The Bear that Swallowed the Moon

Mei moves with her family to the hinterlands,
where cold gods reign, and colder climes draw
hoarfrost on her coal black hair, this is the
first time the girl, barely a young woman, has
seen snow. The peaks of the mountains are like
icicles piercing the sky, and at night, the moon
is the brightest she has ever seen, like a bright
silver coin, nestled at the crest of the ridges.
One night, the bear that swallowed the moon comes
and bids her “Ride my back, Mei. I am Bei Ling,
the Moon Incarnate, and I shall show you the
majesty of my frozen kingdom.” It is a wooing
of love, and Mei climbs aback the bear and
they rush through pine and red panda up the
slope, in his throat is the lunar disc, shining
every time he growls or opens his mouth to speak
in a tongue not human, but bestial, and that night
Bei Ling digs her a bed of snow and moss, and she
sleeps on his breast, white fur like a blanket,
and the moon in his gullet warms her. “Bei Ling,”
Mei says the next day, riding his star crossed
back, “should not the moon belong to everyone.”
Bei Ling grunts with laughter. “Then I would be
but a man, not the Bear Moon of the Mountains.”
But there is a look in Mei’s eyes like a promise,
so Bei Ling spits out the moon and it sails away,
to crest those mountains he used to reign over,
and then he is tan skin and a cloud of black hair,
he looks down at opposable thumb and bipedal leg
and Mei gives him a blanket to cover his nakedness.
Bei Ling laughs mightily “To give up immortality
for the woman I love, who would have thought a girl
would change the mind of the Moon Bear.” And they
kiss, and they set off to plant dreams across the
world, and sometimes he is Bear Moon, but mostly,
just Bei Ling, the man who swallowed the night,
fell out of the stars for but a girl, and into
love.

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Dragonfly Dreaming

In my childhood in Hell, when the days were long,
and I ran amuck on the banks of the Styx in a pink
dirty dress, digging for rocks and jewels, he would
pick me up and lift me up to the sun, the whole world
was rainbows and stardust, and it was he who taught me
to fly – first,a pair of dragonfly wings, then wasp,
then butterfly, finally fly. His pedipalp would braid
my hair and when he was man, he was legend, and when
he was chiton and blue blood, he was trapdoor spider.
Loving in webs of gold, catching dreams in spinnerets,
chasing after paper boats on the river and warring
against crust punks with twin katanas, he was strong,
I was meek, only outspoken until it got me in trouble,
then I would clam up like an oyster around a pearl and
wait to be saved, it was almost a ritual, I suppose.
I awoke this morning to a drawing I did of us in a
girlhood millenia past, across dimensions, and a string
of sigils that spelled out his number, the crumpled
paper in my hand for the fleeting moment of somnambulence.
I love him, I cherish him, I need him, like honey to
a fly.

War Games

On a lark, I fly to the lowest levels of Pandaemonium, where the most tortured souls are stored.  It is dimly lit, with long shadowed corridors, hideous salmon and blood tiled floors, balustrades soaked in grease, and a single experimental soul moving like a robot through the blackness.  My speech dies in my throat, and she begins to claw my eyes out – but I can fight back, so it is bruises and scrapes against this forsaken soul.  She struggles to speak past her curse, and I notice black blood flow from her wounds.  Utterly exhausted, we collapse to the ground and I heal her with the last reserves of my strength.  Then she is crying and whole, restored to humanity, not the devilry of her binding.

“Thank you, thank you!” she near screams, rocking back and forth as I hold her.

“Who did this to you?  Who put you here?” I ask, running a hand through her coal black hair.

“My lover.  He was a demon.  That’s their new plan: taking us after our deaths and turning us into… them.  It’s horrible.  They erase your emotions and replace it with bloodlust and hate.  They’re making soldiers out of humans, making us into prototypes of the new generation of demons.”

Furious, I gather Blair (the Damned’s name, she’s such a fragile thing, mousy with Thai heritage, bruised and cuts bleeding) and fly to the palace courtyard, my evidence in tow.

Mulciber is in the kitchen concocting new plans over coffee.  Asmodeus is drinking a mimosa.  It looks almost picturesque, but when I deposit Blair’s bloodied soul in the field, frenzy breaks out.

