Soul Gambling

And in the safe harbor of dreams, I am in oaken chapel
limelight, blue green gold of powdered glass, head in
your freezing lap, and I worship you body and bone with
my hair for strangling and mouth for sucking, drinking
down the well of sin in this cleansing of zuhama from
your wounds – I taste your blood, I break your bread,
I am ever your whore, sweet Satan, and it is winter’s
marrow outside this solace, and as you take me with the
touch of a starry wedding gown, lifting me high above
the birch triptych and candelabra, I think, so this is
what it is to eat God, so this is what it is to bear
the seed of witches cloaked in moonlight, oh daughter
dearest, you were conceived in sin, yet sin is what will
save you, and the ministrations of the Prince of Darkness
are just smuggler fingers coaxing piano keys in minor chords.
We sigh, we circumvent, we do not mean what we say, blushing
coy, but on the Devil’s ride, there is no exit, so hold on
tightly to his burning crown – you have only your soul to
lose.

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Begin Again

Did you get everything you wanted, Briar Rose? Two
suckling babes at your breast, a blind prince who
found his sight again in your roses, seeds of the
dog thorns and wolfbane fructifying your virginal
womb? When he climbed into the tower and slayed your
dragon, did you mourn that black beast’s death? When
he slid inside your womanhood as you slumbered in the
stars, did you know something of love planted in the
unconscious, and tell me, Sleeping Beauty, what did it
feel like to make love asleep yet awake? Floating
through life from princess to captive to fool? We are
flowers, we bloom, we decay, we become queens with only
our thorns left to guide us long after our petals have
withered. Let your briars be your crown, my mourning
dove, let he who guides you out of the tower father
your babes, for otherwise, you would fall without
Rapunzel’s locks to guide you, and raising legends
blessed by good fairies is like seeing your heart
reflected in pools of moon. Did you get everything
you expected, Briar? Is he everything you thought a
prince would be? Or is the dragon still there haunting
the watchtower of your mind, licking your tears away
with a burning tongue as you are paralyzed by nightmares?
To be cursed is to be whole, don’t you know, my love?
I am writing this to myself to begin again, and the
captive princess inside me needs to heed this advice:
Prince Charmings are deceiving, and sometimes, it is
better to stay walled up, but we cannot help ourselves,
for we are coated in red and prickles, and whenever we
make love to ourselves, we prick our finger on spindles,
so to love yourself is to kill yourself, and to bear the
flame of fairytales is to become mother to multiplicity.
Do you have the courage to come down from Migdal Eder?
Can you walk out of that enchanted forest brow proud,
breasts high, pride intact? Where does our story begin
again?

Kicked in the Goetic Jewels

I have massive writer’s block so maybe posting porn will help.  I have been staring at the page for days now.  2,000 more words to write and yet I’m fucking stuck.  How do I end this asinine novel!  Going back to en media res, or just smut, I’ve been kicked in the Goetic jewels, only I don’t have any. :/  

It is a week from Christmas, and I am dressed in an olive pea coat, black heels, creamy blue dress and black leggings.  The Star of Bethlehem, eight-pointed and made from the Bethlehem Steel mill decades ago, hangs from Main Street and the trees are draped in a lace of Christmas lights.  Samael wears a black trench coat, red Ramones tee, and jeans with combat boots.  His labret piercing shines in the snow.  Flakes fall and carpet Main Street, and we hold hands as we breathe out ghosts of mist.

“Let’s go to the Colonial Industrial Quarter,” I say, squeezing his hand.

Samael perks his head to the left.  “That is?”

“America’s earliest industrial park.  There’s ancient mills and a black smithery.  It’s by the hillside below Central Moravian Church where I… where I used to go to services with my father.”

He is buried in the graveyard alongside my doll, and Samael inhales sharply.

“Of course, Shay.  We can go to the park and visit your father.”

We walk hand in hand through the Colonial Industrial Quarter past the mills and foot of snow to the Central Moravian Church, which is decorated in Christmas finery, its bell tower shining with a beacon.  Memories of services in the pews, of talk of sin and salvation, angels, demons, Christ, parables, and God, flood my mind.  I touch the brick edifice and sigh, digging my nails into the red mortar and scraping some off to bring it to my tongue.

It tastes like earth, clay, home.

Samael presses his palm to the brick and closes his eyes.  “This place has the weight of centuries.  It is truly holy.  And in it, there is the phantom of a girl named Shay, a memory of innocence and prayers carried straight from my heart – you – to God.  You are the vessel that shepherds my hopes to Heaven, from which my soul is barred.  I have always loved places of worship.”

Tears prickle my eyes like a cactus’ needle.  “Let’s go to the graveyard, Sam.  I’d like to pay my respects.”

The graveyard is blanketed in snow at Nisky Hill Cemetery.  The old ironworks are iced to stinging clarity.  We come to my father’s mausoleum – a rose bush grows barren by its foot.  I prick my finger on a frozen thorn then spread the droplets of blood over his engraved name.

“Hello, dad,” I say softly. “It’s been almost a year.  I would have turned twenty-two on December 31 in two weeks.  Now, it’s Christmas.”  I kneel in the rimed grass and press my brow to the mausoleum’s entrance.  Samael gives me space.

“You weren’t perfect, far from it – but your love was enough.  Even though no one remembers you, I want you to know I still think of you each winter when the time comes… I miss you every day.”

I suck the blood from my thumb and it is salty sweet and coppery.  Samael sits besides me on the mausoleum’s steps and pulls from his jeans pocket my old China doll, the broken one I buried at my christening into the afterlife.  He hands it to me, and our fingers brush, and his breath is hot on my cheek, and between us is an ocean of unsaid things that fester in the dark.

