Trolling Allie

(Written by Libby, to troll the everliving fuck out of me with our writer’s group characters, including the immortal toothless vampire baby)

Shannon’s hair was bothering her. She wasn’t the kind of girl who was normally cared too much about her hair – a tucked-back ponytail with a few wisps flying free had always been good enough for her – but since meeting Samael, things had changed. Samael liked to comment on things.

“Your hair matches your name, Worm,” he’d sneered, that time when she met him in Pandemonium with a rope braid.

“Bedroom hair,” he’d said another time, nodding approvingly at the strands she hadn’t bothered to pull back. “Suits you, Maggot.”

Today, Shannon had put her hair in a bun. She knew she was supposed to be thinking about important things – the biology test next Tuesday, how she was going to finish that watercolour she’d started, the future of humanity and her reluctant status as the reincarnation of sinful apple-picking Eve – but she couldn’t stop thinking about what kind of crass object Samael was going to compare her hair to today.

She left her dorm for College Woods, desperately trying to get her thoughts in order. There wasn’t too much Samael could comment on today, was there? She’d gotten pretty good at using her clavic. She hadn’t let Michael or Gabriel get the better of her that time with the hellhounds. She was polite to the wolf pack at Damien’s bar. She’d even managed not to throw up when Beelzebub started in on that horse manure last time – imagine being a fly-demon, of all things –

“Well, if it isn’t my little dung beetle.”

Samael smiled lazily from where he and his sceptre dangled from a tree branch a few feet away. Shannon crossed her arms.

“Dung beetle. That’s a new one.”

“I’ve been thinking up a whole host of endearments in my spare time, little Eve-ling. Now. You’re going to need to prepare yourself. Today is going to be just a little bit different. You see, we have a, slight, uh – well. To phrase things lightly, there’s been a tiny mix-up between the worlds.”

“The worlds,” Shannon repeated. “The worlds we’ve spent months realigning with Earth, you mean?”

Samael shrugged. “Things happen. Doors open. Doors appear that weren’t there before. Don’t get too invested, my sweet-smelling corpse flower. It will only last for a day or so. But you should be prepared while it does.”

“While what lasts?”

“Shannon. You aren’t dull-minded. You are aware that you are a fictional character, yes? Not prone to the monotonies of true flesh-and-blood existence? And that I, too, suffer the same fate?”

“Yes,” said Shannon. “But I don’t see what that could possibly have to do with –”

“The gates between the fictional worlds have opened,” said Samael. “I think it was Michael, that scoundrel. Only a ginger would be capable of something like that. No offense to you, my little blood clot.”

“Blood clot,” Shannon repeated.

“Blood clots are red,” Samael explained, as if to an idiot. “Your hair, too, is red. Therefore, I have nicknamed you –”

“Don’t say it,” Shannon warned. “Go on.”

“Well, when the boundaries between the fictional worlds open, anything can happen. People – and creatures – of all kinds stream into the world where the hole originally appeared. In this case, Maggot, that would be our world. And the rules that usually govern our existences are rendered moot for a time. For example, do you see that girl there? The one running across the field? In the purple dress?”

Shannon squinted. “Yes. But she’s just a college student, right?”

“Wrong,” said Samael. “Her name is Amira Reynolds. She comes from another world entirely. And you are not to cross her, do you understand me?”

Shannon’s hand tightened around her clavic. “Why? Is she dangerous?”

“She very well could be,” said Samael. “I suggest you don’t wait to find out.”

“Samael, she looks exactly like every other college student in this place –”

Samael opened his mouth as if he were about to say something, but then a twig snapped behind him, and his shoulders tightened.

“Be silent, Worm,” he whispered. “It could be anything.”

Shannon stood, with her arms still crossed tightly across her chest. Slowly, she began to make out the sound of footsteps. Samael raised his scythe, his red eyes wild. She began to realize that while pissing off angels and defying the Lord of the Universe were everyday activities for Samael, this was not.

“Samael, I really don’t think that it’s as bad as you think –”

And then a strange cast of characters wandered into their midst.

