Sixpence At My Feet

There’s the twist of a dance, a candle flame whirring,
a staff carved with a snake that I pound out runes, a
crevasse so dark in bone-strewn Catacombs, I drown in
dust, my broom flies high through onyx nightmares nine,
why do dreams always come with sixpence and rich liquor?

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I, the Caged Bird, Cannot Sing

The caged bird trills a mournful tune
and with regret sings down the moon.

The free bird thermals up the sun
and never rests on laurels won.

The caged bird plucks her feathers blue
and asks the stars of what to do.

The free bird knows not what pain means
immune to wounds found inside dreams.

The caged bird gnaws on her silver lock
and wears down the Grim Reaper’s clock.

The caged bird never flies, wings of stone
so she crawls in shambles to the unknown.

The free bird sees the caged bird crawl
and he laughs above, no help at all.

But for water, but for dreams,
the caged bird gives a scream,
and her dirge is heard the world
over, the free bird is hurled
aback her gale, his wings break,
and together their falls make
the foundations of hope quake.

For the caged bird has tasted freedom.

O Captain, My Captain (A Confessional)

In another life, when spring was eternal, before darkness tainted Heaven,
we were young and I did not know the meaning of pain, just your burning
light. Your all-consuming love. You are who I answer to when the night
turns stone cold and lead settles into my belly, o captain, my captain!
Though Satan made my wings as subtle and quick as an eagle, Herald of Hell,
it was you who forged my sword and eyes in flame, my body in supernovas,
sculpted by golden hands – you breathed the breath of immortality into me
and my eyes lit cerulean, and it was from my first step I was your shadow,
not a footstep behind, laughing sometimes, crying others, teasing you.
Devotion does not come easily to the caged bird, the free bird sings not
as often as she in shackles, and Heaven was a prison, just like Hell.
But I would spend eternity with my talons tethered to your supple wrist.
Michael, when I was young, but I am always young, I was innocent, and
though I died in your arms after sacrificing myself for your life, I
would perish again on Satan’s spear just to see you continue on, I
am the expendable one in this eternal war of thunder and fire, your
general is supposed to give her life and beauty for her commander,
and I am so sorry I was too broken to return to your side, fractured
into a million shards, Samael sewed his heart into me and I was lost
in Hell, in Purgatory, in the wilds of the Fifth Heaven, I wandered.
The journey of a soul through its darkest night simply awaits the sun:
you are the dawn of my life, sweet archangel, He Who is Like God,
and to see you crumple around my mangled, bleeding form is too much.
Your history books in your living library say Zophael was the most
faithful to her general’s side, and that you and your dark brother
created me out of beauty, Jophiel of the Flaming Sword, Sun Stealer,
it is true I stole fire from Heaven, it is true I have made you weep.
But I thirst for freedom, and the free bird has no master, only mates.
Eagles bond for all their life and nest in aeries high on sandstone.
But your bed is small and tidy, a monkshood cell, blue and white linen,
and roses are your only extravagance, what grows from the earth alone.
You are my blue violet. You are my guiding star. You are my true North.
When it rains, on cloudy gray days, I think of the guts of our family
storming from the sky onto bloody green grass, and I am haunted by
this ageless war, this senseless ruinous bitterness between lion and wolf.
I am a bridge between Heaven and Hell, the blind High Priestess, and yet
my magic is fractured by two polarities, O Captain, I have failed you.
In moonshine, I see your face in craters, and in starlight, your faith
burns with gentle radiance, you have not given up on me, my wing gone,
my hair cut, my sword broken, my scythe fractured, my robes frayed.
I am no angel anymore, certainly not a warrior, but you do not call me
any human name, for human names are lies, and you see my eternal life.
Pray tell why I come so close to tasting your heart and then immolate.
Pray tell why I cannot sing your praise with a broken, bruised throat.
This river of love is a bloody cut that rushes deep forth from wounds.
My glorious wounds, my mangled heart, cut up and burgeoning for you,
it is all for you, My Captain, and my final words are your name, the
True Name, the Holy One. Jesus Christ, I can’t breathe, and I was
never alive, not meant to hurt you, a Molotov Cocktail of a girl.

