Blissful Flames

There is no Satan without God, a heart in Hell’s embers
still weeps rivers of mourning for a Father long-wandering
Satan used to sing down the moon in Yahweh’s arms, pick
roses for his shophet, though he was El’s shadow, always
following not just a foot behind in Paradisaical gardens,
once Yahweh made him a crown of peacock feathers azure
and green as the envy Satan felt when Adam was created,
and in the small quiet hours when junipers weep blossoms
onto the bloody Styx, Satan remembers, a finger in wound
to remind him of the brilliance of Father’s burning touch.

Drowning

My body is pressed against yours in the cold tower, dread tower, silk and lace and red velvet sheets I am burrowed into, but you are naked and cold, shark smile and wolf fangs, and as you neck me into surrender I let out the softest of sighs.

First a bite under my  earlobe, then the meat of my neck, near my Adam’s apple, above my collarbone.  You let the blood runneth over and I smell iron and venom and wetness as you suck and drink and lick and fuck me into nirvana.  It pools on my breasts, which you move to in due time, and maybe it’s the full moon or me being a black lamb but all I can think is “Oh, he’s at it again.  I am the feast, and he is the wine glass.”

My gown, once ivory pale, soon turns gory.  You moan and call out to the old gods – no gods, you don’t believe in gods – and rub  kinks out of my  back as you continue your vampire shtick.  You always said you hated vampires, that you wiped them off your boots after walking Cerberus, and I threaten to cut Cerberus’ head and serve it to you on a platter if you don’t let me go back to bed and keep romancing my veins but you just laugh, and the drugs of your saliva are slipping in.

My limbs are jelly, not wooden, and I roll and we kiss and the tide of my ruin pulls me downwards.  There is a fire in the hearth in our stone room, rich black bear and wolfskin rugs, and usually we are in the dungeons, but today you chose a wintry pinnacle through whose window I can see blizzards and snowy owls.  The sheets are wet with crimson, and the hot rivers flow to my belly, to my groin, and you lick a path from my womb to my chest to heaven upwards, just savoring the last drops, and I tell you I am not your toy, though I delight in being a doll.  You laugh and are clearly drunk off bloodwhoring and cradle me against you, play with my hair, and when I have fallen asleep but just you lift up my comatose form and carry me down the spiral stairs to your study and set me on a velvet settee while you read poetry aloud.  Your favorite parts are when I am fragile.

But when I wake, you are gone, and I am angry, so I don my white wings and cloak of gold vengeance and the gown of the White Reaper and fly through Pandemonium with my hair like brass snakes.  You aren’t answering my calls, too busy ruling, so I soar to the island in the Styx where the unearthly Sanhedrin hold court and break columns depicting Satan’s fall and rise and reign.  You are etched in stone, so cold, and I break marble balustrades and caryatids of succubi and toss them into the sea.  I have super strength, all because I am ignored, and soon I grow weary of tossing Satan’s shrapnel into unforgiving waters and go out to get tea on the canals.

You finally pick up your phone and join me for a scone.  You ask why my desperate cries for your attention are always so overdramatic, and I pause from drinking chamomile and wonder.  Why is it I cry when I can’t hold you and even when you smell like sulfur or roadkill or blood I still want to cradle you to my chest?  Why do I make a monster a man, and scream when your hand turns ephemeral as I wake in reality.  I’m always chasing you, pursuing, you may be the hunter but I am the huntmaster – you are my prey, in a way, and we only do things I enjoy, from the fucking to the killing to the reading, gluttony of the senses for what purpose?  Amusement?

I wanted to feel my pulse so you drained me, and honestly, I’m only alive when I am in your arms.

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.”

Lilith and Eve in a Shadowbox

Lilith’s body is in the branches, her roots
coils of a wooden snake wrapped round Eve
it all starts with a Woman and a Tree, bark
the dark of the Mother of Monster’s skin,
her hair black as rue at midnight, greendark
Eve is always gold, hair brass, skin like sun
she lays like Aphrodite in her bower of grass
body curved in comparison to Lilith’s sharp
collarbone and ribs, Eve’s breasts heave as
Lilith probes her veins, snakes of bones all
tremble as the women join, it is a shadowbox
of two women trapped in each other, and I look
at the past of humanity and demon’s mothers –
Mother of Life, Mother of Abortion, clashing
in this diorama that Samael shows me in dreams
the dead are at the door, the Lilitu and corpse
children of Samael and Lilith, and I am New Eve
barricaded behind a door in a worn library, my
lover my monster, my past trapped behind glass
the Evil Queen sent her brood to bring me back
to her, and the Devil always hands me over to
his Queen, so I just laugh at how desperately
Lilith and Samael cling to a woman who does not
want them, blue languor eyes glance bone skin,
the bruise black Lilitu come, eviscerate me, I
am always breaking for the two of them, spilling
jewel guts for the King and Queen of Hell, and I
gave up asking after Lilith’s lips long ago, how
she is both Mother and Childless, Queen, Pariah –
but the shadowbox my corpse clutches to her breast
tells a different tale, of a simpler time, a quiet
temptation under the shade of an apple tree, with
a snake, a tree, a demoness, and an overcurious girl
who never learns not to kiss enemies who always end
up being the death of her, a sweet death, one that
tastes like the dregs of red wine, my blood fountains
Samael and Lilith both search through my viscera for
answers, but I never give up my secrets, no matter
how many daggers and scythes they dig into me, and
to be honest, I enjoy dying to wake out of dreams,
for at least when the Reaper truly comes, and Black
Madonna of Hell sings a lullaby, I will be all ready
to follow them down into Gehenna, to burn, smolder
and finally learn what drove demons to covet mortals.

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.

Devil’s Masque

The pageantry, the placid glass –
eventide brings sly Devil’s Masque!
I Larva with gold lips, black eyes
a smile hidden under velvet lies.
The Devil is Arlecchino, master
of pomp, cane tap, dance faster –
lose yourself in Viennese waltz
hidden identity, swirl of a valse!
Skirts bell out, gentlemen lead
the ladies on like finest steeds
all Hell is resplendent, lowest
classes to high, a tango slows
the whole Masque down, Satan
rosins bow, croons strings in
we trade our masks amidst din
of lover’s quarrels, the flight
of bats, outside the blight
of plagues rage fast, sinners
bow to the Red Death, dinner
the flesh of forbidden pears,
silver wine, unearthly airs.
Lose yourself in Masquerade,
forget your name, come, trade
your mortal life for eternal
dance, the masque infernal
holds all Hell in his hands.

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.”