The one that led them was a teenage girl, maybe seventeen years old, with long wavy brown hair, a thin face, and dark circles beneath her eyes. She was followed by a somewhat younger girl with blonde hair tied back in a chipper ponytail who was chewing a piece of bubble gum energetically. Behind them toddled a two-year-old with the palest-looking face Shannon had ever seen. Finally, at the back of the party, there was a teenage boy with very thick eyebrows who was walking beside a unicorn. A unicorn. Shannon blinked.

“Seth!” called the blonde girl with an air of impatience. “It’s not dangerous out here, you know.”

“I don’t care,” said a petulant voice from several yards away. “You go on without me. I’m staying here until whatever magic this is finds a way to get me back to my garden.”

“So you’re just going to live in the forest until then?” the girl said, rolling her eyes. “It’s going to be boring back there, you know. And it’s spring. The flowers will survive without you for an hour or two.”

“I’m not budging from this log,” the voice proclaimed.

Samael’s eyes grew wide and manic. “I recognize that voice,” he hissed to Shannon. “That’s one of the troll goblins I told you about in Pandemonium. Banished from our world, left to wander in darkness, gifted with powers no demon can even imagine –”

“Troll goblin?” said the blonde girl, wrinkling her nose. “He’s not a troll goblin. He’s just Seth. Who are you?”

Samael drew himself up proudly, though his eyes were still flickering nervously back to wherever this Seth creature might be hiding. Shannon groaned inwardly.

“You may call me Sam,” he said, though not quite with his usual air of superiority. “But if it is my full title you are looking for, my name is Samael, or Sam Hill, aka the Angel of Death, aka Satan, aka your worst nightmare. I am your blood as it drizzles through your arteries, your screams in the blackest corners of the blackest rooms, the songs of your ancestors as their chests gave their final death rattles. I am the darkness, the horror, the fury –”

“You look like a punk,” observed the brown-haired girl. “Not even a good punk. A punk who lives in his parents’ basement and secretly listens to ABBA instead of Norwegian black metal.”

“I have no parents,” snorted Samael. “And this ABBA you speak of, I do not even recognize the name. For I am Samael, the dark lord of the underworld –”

“I heard you playing ‘Dancing Queen’ on the saxophone last week,” said Shannon, smiling. “I think you could use a little more practice.”

Samael’s pale cheeks became spotted with scarlet.

“Since you were so eager to introduce yourselves, we might as well, too,” said the unicorn. “My name is Glorfindas, and I –”

“Wait,” said Shannon, staring. “You can talk?”

“Of course I can talk,” said the unicorn impatiently. “My name is Glorfindas, and I must say, I’ve never been anywhere that looked like this befo –”

“You’re a unicorn,” said Shannon.

Yes,” said Glorfindas, giving her a hard look. “And you like to interrupt, I see. No matter. Callie, if you’d like to introduce yourself to our dynamic duo here…?”
“Well, it looks like you just did it for me,” said Callie crossly. She snapped her bubble gum. “But okay, fine. I’m Callie. I was hanging out in Seth’s garden before the magic gate opened and we got blown in here.”

“Not that you were invited!” the troll-goblin-or-whatever-he-was shouted from behind them.

“I’ve been friends with you for a whole year!” Callie shouted back at him. “I kind of take it for granted that I can visit you sometimes, okay?”

“Gah,” said the pale two-year-old, beaming at her.

“Shut up,” said Callie. “Seth, we are not having this argument again. Being your friend means I get to come over and hang out with you whenever I want, as long as I don’t upset the flowers. You agreed to that yourself. Just because you’re grumpy right now does not mean that you have the right to change the rules.”

“Gah,” said the baby again.

“I said, shut up,” said Callie. “Seth –”

“You just told that little kid to shut up,” said Shannon, staring at Callie harder than she’d stared at Glorfindas. “You can’t tell a little kid to shut up.”

“Oh, yes I can,” said Callie, glaring at the toddler. “It’s not a normal little kid, okay? It’s – I think it’s a vampire. It was trying to suck Topher’s blood earlier. I think it only stopped because it figured out he was a werewolf.”

