Archive for November, 2009

The Sphinx

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 30, 2009 by unsensible

“It’s impossible to dress for this weather”
We stand, we two, on the crest of a hill
The daylight retreating over the far horizon to our backs
During the day, unbearable heat that examined and re-examined every portion of exposed flesh
Burning red in its penetrating gaze
Now gave way to night that assails our bones,
blowing up like a deep exhale from the unseen creatures in night’s valley below

“Are we ready?” a rhetorical question, goes unanswered

We are, point of fact, hopelessly unprepared.

But this is how it was: only the clothes on our backs, not even the benefit of a proper jacket, the day receding, the night barreling towards us like a pack of wild dogs

If we had spent a day longer
If we had met our contact
If we had run another inventory

The backs of my heels tingle with the desire to turn around and run after the dwindling light

You stood like a sphinx in silence, so long…
I could feel the hags running my thread through their boney fingers, measuring, measuring, measuring my life cord by cord to its ultimate end

You held a hand out to me
“There is only one way forward. We follow the light.” And set off down the valley.

“But it’s that way,” I gasp in desperation. “The light has fled.”

From a small distance ahead, “Then we follow this way until it comes back.”

This was how it would always be: the light at our back, deep darkness ahead, and all manner of unknown and menacing obstacles before us. Nothing to defend us but ourselves and each other. That was the truth of it, until the day the old ladies do cut my string.

So I followed.


Devil and the Moon Part II

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2009 by unsensible

By taking the moon, he had changed the night completely. Those near enough to home went there and locked their doors, but those left outside had become victims and wolves.

He wasn’t a particularly handsome man, and it was hard to guess his age. When he smiled, or leered, he seemed young, but when he was thinking to himself, as he seemed to be while they walked through the back alleys to the main street of town, he seemed altogether too old for his body. his gait betrayed a furtive restlessness of someone used to being chased, which was supported by the poor state of his shoes.

THe night had become altogether dark and cold. She thanked heaven she wore her sweater that evening and tried to ignore how far away the idea of heaven seemed, like her mind reached out to it but had to give up like a bad cell connection failing to make a call.

She was with him for now, and as long as he held the glowing disc in his pocket, she needed to stay. “Stay and see this through,” she thought. It didn’t matter that the idea was insane. That he couldn’t possibly be carrying what he was supposedly carrying, she was dealing with a situation, a crisis. She did that well, by going on automatic and dealing with details as they come. That’s what she needed to do now, and she could sort out whether she had really watched someon walk across the sky, darting from start to star like a burglar, later.

“Here,” he said, sounding unpleasantly pleased with himself.

She wanted to say, “Where are we,” but the reality dawned on her before she could. This was the same street she looked at every day, a dozen times a day, while going to work, while buying groceries, or meeting friends, the main street that ran through the heart of town. But something had changed. It had gotten dark; real dark like the ancestors of man must have known before the advent of electric light. Back when legends and fairytales about devils and demons could be whispered back and forth and believed with total sincerity. The world had been a scarier place. On this dark, cold street it was again.

“Notice anything different?” he said. Everything seemed to be in place. The street lamps still shown, but their light couldn’t reach beyond the canopy of their covers, so the light itself seemed assaulted on all sides by the consuming darkness. She looked to the sky and her eyes welled up with tears in a way that wasn’t entirely attributable to the bitter wind. It was altogether empty. If there was stars still there, they couldn’t penetrate, and, of course, the moon was conspicuously absent.

“I don’t see such a difference,” she said, trying to feign bravado.

“Really? That’s because you lack my long-term perspective. You think of these people as you see them today. I still remember little monkeys hiding from the darkness, worshipping their one great protector from the unknown.” He patted his pocket.

“Have you grown so much you don’t need your protectors? Let’s hope.”