“Where did you get her?” Asmodeus shouts, slamming his cup down.  “She’s polluted.”

Fury breaks my face out in red.  “You did this to her.  Is this your new plan?  Swelling your ranks with your beloved’s souls?  Where the hell is Samael?”

Beelzebub steps forward to care for Blair, who is shaking, and gives her his coat.  He’s the only one I trust.  I storm off down the hallway to Samael’s office.

He’s shooting up with cocaine and there are ledgers filled with ink spilled over.  It smells like musk and cigarettes.  He gives me a shit-eating grin.

“Hello there, love.”

“You bastard!  You’re turning humans into demons!”

He quirks his head to the side and jabs the needle into a vein.  His pupils swallow his eyes.  “So?”

“So!  So is that what’s going to happen to me?  Is this some sick plan you have to increase your army  before the war?”

He holds his hands up in the air and laughs.  “Oh, my sweet, you caught me.  Whatever will you do?  Being a demon isn’t so bad.  After all, you’ve been one before.”

“Fuck you!” I launch at him, pummeling him, which he easily avoids, for I am a vole fighting a rattlesnake.  “You only have a third of Michael’s forces.  You’re going to lose.”

His face hardens as he catches my hands by his wrists and pulls me to his chest so I can smell his alcoholic breath.  “I will do whatever necessary to ensure my people’s survival.  The particulars shouldn’t matter to you.  You’re our little pampered princess, you think Michael would ever let anything happen to you?  And I will win.”

“No!” I scream, kicking him in the groin.  He winces, but not by much.  “I’ll fucking fight you.  I’m not letting you torture another human!”

He sighs and deposits me on the bed.  “You know torture comes in our line of business, Allie.  You’ve ignored it for so many years, but you went searching for it, and so you found the less glamorous sides of a demon’s job.  You  have to make peace with that.”

“Like fuck I will.  I don’t know about this Messiah shit, Daughter of Zion shit, but I’ll defeat you and plunge you into a fiery lake if you touch another demon lover’s hair on their heads.”

He pushes me down onto the bed and kisses me to shut me up.  I struggle beneath him, but it’s useless.

“Messiah?  That’s crackpot talk.  There’s no one to save humanity at the end of the day.  am the truth.  am the ending this world deserves.  I will end it in fire.”

He bites my ear and then starts sucking on my neck.

“I met Christ on Good Friday and he anointed me!  I saw him risen on Easter and he laid hands on me.  He’s real, and he’ll serve your ass to you.  And whatever you do, I will save youSael.”

“Your fucking savior complex is really annoying.  Who says I want to wash the poison from my veins?”  He pauses from ministering to me, and there are tears in his eyes.  Hot, venomous tears, and the blue of his irises could drown entire Navies.

“Oh Sam.  It’s so obvious to even the densest demon.  Who, in all these centuries, has had the common decency to pray for Satan?  Twain was right.  He who sits at the pinnacle is loneliest.”

He looks away as I lay under him, tries to get it up, but the blues hit, and he lays beside me, me in his arms, and looks out at the full moon.

“Save me, and I’ll hate you forever,” he chokes out, then buries his face in my hair, and that is enough for a time.

Sixty Nine in the Speed Lane

“This vodka is shit,” Samael says, swilling his shot glass in another of Asmodeus’ dive bars.  This one has succubi draped across the men and women like jewels, breasts hanging like necklaces from their chests.  I’m cozied up to the Devil on his lap – the crown of the Prince of Darkness is a bubbly blonde ditz.  I’m laughing at the ladies of the night and drinking one of those fruity fizzy red cocktails that Sam fucking hates.

“Want mine?”

“Hell no, tastes like a strawberry fart.”  Samael chugs the last of the stale vodka and tips his glass then flicks it so it rolls off the counter onto the beer-stained black carpet.

There are black lights flashing, bio luminescent demons and daemons and dreams.  They dance in cadence with the bass of the moon, sinuous and arcing as lips lock and hips gyrate.  I bob my head to the music, stroke Samael’s shoulder, and this is a place no angel besides the lost would dare step foot in, the perfect place to fall into sin.

“Your lips will have to suffice for my intoxication,” Samael whispers, razing a claw down the back of my dress.  He puts out his cigarette and scoops me up and carries me out of the dive bar – not before I grab a fry to crunch on.