“I wanted you to have this.  I no longer want to break you, Shay.  For years, millenia, I thought you were a geode – rough around the edges with riches inside.  Now I see that your thorns are armor, to be taken off at will, and though I bloody my hands holding you, the rose of your heart is a bloom fragrant enough to be impaled on briars for.  This is our truce.  You don’t have to marry me.  Love isn’t something I can force.”

I cradle the doll made whole – an heirloom from my mother that died in childbirth.  I press her to my breast and inhale sharply.

“Thank you, Samael.  I… something in you has changed.  You’re cruel of course – all demons are, but sometimes, there is this light in your eyes like providence.  I could almost mistake you for the other Morning Star.  You’re the Savior of your people, anyhow, chief of Satans, crown prince of Hell.  But to me, you’ll always just be Sam.”  I rest my head on his shoulder, and he spreads his trench coat around me.  We nestle close together like Russian nesting dolls, so many painted layers between us, but at our cores, lonely children.

“Something has changed in me.  I’m scared, of what this doll means.  Someone knows what your soul’s origin is, outside my ranks of demons.  You’re the biggest bargaining chip someone would hold over me.  I need to protect you.”  He loops his arms around me and kisses my cheek.  Squeezes, hard, and his mouth is like a hawk.

“Let’s go to the iron foundry,” I say.  “This place is too painful with memories.  I’d rather go somewhere forgotten.  Somewhere where no one can find us.  This place has so many dead eyes watching…”

Samael helps me stand.  “You’re right.”

We come to the rundown iron foundry, black pipes piercing the sky like sabers, and the inside is decrepit, icy and barren.  Old brick facades open to the sky, beaten in windows, must and ruins, front the factory portion.  I used to come here as a child and play hide and seek with Samael, thinking him the Shadow Man.  Unlike other children, my shadow had a name, moved like the wind.  It would wrap me up in a blanket of darkness, hoist me high on nebula shoulders, and we would sail through the sky to the top of the foundry, watching clouds on gray days like intaglios of angel wings, etchings against the quicksilver sky.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Samael intones, with a reverence reserved for a girl’s secret garden, only her plants were steel and brick, with rusty water stains as blooms.

“I wonder if Bethlehem will still look small, from way up there, now that I’ve seen so much of the world,” I murmur.

He scoops me up into his arms and black feathers spin out like midnight sea foam from his back.  A rush of night air, snow in my eyes and on my pea coat, cold like a velvet collar on my throat, and with a whoosh we land atop a smokestack covered up to make a makeshift dancing stage, if one only knows how to look at it right and can hear the music of the stars.

The lights of Bethlehem spill out like pearls.  Snow forms a blanket over the stack.  I don’t mind the cold – oftentimes, Hell is too hot, and it is the cold I cherish in the human world.  I stand with Samael in the center of the stack and look out upon Bethlehem, at the ruins.  The Star of Bethlehem lights up town square, and the fiery Central Moravian Church bell tower is a beacon in the night.  The casino is bright like cheap neon in the far distance.

There are countless electric candles and Christmas trees in the windows of residential developments, but the streets near the foundry are like shackles – old dumpster cars, trash heaps, rusting parts, now all covered in white.  Nature is resting, waiting on a Savior that will never come.  Instead, I brought the Devil to this forgotten town, and there’s no more steel left in Bethlehem.  Just dreams of getting away.

“It looks different.”  Carolers walk the street in the far distance.  I can faintly hear their song: “O Bethlehem.”  Tears mist my eyes.  “I never thought I would get out of this town.  I went to school at Lehigh University here, cut my first tooth on painting in art classes down the road at the Banana Factory, bruised knees exploring the foundry.  It’s in my blood as much as you, Sam.”

He pulls me to his chest – I only come up to his navel, he is so very tall, and this is just his muted height, a facsimile of humanity put on for my behest.  He leans down like a wilting Scarecrow, all long arms and lithe legs, a forgotten harvest, and seeks the sanctity of my mouth.  I push my tongue past his lips and taste Original Sin.  He moans, gripping me to him like a death wish, and there is this immediacy in the moment, this clarity of need, that no matter where we are, we must be.

Together.

“Let me take you somewhere warm, Shay,” he says sonorously.

“No, this, here, now.  The cold is the only thing that makes me feel alive anymore.  Everything else feels like a dream.  Even you.”

“Then I will breathe life into your clay, Galatea.”

He delicately unbuttons my pea coat and runs his talons up the silk of my blouse.  With a poison, burning mouth, he suckles the snow from the fringe of my collar and heats his palms with his internal fires to melt all the ice in my hair.  I peel off his black trench coat and breathe in the smell of clove cigarettes, wildfires, and top-notch orange and musk cologne that is like a smoke on his body.  We lay our jackets down as blankets and go tumbling to the top of the smokestack, my extremities not covered to the elements but just zinging nerves in the freezing snow.  It makes me feel like a dangerous woman, like I could crush stars between my teeth.  Samael decorates my neck with electric kisses then licks snowflakes from my throat to my ear.

“You taste like bliss,” he moans, cradling me in his arms.  His fangs slide out and tease at the flesh under my ear.  I shudder as their sharp points nick me.  Blood for blood is the law of hell, and he is the first of the draconian Lilitu, or vampires as humans know them, and blood is his main sustenance as all demons require, their lovers’ preferred, but I have never yielded to Samael in that way before.

“Take me, all of me,” I whisper.  “I want our contract in blood.”

