Friday, May 30, 2008

Cloak and Stagger (7)

"Hit by a drunk driver."
"Pathetic, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Glad you survived though."
"Well, I'd be better off with two working legs."
"Poor Thom though."
"Thom? Who?"
"Driver."
"The dr--poor Thom!? My leg's broken here--
"He wasn't so lucky."
"Oh--got what was coming to him, I'd say."
"I'd reconsider your opinion."
"You know this chap? He volunteer at the RSPCA Sundays? give his salary to starving orphans?"
"Just an old friend's son. Decent enough sort. Turns out, he wasn't just drinking; he'd been drugged."
"Thought it was just blokes did that - or was it one? And you know, there are these party drugs now...pass me that will you?" Indicating a newspaper open on the table.
"It's not in there yet, I just spoke with his father, who's been speaking with the police."
"Look, Jerry, how is it you seem to know everybody? Someone hits your photographer, you know the bloke. That just ain't normal, boss."
"It's just connections, having been around. Simply a coincidence."
"So why'd someone drug his drink? Must've thought it belonged to a lady?"
"They don't have the answer to that, but I do. Our dear late Thom was seen in the company of a woman."
"Indian bird? Dark hair and all that, bit on the glamorous side?"
Laughter. "So you did see her. While being run down?"
"I didn't have much else to look at. And, well."
"Well?"
"Well, she was a bit distracting."
"Of course, of course."
"Don't give me that look!"
"If you don't think you'll be too distracted to pay attention, I've got an assignment for you."
"An assignment? You know it's hard to be inconspicuous on crutches."
"You can handle it."
The shuffle and light flapping sound of paper.
"Interesting."
"Very."
"Strange."
"Yes."
"Expensive."
"Very."
"So when do I leave for America?"
Two tickets outthrust: British Airways, first class.
"Jerry, you're mad. But I can't refuse a good challenge. Or good money. Help with my luggage, will you?"
The sounds of leaving. A door shuts, leaving only silence behind.

Cheap Goods (6)

Cheap wandered down the road far behind the girl, waiting till she'd almost disappeared from view. He didn't think she'd noticed him tailing her, but he was good at this. Maybe he'd been a pro in a past life.

Almost thinking of himself as a guardian angel - an optimistic appraisal of himself, he knew - he said to himself that he'd just follow the girl at least till she was out of this hood.

Hood? He'd been hanging around here too long, talking to too many thugs.

They amused him though. No matter what happened to them, however you explained it - they were still caught up on the same things. Turf and toughness. Never mind that even this particular skinny-ass junkie wasn't threatened by them; they didn't know when to quit. Not even when they got themselves killed.

Sigh.

Cheap really wished addiction wouldn't linger the way it did. Psychological addiction - shouldn't it be easier to get rid of than chemical addiction? The only relief was that now, he couldn't actually commit violence anymore to fuel his need; nothing could get him a fix. And though he could still harm others and himself in less tangible ways, he was learning not to.

He was becoming a better person. Hopefully that would save him from this miserable, loitering existence. There was no good reason to think it would, but he had to shoot for something.

Whatever else it might have been, it was rehab - and it was far from over. Cheap's emotional development had been stunted by his habits, and now there was something else wrong with him. Despite the odds, he struggled on. It was getting better all the time.

Or so it seemed.

He only relapsed when - well, he tried not to think about that. Almost losing himself from the world, as often happened, he looked at the phantoms of scars on his wrists. Not across the veins: he'd been more serious than that. They reminded him of what his desperation could lead to, streaking up and down the flesh in tangible memory.

Flesh? Is that what he should still be calling it? At this point it was insubstantial, must be imaginary. A wonder he wasn't fading away.

God, he missed Jel. Where'd she gone off to? So much for guarding the one he loved. She burned like embers somewhere under his soul, making him want to cry out, to run, to curl up and hide in a hole and never come out.

Like he'd always done with smack.

Wasn't it supposed to be the whore with the heart of gold? The junkie was just junk. Trash. No redeeming values, just a gaping vein destroying his life for a fix. And Cheap had done exactly that.

The girl was almost out of sight again, he had to pick up his pace a moment to make sure he didn't lose her.

Don't look too interested...

Now he remembered - he'd tired of seeing Jel with other guys. It hurt so much, he'd had to stop following her -

Stop.

There was a narc ahead. She had some message she was whispering, Cheap could see it clinging to the people as they passed her.

What was she up to? A quick glance along the trail of marked people, standing out like neon graffiti on the dull-gray street (as it seemed to Cheap), revealed nothing obvious to him. There was no apparent trend.

Pausing and trying to look casual, he watched her from the corner of his eye. It was almost mesmerizing, the skillful way in which she distributed her message, highlighting people for some unknown purpose - though it was probably sinister. It was like watching a spider, the way her delicate and weightless brushing and bumping and touching of people with her message made such a complex web.

This was a gift Cheap had always had, discerning irregularities in people no matter how convincing their performance might be. It had been different before - he'd mostly been on the lookout for cops, bad dealers, pissed off g's. Sometimes he could see it as if it glowed on them, some little wrongness about them that made them stand out. Like seeing some kind of aura, but it was more a feeling he got telling him how to act, which people to beware.

Instinct.

Had it arisen from a life of paranoia? Who could say. People had stolen from him and cheated him his entire life and in less clear moments, this was all he could think about: always the victim. There were few times he'd actually benefited from his odd little talent. Most times, he hadn't had the clarity or presence of mind to be helped by it - nor had he always acted for his own self-preservation. That motivation problem had been fixed - it had ended along with his pathetic life.

Even still, he was almost embarrassed to remember the way he'd whined about his pathetic life, sometimes; how useless it had felt to try and fix things. He'd even cried to the cops while being arrested, once ("I'm not on any drugs, I just have a shitty life, you don't even know!"). Good thing the bad trips that got him so wound up had blurred memory as much as they'd blurred reality.

But then some of them had only scarred him more deeply than a sober mind could have been scarred, cutting into an undefended mind.

He shuddered against the spell of desperation that wanted to wash over him as he was hit by a sudden memory, a sudden craving. Jel, he thought, his mind should know by now that it can't rely on drugs. They didn't phase him and he didn't think they were any more real than he was, these days.

Still...if he could just get a fix -

Stop.

There it was. And shit, he'd lost the girl now. Had she gone left? right? She hadn't been narced on, the narc had hesitated and avoided touching her. Why? But now he saw what he'd wanted to see. Like an owl her wings rose ghostlike as she homed in on the marked ones.

Oh come on, they don't have wings, Cheap told himself. That's just fear. It's a shawl. Like a gypsy grandma wears. Those gypsy grandmas are dangerous, he reminded himself.

Now she was harvesting. Her narc was following the line of tagged souls, showing where the trail ended. How did they always know which ones would move in the same direction? They must have had lifetimes to develop whatever it was they actually did, conning people and looking for marks for their clever thefts and scams - and now this was its perfection.

No longer living, they carried on in much the same way. What they stole was - did Cheap know what they stole? Life force? Whatever that meant. It was like watching junkies without knowing a thing about drugs. It was clear they were getting something they valued, but what was it?

He'd almost found out a couple of times, but junkies mustn't have had much of what they wanted. They would always ignore him once they came close enough to see how drained his soul was.

Resolve finally clamped down and he put his mind to the task at hand. Maybe he'd been on the right track to follow the girl, he thought while watching the...succubuses at work. A succubus, that was some kind of soul sucking thing. The name fit.

Succubuses? That sounded funny.

Whatever.

Messing with people had always been fun. A grin found its way onto Cheap's face as he made his purposefully insignificant way to the nearby alley.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Urban

Urban sprawls from sea to hills.
Urban's clogged arteries.
Urban's slovenly,
pourin shit straight to sea.
rivers wither hopelessly,
winding through the industry
of Urban's commerce misery.

smokin's chokin urban down,
out his pipes it's blowin round;
no fresh air when he's in town.
Urban's got no urgin
to slow his habit down.

Urban's growin, keep him fed.
fuel is burning, sky is red,
he scrapes it up there overhead.
not high enough for Urban taste,
must grow higher, time don't waste.

hustle-bustle through the night,
shining Urban burning bright,
his grid is constant,
streets alight;
I want to plunge him dark tonight.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Owl Screech (Columba livia) (5)

The girl with the owls was a sign of death. Karin turned flimsy with fear in her presence.

