Rats

Grabbing onto anchors
In a vie to save a ship
So at the cost of holding something
Do we numb our fingetips

Listening to silence
Just to say we really hear
So at the cost of disappearing
Do we save what isn’t dear

Dancing in the shadows
As a way to spite the sun
So at the cost of seeing nothing
Do we hide what we’ve become

Letting go of reason
And of logic like they’re hats
So at the cost of feeding pigeons
Are we slowly breeding rats

Stifle

The words are standing awkwardly
Their toes are hanging off the edge, upon a bridge of static
Listening to waves that roar of nothing down below
And so our tongues go searching ’round for artifacts within an attic

And so they rest there wearily
Like glitter trapped in globes they can’t recall until they’re shaken
Saturnine, they rest with all the heaviness of fog
To see it sink into the sea of what was there but never taken

A breath to hold or give away
By lips that only feigned to ask a word of false permission
Anchored to the flickering of thoughts that rise and fall
And looking for the word ‘forgiveness’ in reply for each omission

So with their fingers still upon
The railing out of hope to fly or fear in dreams of falling
Set within a locket like a picture doomed to fade
Do they go living lost and moving less,
And saying, “More would I confess
If I believed that anyone were here to hear me calling…”

Endeavor

Organization, it founders and fails
And the chaos that crosses it quickly prevails

I wrap a condition
A rule arbitrary
Around an ambition
I’m too weak to carry

Plotting and planning, the passage is frail
And this boat of intention has nets for a sail

My logic compiled
Around an objective
I waste like a child
Then deem ineffective

Method to madness, illusive control
Over fictional boundaries, a loop for a hole

I build up a meaning
From new aspirations
At angles, and leaning
On fractured foundations

Belief in believing in orderly change
When I decorate shackles and show off the chains

I set a desire
Outside of my grasp
And then set it on fire
And still, try to ask

How is it that every new hopeful endeavor
Keeps falling apart like the last?

Hours

So whether with a smile,
Word, or song, or blade stiletto
They’re just different names for strings
And you, my dear, are still Geppetto

And I, to them beholden
Saying all your lead is golden
Wait with sadly bated breath to see how long until I fold in

And underneath the ire
Where your grin is like a dagger
And the wounds cause me to sing
Your name in pain and slowly stagger

Behind you ever spouting
Words of praise and never doubting
That the whispers of remembrance justify my lonely shouting

And withering in lapses
Do I clutch to the betraying
And from comets do I swing
To disregard the words you’re saying

Collecting, as if flowers,
Thoughts of love where loving cowers
Holding seconds in a shrine within a prison where the bricks are made of hours

Sconce

How often have I heard you yelling
Talking of the sanctity of life
Standing on a box you made of soap because you’re telling
Everyone of the atrocities within the world that seem so very rife

The horrors and the sad conditions
Unforgivable in all their woe
Pointing to the ones who were the victims of afflictions
In a world where most would rather turn away than really see the truth below

How often did I see you waving
Banners for the ones so cast aside?
Heralding compassion for the souls we weren’t saving
And reminding everybody to remember all the ones who cruelly died?

But now, you seem so very quiet
Taking time to weigh your thin response
Holding reticence as if a virtue – I don’t buy it –
When you claim to carry pyres on your back but now you fold beneath a sconce

Várathro – Pt.7

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6


“It’s difficult, yes?” the voice was saying. It seemed too close by half.

Still, he couldn’t pull his eyes from the darkness that swam and plummeted before him. His vision was locked like the tide to some vacuous moon; his body felt stuck at an unnatural forward angle – that permanent feeling of taking a step and not feeling the stairs soon enough.

“So much had to be given, but that’s faith, isn’t it? The belief that sometimes you have to give and never really know if it’ll matter. Walking with your eyes closed into the darkness and telling yourself that if you open them you won’t be worthy to see the light…maybe you never were.”

William opened his mouth in some weak attempt to talk – to ask a question. But what? What the fuck would he even ask?

Life felt like some crazy, drug-fueled dream. Like he was running a temperature of a hundred and six with a belly full of mushrooms and LSD and everything that was happening – and everything that had – was just some fucked up manifestation of a mind that couldn’t parse reality.