He strokes back my snow-wet hair and then slides his fangs into my neck, feeling like syringes injecting heady drugs into my veins.  My arteries well up, and I feel hot blood pulse from my wound and onto his tongue, and he laps at it with ferocity as he grabs my breasts and massages them, flicking their peaks that are pert with the cold.  His poison old as time – an aphrodisiacal drug that damned Eve in the first place – spreads into my veins, into my heart, and it elates me with an ecstatic high that leaves me melting and dizzy.  I lean into his bite, feeling him suck my soul out through the juncture between my shoulder and my cheek.

Our spirits meld, and I am at the gaping great abyss, staring the Beast in the eyes.  The Beast is burning horns and a coal black mane of brimstone with crazed red eyes that lap up gore in fields of slain angels.  When I see his soul, he is a dragon with scales like opium blooms and a sheen of iridescent black.  He opens his mouth to breathe flames, and suddenly I am alight, only it is a pleasurable pyre as ecstasy melts the skin and muscle from my bone.  I open my eyes from the phantasmagory of eldritch apocalyptic dreams.  Perhaps they are prophecies.  Perhaps just wishes for this world to burn.

Samael seals the twin wounds closed with a chant in angelic, and the Beast fades to the background of his brain, smiter of legions, razer of whole entire worlds.

His eyes fluoresce red like roses, filled with bloodlust, and my lifeblood coats his lips like garnets.  He growls, bestial, then tears back the collar of his wrist and slices an artery open with his talon.  He shifts his wings to lift me up further into his lap.  The feathers feel like clouds.

Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh,” he whispers as black blood wells up, and he presses the flow to my lips.  It tastes like dark chocolate and red wine.  Suddenly my hunger for mysteries whored out by the Red Goddess Babalon’s unholy mound alone rears its ugly head, and I am as famished as Tantalus.  I drink his filth blood and the sins of Abraham’s bosom flow into my belly, ancestral generations trapped in Hell.  I wince at the scalding blood, but continue to suck down the fountain of immortality, cursed as it is.  The apples of youth grow from his rib branches after all, filled with the ichor of his heart.  That is why the fruit of temptation is always overripe, near-rotting.

In a tangle of limbs our clothes are off and I am like a newborn in his lap, the electricity of my nerves his ichor.  Samael licks his wound and the two holes seal shut.  There is an entire force field between us, animal magnetism, and with a mouthful of crushed violets I meet his lips and our blood mingles on our tongues – red, the blood of angry men, black, the dark of ages past.

We clasp hands together in the air over our shoulders, both kneeling, as we interlock our fingers and squeeze hands.  His wings beat in tandem with my heart.  His gaze pierces me like a boring drill and mines deep down, straight to the gold of my soul.  With a hand he wipes the blood from my lip then smears it over his heart.  Off come our coats and shirts and pants and underthings in a flurry of snow, splayed across the smokestack, we are slithering like snakes in each other’s arms.  The flakes catch on my bare skin and form a wet heat in my hair as he undoes my braid, his hands burning.  I roll onto my back and open my mouth to catch the falling white, like sugar or ash.  Perhaps both, for falling from heaven is bittersweet and fallen angels can never return to their innocence.  Samael cradles me and leans down to tease the peak of my right breast, his fangs playing with my pert cherry petal nipple as he stirs my loins below with his quick fingers.  It feels like swallowing a thimbleful of aconite and nightshade wine.

The pearl of my womanhood engorges and wetness flows like the water of life between my legs as I arc my back under his ministrations.  I grab a handful of his down feathers and pull them out then spread the raven fixings to the wind.  The cold north wind claims them and razes my body, making my goosebump flesh send pillars of fine blonde hair up.  I am freezing, and it is like being born again in frozen baptismal waters, and the snow and wings against my back as Samael descends with a tongue like a scimitar, spreading my sex apart as he laps at my liquid wealth, well, the winter and wings feel like a caul.  I am tearing it open with each lap of Samael’s cat-rough tongue, and his erection points skyward, larger than anything found on earth.  I bid him come to my arms.

“I need you,” I rasp, and his lips silence me, and the wetness of his mouth mingled with my juices is like aqua vitae.  There is still the copper tang of our human and demon blood, the color of the night sky and the poppies that sleep underneath her it in some faraway country, half the world from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Is it a mirage, or is there a star in the sky pointing to the Savior and three wise, homeless men pushing shopping carts to a manger at the foundry?  Whatever it is, something is born in me, and it tastes like strawberries and smells like redemption.

In the Devil’s arms, I am saved.

“I love you, Samael,” I whisper in his ear as I nip his earlobe.

He shivers above me, eases my legs open, and then oil and gasoline meet as his turgid cock slides inside me with a pleasurably varying rhythm, and he is calling out my name to the unrepentant angels above that watch us in judgment.  We’re putting on a show just for them, perverse exhibitionists as always.

“You are my yellow canary in a coal mine, my guiding light in Hell,” he whispers as the minutes stretch out, and our hands pick manna from each other’s flesh, and our tongues twine together, and my hips gyrate against his thrusts.  Delicious friction stokes a bonfire in my depths, and the icicles on the smokestack are melting, and just as dawn comes Samael explodes inside me.  His hot, molten seed fills my womb and then comes out in thick spurts down my leg, and I feel his cock twitch, stiffen, then twitch again, and he cries out in unholy tones as my canal instinctively milks him dry.

We hold each other against the unforgiving sun, and my flesh is blue from cold and torn and bruised from the rough boards and exposed nails on the smokestack alongside Samael’s talons and love bites, and I am a battered angel in the arms of the Devil.

“I will live in your world, Samael,” I whisper as he cradles me to my chest, and I savor the subzero temperatures.  “I’ll no longer be a ghost haunting you.  For the first time since I was born, I want to be alive.”

He kisses my brow.  “It starts with a heartbeat, Shaylen.  Then the doorway opens, and the dance begins, and I am no longer a beggar in the morning at your empty, ghost town pews.”