She was being hunted.

Snowy white-faced hoots served only to chill to the bone, omens of death in the dark black: ghosts among the branches, lurking in the trees, glimpsed through high windows and perched atop high boughs.

Like a mouse, Karin could only scurry before her now-predatory friend Alyssa, the one with the owls; also predators. The owls were as real as they were unreal and manifested only at the right times - for this harsh apparition of Alyssa the right times, but for Karin, the wrong.

Ever wronged.

Alyssa lingered in her mind so long after each encounter, yet the last real encounter had been so long ago, and since then the symbol was always the same when she closed her eyes: her pale owl-face was death.

But the question remained: whose death? Is that where Alyssa had gone? Not missing but dead? But how could it happen without being known to anyone else? Alyssa couldn't be dead.

Karin feared it, either way.

She was trying to wake up. Not just from the previous night's dream-disturbed slumber, but from the haze that seemed to pervade every portion of her mind. It was a dark branchy fog, where forest sounds ominously foretold death. Or were they retelling death?

There was another thing that Karin did not understand: why owls?

She had heard someone say some Indians believed they foretold death. Maybe that was it. Was it the Navajo? Maybe it was Apache; she wasn't sure. But she was no Indian. Owls were cute! There's nothing to fear, unless you're a mouse. In the dark. Scurrying.

So Alyssa's passing out of Karin's world - for whatever reason - gave her a dream that hardly resembled their friendship. She'd heard nothing from her friend in awhile. Karin was almost embarrassed that she felt so fond of her when they barely even saw each other outside of class anymore.

Owls, though? Being hunted?

Maybe it was her hairline - the way her hair seemed to peak, but her hairline wasn't peak-shaped. It was something about the shape as it rose stiffly off her head in dark, chestnut-toned perfection. And her nose, small nose curving only slightly from her face, maybe it was a little like an owl's beak. And her eyes, large and hazel, but somehow darker than that color should allow for. Sometimes black.

Was she jealous of Alyssa's looks? Maybe Karin had driven Alyssa off for being so much prettier. She'd felt so threatened in the dream - maybe she felt she wasn't pretty enough. But Alyssa would have called that nonsense, that's the kind of person she was: not stuck on herself. And her penchant for biting wit and not-too-cynical cynicism perhaps gave her talons, but she had never used them maliciously.

Has something changed? Is she okay? Still no message or call back. Chk went the cell phone shut.

Maybe it wasn't about death at all: it was just Karin being a worrier. She knew that's what she was - it was just too easy to care about people and get attached, and it was so hard to keep her imagination from spiraling into all the terrible possibilities in this world. Besides, it would be wrong not to be concerned about others. Hopefully it was needless; it usually was.

Karin had been stirring coffee in her kitchen so long that it had become cool enough to drink. These thoughts still percolated and dripped through the poor filter of her mind, unsweetened and occupying her full attention while she idly whirled the delicate spoon.

She drank, needing the caffeine. If anything would make sense of her thoughts, it would be stimulants. Maybe a cigarette - but she'd quit a month ago. It was only mornings like this or finals when she had the urge. No cigarettes around, luckily, or she might have gone back to the habit.

It was Alyssa that got her started, and got her to quit. It wasn't that Alyssa pressured her or anything, Karin just always thought it was cool, wanted an excuse to hang out more. Like so many smokers, she'd just started by bumming one off a smoker friend. And here she'd told herself she was over that sort of mimicry after high school.

Hopefully she was only being excessively worried. The way she felt about Alyssa had snuck up on her - it wasn't like she was a lesbian, but she had to admit that she had some kind of girl-crush going on.

Funny how that goes with me, she thought with a short-lived smile.

Now she drank the cooling coffee faster, being caught by surprise first by the time on the clock, then by the fine grounds in the bottom of the empty mug.

Yuck. So gritty. How was it she always managed to have that problem? Wasn't it impossible?

Coffee downed, it would still be awhile before she was awake - Karin used to be a morning person, but since starting college, she'd had a hard time waking. Too much caffeine maybe, too much stress; a laundry list of things she was doing wrong. Instead of gaining her freshman fifteen, she'd lost fifteen. All she'd put on were eye-circles.

Was it all just dreams? Some underlying fear, maybe? The way she was treated by her subconscious was inhumane. This newest dream though, it had been something like a nightmare, like she hadn't had since childhood. Was the girl in the dream supposed to be Alyssa? She seemed so different. Wrong somehow. So...what's the word? There's a perfect word for what she is compared to the real Alyssa. So detached, so aloof...

So dead.

And this made her shiver despite the weather, which was already feeling warm at 7 am. What a ridiculous time to be up for a class. Karin often complained about it and had even tried to get the schedule changed - who can learn anything at 7:30? Why couldn't they meet in the evening when there were only a handful of them enrolled in the class?

It was only a dream, right? It seemed impossible to convince herself of this. It was that darn fog again, made it so hard to make sense of anything, and her brain wouldn't listen to what she wanted it to do. Even trying to hurry out the door for the brief walk to campus, her arms seemed so sluggish in responding to her orders to pick up purse, key, backpack, like they hadn't slept enough. Or as if her mind hadn't rested enough - which it hadn't.

Leaded feet dragged her as she hurried to class. Leaded lids drowsed her eyes. The sun seemed too high, visible in the slight morning haze as a much-enlarged version of itself, expanded like an owl's face.

The weather mirrored her interior world, but in the opposite color.

Walking still half-awake, Karin found herself walking behind a girl who seemed familiar. It only slowly dawned on her that she was hoping it would be Alyssa, then that it wasn't her. She was the right height and build, but she carried herself differently. The hair was mussed - not the straight short dark of Karin's friend. And the dress - definitely not Alyssa. Not something anyone would wear on campus.

That dream and lack of sleep were still messing with her, she decided. Get my mind of Alyssa and get on with this day…

It was still difficult not to keep pace with the girl, just to satisfy curiosity.

After a few minutes, the other girl's path diverged from hers along a curved walkway. Alyssa wouldn't be around here this time of morning anyway, right?

Seconds later, Karin looked across the dewy lawn to see the other girl standing, shrouded in fog, staring back at her. It was like looking into a mirror and finding the wrong face, or recognizing a friend from behind only to be greeted by an unhappy stranger.

Karin was imagining things. She must have been. In this girl's face she saw a pale owl's, mercilessly bearing down upon her. She imagined-remembered wings fluttering and claws reaching toward her with a shudder, not realizing that her pace was quickening automatically, feet moving her away from this strange and unreal threat.

If asked then, she would have sworn it was Alyssa, that it was still a dream - it could have been someone who simply looked a lot like Alyssa. If it was Alyssa in the flesh, she had been somehow changed. In fact, she was uncannily like Alyssa as she had been in the dream, as though this girl was the same dream-born phantasm and had refused to be driven away by the sunrise; a nightmare that continued even after sleep ended.

This intrusion into Karin's waking life was too much. It was impossible. There was no way things were as they seemed, her mind was playing tricks on her. She was cracking up. A rush of adrenaline let her push back the dark curtains in her mind, letting the unwavering sun spill in and vanquish what could only have been her own errant, vampiric imaginings.

What was on the syllabus for today? She hadn't finished all the reading, had she? Hopefully she could make it sound as if she had, that always scored points...if it didn't fall on its face. The last chapter was about…phylogenies?

Despite this flood of routine thought, Karin’s footsteps were still rapid, and she looked only straight ahead as she hurried to class. When she heard the fluttering sound of wings, she did not look back. She ignored the owl-like call that sounded from behind her.

It's just pigeons, she told herself. Columba livia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bird of Paradise (4)

Oh, there was nothing left to live for, and the perfect final act of nihilism would be suicide. So lucky that she'd at least got a response from that chap in the club, but he was as shallow and cynical and selfish as anyone else, whether he paid her attention or not.

Sunita had enjoyed sleeping with him, though. It had been odd that he'd been able to manage getting it up, with the amount of alcohol he took in just in the space of time she'd been chatting him, but it made him more pliant, which had always been exactly what she needed in British men. Indian men too. In fact, Indians in her experience were worse when it came to her bringing implements to bed, or at least in the distant past they had been. And it was so hard for a married Indian woman to sleep around in her community, to begin with.