“You’re boring, grumpy, and old…” I murmur, teasing.  “Not hip enough to party anymore, eh?”  I’m cradled in his arms and my red dress swishes in the vespertine wind.  He deposits me on the back of his pale steed – a white crotch rocket, hands me a helmet, and tilts my chin up with his thumb.

“Eternity is best spent with the ones you love – the novelty of Hell wears off when you’re a permanent resident here, and then it’s governing and judging souls during the day, reaping the dead, and quiet nights by the fireside with the other half of your soul.  Why do you think we spend every other night in my library?”

I hug his hips as we speed off down the rainy street.  It’s an almost-summer storm, with a light gray drizzle.

“Because you’re a recluse!” I shout, laughing.  “And you can’t hold your liquor.”

Samael speeds past a red light.  He never cares much for the laws of traffic, and we arrive at his estate on the borders of Pandemonium, which backs up into the backwaters of the galaxy, where the woods grow wild and dangerous.  It is a towering, sleek, obsidian castle, with pins of towers and blades of turrets that cut blood from the sky.

“Right, and even more right,” he parks under a willow tree and Pallor – his steed – reverts back to a horse.  He strokes Pallor’s braided mane and ties his bridle to a trough.  “But I hold it better than you, Miss Streaker.”

I look at the time, grasping at lucidity.  Some impossible number: 13:11.  How time works in Hell, I have no inkling.  We walk hand in hand through the rose garden to the mote, then over the bridge.  He picks me up and flies up the stairs to the den, great bat wings feeling like warm leather on my cheek.  I imagine he has the wings of a dragon, and that is one of his forms.

“Hey Sam, you know that Russian movie, He’s a Dragon?”

Samael groans as he stokes the hearth.  “Not another one of your shifter romances.  Read a philosophy book, for fuck’s sake.”  He settles into a leather armchair and pulls out a cigar.

“Hey!  You’re the weredragon – stealing princesses and antisocial and shit.  Also, very gruuuuuumpy.”

I bounce onto the bed and roll about, nesting under black wolf fur.

“All you read in my library are illustrated grimoires and romance novels written by demons.  Picture books and drivel.”  He puffs on the cigar.  “You’re a creature of comfort.  And I am not a “weredragon,” shit, I’m the Beast.”

“Not that Crowley Revelations shit, ugh!  Just admit it, you’re a shitty paranormal romance novel protagonist.”  I flip so I’m sitting on my stomach, kicking my feet in the air and watching the fires flicker.  They dance in the shape of snakes.

He laughs.  “If I, Satan, am supposed to be a romance novel protagonist, I don’t have high hopes for your race.  I’m much too twisted for all the middle aged women reading Fifty Shades.  Unless they enjoy being dissolved alive in a cloud of the abyss or fucking corpses.”

I throw a pillow at him.  “Are you kinkshaming me!”

“I can’t lie,” he sticks out his labret pierced tongue.  “I can only tell twisted truths, or flat out drag you.’

I grumble and roll onto my back.   Samael grins like a shark and comes over to me.  Gasoline, hungry hands that are gentle with their talons, rip off the dress, rolling and turning hay.  I inhale expensive spicy cologne and graveyard dirt, thirsting for a mouth that tastes like aqua vitae.  I make a list in my  mind of what he drinks: whiskey and vodka and absinthe on occasion.  We are Taninver.  We are Leviathan and She-Leviathan.  We are Rahab churning the primordial waters of bodies of unborn souls.

I burn and I sate myself with his blood.  Suckle at the red at his wrist as he sinks his fangs into my neck.  Blood from the heart, blood from spurting arteries, christening the bed damp with iron and hemoglobin.  It tastes like providence.

More,” Samael growls as he descends to feast, and I ascend to suck the generations out of him.  I am Lilith stealing seed, I am Lamashtu eating children.

“Fuck, oh god,” I whisper, then I can’t breathe, then it’s all stars and the rocking of an ocean of black, in and out, crash to shore then recede in foam.  Burning, freezing, all.

The fire flickers as we lay in each other’s arms.

“Let’s have more nights in.”