Both the teenage boy with the dark eyebrows and the girl with the brown hair blanched.

“Sorry, sorry!” said Callie quickly. “They’re sensitive about it. They’re both werewolves,” she explained to Shannon and Samael.

I’m not sensitive,” snapped the girl. “I’ve had ten years to get used to it, so on principle I can’t be sensitive. Topher’s the one who’s sensitive, not me. It’s just that we haven’t even introduced ourselves yet and she already knows we’re werewolves. That’s a pretty serious breach of etiquette right there, you’ve got to admit.”

“That’s all right,” said Shannon kindly. “I know some really nice werewolves. One of them owns a bar.”

“A bar?” said the girl, her eyes lighting up. “I’d love to own a bar! Could you hook me up with him? Maybe he could help me set one up – well, once I turn twenty-one, anyway –”

“Hannah,” said the boy – Topher – in a pained tone, “you can’t even make hot chocolate without putting salt in it by mistake.”

“Ye of little faith,” retorted Hannah. “And it wasn’t salt. It was flour.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it was salt –”

“Gah,” said the baby again. It opened its mouth in a wide – and, Shannon could see, toothless – grin.

“That child is not a vampire,” hissed Samael from where he was still sitting defensively in the tree. “Vampires have teeth. That baby has no teeth.”

“I no teeth,” said the baby, nodding with feeling.

“See?” said Samael. “Nothing at all to fear. Just a pure, innocent child, still unblackened by the sin of this world. Although not for long, I hasten to add. Not now that he’s met me.”

“Actually, I’m quite certain that he is a vampire,” said Glorfindas. “We have vampires in my world – I’ve seen them before. It happens sometimes that a rare genetic disorder prevents them from growing any teeth, but that makes them no less vampiric. He’ll have found some other way of getting blood, I’m sure. Since he’s still alive and all.”

“Gah!” shrieked the baby, holding up a hand. A hand, Shannon noticed with dawning horror, with frighteningly long fingernails.

“I think it’s hungry,” whispered Topher, staring at a place on his arm that looked a lot like a hickey.

The baby toddled towards him, much faster than a baby should realistically be able to toddle. It looked at Topher for a few seconds, considering; then turned and began heading for Callie, its spiky hands held out in front of it.

“Oh no,” said Callie. “No, no. You’re not drinking my blood, demon baby. Seth!”

“I’m still on this log,” said Seth’s voice. “Like I told you I would be.”

“I’m coming to join you,” said Callie, and she zipped out of the baby’s reach, scuttling back into the woods where Shannon couldn’t see her anymore.

Next, the baby went for Glorfindas.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Glorfindas mildly as the baby scuttled onto his hoof. “Unicorn blood isn’t good for anyone, but it especially isn’t good for babies. I suppose if you’re looking for immortality, it could help you out, but only if you’re okay with living a half life, a cursed life, all that sort of thing. And you’re immortal already, being a vampire, so I wouldn’t.”

The baby nodded with reluctance. It hadn’t tried Hannah yet, but she smelled like Topher, and that was no good. Shannon had the right scent, but it didn’t drink gingers on principle. However, there was that thing up in the tree. The baby had never smelled anything like it before.

It hesitated for a moment before transforming into a bat, fluttering up onto a tree branch, and seating itself beside Samael.

Shannon watched as Samael held his scythe up in front of himself like a baseball bat.

“Get away from me, leech,” he commanded, although he was unable to keep the slight tremor out of his voice. “You may be from another world, but you are still a leech. I eat leeches for breakfast. If I couldn’t deal with leeches, do you think I would be lord of all Hades today? I certainly would not, you poor excuse for a head louse. You filthy, disgusting, blood-sucking leech –”

The bat seemed to shrug before it bit the blade off of Samael’s scythe. Apparently the baby did have teeth in bat form. It spat the blade out, where it clattered onto the tree stump and buried itself in the ground. Samael let out a deep, primal groan.

Shannon laughed until her stomach hurt. She hadn’t had such a good day in months.