From bar to car to bed she'd led Saturday night, and when a man is so far gone, you needn't worry about awkward mornings nor pursuant phone calls. She remembered it all, but he probably forgot. The impact and surprise of the encounter probably killed him, she mused with a mischievous smile.

This entire process of extravagant one night stands was an art she had perfected in just a few short years of promiscuity and sexual adventure. How good to know she hadn't lost her touch, but she'd relied far too much on this last one being drunk. Not to worry, it was all soon to be over.

Things had actually been going downhill the entire time and she'd only just noticed; maybe it was like some people said, she was trying to get something more out of life in a very ineffective way. Like birds when they got nervous and pulled out their feathers.

Her diagnosis was just the final straw, the last wake up call that she needed to be put down.

Now that she was at her nadir, she needed to get to a high place and look down upon all that spread out below, see the nations she would inherit, see the lights of Diwali as they
showed the way back from Sri Lanka. Here her northern ex-husband's influence was clear in this thought: that was not her own Deepavali. So much running and no ground gained escaping him and that ridiculous arrangement.

Waxing funny in her mind, she decided fresh air and a walk in the rain would do to bring her spirits back up and get her out of the past, where she had left her family. On the crowded high street: Sunita, Sunita, you're a long way from your home and namesake. Look at how you sway and bring their eyes with your swinging beautiful body.

This thought was set off by her heels, her amazing and vibrant short skirt, the extravagant and expensive inviting blouse, the space of thigh between hem and hose. And of course her body itself, with which she had become extremely comfortable in the last few years. She couldn't care less for anything but how she looked and how things fitted her, but still she saw and liked every lecherous glance from every male she passed - some of them even from females. She fed on the attention.

This was what she lived for: the world her runway and none looked better. A goddess of sex and beholden to none, except now for her little infecting demon, which was almost like a very intimate partner - a part of her duality. This naughty little Sunita could have whom she wanted and go where she pleased; it could get no worse. This Sunita was the same Sunita in bed, Sunita in climax, Sunita shining above the world, and she was not one to be beaten down by demons. Lord Rama need not make his journey for she has her own designs and needed no rescue.

It made things confusing, as she couldn't understand how these amazing feelings could co-exist with her plan to end her life. How could she be so vibrant, in the prime of it, and be at such a low point? She felt that she was the mistress of all, but nothing in her makeup had prepared her to fight a battle with such disease: did she need a rescue, now?

No, she thought.

It was like something from the Gita, many-faced Krishna being in all. Was she the Lord in her element or was she Arjuna, overwhelmed by the vision of totality? Either way the lesson was the same and she still had a battle to fight. Perhaps this was it: being ascended above the noise of everyday life, she was existing in a higher state, she could be both high and low at once; she could be miserable in orgasm and suicidal in bliss. Yet she was still obliged to continue in her duty to slaughter her own, regardless of any revelations.

So the final fling had been a kiss of death. And at the same time, her sexual exploits had given as much as they had taken, having freed her from the constraints of a traditional society and thereby allowing her to soar through life on wings of bondage - how ironic.

If sutras were meant to edify, kama sutra had set her free with enlightenment, uplifted her and given her a better angle from her position above. And she had gone far beyond that book's famous pages of instruction. She wished to add her own lessons to it but had not yet gone far with that plan - the pictures had only been shown to a small audience.

Where to get a better view now, she asked herself, where to look down upon the world? The sun had shown itself for a brief minute or two, but now it was once again exactly the sort of weather which made London famous. Getting above these clouds was simply a need in Sunita's view.

After a few streets, she knew right where her feet were taking her, where the trail that blazed in her footprints would lead. A man she had once slept with worked long hours and would be out according to what he'd blathered while she'd undressed him and fastened his wrists to the bedposts. Sunita had also noticed that the latch on his front door was broken, and she should have no problem coaxing her way into the building and just pushing the door open. It was guarded, but the problem with guarding was that it always required guards, most of whom were merely men.

As had been happening lately, it was all ready to snap just as it was perfectly coming together.

Breaking, one of her heels caught in a crack and sent her sprawling, handbag over pearls. Of course for Sunita, incidentally athletic in her recreations and not prone to always being vertical or comfortable in them, landed as gracefully as the situation allowed. This was second nature for this goddess, but the situation was suddenly very unfavorable, despite the relatively gentle landing.

While pain was not a problem - quite the opposite - the look of skinned knees had not been her aim. Blood appealed to her, no less her own, beautiful ruby color it was, but now she'd have to visit a chemist to get something for her schoolgirl wounds, new stockings, and new shoes.

A man scooped her purse and helped her up; she tried not to be stuck with him but she expected that her charm and beauty had enthralled him just as leather cords did so many others. Of course her appearance entranced them and made them more co-operative, as well.

Things could not improve any more - the rescuer was an elderly gentlemen. Healthy and robust for his probable years but displaying wisdom in knowing his bounds when it came to younger women, he politely wished her a good morning and continued on his way. The stranger met in the road...

The man's departure disappointed her initial notion of enthrallment: but thralls often enough made slaves of their masters, as she knew all too well.

So this meant she was free.

Bird that she was, she flew from the near-catch of this new but illusory cage - which was perhaps the cage that was her life attempting to snatch her back into it from her flight to eternal joy.

Nothing stood in her way: a quick visit to chemist, to shop, to home made her good as ever she knew, took her in a loop that was only a minor setback.

There was determination in her beauty as she set forth once more.

Next was that rich flat: it was some twenty stories up and across from a much taller building - funny that there were apartments like this in a business area; this owner was wealthier than she had thought. But still poor in taste when it came to location, because he'd clearly shopped with his bank account and not with his eyes.

Had he (or even his flat) been more exciting, he might have had her back for more, but he proved a dull catch and she had to release him. It was bothersome that men would appreciate something obvious - like her breasts - yet miss so many other thigns, thigns which women like Sunita did instinctively. It was aesthetic vision and the grace of a woman's touch which they lacked, she supposed, and this very flaw had been part of why she'd left her husband. As it had been with this one-night man.

His flat, however, remained useful to Sunita.

Life was too easy these days. The man guarding the door was Indian and she found soon that he came from her family's home city in India, Bangalore: a few sweet phrases in Kannada about her husband's flat in this building and having recently arrived from India charmed him and had him letting her in without a key or any proof whatsoever that she belonged there.

Making her lonesome stealthy way to her goal on a fancy-looking but poorly-woven and two-shades-too-deep red carpet, she hoped that nothing had been changed: had the door been repaired, her lies would have been for nothing but the fun of it, and no goddess needed her plans being foiled by such minor oversights and foibles.

As luck had it, Sunita's ginger entry into this man's space enticed imagery of her own perverted flavor - the voyeur and exhibitionist in her hoped there was some activity of interest to be had. Again lucky-unlucky: no one home. Relaxing from her near-arousal, she mixed herself a cocktail and lounged like a quiet Friday evening of being the flat owner's pampered wife - another detail of his life he'd let out in his nervous banter, nervous due to the wife and the strange Indian woman doing strange and erotic things to him - of which his wife would not have approved. And certainly never would have participated in, else he had no reason for Sunita.

Soon life again became too slow, boring. Barely halfway through her martini, the notion of being anyone's wife was still a burden. Pacing like a caged tiger she yearned for something new, already. When had she grown so impatient? Perhaps a bath, perhaps - perhaps the bored wifey had a medicine cabinet?

Worth a look, a fruitless search ended thirty minutes later. How early had today started? It seemed as if it had been forever since the previous night, which had provided this tigress no interesting quarry.

Likewise it had been forever since she'd set out this morning, and the sky made it seem like five in the evening, despite still being late morning. Time flies when you're having fun; when bored it crawls.

So, her drink finished in a swift gulp, Sunita opened the window to sit upon the ledge. It was cool up her skirt, but she would try anything down there once. Looking at the shoes she wore, she decided to kick them off in favor of her bare and well-formed feet. Sparkling brightly, she saw them shrink to tiny points, which bounced on the gray pavement where people walked - this elicited a surprised but abrupt look upward before some pedestrians continued on their way.