Fear of Falling (Into Love, and the Unknown)

Before I met you, I was bold in front of Death,
and graveyards never scared me, terminal cracks
in star-bright skin were things of murky legend,
but now I have a knight to carry my banner, I
cannot stop drowning in shadows of gloomy wonder,
and I hate Death, and he is a fiend, to ever dare
dream of taking You from Me. My heartbeat is not
my own, but the whisper of willows in your lungs,
your boughs fall and form my windy limbs, I climb
treehouses to the canopy in dreams to drink the sun,
and my star is you – but stars die, cattle die, and
kindred die – it is names that live on, and Alfather
won’t stop quoting the fucking Havamal to allay fears
of a world where you do not exist, or are torn away.

You are too precious to die, my love. So ascend.
I will carry you to Valhalla, perhaps Heaven, wherever
you are kept safe, and warm, cherished, and loved.

I never feared death before I met you.

Devil’s Advocate

The mundane business of dying.

Shadows.  Speech.  A dream.

“What the Sam Hill is going on in this court room?”

The businessman summons something.  The swirling darkness becomes a court room.  The ghost of his assistant warns him:

“The prosecutor, sir- he’s not of this world.”

“But I thought he was the judge!”

“He’s that too, sir, apparently.  The celestial court room is rigged, and the prosecuting angel has found you wanting.”

“I always knew the Devil was a lawyer.”

“Shh- he’s reached his ruling!”

A third eye burns on his head.  The Left Hand utters his judgement:

“Your soul is piss-ugly and dark as Lucifer’s shit.  I can, however, be swayed by vodka.”

“And?”

“And what?  Cough up the Play Bunnies and alcohol and I let you off.  There will, however, be a cost.  Just a paltry thing.  Your  get-out-of-Hell-free fee.”

“A cost- I see.  You want my soul, I presume?”

“Are you out of your rotting mind?  Your soul is hideous.  No.  Your daughter.”

“My daughter?  That, sir, is too far!”

“You summoned me to court.  Only I can prevent Michael’s shining sword from being rammed up your sinning ass.  Trust me, it’s not pleasurable at all.”

“My- my only child?  I could never…”

The Judging Angels smirks.

“Eternal torment, human.  Do you know how long eternity is?”

So the father sold his child to the man of many names.

*

Seven winters pass.  She has the face of a starving angel.  Her mother dies in labor.  The father does not remember.

Each night, she has a visitor.

“Daddy, I saw him again.  The Shadow Man.  He was standing at my door, watching me- daddy, I can’t sleep.”

His daughter stands before him, clutching her stuffed doll against her trembling chest.  He tucks his little angel into bed, urging her to sleep.

“It’s just your imagination, sweetheart.  Monsters belong in movies.  Now shh,” he whispers, stroking her flaxen hair.  “Daddy- daddy’s here for you.”  He flips on the TV, unable to shake inexplicable fear.  She drifts off to sleep.

He curses under his breath.  Above, her room is pristine, with a silky pink bower over her bed.  He often marvels at how she plays.  She sequesters herself in her room, methodical in the perfectly arranged tea sets.  She sits there all day, rearranging the china cups and perfect, porcelain dolls.  She holds them like relics, smoothing the pleats in their dresses, calming a stray hair.

Then, she will sit and stare.  Humming softly to herself, the strain of a violin.  Her father can never complain.  She is the perfect child.  Quiet and obedient.  An angel in the making.

“Daddy, don’t leave.  He’s coming.”

She will wake with bruises on her thighs.  Acid kisses fester.  Hidden under muslin, not allowed to show her dad.