It wasn’t until the baby had drunk its fill, Samael had slunk shamefully back down to Pandemonium, and a golden-haired angel named Vergil had kindly offered to give the guests a lift back through the magic gate that Shannon realized that Samael had never said one word about her hair.

It seemed that a messy bun was the way to go.

 

 

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Grounding Gothic Overlords

(Written by Dana in college to troll me and exorcise Samael, unsuccessfully.  Her other methods include yelling at him a lot.)

Grounding Gothic Underlords, or, The Little Angel Chews Out Death

“You can do this,” Zelkova said. He caught my eye in the rearview mirror. “You can. You’ve proven you’re back on your game.”

“Maybe, but even on my ‘game,’ I was never on this level.” I watched my target sit at an outdoor café table, drinking red wine and ogling a group of teenage girls in black spikes and fishnets. I drummed on the wheel while the radio slept. “Not on his level.”

“Just talk to him. Figure out why he’s here. You don’t need to be any more than yourself.”

“Right.” I opened the windows and killed the engine. “Thanks for the pep talk. Don’t wander off, you might need to carry away my body or send me a text so I can excuse myself if things get too awkward.”

Zelkova frowned. “This isn’t a date.”

“I hope not. Why’d you bring Hester?”

“Jhoti wasn’t going to be home to feed her.”

I locked the doors and hurried into the shopping district. Some of the trees’ leaves had fallen without turning, and the goth girls rested and drew Sharpie tattoos on each other in the shade.

A waiter delivered a sliver of chocolate torte as black and heavy as tar to the dark man’s table while I bypassed the hostess. He smirked at me when the waiter left. I’ve been on the receiving end of many demonic smirks, some better than others, but this guy probably set the bar. Maybe all the smaller devils keep a celebrity poster of him on their bedroom walls and practice in the mirror.

“May I sit down?” I said.

He made a gentrified gesture, and I took the opposite chair. Before I could speak, he speared a cream-topped strawberry from his plate and asked, “What brings you to my table, little holy one? How have I earned a visit from one of the bright tyrant’s blessed sons?”

I played his words back in the fussy voice Windermere used to mock her former compatriots and felt more at ease. “That’s kind of my question, actually. Why are you topside, Samael?”

“Oh, Hell is so boring. I’m here for the wine, the food, the scenery.” Death bit into the strawberry and bared his red-stained smile. “And the women.”

“That is creepy, and you’re not supposed to have any of those things. You have a job.”

He laughed. His wan imperial cheekbones briefly gave way to the dry white curves of a skull. The sky darkened. The goth girls glanced up, anticipating rain. My back itched in response.

“My job gets done whether I am there or not.” He tossed back the rest of his wine. “Humans are better at killing each other than I ever was, and more efficient.”

I stiffened, ready to argue, and he flicked his tongue at me, catching a smear of chocolate before it could mar his perfectly sculpted lips. His make-up, his glamour, was conspicuously Greco-Roman.

“You are not very old, are you? And not very powerful. You should respect your elders who have earned their keep and comfort, whelp. If you want to play so badly, bring me a stick to beat you with.”

“Do you even hear yourself?” I demanded. His eyebrows lifted while he popped the rest of the torte in his mouth. What I said was unexpected, and technically my mission was over, and Zelkova tugged on me urgently from the car, but I kept going. “Samael, the Grim Reaper, one of the most powerful beings extant, making excuses to drink and dine and chase high school skirts like a skeezy old man. Maybe you’ve got the right to do whatever you want, but when you start using other people and leaving—”

“I know you,” Samael said, and snapped.

We were somewhere else.

Somewhere else looked like a clouded country road in the South, if the bare crape myrtles and dewy daffodils were any indication. I entered still sitting, and I scrabbled to catch myself before I landed in the gravel.

“How do I know you?” Samael wondered. His black coat had acquired a cowl. “I know, you’re one of the faces on the Sistine Chapel, aren’t you? But are you a cherub or a shepherd?”

I flushed. I couldn’t remember if there were shepherds or not, but I was on the Sistine Chapel. “Why did you take us here?”