The cool air soothed the morning labors of Sunita's feet, as it did her skinned knees. Feet motionless and thinking naughtily, she nevertheless sat almost primly there, happily gazing down the fire escape's twisted path to safety from the fire that she was squatting in this ritzy apartment.

A wonder she hadn't brought it down yet.

Life fundamentally bored her. This thought jumped into her mind as the cold reality dawned upon her: she couldn't heat up the wintry air, no matter how hot she may have felt. The world wasn't as impressed by her antics as it should be, and would have called her actions exactly that: antics. Traipsing about foolishly, like some lost child who thought she knew better than her parents, stuffy and old-fashioned people that they were.

Back to her original thought: this world's bars could not contain her. It was a prison and now, standing on the ledge arms spread, it was clear that there was but a single way to freedom. Life was meaningless and always had been, and now some inescapable misery might soon creep into it. It was less than nothing: now it was a burden, just as it had been in matrimony.

But this time she could not fly away from, it. Could she?

Knowing in that instant what she was capable of, Sunita gloriously, blazingly as on any catwalk, stepped into the air - as far as she was concerned, she kept on walking free of gravity, right out of the world. It was not death: it was an ascent, though it may have looked otherwise to onlookers.

Not at all to her surprise, Sunita began once again prowling along on her streetlong strut to find tonight's hunk of flesh.

Moments like this demanded celebration of life and a mortal sacrifice, something to fill her gratitude and get her off of life's drudgery.

Her proud sway found its way back into her walk and Sunita's mouth began to water with the anticipation of the hunt.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Living Dead, Lying Deed (3)

Thom was the living dead.

He had only recently revived, and was not a morning person.

Managing not to sleep there at his desk, he ran numb fingers on his numb face, trying to coax it into letting his eyes stay open awhile. So far this was doing the opposite of the intended effect on rather bloodshot-feeling Thom.

Although he had already eaten, he wondered about taking bites out of his co-workers. Especially the cheery ones who said presumptuous things like "good morning". Lot of tossers.

Eyes screwed up and stiff against the fluorescent light, he shuffled from his desk for coffee - the blackest breakfast tea was never enough, not even if some shaman from some Caribbean island used the blackest of voodoo on it to create true zombies of office workers.

Even the lights worked to keep Thom from becoming fully reanimated, probably decaying his flesh with the aid of his monolithic computer screen.

This morning, what he really wanted was brains. His own were clearly damaged and should probably be put in a jar - or maybe he'd already pickled them in his skull. At any rate, it would be great to take a replacement from the morning people. That might jump start things a bit, and it would certainly shut them up. Nothing like a lobotomy to make noisy chattering idiots into silent drooling ones. Of course, he might become his own object of loathing, but that was a small price to pay for a functioning brain. It's not that anything is wrong with being cheerful, he thought: it's just them being cheerful around me now that's the problem.

Out the window behind the coffee machine was an overcast sky, which cast the already drab city in a dead-flesh grey, almost the tone of Thom's skin in the office lighting. It was the sort of morning you wanted to jump out into and promptly end on the pavement below.

This may be the worst Monday in my life yet, he told himself. The only thing that redeemed it was the fact that his bloody idiot co-workers had kept their traps shut all morning. Had he been more lively, he'd have realized it was nothing short of miraculous. It may have been that Thom had finally put on the right expression to deter any cheerfulness - this pleased him in a way that almost returned some feeling to his dead insides.

Had it been drinking? Something had made the weekend (and therefore this morning) especially nasty. It had been a holiday, hadn't it? And there was a lot of drinking, and Thom had driven. What a fool, he realized. I'm lucky to be here at all, if I drove after getting pissed enough to forget the whole night.

He shook his head and rubbed one drowsy eye to remove the sleep from it. There was still more remaining afterward, and the scrunching and closing of his eyes made him feel more like sleeping right there on his feet.

Or no, it wasn't sleeping he wanted. Thom wanted to lay down and to never get up again. They could bury him in his coffin of a cubicle for all he cared; so long as he didn't have to type away at those damnable reports anymore - his bosses could even use his skull for an ashtray with his blessing if he never had to think about those god-awful reports again. It seemed like his bosses never even read the things, surely they were just busywork to keep him in line and jumping through hoops?

This morning, they'd have to settle for Thom's mere approaching of said hoops and gingerly sidestepping through them, because clearly he had not slept the previous day. Or had he done? What else had he got up to? It was all so hazy.

What had he had to drink Saturday? Absinthe? Something had put him out of his mind, and however much sleep he'd had, it hadn't been enough to bring him back to it. All he could remember was - suddenly one part of the night became clear. He remembered a dark-haired bird who'd chatted to him most of the night. Or he thought that was how it went. With her ruddy brown complexion, she must've been Indian. Accent was a bit off too, wasn't it? Sounded good, just not quite English. Close enough that she must've been in London awhile already. Well, she was from somewhere ex-colonial. But then, how many places hadn't been colonies back in the empire? Fewer than had been.

Whatever - Thom didn't even like the idea of an empire. Mind your own sodding business, he always said. What he did like was the idea of exotic birds from India winding up in his flat for the night.

To his great dismay, he remembered with some degree of certainty that this was one thing that hadn't happened. How had that night ended? Which club had he and the lads been at? So many unanswered questions, so little living brain tissue to help answer them. Maybe she'd used vedic medicine to bewitch him, but he'd never heard of zombies from India. It was supposed to be voodoo witch-doctors, right? Maybe she was one, and he was wrong about her being from India.

Whoever she had really been, it seemed like something she'd said that night had been important, but for the life of him, Thom had no idea what that could have been. Perhaps in his inebriation he had mistaken something she said as being important, misunderstood it in the noisy thumping club. Probably she'd said he should piss off, and he'd convinced himself she'd asked his number. It wouldn't have been the first time that he'd ended a disappointing night out with the drunken impression that he'd made some vague sort of progress toward getting some girl to drop her knickers. And thought something important had happened because of it. This was getting all too abstract for a Monday; it'd be at least Wednesday before he could once more think rationally.

Still idling by the coffee machine, he had been unknowingly flanked by two co-workers. Apparently the hand of God intervened, because they minded their own sodding business instead of asking about his weekend or otherwise disturbing him. The coffee machine sputtered pathetically, and this had taken Thom's full, dim, glowering, impatient attention.

"Machine's going haywire and there's a queue. Might be a long wait."
"That's it, I'm taking tea instead."
"Suit yourself, I was out all night. I need coffee or methamphetamine."
"Seen Thom this morning?"
"No, why?"

Turning, "I'm standing right here, you - " Thom held is tongue and settled on a stern glare at one of the living - she looked in his direction almost confusedly and furrowed her brow in a distant look. Before she had responded to Thom, her eyes widened and she pointed with one finger, practically putting it in Thom's face, while the other hand covered her gasping mouth.

"My God!" said the other co-worker, starting and mouth agape, dropping his tea in a splatter which just reached Thom's trouser leg.

"What - "trying very hard not to call her a stupid cow and not to yell at the bastard who'd dropped his tea, he slowly realized they were looking past him and out the window.

Turning, he instantly saw the same thing as his coworkers. "Christ!" shouted Thom, pressing up against the large window in vain as a brownish girl in the smaller building opposite the office stepped from a narrow window ledge and into mid-air.

"Good God!" Forgetting about his coffee and suddenly full of energy - recalling more recent imaginings of zombies in film - Thom ran to the lift.

It would never be clear - he couldn't have been sure in the split second he saw this girl - but he'd sworn that it was - though it couldn't have been - the Indian woman he'd met Saturday night. Had she been suicidal? That didn't seem right.

It seemed to take his entire life to reach the bottom, but he stood perfectly still until the lift doors slid opened - and again he was running with surprising speed and agility. He practically ran right through the people waiting in the lobby and out the building, where he looked around frantically for a gathering crowd.

Finding none, he was suddenly a very bewildered undead office worker. There was no sign that someone had just plummeted to her death from above. He thought he spied the window she'd leapt from - it was now just partially open to the dismal rain - and he could swear there were still motion lines where she'd fallen!

Once he crossed the street, he was even more perplexed. About where he expected she would have landed, he saw two feet painted on the ground.