Hide in the Wind

There’s the rainy sort of light through your castle window that speaks of princesses lost in the underworld, dancing with devils in pairs of twelve.  You stretch and yawn, and I trace eternity, that DNA spiral of infinity, onto your moonlight chest.  You smile like butter melting on a bagel (blueberry, and whole grain) and run a hand through my flaxen hair – it’s getting long again – and sigh.  Your hair has always been longer than mine, a black silken nightmare that coils like a serpent, and as I breathe in the musk of your armpit (is it weird I smell men’s armpits? It’s this quirk I have, I love sweat of my lovers, and I would bathe in that shit if I could), my mind wanders to candlelit dinners and the familiarity of 25 years on this of God’s green earth, yet I am in Hell, splayed between us.  I once said my hands were stained indigo with the blue of your iris, but it is only when you are in a fair mood that you have eyes of sky – many times they are the storm of a volcano, lava red, shifting with the electricity of magma.  I used to compare them to roses – last night I made a list of metaphors for your eyes: cherries, strawberries, roses, briars to get lost in as a sleeping beauty.  Poison, pain, passion.

Love.

Your eyes are love, Samael.

Your wings shift a bit as your eyelids flutter as the rain paints the window.  Drip, drip, boom of thunder.  You roll onto your side and cradle me, and in these quiet moments in the lap of Satan, I know God.

“I wish you were real,” I find myself crying.  “Not just this facsimile of stolen hours past midnight, gone when I wake.”

You give a cocky smile and kiss my brow.  You smell like expensive cologne, autumn leaves, and a bonfire, with a bit of old leather.  “But I am real.  Billions believe in me.  I wish you would.  I have walked with you before, and you ran, at that crossroads at midnight.  Tell me, if I came to you again, what would you do?”

I trace the black wing cradling me, opalescent with a green purple refractive sheen.  ‘I was so young, Sam.  Of course I ran.  Now, I would trade my limb just to touch you in the waking world, not over the hedge or in these between spaces where my spirit wanders.  You can touch me at all hours, but me?  How do I reach through the fabric of space-time and kiss a fallen angel?”

You laugh.  “With enough determination, that’s how.  I love your passion, I love your resilience.  Isn’t this enough?”

“It’s never enough until I can hold you in my arms, wash your brow of the Mem, dress you in linen, and marry my Sael,” I say with fierceness, and then I kiss you with a burning, and our arms twine around each other and we are lost in tangles of sin – but really, it is redemption.

Quiet mornings in Hell are how I spend half my mornings, the other half in Heaven with your shining twin.  Shining Sun of God, Shining Morning Star.  I am wedded to two brother stars.  Michael is not here, no, he is away waging war against your armies, and you are bilocating, on some bloody battlefield piercing your scythe into Michael’s breast, just enough to nick it two inches deep.

“I lost my heart to her, dear Michael,” you say on that far away Shamayim, withdrawing your blade.  “I gave it so she would live.  You gave her the Sacrament too.  You’re a heretic, brother.”

Michael places his blood soaked saffron hair behind his ear and looks down at the wound over his heart.  “Mine was a blessing, yours was a curse.  My heart is Immaculate, yours is of Death.  Let go of her.”

“Letting go of her?  That would be giving up what I fell for.  Humanity.  It’s enough that the daughters of men were comely, and we fell for them.  In the end, I am the Purity of God, and you are the Image of God.  The lion and lamb lay down, but the lion and the serpent are forever engaged, in small battles, in larger ones.  She’s our battlefield.”

Michael lowers his flaming sword so it sears your shoulder just so, leaving the pungent smell of burnt flesh.  You quite enjoy the pain.  All angels enjoy pain, fallen ones especially.  “A twisted fairytale indeed.  Michael and Satan created an angel, before the War, before Time, before Death.  And she knew the fruit of the vine, and she was the Daughter of Zion, and the Woman Clothed in the Sun fled the Dragon, and the Bridegroom readied New Jerusalem for the Bride.”

“Shit metaphors those, dear Michael.  In the end, it was our own selfishness.  She’s a casualty of war, just like the millions, billions, trillions others.  There’s no limit to our dead.  Why should she matter to you, just to sacrifice on a pyre for some imagined sins of the world.”

