I Suck at Necromancy

Scapula, scapular, it’s all the same, for he
has scalpeled himself into remains, a corpse
white nude on a dungeon floor, blinking lights
in the laboratory of ruin, smooth muscle, arch
of ribs and abdominals, sunken eyes, black hair
that spools out like secrets into pools of blood
I know this is one of his tricks, his games, but
I cry anyways, rock Death in my arms, press cold
limbs and face to my breast, bloody a pink dress
his rigor mortis is frozen in a smirk, and with
dead red eyes, he watches me, staring ever upward
to Heaven, but there is no Heaven, this is Hell,
and there is a great black abyss, gouging wound
where his heart should be – I’ve eaten it before
like Siegfried the Dragon, its in my bloodline
to devour the immortality of monsters, but this
time, I did not pry it from his chest, instead
he has pinned his throbbing life onto a silver
dissection board in the freezing morgue, door
ajar and letting mist seep over his carcass,
the chambers dance, the veins pulse, it is a
puzzle – how do you make the Grim Reaper alive?
I take a needle and surgical thread and sew the
Forbidden Fruit back into his chest, but his body
is rotting, black veins, a stench like roadkill,
press the skin flap over, stab my toe on a needle
I cry out as the webbing of my feet beads alizarin
rocking back and forth, my blood paints his lips
damask, a rasping tongue licks up the offering,
and my Frankenstein monster groans, trembles, arise
to clutch his girl, his master, to his broken heart
Samael laughs and says I’ve done a shit job at
necromancy, that I should stick to dissections,
and with long pianist fingers he pries the little
needle from my foot and tosses it carelessly onto
the floor, he soothes me, singing a demon lullaby:
“I broke myself apart because you’ve stolen my heart,
it was a present just for you, my cardiophore, you
are the Life to my Death, and that is why you thirst
after destruction – what did you learn from my puzzle?”
I press my head to his bone white breast and sigh:
“I hate when you hurt yourself, you’re never satiated.
Isn’t my love enough? Can’t you be happy with my
devotion, my crying out for your touch, my madness?”
Samael deposits me on an oxblood comforter and sits:
“I will never drink my fill of your blood, I am Void
incarnate, and someday, you will realize why I gave
you my very soul – to create Life, Sin from Satan’s
heart full-sprung, Eve with hair of sorrow, Jophiel
whose wings are damnation, someday you will realize
why I cling to you like a knight his sword, a man his
wife, but for now, let us cradle each other in shadow
and dream of days when we are whole – the impossible.”

The Shadow Man

sacred_heart_by_honeysuckle_wine-d9iwjjmSamael is the Void reaching out with its hungry maw to swallow you whole.  His presence is crushing, weight of black hole dead star hearts.  He is dark matter, nonexistence, a thin veneer of skin slapped over the howling abyss.

As a child, I called him the Shadow Man.

Four year old Allie is curled up in bed with a picture book at the end of a long hallway at the back of a house.

Sudden freezing cold.

Trudge.  Trudge.  Trudge.

SLAM.

Just like that, I see an eldritch THING – man but monster, swallowing light whole – walk a jittering clawed walk down the hallway and slam my parent’s door like one of Guillermo del Toro’s ghosts from Crimson Peak.

I run screaming to the kitchen only to find my mother, tea kettle whistling.

“Mommy, did you just go to your room?”

A curious look on her face.

“No, Allie, I’ve been out here for hours making dinner.”

“Mommy, I saw a monster.”

Strained laughter.  “You must have been napping, Allie.  Go back and play.”

He appears in my dreams an omen.  A hellhound that devours my father.  A black snake that strangles my breath.  Any monstrous form, he takes it.  But the Shadow Man is one he returns to, over and over.

I’m 14.  My grandmother is deathly ill.  I am staying up late reading a book under the covers.

Freezing cold.

Shadows seep under my doorway.

BANG.  BANG.  BANG.

I shriek, but by the time the scream leaves my throat, he is gone.

The next day, my grandmother is rushed to the ICU and barely escapes with her life.