They were the outlines of women's shoes, two pointy heels punctuating small triangular soles as if they were exclamation points. Their bright, pinkish-orange color - it was almost iridescent, in stark contrast to everything else. Thom couldn't say why, but he was certain that the Indian bird at the club had been wearing these shoes. The whole city suddenly seemed lifeless next to these two markings, but they must have had nothing to do with suicide.

Bizarre, he said aloud, desperate for some sort of answer.

Had there been a girl? Had he imagined it all? But his co-workers had seen it first!
Then where were the police? Ambulances? Were the government on Holiday? Where had she fallen?

What in blazes just happened? What the fuck is this, a joke? Practically dizzy, it felt to Thom as though he'd just come unhinged from reality; surely he looked like a madman, standing in the rain without so much as a sweater.

It was too much to take. He had to sit down, had to lie down; this urge came back to him now and he wanted to sleep and never awaken. Maybe when he woke up, he could cope. For now, he needed to be a regular, lifeless corpse. Turning in a disoriented fashion, he found no benches, nothing to sit on, so he settled for the pavement itself. He lay down on it, curling up atop that strange graffiti, looking up for a moment at the gray raining sky, and back down at the fluorescents footprints.

As he watched, as his eyes closed themselves with no intention of reopening, Thom thought the color of the shoes was doing something, shimmering somehow.

Maddest of all, he imagined he saw them begin walking away as his eyes sealed themselves shut and he passed from awareness.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Alyssa Perdita (2)

Alyssa almost felt invisible.

It must have been two weeks since she'd heard from any of her friends or family, despite the calls she'd made and the messages she'd left. Not a one had been answered, yet. This sort of thing happened to her sometimes, but usually she had incoming calls to ignore in favor of being left the hell alone.

Then she had always felt invisible in her classes, but now as ever, any attempt to defy her invisibility had gone ignored, as if she had too much momentum in non-participation to change it - or too little momentum to get moving? She wasn't a science major so she didn't know how that stuff went. Either way, it was the same problem. Raising her hand the couple of times she'd braved it had still gotten nil in return. So she'd given up on that, once again.

Simultaneously with everything else going all wonky, her only friend in any of her classes had become unhealthily interested in grades, and snubbed Alyssa for a seat in the front few rows. Alyssa couldn't help but shy to the back of the lecture. They never seemed to meet each other outside of class now, not even in passing.

Her new room mate this semester was similarly unapproachable. They rarely even saw one another and never spoke. She must have had either a very jealous boyfriend, or a very serious drug addiction. Or maybe she was more like Alyssa - just a bit depressed and overwhelmed by college life. To Alyssa though, it seemed this girl must be a ghost, the way she never talked. Always seemed too busy, preoccupied somehow.

Strangely enough, it didn't seem isolated - it even seemed like random people on the street were ignoring her. They seemed to jostle her and bump into her without apology. Had they been able, they probably would have passed right through her. It was only the attention of some of the people which convinced her that she was substantial rather than some ethereal wisp. And the jostling, which was a nuisance. And so rude! Kind of depressing to think: this is the sort of world we live in. Full of assholes.

It was mostly the stranger-looking people who noticed her, but some who did were normal enough. It was almost like the streets around her college had been infested by weirdos and creeps, recently, who hadn't displaced the other people. The city had never seemed to crawl with so much life. Sometimes strange women reached out to her, many wearing pure black burkas on street corners. She never quite understood them, but thought it must be some sort of protest group, she'd heard something about women wearing black for...war victims?

If nothing else, they at least had some greater purpose than the other strange people, and she imagined that the women were beautiful beneath their veils. They held windswept black scarves out toward her and almost seemed to sway in an impossible way , turning to face her as she passed, gaze transfixed - Alyssa wasn't sure what made the motion so otherworldly. They seemed so plaintive and graceful, though. Patient without limit.

Some of the other people smiled at her so strangely, she felt threatened at times. Most seemed disfigured, disheveled, dirty, unstable. Homeless. The men and women both said rude things, some muttering to themselves, others loudly accosting people; still more of them seemed silent, hopeless, utterly without energy. Gray. The city was gonna have to do something about this, since it was only a matter of time before it became a safety issue. Someone else would have to take care of it because Alyssa had no idea what to do to fix it.

And people besides these had also seemed to come from nowhere - had there always been so many men in suits hurrying every which way down the street? It didn't seem like she was near a school, it was more like a business district somewhere. Maybe Wall Street.

But other people could only be a passing distraction: what kind of rut had she gotten herself into?

The weather was not helping any. Though it was spring, it was always gloomy, except on days when the sun seemed so remote that it warmed not at all. This wasn't what she'd expected - the weather forecasts had gotten less accurate. Or maybe Alyssa was so out of whack that she
was wrong about the weather.

That thought made her pause and wonder if she was cracking up, right up until some jerk with a briefcase plowed through her, knocking her flat on her ass.

It was so hard to get any sense of reality when she'd lost all meaningful human contact. Being knocked down by a careless stranger with no apology almost felt good, compared to no contact at all. This wasn't the first - or even second or third - time in her life that she'd hit such a low, but it seemed like the worst case by far.

Having stood up and readjusted her fragile-looking glasses, she was walking back to her dorm from the store with renewed vigor. Funny how falling down and being abused and ignored could make her feel better. Maybe she should try dating some jerks - but then dating almost anyone at all would be an improvement.

Something nagged at her for a moment, something she'd seen when falling - the ground. She suddenly realized that some graffiti artists must have gone crazy overnight - there was a strange sort of path painted in luminously bright colors. It led further up the street then disappeared around the corner, spiraling in an orange-yellow near double-helix pattern which leapt out at her from the gray sidewalk as it slithered along.

She had to smile - she scoffed at the run of the mill teenage graffiti, but things like this were like art. It had never occurred to her that there might be interesting graffiti in this part of town. What kind of paint did they use? It was like the paint used for marking road construction, but subtly different. It seemed like a more natural color, somehow.

Without thinking about it, Alyssa took to following the paint trail, not realizing that it soon led her down the sort of alley that she was ordinarily too afraid to so much as look down. She had been mesmerized by the vividness of this. It was like a thousand crosswalks had been lifted from around the city, tangled and twisted and joined together, then strewn out along the sidewalk in a messy path, straying sometimes onto walls and streets; even over a couple of cars that had been in its way.

This flight of fancy suddenly ended when the painting disappeared under a heavy, green, riveted metal door halfway down the alley. It seemed to glower down at Alyssa darkly as she looked up at its dull vastness.

Just as she was about to give up, she realized that her path actually angled sharply in the alcove of the door, then continued up the ceiling of the small space and up the side of the building from there. Whoever had managed this was brilliant! It seemed impossible: there must have been a team of people working so fast that they painted over the inside of the door while it had been left open! Then they'd climbed the building and still painted seamlessly.

Amazed and standing in wonderment, Alyssa almost didn't notice the sudden darkening of the narrow space where she was standing. A shadow seemed to loom over her, but even the vivid paint seemed to grow more dull in this shade - this caught her attention.

Turning, Alyssa only had time to see a dark figure towering over her before she ran back down and out of the alley in sheer fright, releasing a mildly choked shriek of panic.

After running for some time, she had to stop, being too out of shape to keep it up. She realized that the figure behind her couldn't have been that menacing - the sound it made, in hindsight, was probably just him clearing his throat, or a grunt of dismissal. He probably worked in a kitchen behind that door or something. This city was not so dangerous in broad daylight!

She assumed it was a he - the figure had seemed large and masculine. To someone the size of Alyssa - who made the exaggerated complaint that she was a twenty-one year old in a twelve-year-old's body - anyone over 5'7 seemed 'large and masculine'.

Something bothered her about the encounter, but she dismissed it as nerves. You're nothing if not nervous, Alyssa, she told herself.

Too winded to feel embarrassed by the way she'd chickened out, she turned to humor by self-deprecation. You lard-ass, she thought to herself, good thing nobody was actually trying to get you or you'd be fucked. Well aware that she had to work to keep any kind of meat on her frame, she smiled while she ribbed herself.