He took her hand (not that she wished him to, but she seemed unable to say no) and lead the way up the street. It must have been around midnight but the streets were unusually empty. That is, those who did appear in the dark seemed to make every effort to vanish or remain invisible, so faces flashed pale before her and were gone as though the living had become ghosts and only she and Him remained real and alive on that street. And those she did see were huddled as though in fear of freezing to death. She could hear the wind howl but she couldn’t really feel it, no more than to numbly register that it was there. Not enough to taste it’s effect. She felt strangely set above…privileged. She, her strange companion, and their own private moon.

She heard a shattering of glass and saw a figure though a pane glass window duck out of site. It was a pretty young waitress, who seemed to have made a a mess of the plates from a big order in a fancy restaurant. The customers seemed uneasy and testy. The manager appeared over the waitress as she feebly tried to scoop of the shards of her misdeed. It was impossible to hear the words, but even through the glass she could feel her shame and humiliation.

The Man laughed, sharp and unpleasant. “She’ll be fired tonight,” he said. “She’s new to the job, and the manager knows the restaurant is in poor straits, he’s anxious to please these well paying customers. She just lost her other job. This will mean she loses her apartment. She’ll no longer be able to stand on her own emotionally or financially. Who knows what becomes of an independant young lady then.”

She looked at Him intently “Don’t blame me,” he protested. “I didn’t make her drop the plates. Maybe she’s nervous. Maybe she should be…she’s sleeping with another woman’s fiancee. Really, am I so impressive you credit me with every slight misfortune?”

“No,” she said. “It’s just…I think I know that waitress.”

“Come on,” he said. “We need to keep moving. The night is wasting away, and we have a whole town to see.”

If you think this is about you, it probably is

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 25, 2009 by unsensible

You don’t know how many times I’ve caught your hand before it could fall away from your hair
Put my hand on your chin to keep you from moving the angle of your cheek
Which catches the amber light in a way I have never seen
Like the sun is somehow new and its effects foreign to me
(And of course, I’m a gentleman, so all this in my mind)

How many times I’ve lost what you were saying
Based on the depthless reaches of your eyes
Small but piercing like a door, barely ajar, leading to an open place
I’ve never been and I’m dying to write about

It would embarrass me for you to know how often the sound of your voice strikes me like a melody I can’t remember,
that half sticks in my head, and echoes,
so the only tenable solution is to hear it again and again from the source
as near to constantly as I can
(Because a half finished tune is unacceptable and sad, even in one’s own mind)

You don’t know and I can’t tell you
Because words invariably bump into other things and change moments
So the part that I can’t reproduce, even in memory, would be lost
I’ve never been so greedy to know a person

You poor girl, the moment this passed from a detached fascination
To an enlightened choice (if ever there was a choice to be had)
I’m a fire on dry grass now, driving hard to your doorstep, growing stronger on the way

You can’t know but I can show you
Please allow me to demonstrate

The Devil and the Moon (pt 1)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 25, 2009 by unsensible

The Devil and the Moon (Part 1)

She asked him to do something amazing, merely because he said he could, with casual disregard somewhere between irritating and glamorous
So he plucked the moon from the sky

The fact is, he changes by night and by season
On cold nights he has wings on his dog eared Airwalk sneakers
And while the angels looked the other way, shielding their pink round cheeks from the assailing wind
He casually walked up the sky, in front of her, skirting the light from star to star, like a drunk wending his way through an alley

And when he reached it, he plucked as casually like a bum picking up a dollar
and hid it in the hip pocket of his raggedy tweed jacket

He high stepped back, more quickly vacating the scene of his purloining
He returned to her side grinning. The poor thing seemed very small now in jutting from his coat, casting unpleasant shadows on his face, making his pallor sickly turning blue white and green in turns

She noticed the sky had gone very, very dark

“And what shall we do now?” he said, his voice a quiet drum. “What parlor trick are you to put me to next?”

“Put it back,” she almost whispered pleading, still somewhat disbelieving.

But he remarked that if she wished it back in the sky she could take it from him and walk up there to replace it herself. She knew she couldn’t.

“Then walk with me,” he said.

She had no desire to be there with him. Now colder and darker than she could ever remember a January night being, she wanted to be home under a blanket watching something cheerful on TV with a warm drink in her hand. But she couldn’t bring herself to leave him, not as long as he had that poor thing held captive in his jacket. After all, if she didn’t make him put it back, who would, or could?