“But look now,” the voice was saying. “Just look at it now…”

The tone of the voice struck him like when you see a face in a movie and your mind is trying to place who it is and where you saw them and then, later, while you’re in the shower you suddenly realize who and what and where.

Words replayed in his head as the owner of the voice offered him a card for someplace where the stay is out of this world.

William found himself feeling far too much like a pinball – the drop having begun with a briefcase and everything that happened after being little more than plastic paddles and rubber knobs moving him this way and that. Every movement met with an obstruction to shift him over and up and then down. Each one trying to catapult his trajectory into the gaping mouth that now stared back at him.

“Of course, no one ever wants to believe that the blood is going to be their own. Maybe that just makes it easier to tell the other people bleeding that it’s for the best. But then, one day, it was my sister. You get that feeling. That fear. The doubt. You see the cost and you think that perhaps you were wrong, yes? You think that, now that the cost is yours, perhaps it is a price paid in folly.”

William heard a sound in the darkness before him – though less a sound than it was a distinct lack of sound. As though before him was some empty place that was now swallowing the world around it – light and sound and time and who knew what else.

“Now Dira,” the voice said, “that was a believer. Came before you did. Went through without so much as a stutter in her step. Not a word. No tears. Nothing.”

The absence of all grew somehow larger, darker. It seemed to William as though it was rising now, spinning up and out and around. He felt his heart beating, so hard that it hurt, but so slow that each pulse seemed to send his body shaking for several seconds before the next one struck.

“But none of it would have mattered if not for you,” Kayro said. “You can slip all the bread you want under the prisoner’s door, sneak in as much water as you can find, but none of it matters if you can’t open the lock.”

William’s mind swam. His vision shifted to waves of black and blacker still. He felt the world around him reverberating like he was suddenly living inside of a painfully overactive subwoofer that played nothing but one heavy note over and over again. Each one sent his senses fluttering. He felt his skin rippling like water from a concussive blast.

He saw lights blinking in and out. In and out.

For a moment, the thrumming ceased and it felt like a fuzzy picture slowly coming into focus. As it cleared up, he saw what looked to be strangely colored lines and hazy mounds. Those sharpened into what looked like rivers or canals perhaps, but they seemed somehow displaced by the now crisp lines that were set in contrast.

A haze of melting colors gave way to a cityscape of parked cars that sat with flashing lights. Horns screaming where heads were now set to rest. Bodies set like broken mannequins littered the streets that were so obscured that he only knew they were black from his experience of driving on them in some other life.

Fires rose and fell from broken windows where the remains of random bodies were set like Christmas ornaments in a terrifying tree of metal and concrete.

Here and there a figure moved with lengths of purple dangling from open abdominal wounds while they shambled on in some state where they either didn’t know they were in pain or else were in so much pain they could no longer articulate it.

Regardless of the given state, each face wore eyes that were wide and wild. Mouths open like people who, with their dying breath, were still trying to scream.

“Do you see it now?” Kayro asked as William’s mind reeled and tried to process the nightmare that was playing out in his mind. “Can you see the way it looks at you?”

 

 

Wake

What do we call the hurt
That now exists instead of pain?
For all the woe it might have caused before
And even as we sought a way to close it like a door
The absence is a wound that we would offer blood to see it not remain

What do we call this thing
That now replaces all the tears
We shed for all the cuts that we endured
And every one we dreaded, and we fought, and we obscured
How is it their removal ushered nothing into life deserving cheers?

What do we call the grief
That died a slow and somber death?
When all it ever did was weigh us down
And sing to us an ocean made of promises to drown
We feel it missing now and seem to struggle all the more to take a breath

What do we call this want
That only ever seemed to take
And made us always wonder why we did
When following, it seemed a hell, we found ourselves amid
How is it, as the fire died
And gone were all the tears we cried
We felt like we were rushing toward a dream, so undeserved, we had to wake?

 

Honestly

I care so very little
If you’re strong of if you’re brittle
If you’re stoic and you’re brave
Or you’re a coward and a knave
Or if you’re proud of anything you’ve said or done

Of times where you’re the winner
Or the ones where you’re the sinner
Any moment that you caved
Or any life you may have saved
And if to any other life you seem a sun

I couldn’t care the slightest
If you’re dim or you’re the brightest
If you only mean the best
Or mean the worst, or you’re obsessed
Or if you’re certain that you’re second best to none

What matters are your actions
Your affiliated factions
If you mean the things you say
Or if they’re words that you betray
And if they are, then, honestly, the fucks I have to give for you are less than one

Várathro – Pt.6

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


The sound of wheels on the road rolled along like soft static while the false idea of air conditioning hummed a lukewarm song of broken promises. Dira sat stoically in the driver’s seat with the sound of life playing like the world’s saddest music station.