Besides, it'd been fun. She'd not had that much adventure in forever. The image of the graffiti warpath she'd followed stood out in her mind and it dawned on her that she'd absent-mindedly wandered a couple of blocks into a bad area, and people were looking even shadier, sketchier. Men in drab colors smoking who-knows-what, packing and selling who-knows-what else. The few women in sight were mostly accompanied by these men, dressed only slightly more femininely than their murdering drug-dealer gangbanger boyfriends. No 'normal' people seemed to be around, not even suits like the one who'd knocked her over.

A homeless man eyed her suspiciously, hopefully not lecherously. Alyssa simply tried not to look, avoiding eye contact like anyone does in a big city, discreetly making sure he wasn't following her after she passed the pile of boxes he sat upon.

Maybe she had been in danger earlier.

Soon she was safely back on course, wondering if this weird experience meant things were going to change. Alyssa hoped they would, and for the better, but was only very cautiously optimistic. Even the fun part of her little adventure had now been clouded in a sinister light.

With difficulty, Alyssa kept herself from taking the sudden dimming of the sun behind a dark gray cloud as an ill omen.

Why is Everett? (1)

Seeing the pale-faced girl from the window, Janus knows who she is instantly. This is a surprise because he has no idea why he should, and no recollection of having seen her before.

Stepping out a wide-open window onto the flat rooftop, he approaches from behind. Nobody else in the crowded space between windows and edge acknowledges this girl, and he wonders why she is not mingling like the other guests. Is she just a loner? Why is a married man like him approaching a woman who seems so utterly single on the roof?

Amidst such thoughts, he scarcely notices the fading light of a sunk and sinking sun, yellow-orange-blue ascending above the clear horizon.

Not knowing what he is going to say - unsure he is going to say anything - he draws nearer and is about to hesitate, turn back out of his suspect plan to speak to this apparently younger shade of a girl - when she spins nonchalantly with a stiff silent rustling of flat-matte-black hair, and regards him with mild disinterest. To Janus it seems as if she has been aware of him all along, so removed is her expression from any sense of immediacy or ambiance: now facing him, she is no more interested than when she was facing away.

"You're Everett, aren't you?" He is uncertain why he should think or say this, since he has no idea what makes her seem familiar, what the meaning of this name might be.

"That namesake is long dead." This is her sole answer. Normally, Janus might expect her to be surprised and suspect her of being intentionally vague - but he does not. Neither her face nor voice belie any such feelings, nor do they suggest any significant awareness of him, though she is clearly answering him, facing him directly with posture if not with eyes. Hers are dark as if covered by a veil, he finds; she is facing his face but not seeming to meet his gaze. Dark is the wrong word - they are not apparent.

It is more than that which unsettles Janus, strongly impressing this moment upon him. Her expression, every fiber of her being, even her simple but young-form-fitting black dress - shoulderless and single-neck-strapped with skin moonlight-pale beneath - belongs to a different awareness, a different existence. He feels not intimidated, not small, but removed from her, as though by an invisible and unnavigable gulf. Even this feeling of remoteness is of a form much different from what Janus knows; not even a sense of mystery or intrigue is present in it, only an almost-deathly muted quality, driving all interest in her presence (or absence) from before her.

No aspect of her betrays anything of how she feels, thinks or cares for any of what is said.

Janus can say nothing further to this girl, to the extent that he wonders if he is imagining her. Even comprehending the sort of awkwardness which permeates these few moments of his life is awkward. It is, he realizes, the strong sense that nothing has just been said, that no words have been spoken - despite his nearly tangible memory of the words themselves. Instinct whispers subtly but clearly: there cannot be a girl there. This confuses Janus' mind on a fundamental level, of which he is only dimly aware.

Not knowing how long he has stood there before it happens, she walks right through him to leave. Not literally - that would be impossible - but to Janus it seems as if she has passed through him, ghostlike, leaving only a chill down his spine much unlike a cold wind. This chill is almost indefinable quality, as if it is not merely physical - or is not physical at all.

She returns through the open window, but Janus swears that she is merely fading into darkness, making no effort to climb back in the window to go indoors. Her departure makes him feel fleeting - as if she is an edifice that has always stood while winds before her have ever changed. Finally accepting that the winds are saying nothing but noise, she needs not move but does move on, the shifting winds gone from before her even as she stops listening to them.

The girl who may have been Everett has gone from his life forever, having scarcely come into it. The wind stirs coldly, hours seeming to have passed to cool the air so, briskly recalling reality to Janus' consciousness. The formerly crowded roof is now deserted, he realizes, as if the guests were smoke which had now blown away in the wind. Janus realizes he cannot remember any of their faces, nor how he had come to be at this quietly vanishing ghost-town party. Has he really been here among so many for so long and met none?

Janus will ask himself for years what happened that dusk - had it meant anything? Had it happened? Who was the girl? Everett? A man's name? But who was Everett?

Why?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Page display...

It's still not working properly. There's supposed to be a background image, which looks much better than this. I'm working on it.

Edit: temporary fix using the original image...

Top Down

To see farther, climb a hill.

Simple, intuitive, clear. Clear hill? Clear sky? Clear eyes? Clear sight.

It depends upon so much out of one's control, but when conditions are right, success is almost guaranteed.

An easier way to see a different view is to fall. Fall down, fall from grace, fall into something new. Fall out of a rut. It takes things being taken away to appreciate them; it takes abasement to become exalted. Hubris is brought low by higher powers.

Yet we climb our mountains. We assume that at the top, we will have a better view. We assume there is a top. We assume we can get there, if we just try hard enough. We presume to be gods ourselves. In spite of ignorance and imperfection, we strive for something better, flying ever higher on waxed wings.

The let-down: we're all going to fall, in the end. You don't have a choice in the matter.


So does it really behoove us to live gloriously? It seems admirable to struggle against one's fate, but is it worth it? Are we certain that our goals, the things we fight for, are worthy of our devotion? Or have we chosen the wrong ones?

The most obvious challenge is to ascend that looming peak, to which all give de facto obeisance simply by living within sight of the giant. Even if shrouded invisibly in clouds, ignorance and imagination can make it all the more tempting to challenge such a titan. And all the more foolhardy.

This much is apparent, as is the danger of a fall. What about less obvious challenges? Even more foolhardy than challenging gravity to a duel.

I'm speaking of spelunking. Not going where you can see your lofty destination; going instead where the world winds away above you, where the next bend could be the end, or just the next stretch of the unending rabbit hole. Rabbit hole is no apt comparison – no rabbit could burrow a tunnel this deep or this bizarre.


Indeed, vertigo cannot compare to claustrophobia in terms of sheer hatefulness. Icarus could not loftily soar into the bowels which Dante explored, nor did any great glory accompany that descent. What he saw was the same world, only from a bird's eye. No free-wheeling feelings expand within your bosom deep in the earth; only the sensed oppression of continued compression. Nothing is familiar there: hardly a wonder that it should be the chosen setting of hell, the underworld.

Rather than being brought down by a shining god, Helios, one is accosted by Charon, beckoning bony fingers grasping at your soul from the darkness. By invisible Nyx, the mother of darkness whispering madness to unseeing mortals. One's fate is still at stake as on a treacherous precipice, but a winding descent is a more subtly menacing thing. The threat is to mind in addition to body.

So twisted are its workings that when it has finally deranged you irrevocably, you may not even realize it.

I have always considered it more admirable to descend into the unknown, where the perils are unpredictable. The challenges are many-fold greater, for they can be neither seen nor foretold. A man assaulting a mount can find a choice place to start. Choice is not so forthcoming, down deep. Where you are led is where you go.

Some are lost in this same way, without ever defying holy Terra by presuming to enter her. These souls are lost without wishing ever to venture out from under the sky: sinkholes may open and a hungry earth swallow them up. Faults appear and some of us slip through the cracks, lost to the light. Helios has no domain here below.

But to voluntarily go in is to challenge not the protruding behemoth of the surface, but the core and the basis of all earthly life. The foundation of earth, entering her body, behemoth of behemoths. But one must be worthy, else it is defiance in the face of a world; undermining a planet. It begins innocently enough; rappelling into some hole to see what is there. Some delve greedily for the riches to be found sub-surface, while others are merely the intrepid and curious, innocent of materially carnal intentions.