By taking the moon, he had changed the night completely. Those near enough to home went there and locked their doors, but those left outside had become victims and wolves.

With the Demon Alone

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 19, 2009 by unsensible

I had a demon and I named him “Alone” and his baleful empty eye frightened me and his long grasping fingers terrified me. He lived in a closet where I could hear him stomping about restlessly, sulkily, whenever I was by myself in my room. So, I made sure that I almost never was.

Being left only made Alone worse, and he’d begin to act out even when I had a friend with me. Even if she slept with me in my bed, I couldn’t pull her close enough or whisper in her ear with enough fervor to drown out Alone scratching pitiable, insistently, inevitably at the door.

“You’re not coming into this bed,” I said out loud one night, just a few days after she’d left me. No one else was around, just him and me. “You’re not sleeping here. You stay in your closet.”

He stopped his scratching and howled like an animal. I couldn’t move for revulsion. But the cries didn’t stop. I picked up the clock on my bed stand and hurled it at the door, not at him but at the door, and his howls only grew louder, galvanized by my response.

I resolved to finally be rid of him, this sore on my happiness, this blight on creation, abomination of my bedroom closet. I picked up the heavy brass lamp by the side of my bed and brandished it. I crept to the cracked door, peering in. His brand of darkness was always darker, Alone’s, so it shone black against the charcoal gray of my room, unlit and empty.

His howl had died to a snuffling, a rasping. It occurred to me it had been ages since I’d gotten this close. I hooked one finger on the edge of the door and pulled. It slid uncomfortably, grinding on the carpet, as though the wood refused to turn or had forgotten how with disuse.

And in the darker darkness of the closet there stood the Demon, cowering. He hunched, he scraped long arms on the wood of the closet, deep gouges worn into the wood on the door jamb. His baleful eyes, stared, glowing liquescent and lit the room in a dull sickly pallor. I hadn’t laid eyes on him since he was born, when he was small enough to wrap in a sheet and tuck away in my closet. By God he was mammoth now, like a bear tortured to stand on its hind legs by unscrupulous trainers.

“You’ve been here all along,” I said. “Only you.” And his long simian mouth raised its corners into a parody of a depthless animal grin. Again, I hated the thing. So I raised the end of the bronze lamp. I thought, “If I don’t kill it now, no one will.”

Clumsily, in the half-light he caught the lamp at its shaft and we turned, me unable to bring the instrument down on its desired target, hopelessly outmatched in strength with the demon. But I kept pressing down, my bare feet leaving the carpet of my room, standing on my toes trying to muscle the metal to the top of its oblong head. And we danced. Around and around in circles, him resisting, just enough, me pressing on the massive thing, sweat beading on my brow. When my chest was fit to burst, when my hands stung from digging into the finials at the top of the lamp, I collapsed onto my bed. If it would take me, it would do it now, and hopefully quickly. I couldn’t live with Alone any longer in the recesses of my room, forever waiting.

As I lay there panting in the darkness, awaiting the metal tang of the lamp splitting lined brow, awaiting the girth of the heavy creature to fall on me, enveloping me, ending me, I felt a pressure at the end of my bed. Its eyes were closed and the gray of my room had surrendered to inky black, so I didn’t see but felt the massive creature gingerly lift itself to the bed. One massive paw, then another, curling like a dog at the end of my bed.

The bed creaked, the bowl created in my mattress by its pressure was well-defined, but not as I had expected, as though the thing had someone shed some of its form for the occasion. Here it was, coming to bed. It breathed a human breath, heavy with exertion but not dissatisfied. It sounded like it was sleeping, or meant to. It sounded like it had found its place.

My head circled and I found my pillow with my forearm and rested against it. “It isn’t real,” I thought. It wasn’t real, this thing. But it was here and it was mine. Whatever it was I had made it. And fear of him had made me.

That night the scratching ended, replaced by breath like a rolling tide.