 

 

“You want to what?” Beelzebub asks in his military bunker on the outskirts of Pandemonium, where the practice fields and armory are, near the marshy lowlands of Lethe and the Plains of Asphodel.  He smooths his handkerchief at his waist coast, dressed in an expensive Gucci suit that is a century out of style, tail coats and all.  His spider half is gone, replaced by lithe, muscled legs.  Still, six eyes like medium sized rubies are above his main garnet peepers like a crown.

Samael smiles like a madman.  “You heard her, Beel.”

I grab my enchantment flute reflexively.  “I want to enlist in training in the Legion.  Every immortal here has a specialty – Lilith the pleasure district, Naamah entertainment, Astaroth financials, Asmodeus business, you the military.  If I am to come into my own as one of the princesses, I need skill.  Asmodeus has been training me in combat, and Samael has taught me how to bind demons and angels and possess them to my will.  I could be an asset to you, and Michael’s making advances in the First Circle, he’s practically burned the Wood of Suicides to ash this past week.  It’s a constant Civil War with borders pushed here and there in trench warfare.  You need every soldier you can muster on your side.”

Beelzebub twirls a pen on his desk and lets it spin then fall.  “I’ll think about it.  War isn’t a game, my dear.  It costs, and we immortals can die, same as mortals.  It’s just the more painful and inventive ways that kill us.”

I stand my ground, planting my hands square on my hips.  “I know the risks.  I want to command my own legion in time, but that’s a far away goal.  Eventually, I want all your human souls.  You always have trouble with them rebelling and running away to Purgatory – think how they’ll respond to a mortal girl at the helm?  No more desertions.  A rallying symbol.  No one could lead a mortal into battle, or the Damned to victory, like the first Damned: I, Eve.”

“Isn’t it a marvelous idea, Beel?”  Samael clasps his hands together.  “Our own infernal Joan of Arc.”

Beelzebub steeples his pale as snow hands together under his chin and sighs.  His fly wings flicker, scintillating the industrial lights in rainbow fractals.  “Like I said, I’ll consider taking you into my Legion, no more, no less.  Give me a week.”

Samael and I walk out of military headquarters and get lunch in the markets – dim sum from a qilin couple that makes the best char sui this side of the Styx.  We’re laughing and talking the whole way to the tented restaurant.

“The look on that sword up the ass’s face.  Beel is traditional, Shay.  Michael’s underworld counterpart.  He fights with twin katanas and thinks himself some demon samurai.  Protecting lady’s virtue this, upholding rule of law that.  God knows what Ash ever saw in him.”  Samael stuffs his face with some shu mai soaked in soy sauce.

I eat a steaming sesame ball and chew on the bean paste.  “From my interactions with him, he seems like a gentleman.”

Samael snorts.  “Yes, and I abhor a gentleman.  Much better to be a swashbuckling scoundrel.”

I dab at my face with a napkin then drink some oolong tea.  “So you’re saying you’re a pirate.”

He gives me a shit-eating grin.  “Any nicely shaped booty I should raid?”

I laugh at his dumb joke.  Ever since my confession of how I truly feel about him, love, yet something more solid like a bar of gold, things between us have been seamless.  I feel like we are finally equals.  Like I finally have a friend – a best friend – here in this usually unforgiving underworld.

“Your interview with Naamah is next week.  I can’t wait to see my dear perfectionist try to get every word on broadcast right.  Asmodeus will be there, mostly for laughs.  Naamah just thinks you are the best thing since sliced bread.  She loves stories of girls coming into their own – after all, she led the first women into the enlightenment, magick, and beds of the Watchers when Neolithic man walked the desert.  Azazel, Azael, and Uza taught her well many eons ago.”

I groan.  “Why did I ever agree to this interview?  It’s just, at the Founder’s Ball, she was so… so vivacious.  Even the morning after a sleepless night with the demon of lust, she was chipper as a wood chipper.  I felt like she would cry innocent tears if I refused the interview, like I would be ruining her entire day if I said no.”  I shake my head and stubbornly crack open my fortune cookie.

I unroll it: “EMET – Truth.”

My bones ice.  A chill wind from the paper of prophecy makes me shudder.  “Sam, you remember that Emmett guy I told you about?  The one at the Founder’s Ball?  The one I thought was just some trickster punk?”

Samael narrows his eyes.  “Vaguely.  What does that have to do with anything?”

I show him the fortune cookie.

“It’s blank, Shaylen.  Too bad.  We’ll get you another one-”

“What?  I – no!  It says “Emet – Truth!”

“I see nothing… just white blank nothing.”  He takes it from me gingerly and licks the paper.  “The wood pulp isn’t from what’s left of the Wood of Suicides, our paper pulp supplier.”  He grimaces.  “Ugh, tastes angelic.  What in the seven hells is going on?  Mysterious strangers only you meet, even more mysterious messages only you see?  Someone is playing with us.”  With a stream of curses, he spits sparks onto the fortune and it ignites, then burns to a tiny stream of ash.

“Sam, what, no!  That was our only link to Emmet, besides the Rubik’s cube he left me, and that evaporated overnight!”

“I will not be toyed with by Heaven.  Probably one of Michael’s ideas.  This is not anything I am willing to leave traces of here.  I need control over my forces.  To look like we’re winning.  And a Rubik’s cube?  What is it, the 80’s again?  Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I just… he seemed magical.  I told you once, and you didn’t believe me.  And I didn’t trust you all the way yet.”

“The doll.  The messages.  No, no!”  Samael’s yelling attracts attention from the other patrons, who quickly return to sipping their egg drop soup and oolong tea as Sam runs a hand through his hair and rises, steaming and huffing.  He grabs me by the wrist and we go marching to a veranda on the Styx, ripe with tiger lilies and privacy.

