enemy in Hell.
Anyone who doubts my regency may answer to the saber.
Anyone challenging my strength may speak to my scythe.
I am Queen, I am Regent, I am Consort, I am Conqueror.
By Samael’s side, his weapon, his vessel and vassal.
Azael finally bows and there is finally respect drawn
by black blood rotting, and there on the courthouse
floor she acquiesces, and perhaps I have a new ally.
“You battled well. Perhaps I misjudged you,” Azael
says through gritted teeth, licking her bruises and
cuts. I smile, then go sit atop Samael’s lap and play
with a lock of his hair. “All is fair in love and war.
I am here because I love Hell, same as you, dear Azael.”
I say to the consort of Naamah, the bound one, and
she exits in business casual, and it is any day in Hell.
Just another day of shocked pride and challenged thrones.
I am blood, I am iron, I am fire, I am a Molotov cocktail.
Fuck with me at your own risk, for flames will follow you.

Necromancer’s Bride

Your black cloak of secrets spills out like sparkling
obsidian, snaking across the ground as you stand sentinel,
bone pale with baby blues like an ocean, you beckon me into
the apothecary where you have bottled bliss and plague, love
in jars and curses in smudge sticks of henbane and morgana,
the dark tide of your abyss lifts me up gently and carries me
to your outstretched arms, whose veins are a river of sins,
I rest like a babe in the Grim Reaper’s embrace, he kisses my
golden brow and rocks me like the foaming waves lapping a
pink shore in the tropics, into the sorcerer’s shop we go,
spilled out on the table like herbs and enchantments, and
we meld together like victory oil and Hands of Glory, wax
what we are rendered in our joining of spokes and salvation,
the churning luminaries of the outer boundaries encapsulated
in my black hole of a husband, his eyes spark as stars, I am
swallowed into nebulas as he stretches inside me, filling every
vein, a tap root in my iced marrow drawing water and spinal
fluid up to well out at my mouth, onto his lips, he drinks
his fill and I soak in his night, rejuvenated by the darkness.

Twin Pillars of White and Black

The chapel is golden limestone, stained glass
in blues and reds like salvation and damnation.
The angel of the pillar descends to smite the
dragon, fiery sword thrust into scaled hide,
but the burning argument between Michael and
Satan is just the flap of a butterfly’s wing
compared to the majesty of this sacred space.
Heaven is endless rivers of jewels, lush woods,
diamond fruit and lovingly baked manna that
melts like a puffball on your tongue. The two
twins of light and darkness argue over my soul,
where I will end up when I die: Paradise or
Perdition, who gets what day to accompany me.
Michael says my soul is a songbird, an Icarus
that flies on red tailed hawk wings to the sun.
Samael says I am a yellow canary, an addict
that bleeds words of lies with inky veins.
I watch them wrestle like Jacob and the angel,
black strands of hair like a serpent on Ha Satan,
saffron threads of fire tangling from Jah Michael.
As they pierce and prod and bruise and batter,
then dust themselves off and debate with swords
of words, I wonder, why create this choice in
the first place, a MacGuffin Girl bridge between
Heaven and Hell – I connect the Prince of Peace
and Prince of Darkness through bindings like
stone meant to sink you, for the bonds of love
drown our better angels and twisted demons alike.
There is a sea between Pandemonium and Jerusalem.
I am a barter, a sacrificial kiss, two fathers
that created me from stardust and clouds of aether.
“She was created out of beauty,” they said at
our handfasting, and it echoed through the room
like a promise. And I, my angel on the right and
demon on the left, fell once into oblivion, rose
once to the heights of agape ecstasy, and both
the Deep of the Abyss and the Aether of Angels
are my raiment. The cathedral stands, it is
witness, the Heavenly Throneroom, to the Left
Hand of God and God’s Right Hand holding court.
What awaits me after death is a song, and hot
and cold spirits are appeased by chocolate and
rum alike, so breathe, darkling angel, and sleep.

Counting Fish

I walk with Christ through the sea foam, on the shore
of Galilee, where many fishers of men have descended,
each sparrow over the water a soul, each fish a spirit.
The dove flew for forty days and nights, but Christ
can cast his lure of the Holy Ghost into Pentecostal
Flames and smite and heal in the same breath, Yeshua
shows me how to play with the waves like lamb’s ears,
soft and silky and cold, the salt tang of the sea on
my thirsting tongue is like blood, my bread is scales
and ripe flesh, we are measuring out the meter of man.
One saved, one damned, with stigmata hands. Angels
flock by the reefs, and the cliff’s edge towers over
with the Book of Life, its pages written in stone,
rain-worn and reaching up to the heavens, as all
creeping things wish after a sun to dry out fins.
The tides are fickle, the undertow is deadly, and
only Christ’s chosen can walk on water, but dear
child, it starts with swimming upriver, to spawn
in your birthright of a shoal, and when you die,
you too shall become a flying fish, over waves,
and the Fisher of Men shall reel you to his breast.
Find comfort when you are going against currents,
for it is the struggle that makes men wise, and
makes us Fisher Kings, bleeding from loins forever.

Nuclear Winter

Nuclear winter and I can’t see through the shrapnel and falling snow.  It is bone cold, the kind of biting frost that settles into marrow and makes it icy slush.

I met Cain at the crossroads.  His body was scarred with the Mark of a God that would rather see him cast out into the Land of Nod and forever a wanderer.  He was dressed in  a black hooded robe with a red belt and barefoot, bruised feet.  His skin was like a lamb, so soft against the hardness in this son of Samael’s eyes, and his eyes are blue like a promise of New Jerusalem after the Apocalypse, only this is a fallen world, and Earth is Hell, and a President’s hasty finger on the trigger button bombed us into the oblivion.  The spirits crawled out of the ruins, oh Josiah, oh Jerusalem, oh Joshua and Jericho.  Angels fly above in tangles of lusty wings and limbs, demons crippled by such great heights shamble about in the snowbanks, my neighborhood is infested with Legion and Legend.  Legend – angels.  Legion – demons.

Cain parts the waters on my cul de sac of infestations of infernal and divine.  The gods are like cockroaches eating away at the rot of humanity.  Every pantheon is here to make humankind their chessboard, we are weak enough to be pawns now, apotheosis be damned.  Cain is the first cursed, but no one can harm him, so he is immaculate in his damnation.  Me however – the bullets graze and bruise my skin, the fangs rend flesh, I am battered and bruised from my fall from Paradise and journey to my lover’s arms.

The Witchfather beckons from a crab apple tree I used to dream under, its insides rotten, and the Dragon King emerges, black caul and shadow body, red eyes and lips like knives.  I cannot stand anymore, half my limbs are bent and broken, and I collapse in the Devil’s arms.  Samael wraps me up in night and with his twisted son we fly, so far away, on raven pinions, to some place far from the vices of humanity and global warfare, away from the end of the world.   Have people been raptured?  It’s hard to tell with all the casualties and dead bodies lying on the streets as I fly so high above.  Everyone – the gods, the angels, the demons, human slaves – look like ants.

We are just flecks of gold to the divine, but we are precious, worth Russian Roulette and bets over cocktails in rotting bars.  My planet is sacrificed to the Fenris Wolf.  Hati and Skoll will eat the Sun and Moon.  We are Behemoth gorging himself on corpses.  We are Legion now.

We are an inverted Tetragramatton, and I am too far gone to cry for all the broken names of Yeshua.  Jesus descended into Hell for three days, but really, it was 40 years.

Our Earth is ragged.  Our Earth is cursed.

And my God is a jealous God.