“If you were going to have a righteous outburst, we might as well do it in private.” Samael came closer. I held my ground. “Who were your friends in the car, little messenger?”

“My roommate and his cat.”

“Can’t tell lies, can you?”

“I’m choosing not to.”

He gripped my chin. His fingers were long, and a nail lay sharp under my eye. “Tell me your name.”

“Vergil.” Somehow my nerves had melted away. Maybe in my anger I left them behind, because though I didn’t like how he examined me with cold beetle eyes, I could stand it. “I spell it with an ‘e.’”

“The little Renaissance boy,” he murmured. He crooked a finger through my short hair. “Where are your long golden tresses, cupid?”

“I haven’t had those since the 70s.”

He grimaced more than he smirked, and again we were somewhere else. From what I could see past Samael’s head, he’d brought us to a motel room someone had painted over in monochrome and red. His hold on my jaw started to hurt.

“You are young and weak and small,” he growled. “And you are meddling. Why were you sent to me?”

I winced. “Because I’m young, weak, and small.” My hands fit into empty holsters. “And unarmed. I didn’t mean to threaten you. We—the whole country’s angels just needed to know you weren’t heralding a plague or something.”

Samael’s face flickered with the pale lights, like he couldn’t decide between rubies and pearls in his mouth or eager fangs. “As if you could threaten me. You are a drop to dragonfire, a sigh to the hurricane, a pocketbook matchstick in the darkest underground night.”

Camp, Windermere snickered. Demons love drama.

Alan and his chrome electric lighter.

I slipped my fingers through Samael’s and carefully pushed his claws off my face.

An unseen scythe tore the coat from my back and tried prying my wings free. I hissed in pain and rocked forward, holding my corporation together, keeping my feathers immaterial. Death’s cloak turned shadowy and miasmic. It swept over me, and I came out backwards, the underside of my knees pressed to the bed.

I glowed. My wings stayed in place, but my halo light leaked, my whole body cast in shine. The black comforter looked cheap.

Samael wore arching horns and his iron dark hair past his ankles. I don’t know what he looked like normally, but he’d put on every inch a Lord of Hell. “Do you know what I could do to you, lamb?” he asked.

“A lot,” I admitted. “You could do a lot.”

“I could kill you. Swatting a fly would be harder.” His hand on my shoulder was heavy enough to force me to sit. “Or I could strip away your meaty shell, peel back layer after layer until I find what you really are, your pretty ball of light. I could take you home to the Underworld, toss you around for Cerberus to fetch. I could watch you wither in a jar on my windowsill.”

“You don’t scare me.”

He leaned in. His breath smelled sour from wine and chocolate, not from funeral flowers and corpse dirt. “What?”

“You don’t scare me. You can’t. The worst you can do is kill me, because that’s your role, your essence. You’re not even properly fallen.”

He reared back with a snarl.

I laughed. “Look, I’ve died before, all right? I bled out in a trench. I drowned under ice. I got hit by a truck. The last time we crossed paths, I had AIDS.”

I kind of wanted to show Samael the scars I didn’t have on this soft body, the ropes, swords, and bullets I’d been through. “I didn’t think you’d recognize me; seeing you has always been a mix of relief and intimidation. But for all your power, I know more about you than you can possibly know about me. That’s why I’m not afraid of you. I can never be afraid of you.”

The dark cloud drew up, and so did he. I could no longer see his legs through it, and the smog consumed his shoulders and floated with his hair. “So that’s it, then, Vergil full of grace? You would die now without fear if I chose it?”

Honestly, I preferred not to lose this body while my next was still backlogged for twenty years. But I told him the truth. “It wouldn’t make you happy, but, yes, I would.”

To my surprise, his second hand emerged to take my other shoulder. “And if it did?”

“Then I’d hope as a favor you could savor my death at home.” I patted his cold marble fingers gently. “You can’t run around up here with the mortals like any regular, run-of-the-mill demon, Samael. Unlike me, humans are only designed to meet you once.”