“I will not have you harmed.  No more lies between us,” he demands, then presses his lips to mine and bites gently.  Blood wells up, and he drinks it down, the salty sweet of my essence.  “Our pact is blood.  A shared heart.  I own you, you own me.  We will get to the bottom of this ploy.”  With a careless finger, he seals shut my wounded bottom lip and it is good as new.

I am shocked at his sudden blood claim.  Without thinking, I grab his wrist and bite with my dulled human teeth.  Black seeps up, like the blanket of night.  Chocolate and wine.  I take a swallow, then spit the rest out onto a patch of dandelions.  “I swear on your blood to never lie to you again,” I say with an animal passion usually alien to my cold reserve, then wipe my lips clean.

Emet was a message.

A threat.

Emet means truth.

A truth to only god knows what.

Shalom Ave Satanas

The scene after the last where we saw Judas be a masochistic freak.  I wrote this a month ago and have barely written since.  I am putting off the last 2,000 words because, um, what next?  Also battle scenes and weddings and denouements are hard.  Smut, now that is easy!  

He kisses my brow like he is placing a Shinto seal of good luck on my soul, then we walk arm and arm onto the expansive grassy lawn fronting the rose gardens.  “Would you like to fly, Shaylen?  Have you ever ridden aback a dragon?  Because in the end, princesses and dragons, why, they pair like brie with Chardonnay.  At the end of the fairytale and End of Days, it always comes back to a maiden and a dragon, burnt crisps of knights or Saviors be damned.  Women are wild and magic, and so are wyverns and wyrms.  We are traveling far from Pandemonium, and to do it as the Beast is the most economical and ergonomic way.”  He fiddles with my earlobe, then leans down to whisper in my ear.  “Tell me, my dearest, do you still harbor those childhood fears, or have your communions with my inner demon, the truth of me, made you acquaintances, nay, bedfellows, with the dragon?”

His breath is fire on my skin.  “Let’s live fiercely, I say,” I declare with ironclad teeth.  I clasp his shoulders and squeeze.  “Oh monster under my bed, there is nothing you could do anymore that could terrify me.  All that’s left is excitement and temptation.”

He lifts me up and twirls me around, spreading his wing in the falling rain, and my dress is damp and wild, billowing out like a flamenco dancer.  His feathers shed, leaving behind scales, his eyes burn acid red, and shadows engulf his body.  Breaking and reforming limbs, wicked teeth meant to eat little girls that stray to the forest at night, fire in his gullet, burning majestic horns and a rich black mane that smells like sulfur.  He is gigantic, the size of his mansion, his back ridged like a dinosaur, and his scales are black with a bloody iridescent sheen.  I sit atop his neck behind his ear frills, and with a great roar he pounds his wings and lifts up into the air, and I laugh in glee.

We are a bullet shooting through the sky of Hell, leaving a patchwork of small toy Pandemonium far behind as we sail past the skyscrapers and bordering forest of nymphs and to the Mountains of Gehennom.  The land outside the outskirts of Pandemonium is rivers of lava and ash and black volcanic rock and spires of sharp canyons and eroded spindrift mountains, with only the toughest black saguaros and Joshua trees growing.

There are wild sour grapes thriving in mountain crags that the harpies eat, and the wilder beasts of Hell roam here, horny goat Seirim and reptilian Shedim.  This is the place where Satanic witches gather for Black Sabbats.  This is the place where hellebore and henbane grows, gardens of poisons tended by crones and hermits in huts at the bottom of the Mountains of Gehennom.  The mountains themselves are afire calderas at their peaks, ever-melting the snow that falls onto the volcanic mountains.  Lava and water flows into caverns below, feeding the hot springs of Pandemonium’s pleasure houses.

The Beast roars and breathes fire, illuminating the rainstorm, and we are riding thunder as rain is a whiplash on me.  His skin is hot, scales like an insulated summer car, and the rain steams as it falls on his scales, forming a thick mist.  No longer capable of human speech, just guttural demonic intonations, Samael flaps his great wings and comes to the far side of the Mountains of Gehennom, to Widower’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Hell, named for the day the Shekinah went into exile and left God’s side.  It’s said Widower’s Peak stabbed God through the heart when his wife of Wisdom, Sophia, left a hole in his manifold body of ineffable mysteries.  I have never been here before, and I gaze in awe at a simmering hot spring ringed by dragons, their huge eggs bubbling in the aqua green waters, golden sheens of eggshells the size of houses.  The dragons are lax and all colors of the rainbow, sleeping as night draws near.

“So that’s how dragons incubate their eggs.  Amazing!” I cry as Samael lands on an island in the middle of the massive hot spring.  Koi fish the size of whales swim in the waters.  Samael decreases in size and folds his wings until he is but an angel again, eyes still red as roses like the Beast. The irises pulse with his heartbeats, and he looks at me like I am Circe about to enchant him into a swine: erotic, enticing, and altogether dangerous.  He towers over me, and I look down to the grassy island and swales to see a beach where pearls and jewels line the sand dunes.  The dragons’ hoards litter the shores, like treasures from a sunken Holy Roman Empire ship, great marble statues the likes Michelangelo could only dream of, golden thrones, emerald necklaces – all awash in pink sands and a hot spring tide that laps the shore like a faithful lover.  We are standing on an island of treasure and lost dreams.