Part of him wanted to break the silence and attempt small talk, but everything about the situation, and the woman for that matter, made him feel like he was a small child in the principal’s office.

He cleared his throat and – in that instance – he felt like he’d somehow broken some kind of sacred pact. He was that guy in the library talking on his cellphone. He was the guy in the movie theatre kicking the chair in front of him. Even though – at a glance – he didn’t see Dira glaring at him, in his mind she was.

The days at The Saturn Inn had been an amalgam of uneventful boredom riding atop a horse of anxiety. Settled between the two was a saddle of worry and wonder.

William had a grand total of fuck all planned out.

Money. Check.

Not where Mike could kill him. Check.

Beyond that, the plan fell apart.

Every noise at night made him look out the window. Cicadas. Beetles batting at his door. Every time a car drove near. Every time a new visitor parked their car.

He heard death on the horizon – it wore the sun as an eye in the day and the moon at night and it watched him always.

It was with hesitance that he’d finally wandered into the lobby to ask Dira about how far away the nearest laundromat was – his poorly planned escape now being held hostage to the terrorist of basic hygiene.

“You remember how long the drive was coming in?” she’d replied. “About half that again.”

He’d nodded at that and then said, “Wait. You mean that plus half or just half of that?”

She’d looked at him like he’d just spit out his gum in the church collection plate so he’d decided that the answer must have been obvious enough that he didn’t need it.

He’d been prepared for something old-timey on the radio. In his mind, she was going to hop in her old white sedan and click the station over to something where they were quoting the bible or maybe some AM frequency that played country that only people born in the fifties would be familiar with.

Now, he found himself in a state of longing – looking back at that past moment and wishing, more than anything, that she’d just turn the fucking thing on to anything. Even the erratic noise of an unturned station would have felt less ominous than the sound of silence mingled with the cyclic hum of the car driving and the wind slipping over the windows.

“So,” he finally said, feeling like a kid interrupting a funeral, “is it much farther?”

Dira looked at him like a disappointed grandmother who just found out that he’d been caught smoking cancer sticks in the bathroom with the other hooligans.

“I mean…” he said as she looked back at the road.

His words just hung there like a fly whose life had just been relegated to windshield decoration.

In the odd atmosphere of ambient noise, awkward silence, and inner turmoil, he found himself with blinks that came slower and slower. It reminded him of when he was younger, in one of those old classrooms with the big heaters that ran the length of the wall and the summer heat sank into the room like dense fog and the teacher would drone on and on about The Red Badge of Courage and his eyelids would flutter and his pulse would drop and…

tick-tick

tick-tick

tick-tick

William opened eyes that felt newborn. The world was cast in flickers that strobed with flashes of yellow. Soft taps came erratically amongst the sharper clicking sounds that reminded him of some dreadfully old grandfather clock.

He blinked several times and looked around. The world was dark and little fireflies blinked here and there. Tiny brown beetles bounced against the windshield. Hazard lights clicked in a sonorous cadence and he realized that he was alone inside the car, his neck aching from whatever odd angle he’d settled in as he’d drifted off on his journey to a land filled with clothes that didn’t smell like he’d stolen them from a professional panhandler.

Looking over, he saw the driver’s side door was closed.

Nothing in the back seat.

He sat there and thought. He tried to convince himself that Dira had…something…something…and she would definitely be back. All the while, the rational part of his brain reminded him that nothing about this situation was conducive to the outcome where Dira opened the door and said something about how her friend is just too chatty for her own good.

Eventually, William opened his door and let in the sound of midnight – that odd sound composed of what was missing rather than what was there. Part of him wanted to say something, to call out a name, to send out that verbal assertion like a flare to alert someone to his presence.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he whispered to himself, “no one can hear you…”

He stepped without and looked at the flashing lights of the car on what he imagined must have been a road. Instead, he saw only trees around him.

None of it made sense.