Abruptly, he stood across the room. The colors in the carpet and ceiling drifted towards him, gathering like paint around a drain. A skeleton looked down at the motel desk, and a sullen, sharp man picked up the antique phone. “You’ve worn me out with your chatter, angel. This whole planet makes me tired. See if I bring you to my room again.”

He dialed a number on the phone, and I found myself back at the café, sitting in Samael’s chair as a surprised-looking busboy pushed up his cart of dishes. To the waiter’s relief, I picked up my friend’s bill and hurried back to the car.

Zelkova waited in the driver’s seat with Hester in his lap. She meowed and climbed onto my chest after I lay down in the back. I scratched her neck.

“What happened?” Zelkova used the rearview mirror to back out of our space rather than check on me, but I felt his concern and relief tucked around me like a blanket. Hester purred.

“Earth and I bored him,” I said. “I think he’s done for a while.”

“Thank you.”

“I babbled. We should have sent Jhoti scold him, skip all the ‘lamb’ and ‘little.’ The next time I die I think I’ll have to take a detour to play with his dog.”

Zelkova hummed. “Do you want Starbucks and Indian food for dinner?”

“I would love some Indian food.”

 

 

No Fruit In Hell

You tore out the curse from your chest, planted ruin in my ribs,
and in blackest necromancy I was the Devil’s seed of perdition,
reborn crowned in Hellish red and scythe-diamond white, captive
princess in Satan’s glass castle, I threw rocks at transparent walls,
I raged as Eve unfettered who had tasted the blackest of fruits,
born again but ever to late to atone, when filth is stitched inside
every palpitation of the void in your heart, the Angel of Sedition
placed his eyes in my skull, I saw his soul crawling with shadows,
and through his gaze, my beautifully destructive rotting chambers.
I am clear rain with a hole of night in my depths, glimmering ooze.
A rose blooming red fractals with wyrd of void strung right through.
I fell from heavens into a cycle of cages, I rage, I reave, I judge.

On Being Married to Angels and Demons

Being a godspouse has emerged from the exclusive domain of the illustrious Freya Aswynn and the rare elders in the pagan community that I have long studied to a rather common, if somewhat fringe, occurrence in the occult community.  I have befriended spouses of everyone from Naberius to Mannanan Mac Llyr to Apollo to nameless Entities that are everything from genderfluid to pan to asexual.

Spirit, like humanity, is all colors of the rainbow, and it would be silly to restrict divine sexuality and love to the heteronormative gender binary.  Erzulie Danto takes female wives, Freyr and Loki are likely to scoop up sweet men, and angels flip genders as often as the leaves change color.  Color me a divine liberal, but I would like to think being raised by celestial archangels, mischievous demons, and tricksters galore gave me a holistic view of the only thing that binds the universe together: love, and love alone.  There is light in the darkness, darkness in the light, and love is God, and love is the Gods, and love itself is Eternal.

Loving an immortal comes in many forms: being their devotee, being their divine child, having them as a patron, being their priest or priestess, and even their husband or bride.  No domain of eternal love is above one another – in the Bhakti tradition of Hinduism, the devotee comes into ecstatic communion with their divine Love, Eternal Source, and Inner Soul.  Whether the gods exist in our collective unconscious, in my experience as transdimensional, ancient loving beings equivalent to a master race of aliens, or on lofty clouds in literal Asgard or Olympus doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that they love us, we love them, and the dance between Man and Muse has been happening since ancient hominids looked up at the stars and called them home.

I married Michael and Samael last Halloween, as a culmination of a harrowing but beautiful lifelong path to my inner polarities and exterior dreams and fears, and they are as much a part of my inner animuses and male Shaktis as they are tangible, real as dirt entities.  They have showed me the future, introduced me in the astral to obscure literature and film that upon waking turns out to be real, and above all have been my guides since I was 12.  Michael has saved my life countless times, and Samael has scared me into living, so thanks for that, I suppose.  In the end, the Ophites called Michael and Samael the double-faced serpent, good and evil, light and darkness, and one cannot exist without the other.  They are Divine Twins, perhaps the first beings before God separated into gods, the Left and Right Hand of Creation, and Satan, Iblis, or Lucifer and Michael, Mikhail, or just plain old Mickey represent the yetzer hara and yetzer hatov and eternal temptation to do what is easy versus the high road of what is right.  The Devil is a lawyer, the Prince of Heaven is a priest, both are warriors, and just lenses to understand matter and antimatter, order and entropy, and how to free the caged bird from her own self-imposed bindings.