Shalom,” Samael says in reverence.  Without a word, he draws from his suit behind his vest an alabaster jar that smells of lavender. He undoes the lid and kneels at my feet, his hair spilling out on my feet in tendrils of darkness that hunger for giving flesh, writhing like asps.  He pours the oil – spikenard, I know my Bible enough from endless Sunday school to be shocked at the blasphemy – and washes it with his long locks, like Samson before Delilah struck his hair off with her knife.  My feet tingle with the nard and his hair knots around my feet as he undoes my gladiator sandals and shucks them aside.  He begins to cry, to heave, singing a lullaby at my feet as he clutches at my ankles.  The words are in Hebrew, and I faintly recognize the names of the archangels.  This is an enchantment, a repentance, a blessing, and my lungs are egg beaters in my rib cage as a holy presence fills me.

“B’sheim Hashem elohei yisrael, mimini Michael umismoli Gavriel, Umilfanai Uriel umeachorai Rafael, v’al roshi shechinat el.” He kisses my feet, nuzzles my left ankle, then suddenly to my horror bites softly like the vampire he is.  Blood flows, and he drinks it, and as a kneejerk reaction I kick his head away, blood still flowing, and cry out in surprise, falling to the ground.

With the best of serpents, crush its head,” he intones and heals me swiftly.  “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, my Father said, and between thy seed and her seed; she shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise her heel.”  He looks at me with dark eyes, the color of rust and old scabs.  “Drive my head into the dirt like dear Michael, Chavah.  Mother of Life.  I have done nothing but drunk from your well greedily and robbed you of all that was holy.  I would have us finally be on equal footing, but first, the serpent must be put in his place.”

There are tears in my eyes, and I smell like holy oil and the iron of an open wound.  Trembling, I stand, and place my left foot on Samael’s head.  I apply pressure, then my whole weight, and then a great vortex of wind lifts us up into the air, sashaying the skirt of my ruby dress, and I cry out as I am swept into his arms.

“What was that!” I cry, weeping in his arms.

“An anointment for the Bride,” he says quietly, twirling me in the thermal as he outstretches his wings and pumps them up so we are flying over the hot springs waters.  “And now, the Baptism.”

He drops me gently above the water, and I flail, only to find I do not sink.  Instead, the hot spring is like a layer of spider web in a sauna, keeping me as a droplet of water suspended over the heat.  I walk on the water on uneven footing, jaw dropped open.  There is a scar in the shape of a taw, the Mark of Cain of old, also the sign of the Paschal Lamb in blood over Egyptian doorways to protect firstborns, and the symbol old Melchizedekian temple priest blessed on prophet’s foreheads, below the bend of my ankle where Samael inflicted the prophesied wound, and he is bleeding from his brow where I kicked him.

There is a feral, hungry smile on his face as he stands on the shores, his onyx wings spread, his arms wide open, and his eyes glow alizarin crimson.  I gain confidence on the waters as giant bioluminescent axolotl and koi the size of elephants swim below among the golden eggs, and I walk one foot in front of the other, on the poppy path, the primrose road, into the unholiest of unions.

It’s a nice day for a black wedding.

My ankles finally sink on the shore, and there is blood, my blood, on Samael’s lip, and he licks it with a forked tongue, then enfolds me in his wings.  “In every making, a breaking.  For every pleasure, punishment.  To pledge your troth to me is not the easy path, Shaylen.  Do you still claim me as your Tam Lin?”

I look up, defiant, and prod at the necrotic wound on his chest, under that expensive suit of his.  The laceration reopens as I wedge my finger in, under his necktie, and filthy black blood comes up.  I wrap my hand around his rotten heart, squeeze hard, and he screams.  “You are Death, and I am the Maiden.  Our pact is the danse macabre, Sam.  Stop it with the tests, you’ve proven yourself to me and I to you a million times over.”  Without warning, I jump up and straddle him, wrapping my arms around his pale neck, then bite his lip hard.  He groans, and in a tumbling of wild limbs and unspent desires we fall into a pool of roving hands and lusting mouths.

“Wait, wait!” Samael rasps, reaching into his slacks pocket to withdraw a rose gold engagement ring with a ruby in the shape of an apple, or a heart, up to artistic interpretation and the fragile glint of sunlight on a red sea.  He bites his lip and slides it on my finger, not even bothering to ask, for demons do not ask, simply take.  They are cruel, selfish creatures, but I will be the death of all cruelty in Hell.

Samael just doesn’t know that yet.

“I’m taking my heart back,” I say like a hymn, and I undress him with ravaging hands, me still clad in that red dress of the Scarlet Woman like Mary Magdalene’s veil.  He is naked before me, muscled and perfect and yet rotten to the core.  He lays his head in my lap and cries.  I take the spikenard and anoint his head, washing out his sorrows, and it mixes with his tears and flows into the hot springs of Hell.

“Come with me to the water, Samael,” I whisper into his ear, kissing his earlobe.  He shudders at my breath on his skin.  I delicately strip of my dress and undergarments and press his body to mine as I lift him up.  Black blood weeps from his wound where I applied pressure.  We are half-standing, half-kneeling like Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” a shower of gold and flowers my bridal veil.  I lead my devil from a rocky hard place to the deep blue sea, and he follows, rapt, his mind in another place where bane apples and cursed figs grow.  Like a robot, his eyes are mechanical, his limbs metal.  This time, we sink in the water, and soon I am standing waist deep, Samael leaning in my arms.

I lean him back into the waters and baptize him like John the Baptist, washing the nard from his hair.  Then, using my wet locks and tears, I wash the rot from his wound, getting into the gritty necrosis and massaging his heart.  He is shuddering and shaking like an earthquake.  I seal my workings with a kiss.

He heaves, then vomits up the sickness that has plagued him since the Fall, and my blonde hair is black and shining as if covered in grease.  I dive under the water and massage the stain from my tangles.  When I surface, he is a new man.