Their hostess does not differentiate motives, only worthiness, fitness to survive.

The greedy often hire others to take the risk, armies of canaries to brave the deep earth, vulnerable as an overseer and stakeholder is not. Such cowardly men have already given up their own glory to their miners, who bear risk corporeal and not merely capital.

These men were never above themselves or the ground, and so are not truly fallen. A true fall though, is most demonstrative of one's helplessness. My helplessness.

I was not greedy, but was always an adventurous digger. Holes in the ground - caves, the name they deserve - are fascinating, and I could never resist their allure. Their deep reaches must be explored, my mind tells me. Something amazing will be at the other end, something more glorious than any pot of gold hidden behind any rainbow, it says. I am compelled to seek beneath the earth rather than above it.

Caves allow some degree of freedom to explore since you can walk back out, but holes must be the earth's punishment for greedy fools, indiscriminate traps which catch the guilty and the unwitting. Sinks and slides, quakes and divides...all are rewarded for the selfish pursuits of a few.

But it can't be a coincidence that I was taken, though it was not for my own arrogance.

My reliance on equipment was my downfall. Taken unawares displayed my weakness, my reliance on the inventions of other men, but it has forced the hand of my strengths. All that is certain is that nothing will ever be the same for me. If my former self had been a seed, now I am sprouted. Perhaps with potential for further growth, my newfound moist dark home allowed my germination.

A womb for my rebirth, if I survive gestation. If my mother is a world-goddess, what will I be in my new life? Who is my new father? Perhaps death will tell me the answers, if I do not learn them myself.

It is said that many trying experiences change a person. As if seeing a ghost, time out of the sun makes you pale. Time in the dark wastes you, slowly kills you. The ghost you see is your own in the lightless depths. In darkling pools, someone unrecognizable reflects.

A fall, like a climb, gives longer vision, greater perspective. Not by virtue of position, but by virtue of necessity. It's an internal change, and climbing the highest peaks must cause the same bitter change in a person. But those who may rely upon technology in harsh environs will not change as I have changed.

What my descent has endowed me with is not greater knowledge of the familiar, but xenognosis, knowledge of things I had only glimpsed and imagined, wonders not famous but demonic, infamous and unknown, twisted in their ways such that no human could be the designer. No living thing is so cunning, so harsh.

My world was taken away, and now I appreciate the naiveté our species is allowed, on the surface.

From the cradle the the grave, I went...

I am not dead in this grave. To be reborn one must die, so this grave must now be my cradle. Here I am hunted and gathering...foraging for fungus and insects, while I avoid dangers which I have met. Unmet dangers lurk beyond sight, mercifully unacquainted.

These caverns and their hellish echoes are my home, until I should find a tunnel out of this dungeon.

So little light. I complain, yet of all my equipment lost, a hand-powered flashlight has survived. A trinket. A kind but empty boon granted to a condemned man in place of a pardon. At times it makes me feel more hunted, using the artificial light. Of all the things living here, the successful ones have shunned light altogether in favor of touch. Here, human technology feels antiquated, as if creatures here have advanced while we still cling to sight, with poorer night vision than even our nearest primate cousins.

Reliant upon electricity and our cunning devices in the dark.

Nothing I have met here can speak or make sound. Echoes easily damn you. Being sneaking and clever is much more useful than being noisome loud and inventive

I wonder if others have ever made it back. None have lived and told tales of what I have discovered in the subterrain, but perhaps the survivors have gone mad. Maybe they were so changed upon emerging, that they began new lives above.

Maybe they were so changed that they, too, grew to hate the light.

Could people survive down here, develop culture as have humans? The things that stalk me that I have seen are small...lizard- or insect-like, always scurrying and never daring to cross water or approach high heat. My one saving grace is that I may sleep where it's warm, or where I am surrounded by water.

But in caves, surrounded by water only helps if there's a high ceiling. I have an island only a few twists away where it's safe, but cold. A steam vent I had been using has extinguished itself, and my comfort and safety in sleep along with it.

Every day I hope to find a better place, perhaps even higher. I think must be at the roots of great mountains by now, but distance and space have different meanings here underneath. I dread the swim back to that rocky island. If anything lives in the water besides fish - something must make them its meal - it is only a matter of time before it tires of competition from me, finds me tired and swimming when my wits aren't about me...

My mind is playing tricks upon me. Fantasy and fiction suggest goblins, demons, monsters down here. Imagination is why we fear the dark. Sparked by the real presence of predators in bygone days, as one still meets in distant jungles. Ah, that fear must derive from forest dwelling human ancestors. So fearful of being taken at night, since they so depend upon the light.

So I am rendered one of my evolutionary ancestors, the last billion years a waste for this member of homo sapiens. Rational man, indeed. Rationality is a burden, and the pressure of the need for a twisted, unthinking mind in this place strains me so.

Falling into a rut again, now that I've been so thoroughly bounced out of the cart of humanity's cradle, earth's surface.

Echoes seem to be happening within my head. I almost didn't see this creeper because the reverberation hit my vision so badly. Is it me? Maybe it's a mineral deficiency of some kind, affecting my perceptions. We were never built for this. But no time for being in a rut, now.

I can barely outstep this one, either he's fast or I'm slow. Something about the ground is unfamiliar. If only I could squish him.

Missed again. Spongy. Is that right? Are my other senses betraying me? Et tu, Brute?

Now I hear more coming, they're going to surrounded me. I should have expected this, opportunistic feeders get edgy, have to know when food will be there, and it makes them hungry when they know. They know I'm weak. Smell it, or sense the vibrations.

They want to eat me.

I can see now where their eyes used to be, vestigial dents; still can't see if they're insects or reptiles. Squat posture, narrow legs, four? Six? Or is that the tail, their limbs move so quickly I can't tell. Scales or carapace? I'm shaking again...no it's all of the world, they feel it too! They're going to take shelter, it's an instinct I've seen.

Saved by the great bell that is this mantle of earth when it quakes! I am lucky, today. But the ground, it's still spongy, what the hell? Water seeping...it's coming for me. Run! Can't pick up feet, ground so soft under me, giving way...

Not a fall, not again! Oh Lord, please don't do this to me again, Terra I beg of you, no!--

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gehenna

the fire was my frenzy in the streets.

it caught the cops off guard as they drowned in their rioting beats.

the rage of the poor brought was against them to bear, and it became my sacred duty to oppose the architecture of the man.

the rich were not safe, the poor who obeyed their oligarchy were neither. my quest was simple and the work was beautiful in its purity.

nothing could compare to my pleasure: holy flames.

bourgeois craftsmanship, labored upon by their social lessers, had served the purpose of sustaining my brothers. now I would create more work for them.

better still, perhaps the white picket fences would all be brought down. no more false security.

I was headed for enemy territory. on the way, there was still much work to be done.

middle class government-obeying newspaper stand: gone to a frame and ash.

american dream in the form of automobile: blistering paint and shattering glass.

just the sound of it...orgasmic.

and work that should have been done in this neglected neighborhood. were those screams in the park? overgrown hedges were singed to smoldering brambles.

fire puts the fear of god in animals.

humans too, even though they think they're in control of it, the growth of a life that feeds on destruction.

how poetic.

liberate animals? liberate fire! free flames! a higher life form aching to escape from whatever will burn. plasma. no concern about right and wrong. its single, pure question: can it burn?

and so often a yes returns!

cleanse these rotting dog sheds and broken fences of drug dealers. condemned buildings nobody wanted to replace with strip malls, left to plague us.

this crackhouse, never raided because the property wasn't worth its dirt. the market here was only the desperate people who could afford it all but abandoning home.

better to start from scratch elsewhere than to risk another minute in this ghetto.

don't let them round us up, if they get us in one place they can eliminate us easier.

no more crackhouse. what the police could not do in years I did in seconds: confused and frightened, dealers and junkies were left to the night.

my purifying flames licked all the unworthy, removed their impurities, left them fully combusted. spray here, light there. a cigarette makes it look so innocent.

like a sacrament I sprinkled holy water upon those anointed for destruction. mother of god...dulce maría...this is thy work. hold your children to your burning bosom.

protect me from notice and from harm.

a hoodie, hands in pockets, figure hidden, I floated by.

it must have been the work of god, arson unpunished.

block after block...the fire's mouth would have been watering as I neared the wealthy, but its mouth is all that it touches and its water is too flammable to last.

all that property, it was a feast. not rotting wood and ruined homes, but new, light, cheaper houses. large and exquisite and soon to be trampled by entropy. all the work, all the architecture, all the craft...I longed to make it into glorious fire and leave only ash.

ashes are pure. dust to dust. there is no other way to god but through his holy burning spirit. the burning bush spoke to me on the hilltop.

one path, one flame, one ash.

we could unify the world with a bonfire.

our motto: danger: combustible. all of your hard-earned american dreams. perishable. money burns too.

spray target, light up. and more is consecrated unto him. burnt offerings, as in ages past.

burn the best parts of the animal. these offerings are pleasing unto him. and you, my mansion-dwelling sheep, will be scapegoat for our sins.

starting small, because everyone has to sacrifice. as with any fire, begin with first kindling, then build upon it. log cabin, pyramid...or for glory, throw it on every which way with enough lighter fluid. no work required.

but seeing careful structures crumble, seeing order converted to chaos, breathing the scent of the process.

for that I live.