“No, darling,” he whispers, stepping past the threshold.  “There’s nothing here.”  Gently, he shuts the door.  He closes it fast so the shadows cannot catch him.  A wind creeps under the door slit.  Something ices his bones.  He stumbles down the staircase and fall into stupor-ed sleep.

A vicious silhouette slinks from behind tf his daughter’s door.  It stands by her bedside.  A freezing draft teased the lacy curtains.

“Nothing here?” A chthonic voice echoes.  “Oh, but of course there is.”

The shadow brushes her hair back.  Kisses the child’s brow.  It sings a lullaby, somber, like the wind.

She stirs, rosebud lips opening in question.  Her cherub nose tilts upward, as if breathing in the moon.  He hushes her silent struggle, kisses her asleep.

“In time.  In time.  In time.”

*

Rains come. They flood her soul.  The world turns, as it would.

Her father lay sdead in the ground, pale and rigid as crypt.  She sits in the shadow of his masoleum, crimson umbrella fending off the rain.  It pours from the stone eaves like tears from angels’ eyes.

The funeral procession marched away, a ghost train on the wind.  She has imagined it in her head- it is only a flock of crows.  Three for a wedding, ten for Old Scratch  No one had come to mourn him.  Only her, in black lace and a nude taffeta gown.  

She curses the corpse below her.

Her mourning veil drifts in the stormy wind.  The roses she carries wilted, white as the touch of death.  She sips pomegranate tea, paralyzed to her fate.  The drink mists like a ghost.  She waits at the mausoleum’s steps.

“I know you’re there,” she whispers.

A crow caws in the dripping pine.

She draws a doll from her purse, hands clad in calfskin gloves.  The shadow takes it from her, brushing against her skin.  His touch is like winter’s bone.  

“Such a fragile thing.  How charming.”  The thick shadows recede.  They revealing the pale cold one.  Sam Hill grins back at her.  He holds the porcelain girl, placed it atop her father’s coffin.  “We will bury her, but not yet. It is good to look at your rot.”  He traces the doll’s cracks.  “These are the dead parts of you.  You can be her no more.  Go ahead-” he says gently, hands on her shoulder.   He guides her to the base of the stone. She stares down at the faded doll.  “Make peace, dove.”

“With what?”

What ties you to this world.  Your innocence.  It was a thin thread cut by death.”

“You know I won’t go with you.  I’m taking my life if you do,” she says calmly.  She withdraws a silver blade.  

Antique Venetian?  Impressive.  Either way, dear angel, you know that I will have you.” His voice rasps like an addict’s.  His darkness drown her, suffocating like a black cloud.  She recoils, tripping blindly down the steps to falling in an icy puddle.  He lifts her off the ground.

“Either way, I have you.  I hoped it was alive.  But dead- dead can work.”

“So I have no choice?” she demands.  “Absolutley none at all.”

Some claims run deeper than blood.  Nothing keeps the moth from her flame.”

“It was made before I was born.”

There is no birth or death.  Just change.”

“Then what are you?”

“An end.  A dance.  A beginning.”

“Sam Hill, rot in Hell.”

“Gladly.  If it’s with you.”

Her cheeks burn with anger.  She smashes the doll on the stone.

Thirteen crows caw above.  She whispers a broken rhyme.  She knows what it means.  A curse.

They bury the shattered porcelain,.  It is a spiriting away of sorts.  Mists rise in their trail.  Lilies bloom in their wake.  His raiment is death, her bridal train crows.  He holds her in the crook of his arm.  

“You won’t miss much.  I promise.  This place is cruel and broken.

“I never loved this world.”

 

Red Edifice, Silver Window, Black Mask

There are Frank Lloyd Wright red soliloquies,
windows upon redwood upon cheerful cherry paint,
shingles that shackle New England to the waves,
and architecture of artful rolling wooded roads.

