When I drink
my Kahlua Mudslide
through a straw—
I saw her sit down.
She didn’t have a coffee,
an espresso, or a mochatini.
She had her eyes.
So young, surrounded by
a mask carved from leather,
baked in sun and dusk.
I keep my eyes
on the laptop screen,
trying to write a poem,
or a word, or a line,
or at this point, even
just a letter.
But she’s staring at me—
through me, into me—
or at the mirror beside
me. What does she see
when she sees herself?
An old woman, alone
in a coffee shop not
A young girl, in love—
unable to tell if the heartbeat
is hers or his?
and the wisdom carved
into her skin?
I look to her seat,
but she’s gone. A faint face
the leather back seems
Paint clings better to paper mache.
A strange bird’s feathers
float between her mask’s furrowed eyes.
Her eyes, the only humanity visible,
and they are dark and creased. Overflowing.
The gold paint glimmers how she cannot.
The tired smile is carved into the mask,
Her skin below the mask hesitates,
drifts out of the fabric of her costume.
Bright and faded, it stretches,
and folds over her like an envelope
without enough postage.
When she changes her face,
she turns away and her dark hair curtains,
and creeps down her back.
The mask has become her;
the paper hides her hollow.
It was almost daylight when Xan got back to the safe house. He could have gotten there instantly, but he decided to walk, to have more time to think and smoke. The shock of the werewolf and what the werewolf had said were still bouncing around inside his head. Xan had lived through so much, yet it was unsettling hearing this wasn’t the first life had been through. He had always accepted that nature had created him to help combat evil, but he never thought that he had been different than the others. His thoughts left him when he reached the front door of the safe house. He was suddenly so tired, and he just wanted to crawl into bed with Sal and hold her as he fell asleep.
“There you are, Xanthiilus.”
Xan turned around groggily, to see who was addressing him. Wings sprang from his back and his sword was in his hands in the blink of an eye. A demon stood before him.
“Is that anyway to welcome a guest?”
Xan couldn’t believe he hadn’t recognized that voice as demonic. They all sounded like chains being dragged over stones. “What the hell do you want?”
The demon chuckled. “I certainly do not want hell. I have been locked up there for a lot longer than I would like. I just thought I would stop by and see how everyone is doing. I would especially like to say hello to that little slut of yours.”
A streak of fire pierced the demon, and Xan stood behind it, fire dripping from his sword. The demon gurgled, a large cut appearing through its middle as black blood oozed from the wound. It placed its hands on the cut, and black wisps of clouds drifted from its fingers followed a sharp hissing sound. Xan watched as the cut began to mend jaggedly, leaving a large scar on the demon’s middle.
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Ten”
“As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this book is unique.” Rochester leafed through the pages.
They were in an empty room of the underground complex. There was a small, wooden desk, and a few chairs. Grace and Fin were sitting close to the desk.
“And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there are other forms of magic and creatures you’ve never heard of.” Rochester slid the book over to them. It was open to the page on Elementalists. “When the order of Conduits was created, the original Magister thought this knowledge would prove dangerous, and undermine the authority he had won with his Conduits.”
“Why would the knowledge of other magic be dangerous?” Fin asked.
“Magic had always been at the fringe of society. Yes, it was accepted, but it wasn’t until the defeat of the Soulless that the general populace understood that magic could be used to protect them. Older magics are more primal. They didn’t have a governing society controlling them, and people were afraid of what would happen with individuals possessing that much power.”
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 1:00pm”
Distant bombs shift the dust
Fingerprints and footprints cover
bookshelves, open photo albums
where tiny handprints cover a baby boy’s
face, smearing his smile through
the dust, eyes pale blue and slightly yellow.
Covering the woman on the beach, polka
dot bikini as grey as her smile.
Prints on the books,
through the pages of Moby Dick,
Great Expectations, and The Great
Gatsby. Footprints have patrolled
back and forth and back and forth
across the mantle. It’s hard to tell
what kind of wood, but it shines maroon
where the dust has been paced away.
Like our trail through snow, tramped down
by booted feet, step in time, clatter
of buckles and bullets and cans
of food and guns slung. Or ash
from our fire keeping coats and boots
dry, heating the tin of baked beans
and pork to fill stomachs
lined with ash from bombed
bodies and buildings in London.
Tonight, the moon is a plastic bag
caught in the grasping willow
where the squirrels sit, eating their winter-stored
Planter’s peanuts and almonds. Casting
shells into the oil-rainbow puddle and divining
that the broken colors mean
Frank will get laid tonight, but only
if he can manage to tame his bushy tail
because she likes her men neat and clean.
Which is strange for a squirrel.
But Frank tries to conquer the fur
with both paws and his teeth because he
is incredibly horny after a winter of watching
pay-per-view porn through a stranger’s window.
Frank repels down the tree,
trying to hide the nervous chattering
amidst cheers from his friends. This time,
he’ll get Suzanne in the oak across
the way. Straightening his bowtie,
he darts into the road to win his girl.