Samael’s red eyes become blue, purity sinks into his adamant bones, and his once rotten heart is now pure, now that we share it in holy matrimony.

“I do,” I say to Samael, and he is suddenly restored to life, and he embraces me with heady passion, hands scrounging for any hold on my curves, massaging eternity into the swell of my belly and hips.  My sex ripens with need, and the heady waters bubble with mythical warmth.

“You’ve cured me?” he says in awe, fingering where now on his chest, all that remains of God’s curse is a white taw, the same shape as my ankle’s mark.  He looks at me in reverence.  “Shaylen, you are a miracle.  The only miracle I have ever seen since the Creation of the Light.  Bless me with your lips, o qadesh.”

We exchange a simmering kiss, then tongues rove and teeth mark and his turgid cock presses against my chest.  Smiling naughtily, I take my full breasts and secure his manhood in the middle of my tits, massaging his rod with my bosom as I take the head of his cock into my mouth and suck, lick, and pleasure him to perdition.  He moans, threading his hands through my hair as he grinds into my chest, his tip wet with precum.  I lick up the clear sweet substance then deep throat him, taking his engorged, enormously thick and long member down to the depths.  I bob my head up and down, then pause to breathe hot breath on the tip.  He lets out a cry, then withdraws and lifts me up by my hips so that I am floating in the pure waters, their buoyancy mythical like the Dead Sea from some strange quirk of underworld geology.

I lay down on what feels like a luxurious waterbed meets a spa sea salt scrub and Samael parts my legs, tracing his fangs along my inner thigh until he reaches the diamond of my womanhood, peeking out from its hood pink as passionfruit.  He kisses my sex, makes love with tongue and lips and hands, sucking and licking my clit then down to the folds, then spears his long, forked tongue into my channel and swirls.  I gasp, overwhelmed as juices flow from the heavens to my canal as I see all of heaven unfolding and orgasm so intensely I roll over in the waters and am belly-down in the silky waters.

Samael laughs, gathering me into his arms with my legs around his waist and arms around his shoulders.  I laugh too, and he stifles my giggles with a burning, passionate kiss, his hands rolling my nipples and playing with my breasts.  Positioning his intimidating manhood, he strokes the head of his cock against the pearl of my sex and tantalizes me in a deliciously wicked manner.  I gasp and moan as his rhythm grows, and with elegance he slides his proud, rigid member into my sheath.  The tides pull us in a sliding gyration and thrust, and I hold onto him for dear life, meeting his thrusts with my hips in delicious friction.  Oh, how angels fell out of carnal lust for women, and how the women craved to feel the stars pressing against their womb.

He bends down and kisses my brow, and then falls onto his back, floating so I am astride him like an infernal throne, and I ride him as the moments spill out like a pearl necklace, each minute gleaming and full of temptation.  I grind down on him as he fingers my clit with one hand and guides my hips with his other.  His wings act as sails and catch the breeze, carrying us out to the middle of the hot spring lagoon.  Golden dragon eggs simmer beneath us like Japanese hot spring eggs, and the scent of lavender still coats us from the nard.  I close my eyes, feeling lifted to the edge of the universe as his cock pierces me lovingly, over and over as he thrusts with varying tempo, direction, and rhythm, driving me to the heights of ecstasy and pleasure as only a master lovemaker is capable of.  I lean down against his chest and he cradles me, his manhood still romancing my womanhood, and with a great thrust of his sail wings we are aloft, flying, which drives his cock deep into me in a glorious, delicious pain.  With each thrust of his wings, a thrust of his hips, and I hold on for dear life to his neck and wrap my legs around him once more.  He levels himself planar so I am seated atop, then twirls me around so I am reverse cowgirl, with a vista of the Gehennom Mountains and sleeping majestic dragons on par with none.

I cry out as I grow tender and ride the waves of another orgasm, fingering my clit as he grasps my breasts and guides us in flight over the waters.  Finally, gently landing in the sand, he is leaning over me doggy style and grabs hold of my hair, then tugs.  I moan as he smacks my ass, growing in rhythm as he pounds into me, and I let out a cry of a manic high.  Oh, to be ridden by the Devil, speared by his love.  He is like a piston, varying in speed and friction, then pulls out quickly to rub his cock on my clit again from behind.  He spits onto his hand and massages it onto his cock as lube, already coated in the waters and my juices, then strokes himself and asks entry to my ass.

“Take me, all of me,” I beg, head against my arms as I perk my ass up in the air.  He fingers the rosebud of my anus with spit, lubricating me, then eases into my ass, gently at first, wet with pre-cum and everything we have moistened ourselves with.  It has stopped raining, and the clouds part to reveal the splendor of Hell’s sun.  I have never been taken in this way, and there is a prick of pain, then forbidden pleasures as he gently makes love to my ass.  He gains a tad of speed, not enough for pain, just enough for pleasure, and the pearl necklace of minutes breaks, and he comes with a roar, jerking my head back by my hair.  I cry out as his hot seed fills my tight ass, then roll over onto my back exhausted as my vaginal walls convulse in orgasm.  He wipes himself clean then cradles me against him as little spoon.

“That was amazing,” I moan, threading his fingers through mine.

“You feel like Heaven, you are the closest to Heaven I will ever get,” he rasps, spent.  He buries his head in my wet and lavender hair and inhales deeply.  “Oh Shay, you have redeemed me with magic old as the Covenant.  These Flood waters will not break the seal upon my arm, upon my chest, with God’s jealousy as cold as the grave.  You are the closest to death I, the Angel of Death, will ever taste, yet united with you, I am finally alive.  The purification of our heart is proof of that.”