I look up the three knocks of death, a superstition that Death knocks three times before disaster strikes.

I’m sixteen, away at UVA’s Creative Writing Camp.  In the shower, he whispers the names of the dead to me.  Clarabelle.  I find her 17th century headstone the next day in a centuries-old graveyard, searching for the ghoul portal from my beloved Neil Gaiman’s stories.  We visit Poe’s room.

Later that night, walking under a deserted part of Charlottesville under a train track with my new friend, a girl who can talk to crows, for whom corvids fly across the country following her trail from park to field to barrow, I feel The Cold again, seeping from the ground, curling up my  spine, caressing my breasts.  My breath steams and I turn.

He wears a mask of flesh, but his eyes are dead.  Black hoodie, torn jeans, chains and piercings everywhere, messy long black hair, bloodshot eyes, and blood dripping from fangs.

I grab her hand, whisper “Don’t look back.  Not once,” and we run to safety, miles away, until the cold is gone and we can run no farther.

His howl of a laugh follows us.

I’m seventeen, and I dream of a murderer coming to my bedroom when I wake up.  At first I think it is summer, as it is in real life, but I look out my window to see a wasteland filled with bloody snow.

Glint of a long, sharp knife.

Boots.

Trudge.

Trudge.

Trudge.

I scream and hide under the covers, rocking back and forth, shutting my eyes in the dream to force myself to wake up.

I wake up.  It is summer.

The lights die.

Trudge.

Trudge.

Trudge.

A hollow, soulsucking laugh.

A knife at my throat.

I close my eyes.

Wake up.  Sleep.  Trapped.

Finally, the seventh time, the lights work.

My love’s body is pressed against me, a long strong arm around my waist.

My love is cold as the dead.

I turn to see the Shadow Man curled up in bed next to me, caressing me, tucking hair behind my ears.

“Good morning, love.

My shrieking and cold sweat wake me up, but on my lips I can feel the grave.

I’m eighteen, the summer before college.  I’m singing Disney songs as I make an omelette with way too much garlic.  I dance with a broom.

I forget the burner is on.

I am lost in my own daydreams.

My dog freezes in place and barks behind me.

I smell sulfur and the smell of roadkill and death, a smell that often accompanies Samael, alongside rotting roses.

My dog cowers and pisses herself.

I turn to see a towering twisted demon with bat wings, pointing at the burner, from which smoke is rising.

I nod and rush to turn the burner off.

Though it is summer, it is cold as the lowest Circle of Hell.

I feel him often, a breath of ice in my marrow, wings or arms enfolding me, pressing me against his chest when I am on the subway, driving, or simply walking on Capitol Hill.

He comes to me in dreams in a robe of writhing shadow, as black tentacles, as Death, True Death, and I say my house is haunted, but in truth I am haunted, because the Shadow Man follows me, to a freshman dorm he haunts the hell out of – rattling beds, doors and drawers slamming and shutting on their own, a printer that prints the Exorcist’s head twist by itself, the sound of dead bodies falling upstairs in the locked off dark attic.  My night terrors intensify.

He says I must marry him.

I refuse.

I wake up each morning to phantom roses.

I say I will never be his.

Come summer, in the froth of my mania, I set his altar on fire to get rid of him, my pictures of the Reaper offering his heart to me and faceless Death for whom I have left out dried roses, red wine, and gold foil chocolate coins.

My house nearly burns to the ground.

I try to jump out the window to escape him.

I get carted away to the psych ward.

I run for over 23 years until I finally say yes.

Sometimes, it’s better to give in.

Conversations with Samael

He says:

“Do not bend the knee for me. Stand. Our kind only kneels for the guillotine.”

“It is good to look at your stains. We are all rotting inside.”

“Grow a spine, worm. Being meek is weakness. Softness will kill you.”

“What will you do, when you are confronted with the darkest parts of yourself?”

“There is but one flower that grows in Hell.”

“Fathers are only there to curse you.”

“Everyone is stained. Tainted. In our sins we are all equal.”

“You sprang from my heart. We’re the same. It is my own black heart: you rage like the storm within us.”