The car was positioned like it had been thrown in a most haphazard fashion. Trees all around. No sign of a trail. Nothing that said, “A person was here and she went that way.”

The sound of something rustling set his nerves even more on edge than they already were.

He had that horror movie moment. Part of him thought he should get in the car…the other part said to run. But what would he do in the car? The protection was meaningless when windows could be broken. And what could he do in the fucking forest when he had all the survival instinct of a fly in a mason jar?

Another rustle sounded. A noise came with it that he swore sounded like something being dragged across loose gravel.

Maybe he heard a noise.

Maybe he just thought he did.

Maybe he was just scared and his mind was a ball of stripped wires that were short-circuiting. Maybe yetis were real and they were the divine rulers of the earth.

Maybe injected itself into his brain like a high dose shot of adrenaline and logic fled.

He moved and stumbled.

He hurried with his arm out as if fending off zombies – every branch a would-be attacker, the dark ground making him perpetually afraid that at any point a hand would reach up, grab his ankle and send him tumbling.

A noise like the ocean filtered through the terror.

It ebbed and flowed. It moved like a rake through sand in a zen garden made for gods.

Like a man who believes that, if he can find a river he can find civilization, he followed the noise. His mind trying to move one direction, his feet another, his stomach another still.

A sound rose up to meet him as his toes met a precipice, like an echo in reverse or life speaking backward. The strange dissonant tone of life in a slow deliberate drip back up and through the hourglass.

It hummed in his head.

It pulsed in his veins.

He looked down and saw darkness that swallowed midnight and balked at its intended intensity while it sang a song made of slow reverberating waves in his ears.

He could see a face. He could hear a voice.

“The message is powerful, and so the messenger is made powerful by the extension of the message that he represents.”

There was a vacuum in the world around him. Sound ceased.

There were no fireflies. No beetles. No mosquitos.

Life paused.

“Nowadays, truth is set on dead pedestals like a fucking championship ring. Everyone thinks it’s some kind of Indiana Jones situation – people out there looking for ancient artifacts to secret them away for safekeeping. In truth, it’s assholes named Chad and Claude and Victor with the shield and spear of Aries set like a fucking hunting trophy on their mantle. Bragging to their friends about the shit they found at whatever the billionaire version of a yard sale is.

“Metaphorically…” he heard himself say.

“Yeah,” the voice said with a chuckle, “metaphorically.”

And then…

“You even know what’s in it?”

The haze settled a bit and William saw a bar, but it wasn’t. He saw a face staring at him, but it wasn’t.

It was the lobby of some too-expensive hotel, but the colors were warped like someone had taken the color palette of life and put it on its head and then punched it in the face.

“Above my paygrade…” he saw himself saying.

The face smiled at him.

“You want me to tell you?”

Sound ceased. The volume of the hotel evaporated. All he could see were those eyes staring at him with all the vivacity of the Cheshire cat.

“Where do you think they go?” it asked.

William looked around like a man who knows nothing about cars when looking under the hood of a smoking Camaro.

“They?”

“They…” a voice said.

William, his toes still hanging from the ledge like a man who had just found out that his job was forfeit on the same day that his wife had left and his dog had died, looked to his right and saw a face that seemed too familiar to not be familiar.

William couldn’t articulate words. It was like someone telling you happy birthday on some random day or that your shoes are nice when you’re barefoot.

“He could have been a set of sandals on some asshole’s fireplace. Just a placeholder for what once was. For what might have been…”

William heard the sound of darkness. It sounded like dust and sunset.

“He wanted to meet you personally. To say thank you…in his own way…”


Part 7

Loss

I wonder how long I’ll be looking
And wandering, waiting around
I don’t know how long I’ve been yelling your name
And staring at faces that don’t even see me
Let alone care that I’m making a sound

I’m telling myself you’re the victim
Your halo got lost in the crowd
You had a good reason, it wasn’t your fault,
And all of the pain was a symptom of longing
That you, in reticence, simply allowed

I know that you’re quietly walking
Around all the edges I see
Leaving goodbye on the fog rolling in
Like pictures that only exist in the evening
Hidden like futures in cups of our tea

I’m telling myself you’re forgiven
My sorrow was never your cross
And turning your words into hammers and nails
Does nothing but double the pain and I’m tired
Tired of blaming you, tired of you blaming me, and I’m tired of weighing your meaning in loss