I give my life unto him: he is pure as a flame. the resurrection, the truth and the light.

the dancing, dim firelight. the most beautiful sight.

dark hair dark eyes, they said. I liked that they reflected fires. as if in my soul is only flame, in my sockets some vision of death. in my soul is only flame.

dumpster fire danced in my eyes like anything else. one flame. picket fences, one pile of ash. if only there was enough gasoline to burn it hotter, make it perfect...

neglect us, let us decay, and now pay the price. if your success is your own, this should only be a minor setback. if bad luck never made us poor, then neither will yours.

I am walking bad luck.

your german-made dreams will not drive again.

do you believe the government should assist people now? or are charities enough? maybe you have enough money. then you can afford my favorite past time.

these are things I thought to the owners of cars which became balls of stinking, peeling fire.

no riots to be seen here, just complacent families--not even happy. this one voted republican. the bumper sticker peels and blackens, and soon the alarm sends me on my errand.

an errant knight. I felt like an inquisitor: confess. confess and we will torture you until you confess. confess and you will be unharmed until the execution.

burning witches: they did that in this country, too. they would have burned me in salem. they always told me I was unholy, there was something wrong with my soul and I knew what it was: it was just flames.

half-remembered history lessons from a half-finished high school career.

but this was about injustice now. these people barely aware of why we were sick of this world and its shit. facing down the gun. terrorized by thugs.

they must have been confused about the riot. why were these hoodlums running around throwing flames and smashing windows?

this is why: says your ruined car.

this is why: your cute burning mailbox.

this is why: says your white picket fence. now it's black stubble, will keep even less out than before. next time buy chain link.

actions speak louder than words: the message should be clear: we won't be subdued forever. you cannot keep us down because there are more of us, and we have less to lose.

we have been beaten down too many times to believe in your american dreams. we are too worried about surviving.

all these words: but what I see is your house, burning. this warms my heart.

your bmw destroyed.

the look on your face is all that is missing, but the fire is enough contact for me. seeing the flames is the same as seeing my dark eyes.

don't be sad. I am freeing you. follow me, follow the path of god.

become one of his chosen and set your things alight yourself.

easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle...as the master said, come go with me. drop your nets. drop your worries and take up the righteous path.

give your possessions away freely.

your material worth is what I burn, not you yourself. not what matters. embrace this. embrace the end of your attachment to your things. find higher meaning.

as I have: life enriched with fire. rise above my poverty. so few the real chances to do it, so harsh the reaction by those it would help. but it rises me above and this night I am the angel of death. destroying angel. avenging angel.

I will pass over you only if I see the right mark: blood smeared as door frame sacrifice.

the rich homes never lit up. so little was accomplished and I had such high goals.

some grass branded for anarchy. fences destroyed halfway until the fire department put it out. car paint ruined until desperate owners hosed flames to death.

we all have a dream. we all fail to make it real.

but the dreams that came to me that night were beautiful: I was a flame, dancing about the city. I inspired hoped. I made the people see how to be free, the path to escape from a rat race.

others danced with me but we were the same: demanding nothing but what we could burn. give us the material we need, it will soon be ash. equal with dirt. the humblest of the humble. the abased shall be exalted.

we were pure because we were not picky. nothing else mattered to us, only what could be burned. all else was the same to us, our eyes were innocent and our mouths were hungry.

we spread, we loved all with the sincerest warmth, and we were united in peace and purpose. but so much to do, though our work was a feast.

when it was done, everything would be right.

thoughts heard by toilets

"Apparently some people find it threatening even though it's only a quarter of an inch wide."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Avatar

leave this land? I am this land,
I reach from sea floor to mountaintop.

not this nation, not its people,
lines in the sand cannot contain me, do not bind.

I am the mountains buckled gloriously toward the sky;
my arms of hills embrace-uplift you in cradles which they form.

I am thin spits of land keeping sea's salt from lakes fresh,
forming the coves and bays where fishermen abide.

I am plains you plant to feed you and firmament where you stand,
shaking solid basis, both foundation and ruin of your home.

I am terra's mighty trembling felt deep deep down,
world-felt I do renew rebuild myself with mighty sound.

and I am pushing ever higher in the sky tho it's in vain,
with hot-spewed magma I aspire, against gravity I strain.

restless and quick moving at my own pace of time,
I can't be stopped if set against you, for age is my ally.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gazelle (an antelope horn)


gazelle
gazette ante
gaze elope
ellipse
lips
slip
sloping
hoping
hip
worship
swore
two
one
stone
strong
blest
unable
shun
under
over
lover
live
lies
limp
imp
slim
hassle
has
as
sass
saw
was
twain
not
on
wrong
false
truth

a chink in perfect

cracks my armor
what was once smooth solid
is now shattered unstable, rough

- soft -

words in a song pierce
like high speed rounds
the armor of this shell

and now wond'ring
why I wear it,
seems restrictive

without it feel wounded,
something thick seeps
redly in its disused heaps

- crawl -

out emerge from it
no scab nor scar forms,
wound not weakness

battle long gone
from a field seen clear,
time for rest is here

Le Papillon

I misheard a butterfly,
and thus was it born.
Colorful, it flew forth,
flowed from French
lips and French tongue,
of mixed Franco phones
it flapped around.
All color, no substance;
in reality was drowned.


I dreamed myself a lover,
in thought she existed.
A beauty made of mere
misunderstanding;
as reality dawned,
she dried up into air.
Though hoped for,
though nearly felt,
she was never there.

copenhagen crackdown

we occupied that building like a Rheinland
as if it was France and we the Führer
in reality we were the Jews and the cops the Hitlers
gestapo marching, marking; gassing us till we left

like a holocaust we lost one after another
contained, held our ground but lost the war
victims of martyrdom:
I lost it when I saw her body,
locks dreaded face pale neck twisted unmoving

troopers, they stormed us
invaded our home and occupied oppressively

drove their lead nails in us like Romans into Jesus Christ,
like common thieves crucified us
when what we stole was mere bread, taken from none,
a victimless crime for which we were scapegoat
for which we must pay

we were the infidels but threw the stones; they threw bullets.
we the squatters: they squatted and took aim
and took away our very Lebensraum
a place we'd seized but not built, tho new lives were built in it

our territory became theirs as their word became law
breaking the truce their strength occupied our minds
and gaining a foothold of fear,
beachhead of order
moved on to next conquest in the name of right
only a Vichy's underside resisting

stepping out into spring

a step out the door
left warm air behind
on toward the car
a cry on the wind

thru clouds peaks sunny sky
a breeze shows its chill
chill down the spine of me
be coming, something ill shall

high peaks make a spine
deep in valley, pause
alert trying to listen
naught but the breeze

Thursday, May 1, 2008

forlorn morning glory

I issue forth from the gutter of the ages,
spilling out desperately from its sustaining sludge.
thick and nutritive, I drink of its mud,
while eyes that see strangely drink of me,
rising out from the grate of the cosmic drain,
glorious in my defiance of expectation,
forlorn in appearance and ragged of look;
immortal is my weedy persistence,
unmatched my vital pestlike essence,
and immovable my roots which here do hook