Car. And the squirrels scurry, momentarily
losing their minds and running back and forth
and back and forth across the road before
flying up the willow and cussing so loud
they sound like they are shivering
the way their teeth chatter. There is a soft squelch
but the cars keep driving, offering a silent apology
through the whisk, whisk of Frank’s tail brushing the road
where it clings, dangerously and gracefully,
to the all-weather tread of the tire.
A small, red stained bowtie flutters
against the oak’s trunk, where Suzanne
sits in silence.
I watch YouTube—
instead of watching
painted skies, trying to mimic
brushstroke for stroke
the finger whorls of gods
smearing burning clouds across
and down into lakes.
people dress like cows,
screaming at fainting goats.
I watch YouTube—
instead of watching
my dog chase butterflies
in his sleep. Feet flicking,
kicking as he smiles
through black and white fields
where tiny flower-drinking
insects are the only color
he can see.
girls paint themselves
with words, and flash flesh
better, faster, stronger.
I watch YouTube—
instead of watching
the canary talking to me.
Gasping and choking,
his yellow feathers fading
as he dies, a byproduct
words are wrenched
and retooled, hammered into
lips to be sung again.
I watch YouTube—
instead of watching
the last breath escape my lungs,
ectoplasm like smoke, photographed
in darkness, and probably fake.
But I’ll never know.
twin rainbows swim overhead,
quivering voice filming—
oh my god, oh my god.
And I will always wonder why
the table is set in such a particular way
with the knife facing in, back to the spoon,
as if the spoon was caught dipping
into another bowl of soup¬—
a simple tomato. But the knife is upset
because there is no grilled cheese to slice
in half and share, dipping into the red
of the bowl, mirroring the red of the sun
dipping into the blue of the ocean.
But I am alone, like the fork on the left.
The wide divide of the white plate—
yet untouched by crumbs of slightly burned
bread and the dots of red—
dribbled tomato soup. A meal where the fork remains
sterile and able to be placed in the drawer.
But because it is out, the fork will be washed,
and rinsed, and dried before being tossed
to the darkness of the cutlery drawers.
Even with the other forks, it will never
see the other utensils. And while the others remain
content to just be with other forks,
I am aware of the isolation—
the knife and spoon, while in partitions of their own,
will be together on the table.
Across the wide divide of the white plate,
the fork will remain alone—
save the brief slice of the knife between its tines—
a vicious and violent violation before, again, being alone.
The knife, still angry, will turn its back on the spoon.
But they remain together—
in misery and misunderstanding.
For how could a knife ever talk to a spoon?
Maryanne was walking slowly down the stairs into the subway station. She pulled her coat closer around her tiny form to better fight off the cold. It wasn’t very effective. Cold, dreary days like this made her feel frail and frozen. It was dark; only a few of the lights were left on. She was not entirely sure why she was coming down here. It was out of her way going home. She had just finished closing the greenhouse she worked at. Just thinking about the ferns, roses, and evergreens made her feel momentarily better. Plants always did that. And the station was closed. The schedule posted on the street above had informed her that the last tram had left several minutes ago. Still, one foot and then another lead her deeper into the darkness.
It was odd, she thought, that the station would be so dimly lit. It was heavily traveled while it was open, but now it just seemed like it had been separated from the rest of the city. She felt a vague sensation tickle her spine, like she was walking into a nightmare. Her heart started as she reached the bottom of the stairs, causing her to gasp and throw a hand over her chest. Those red eyes… No, it was just marquee stating that the B and B2 trams ran through this station.
That night still haunted her. It had disturbed her, shocking her very core of normalcy. Could it have really happened? A crack in the mirror. That was real. It had only appeared after the cold, after the initial shock of fear, after seeing that white creature with terrible eyes. A part of her had shoved the incident aside. She must have just been tired. It had seemed so real. Could it be? Another part, a deeper and almost mystical part, of her knew the answer. She didn’t like it. The feeling of something brushing past her soul was hard to argue with, and she rubbed her arms trying to get warm. It was cold again.
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Nine”
Fin woke to a room dimly lit with red lights. The dull thuds of explosions echoed against the walls, causing them to rattle. He felt a body next to his, and turning his head he saw Grace sleeping next to him. He sat up slowly, careful not to wake her, and his body tensed against the pain from the abuse he had put it through. He had pushed himself to the absolute limit, and the constant concussive forces he had been exposed to had not been kind either. Across the small room, in another bed next to the wall, he saw Xander. Xander stirred, and slowly sat up, looking back at Fin.
“Looks like we’re in a bunker.” Xander glanced around at the concrete walls.
Fin nodded. “Just a question of where.” He stretched, trying to work the kinks out of his back and neck. “Any idea how we got here?”
“No idea. Maybe faeries whisked us away.”
Fin smirked. “I swear I remember a dog,” he muttered.
“Hmm? A dog? I think the faeries are more likely.”
Fin slid to the edge of the bed and let his feet rest on the cold concrete floor. “I think it was a German Shepherd? Someone saved us. Had a dog that attacked a Soulless about to kill me. And then the guy burned the Soulless and killed it. Pushed the rest of them back.”
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 7:12am”