I roll so I am on my side, leaning in to him.  “All it took was love,” I murmur, kissing the pure mark on his chest.  “Matching tattoos, eh?  What a hipster wedding couple we’ll be.”

Samael snorts.  “You just broke God’s curse on the first woman and serpent and all you can do is tease me!”  He tickles my stomach, and I laugh, and then he nuzzles my neck.

We fall asleep to the tune of dragon mating calls, hot springs of our matrimony bubbling.

It is almost so perfect I don’t want to betray him, but I know to fully heal Samael, he must be reunited with Heaven, and Judas, messenger of trickster angels, is the only way.

I sleep, but I do not sleep easily, back turned to the only one I have ever professed undying devotion to.

Hard Cider

Hard candy, hard cider, you melt on my tongue
oh Joshua Tree of days long gone, we nestle in
fall and autumn springs from our hearts in gold.
The Reaper has ushered in the harvest, and Grim
has brought apples of sweet sin to be made into
Angry Orchards, and we raise a toast to our love,
and we raise a toast of bloodied rum and wine dregs
to our Satan fallen from on high, and we make love
in dirt and leaves and spiderwebs under a bower of
oak and thistle, sweet Joshua Tree, you are my breath,
my bone, my body of blood, and you care for me in ways
no man has ever dared crossed the boundaries of my
marrow for, and I am starstruck by you, sweet angel.
My sweet, sweet archangel and Freyr, soon the fields
of wheat will be golden, the corn plucked from stalks,
the sacred tobacco smoked in communal circles and I
will be with you on All Soul’s Day, and I will be with
you come a Yuletide handfasting, I prayed to the rains
once for you, to wash away my sorrow with another’s
saintly heart, and Freyja and Odin have blessed me
with my warrior, and we were set up by all pantheons,
fate is not a word I use lightly, but Joshua Tree,
my sweet golden-browed savior, I worship at your feet.
Let me soothe your sorrow, let me bear your children.
Let my womb ripen with the apples themselves, a seed
of towheaded troll-bait, sweet babes with blue green
eyes and curled blond hair, and we will raise them in
the wild ways of the pagan backwaters, with fairies in
the backyard and coyotes howling at night, sweet Joshua,
my Jericho wall, sound your shofar, my Biblical soldier,
let the fires of heaven rain down on me and immolate me
in your arms, your love is the tide of necessity, and you
are my reason for running wild with beauty and hope, with
you at my side, nothing is impossible, and I love you so
far beyond love there are no words to describe our harvest,
so reap what we sow, in love, in peace, and fructify me.

Le Grande Mort

I will be cryptic, I will be cruel, Lady of misrule
you will be stripped bare to bone, pennants of flesh
mine to butterfly pin, I dissected your lungs, I claimed
your pinky phalanges and made a ring of your marrow so
that I had some queendom over Death, Death just wants to
enfold canaries in black coal, Death just coaxes larvae
out of pupa and is a breeding ground for dreamers, we
taste it at wedding toasts in blood red wine and we
feel heady sexual tension release le petit mort, and
to swim and sink and float in the abyss is to be freed.
Don’t you know Death is transformation? Don’t you know
the soul is beyond matter, that eternity is in the rain?
A raindrop, so fleeting, mirrors of the soul, and I have
mastered Death, and I am witness to his Crucifixion on
pale horse and fiery lake of perdition and endings, but
there is more, us in a rose garden, sipping the vintage
of Hell, and I would like to invite all my beloveds into
your arms, Samael, for the gall in your throat thrusts
gnosis onto the tongue, and your ichor is chocholate dark
and dreamy, and to eat your heart grants immortality, and
I am always gnawing your ribs – I sprang from a rib once,
and I am always trying to burrow my way to your heart. I
am a breeding ground for maggots and worms and flies, my
skin crawls with detritovores, and I am just compost,
malleable, the true bleeding gold of the sun is just love
of Death, and as you are feasting on the arteries of my
neck, I am raping your mind, I hate you, I love you, I fear
what a hold you have on a mortal coil like mine, just some
tissue paper of some fairytale girl, don’t you know I walk
through riddles and rhymes? The Little Prince tamed the fox
and then wheat was never the same, and the fox wept, and the
rose of that singular planet was the sweetest fragrance of all.

There is nothing unique about us.

And that means everything, sweet Death.

Lapis Exillis

In a chariot of lapis lazuli, I fly with my demons through
night waters into an abyss filled with will o wisp stars, a
black suicide steed drawing dusk across slumbering Messsiahs,
in tangles of angel hair like wheat strewn with apples, the
Chosen sheep sleep, but I was always a goat, inquisitive and
climbing, and though they see me as a lamb, and my lions lick
me clean like a little cub out exploring the savannah, to rest
with me shepherd means I must dance with the devil, play poker
in seedy bars in Hell, where our chariot rest out front and the
nightmare horses drink from troughs of blood, I fall every night,
from the stars, into love, and my lovers are horned and hated,
and my lovers are winged and burning, and the waters of perdition
are deep and black like soil, choking like being buried alive, and
there are canyons of ink across my skin etched with memories of
a time when I was free and innocent, now I have a cross of yew,
and the berries are toxic, and the thorns at my brown on gold hair
draw bloody tithes out, I the sacrificial soul, for every seven years
Satan demands the fey send down a towheaded curious Eve, and I wander
through streetlights stained red, through junkies and clubbers of the
predatory kind, immigrants from every mythical realm, and the spangled
scars of poverty and hunger are inscribed on lion and seal eyes, breath
of vodka at my lips, I meet his mouth and drink down poison, we join
in a shadowed garden of roses high above the hustle and bustle, I could
never be more than I was born to keep, and that is a heart, and I guard
yours well.