I think I loved both of them from the moment I first met them, Michael loved by millions and Satan hated by billions, and for every flaw and beautiful facet of my husbands there are a thousand more mysteries stretching back to wanderers in the desert creating stories of malakhim.  It is so infinitely easy to fit them into my Heathen worldview, as I do not worship them, simply love them, and my “God” is Mother Nature, who I view the Norse Gods as emanations of.  The angels and demons serve Mother Nature directly and ask for no worship, just praise of Earth and the Cosmos, and to know my place in the web of humanity, wyrd, and Well of Urd.

Michael and Samael handed me off to the Vanir and Aesir as I came into my own faith and were there when I was adopted into the tribe of Asgard, outside the circle of runes as befits Abrahamic spirits.  The Aesir and Vanir (and a few select Jotun!) are my chosen family and human heritage.  The archangels and demons are the origin of my soul, my first cosmic family, but I am no longer ethereal, made of dirt and flesh and blood, and to dwell on cosmic past lives just leaves one weeping late at night over wounds still fresh since the first Forbidden Fruit rotted and the Tree of Life became the Tree of Death.

The secret of the union of Michael and Samael is VITRIOL, the key to eternal life and universal solvent that dissolves all impurities.  The green lion that bleeds gold from the sun.  The Lapis Exillis is just a heart, and a rotting fruit at that, but a chalice and birthright fought over by the Princes of Heaven and Hell.

I was an idiot girl to ever love them, but fools fall first in the Tarot, and locked away princesses have knights and dragons who eat their hearts come midnight.

I am a caged bird learning to sing.

The heart is its own master.

I am happy, never free.

 

Schoolboy Fights

It is burgeoning autumn bordering on frozen, gray winter rain.
I sit at the back of Calculus, chewing my eraser, ever watching
my angel at the front of the class, the one with flaming hair.
To bring the holy to holed school walls spins fractal equations.
To descend unsure of human flesh to court a schoolgirl is whimsy.
He flexes as he punches numbers into a calculator, smiles at me.
We speak telepathically as only young lovers can, and I laugh at
the boldness he has, of constructing a fragile academic reality
out of the horns of gate and ivory, Morpheus’ velvet turned math.
Derivatives are whirling dervishes, the bell rings, we scamper
out to the courtyard and he says he wishes he could have been my
youthful sweetheart, my first love, my first kiss, but immaterial
seraphim are not meant for mortal desires, he cannot even hold my
hand, for he is a ghost, and I suggest next time we play out daily
doldrums of integrals and singularities, that he be the teacher.
He ruffles my hair and pecks my forehead like an eagle unsure of
his sharp beak, then it is off to English. The Devil is reading
Milton, that blind psalter of Satan’s sorrows, and I scoff at
his ballsiness, to interrupt a high school nightmare with epics.
As if I have not lived the pages of Paradise Lost a hundred times,
late at night as a cold sweat drenches me in blood-hum memories.
So Satan writes poetry on the board, and I roll my eyes at wrath.
Lunch comes, and my angel and demon tussle on the football field.
Do they wish they could have suffered the tragedy of puberty and
unsureness of first infatuation, sloppy kisses under oak trees,
fumblings in the back of cars and hot hands questing for answers?
Have the Devil and angel always been ancient? I never knew them
as youths, and they say they fight for my name, but really they
fight for a dream of an innocent girl, whose hands are stained
with graphite, Wite-Out, and paint as she caresses a canvas with
her muses’ forms, ink spills over, time spills in fall semester,
and I am forever a student of the heart, wandering through Hell.

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.

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.”