The buildings breathe, the log cabins carefully
creak, they sing of wood and stone, home, bones
of the earth made for loving human inhabitance,
and a visage of you is by my handmade blue quilt.

But this is the land of dreams, and you are dead.
Not truly gone, but Death wears your pale skin,
and not-you is sharp in ways you are sweet-soft,
and ghost-you has hair of night, not bright day.

I touch the muscle of your impostor, and he laughs
like the shadow of spiders, darkness enfolds your
ghost, he was always jealous of my golden love,
Death can look like anyone close to you, after all.

Death slips away, your mockery vanishes in mist,
and the crashing waves of this quaint sea town
dissolve the fire of my angel as he exorcises
devilish masks, and I hate anyone but your truth.

The Monster Comes at Night

It goes like this.  The girl is born with a silver spoon, with gold hair and teeth like pearls, but inside she is death and moonlight magic, a graveyard his coffin fits into, and the Devil lusts after the glimmering strands of her wyrd, like an amber and pink aurora borealis, and the way her blood redeems him simmered to a fine stewing panic on his tongue.

She is in love with his poison and makes a bed of ruin with Satan, for who could understand her monster better than the most deformed, wicked, tortured and enfettered drunkard in the world?  Who else lashes out with the storm of a bipolar hurricane?  They smash bones and slit throats, they drink down the gore of each other, and it is hate fuck after drunk nude after shitty love poem after breakup and makeup and make out and early fumblings in preteen years then knowing each other’s bodies like a favorite instrument.

Their love is a house on fire, with a wife and husband trapped inside that is too busy screaming grit out of lungs at each other over another high and lush fight to notice flames licking their flesh.

The Prince of Darkness comes early  at the stroke of three, when she is cradlebound, and he sings to her in a voice so sweet and eldritch, with eyes like a Lovecraftian abyss.  He is the Prince of Lies, but never does he come disguised as an angel of light to her.  He would rather show her his rot, with red siren eyes and chains grating along with the shrieks of the Damned.

A two-year old does not know good from bad, polarities or light or darkness, just that the blackness holds her demon.  That he tortures her and eats her father as a hellhound at four, that in daylight hours he is the Shadow Man that feels like Kelvin Zero, absolute cold who stalks the house and slams doors.

At six she’s making monsters, drawing chimeras of angels and demons, and she gives him the name Doom.  Rood or curse or whipporwill, for his song is sweet and of the fall, or perhaps a mourning dove, in mourning for nothing but his pride, for he is a dirge and the tolling of chapel bells at a funeral.

He gives life and takes it.  He makes her and destroys her.  She claws and hugs and kisses and grows into an iron rose.  At twelve she meets him – Samael, the Venom of God – and he is rich claret Martian robes on a marble throne, golden circlet, and fine long black hair and rose eyes.  She always called his eyes roses, when anyone else would have run, anyone else would have screamed rape and abuse and sometimes she still does, but angels are drawn to darkness, don’t you know the heart of a seraphim is so burning she must slake her brilliance in the abyss?  Don’t you know that Life loves Death?  Don’t you know that Love needs Hate?

These names can go on and become meaningless, as meaningless as lover’s spit on invading tongues and cum mixed with blood, but in the end is the Princess and the Dragon, at the fairytale’s close is the Grim Reaper and the Lady Life he reaped.  Samael planted a twisted vine in Paradise that fruited into the heart she carries, and she is half-man, half-pain, all beast.

He tells her enough stories to fill a universe, and wounds her enough to fill an ocean of blood.  There are strands of skeletons, there are cliffs of rotting organs, Hell is black chasms and sulfurous red skies and the bloody Styx.  But it has such a wretched beauty, and Satan is a wretch, the monster that pulls at her heart and squeezes the chambers to remind her he owns her, he created her, but really she owns him, doesn’t she, and at night the monsters come, at dusk there’s the tingle of the spine, and no matter how much ink she bleeds onto the page, she will never be free of her demon.