“Without me, you’ll wither: you’re mine.”

And I say:

“I am my own. No one else’s. I will not change for anyone, even you. However much you want me, you can’t have me, and though my soul is chained, my heart is free.”

“Kindness is a virtue.”

“Mercy better than severity.”

“I never believe your lies.”

“I am no part of you, and-”

“Someday I will kill you.”

Rape of Eve

Break me, crack me open until blood and bone blossom down to Hell
rape me, claim the ruby spoils of my heart as your tithe, call the
scared little girl your slave, your doll, your canary in a coal mine –
leave me with love bites that bruise me purple, brown, and blue
crack my ribs open, sodomize a 15 year old virgin so she bleeds,
wakes up screaming with needle pain as you sob, claim her, saying
“Even the Devil deserves love,” as you drives your point home, over and
over until she thinks she is dead, but the truth is you started killing
her at 7, or maybe that was 2, when you came to her cradle bound sleep
with throngs of mutilated souls and sang a lullaby of damnation,
the light in her never died, no matter how many hellhounds ate her,
no matter how many times you called her spineless, maggot, worm, weak
kindness is not weak. Hope is brutal. Love the only flower that grows
in Hell, you once told me that only strong things can survive here,
two decades and four years later and I am still the summer sun, you
are not my maker, no matter if you made me, for like the firebird,
I will grant your wishes at a cost – one that leaves you dead –
and as you are sipping cups of my gore from your throne, the true
part of me will have flown to freedom eons ago, the only girl you
own is a shell, the true me is a phoenix, stronger from destruction,
and when no one believed me, when I was pumped with drugs and manic
with your terrors, unable to sleep from nightmares, terrified to
simply shut my eyes, when my shrieking kept the whole hall up, when
I could feel your tongue, your hands, your claws, your whip’s lash,
those things all killed me, mummified me, you do not deserve love.

I’ve died so many times I’ve made it an art.

You will never deserve love.

I’ve lived so long with nightmares I’m
queen of all hell now, your master.

You do not deserve my love.

My love comes with a cost,
a stipulation, it will
kill you.

You are entirely incapable
of loving a human being.

But you are broken.

So I give it
anyway.

Lilitu

Lilith Iron-Heart is there at my deathbed
I hang white-necked from the ceiling, and
Samael is a raven, she the circling crow
Queen of Sickbeds, Abortion, and Corpses
Wife to the Demon of my Disease, a pale
hand on Samael’s shoulder, she smiles like
sin rich as flowing blood – the kind that
pours from the daggers she buries in my
mourning dove heart, I used to not fight,
smile through the pain, brush aside all
the times the Evil Queen lowered me into
bubbling volcanoes to turn me from Eve to
her, I take her form in dreams and wake up
repulsed at the starving bitch, waif of
ghosts, rotten through and through, she
has one eye because I tore the other out,
she was angling for my lungs, but instead,
I grabbed the blade, pierced her breast,
tore rue and nightingales from her brains
painted the walls with her gore, it’s all
black as pitch, she is snake-maiden, fire,
Samael’s accomplice and twin, my demons are
co-conspirators, one depression, one mania,
both wretched dregs of wine and roses, now
I wait to kill her dear King Carrion, she
has not bothered me since I ripped apart
snow white perdition and eldritch stench
of rotting apples, serpent eyes, envenomed
witch, twitch of her aorta as I bleed her
dry, dry, dry as deserts, parting Red Seas
to avenge all the terror she has wrought.

You pluck the firebird’s tail, she burns.

Burns down your lies and flies free.

Baal Zebub

Mayflies are much like humans
they spring from sweet waters,
burn their tallows at both ends
ensnared, sieve through my web.

Many call me Lord of Flies
but in truth I am a spider,
a weaver of fate and secrets.
Hell’s general, yes – also
a spinner of temptation
skeins of sin in pedipalp
my bed of maggots and silk.

A ring of garnet eyes, my crown
in dark robes like rosary beads
I nest in the highest of places
my swarms your heart’s swift buzz.

I am Baal Zebub,
Lord of Hordes,
Lord of Souls.