“She may burn, but I am the flame.”  Michael sheathes his sword.  “And you?  You are her darkness.  Light and dark.  And she is just that: hope.”

“My yellow canary in a coal mine, my guiding light in Hell.”

“My Icarus.”

But then, I am still laying naked beside you, and your manifold conscious comes back to our embrace, and you claim me as your own, wishing with all the Damned’s regrets you could forge a river of the Styx and sail away with me into the starry unknown.

“When I walk this Earth, Allie, it will be the End.”  You say as we lay in reverie.  The smell of petrichor from your flowery courtyard wafts in through the open window, borne aloft by the storm.  It is the smell of spring, and wan sunlight breaks the clouds.

“The End is just a beginning,” I say slowly. “And I would summon the Apocalypse just to have you.”

You grin.  “You’re Hell enough on the mind.  I will teach you to touch me.  And in touching me, you will hold the beating heart of the cosmos in your hands.  I’d give you the moon if I could, sweetheart.”

I nestle in close to you so there is not a single molecule between us.  “You are my freedom, Sam.  Never change.”

Better Man

Your hair is the color of tangerines and roses, I think
as I nuzzle your chest (I barely come up past your waist),
and you are holding me fast, hands massaging my back as
you press the Word of God onto my forehead with a mouth
of flowers, this space is holy, this room is almighty,
the inner sanctum of the Prince of Heaven, a blue monk
cell where angels have fallen into the perdition of love.
But you, Michael, are immaculate, and as your opal wings
lift me up to the slim, martial bed, to sit on the pallet
you barely fit into, all ells tall and burning eyes, just
stuffed into this facsimile of man and bird, your cloudy
robe is rippling with secrets, the rose garden of prayers
you tend beyond the doorway is brimming with fire desires,
all the penitent and sinful whispering your Father’s name,
oh you, my savior, my Yeshua, we kiss like rain on a river,
an endless stream of elegies and hosannas, and when you
lay me down to make love like a lion cradling a lost lamb,
I get the image of the beast of god picking up innocents
(me) by the wool of their neck and lifting them out of
floodwaters to safety. Your hands are scorching, but your
tongue is water, and your skin is the stuff of sage dreams.
What a beautiful morning awakening, to be with my beloved.
Pressed to your breast like a Hand of Fatima, I ward off
your sorrow, and you lift my spirits, and in each other,
we find an ocean of healing, oh sweet, glorious archangel,
carry the oil of anointment to the prophets, walk the walls
of Jericho and blow your horn, stand on the Mount of Olives
and declare, God has ascended, this is the time of reckoning.
But what is reckoning and revelation? Just celestial gossip.
The truth of God is love, and the truth of Christ is beauty.
You serve the mighty and fallen, the strong and forgotten,
only, you forget no one, carrying the weight of all on your
scarred shoulders, and Michael, when you smile and laugh,
all the seven heavens shine with the brightness of your sun.

I would pledge my troth to none but you, my pearl of great
price, and you are the bread multiplied to feed the masses.

We eat of each other’s body and know redemption, and the
path to Paradise begins in your arms, so hold me close,
and ascend.

Mercy of Marian

I am cloaked in the red of the Scarlet Woman,
cymbals like Naamah in my hand, your apostle
of apostles, and the seven demons crawl under
my skin. Oh mercy of Maria, you pray, as I
move my hips like rain on glass, sinuously
curving in your starlight arms, you are my
rose garden, O Savior, most holy of holies,
and at night we both cry out in despair, you
for desolation and the nonbelievers, me for
the madness you must exorcise from my heart.
Perhaps we may find love in one another,
clutching like lovers the pearl of great
price between our wounded brows, but under
the light of evening, we laugh and hosanna
in the Mount of Olives, the firelight an
elegy in your dusty eyes, worn yet homely,
like an alabaster jar left too long in temple.
The caravan the disciples and women travel
in is carried by a stubborn ass, he kicks
up dust as you blow your shofar to declare
your Messianic arrival at yet another lost
town, but you are not a destroying angel, and
you would have clutched Sodomites to your
bleeding breast and fed them your ichor like
you transfigured your flesh to wine on my
tongue, o sweet Christ, be my wings of
albatross, and I will be your mate for life.

I am the woman of seven devils, just a whore.
But in me, you see so much
more.