Fly High, You Fire-Breathing Butterflies

Rise, cast aside your civilian identity and revive your inner jungle child–it’s time to volunteer as tribute. You may be a pampered and pouty Mona Lisa now, but you’re about to be cranked up to French Revolution firecracker level with the oncoming free verse fever dream. So hop into that woven baby basket, set sail on the Nile, and float down the river of fate like the shining firstborn you are.

⬤  ⬤  ⬤ 

Howdy partner, and welcome to the wild weirdo west! Hold onto your holster and let out your last mediocre hiccup because we’re about to bellow like a band of Mongolian throat singers with heartburn. The soft symphonies of your nursery days are over, and it’s time to crawl out of the crib and trade your Huggies diaper for an Ironman suit. It’s time to step out of the yellow mom van and crash-land into the cosmic savanna. Get ready to pump your pistols on the gunpowder of truth and dance to the disco ball of feral youth. Bloom into brilliance and bring on the 4.0. Prepare to be buttered up into a cannonball burrito, dunked into a bubbling cauldron of intergalactic glitter, and shot straight into the suburbs of the universe in nothing but your bare-naked human beanness. We’re about to be blown away Houdini-style.

We are all explorers of this vast and abysmal wasteland, this euphoric and resplendent paradise, this snowglobe isolated among the stars. We’ve been here for a while, long enough to lay back on the celestial sofa and get comfortable. We think we belong here. We think this is it. But what if I told you there was something more? 

Take a sip of the concentrated tequila of all things philosophical and venture beyond the electrified perimeter that encloses society’s normal people. Forget your morning coffee, let’s grind up some stardust and make meteor milk. We’re going way past the safety of the Brachiosaurus exhibit and into the hunting grounds of the velociraptors today, so prepare to get down and dirty the Dr. Ian Malcolm way. You may be content with a PG rating for now but you’ll find that it skyrockets to R at certain turns in the road we’re riding, so keep your eye on the prize and flex your biceps because we are aiming for the title of Pint-Sized Powerhouse when it comes to apocalypse heroes.

Yeah, that’s right–when the metropolises go mad and businessmen start eating their houseplants just to survive, we’ll be transitioning from manicured Democrats to bloodthirsty Dora the Explorers. But personally, I prefer 21st century Joan of Arc.

My dear conquistadors, it is high time to graduate from quesadillas to chimichangas, from the boogeyman to chupacabras. It’s time to wake up on the wrong side of the bed for once and roar into beautiful rebellion. You are the new Neo–I am the new Neo. We are a generation birthed from the loins of the Matrix, brainwashed into oblivion and ready to burn it down. The red pill is waiting for you next to a glass of ice-cold conspiracy theories. Set down the shallow thinking, hold onto your sanities and brace yourself for a beluga whale of a braingasm.

This is where it gets real.

This is a stretch of Sherwood forest so savage, Robin Hood dares not sojourn it. It’s a Loch Ness so livid, not even Captain Ahab could domesticate it. Welcome to my odyssey of oddities, my rhapsody of riddles, a territory of such taboo tangents, the Vatican would smuggle it away into its secret library if it knew it existed. Prepare to chow down on a juicy a feast of foreign ideas, sip a moon-drenched almanac of midnight musings, and watch a sarcasm-soaked episode of Saturday Night Live that will slap your soul silly. These are the fiery rants that light the inferno of my being. This is what I think. So hi, I’m Ashley. You killed my freedoms. Prepare to meet my opinions.

.

✨ 🦋 ✨ 🦋 ✨ 🦋 ✨ 🦋 ✨ 🦋 ✨ 🦋 ✨

Women

Equations of cards dealt by sinning,

we have been soaked through to the core.

Slates of purity dappled in stardust,

we’ve been beaten to a filtered sand.

.

Our kind was shown like dessert, and

men hungered for the bridled flesh, for lace and frill,

for what women weren’t

but what they wanted still.

.

It was wrong to apologize; so

we were fastened tightly

in our pallid corsets,

swallowed by the gossamer and

controlled by the whalebone.

.

Treated and designed, we were makeshift dolls.

But our porcelain was cracking to the tick of time,

and the equation had been shattered to pieces.

.

With equal repetition, we screamed inside our cages,

and by the force of our pain,

it ricocheted.

We broke free, we came alive–

but to the shame of ourselves,

we’d lost the map of the forest,

and all the trees were dying.

.

Seventy Years

We are given seventy years,

seventy times to wash our red hands.

We need soap and clean water,

but they took it from us.

.

Like Zeus under a sheet of electricity,

the power in our arms rises up,

rippling through our musculature in a fanfare

of sparks,

pouring rain to parch our hope.

This rush of icy rock

sculpts us to our species–

we need air and two lungs

but the smoke burnt us through.

.

We are given seventy years,

seventy times to wash our blue hands.

.

But the time eats the color.

Our hands turn to glass,

visible only when seen through the clock.

.

Falling Through

Right ahead, I see a dip,

flames climbing the sides

as though it’s their dying breath. 

To my left is someone I love.

They are inching away, 

stepping closer to this pit. 

.

Wavering slightly, 

trembling with fear, ecstasy–

I see they are falling through, 

languishing in romance 

for the sparks’ becoming brilliance.

.

Their skin thirsts for a feel of this burn,

for this fading, finite pain,

and I watch, frozen by the heat,

as they dip their toes in, licking up the lovely flavors,

purely unaware

of the sickening depth 

to their mistake.

.

This is what they’ve always wanted. 

But what they’ve wanted 

is not what they’ll get.

.

Fable of the Ill-Fated Steed

Once upon a stressful time in the land of Smoke and Mirrors, there was a freethinking steed of the most impressive speed who owned such a silken mane of sultry sable that the CEO of Pantene could often be seen sulking around his stable, lime green with jealousy and shivering with corporate corruption.

The horse, whose name was Blaine McDowell, was the equine equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger: Snow-white teeth, satin hair, sing-song voice of balmy air… hooves as hard as an Alaskan winter, a spirit as pure as the fresh morning dew. He lived in a small stable disguised as an apartment in the heart of New York City where he worked from home as a faithful paralegal, and led a quiet life among his minimalistic furniture of hay, organic grain, and chic saddles.

Blaine, however, was socially marooned on an island of solitude. He was surrounded by an abundance of bovine citizenry, smack-dab in a concrete jungle of godforsaken cows whose brains had the benumbed wattage of a cheap dollar store watch.

Every day, he tuned in to the episodes of life: From his window up high, he watched the papa cows across the street straighten their itchy ties, slobber their wives goodbye, then sail off in steaming taxis to make moolah for their mooing herd. And at night they would cruise back in the same neon mustard taxicabs wearing faces perfumed in self-praise, their bodies loose with relief and their pockets lined with verdant paper the color of springtime forests.

Blaine was jealous of their photoshopped archetypal lives, the way their mornings fell like feathers into the ashen nothingness of quiet afternoons and how their evenings sank to smooth midnights and led to mellow sun-kissed mornings; the way their money enveloped their lives in minty warmth and their timeliness gave them a sort of superpower over the salivating beast of the future whose claws of chaos could fit anywhere inside of you or your life. They’d taken the tyranny of time and spun it up into cotton candy and used the impenetrable pink nectar to lacquer their lives in immunity. So Blaine spent his life playing copycat.

He switched his chai tea to black coffee, no cream or sugar. He traded poetry for the morning news. He abandoned his soft saddles and worn shoes for tar-black tuxedos trimmed with tinsel and shards of gold. He morphed from creative night owl to feral early bird, hunting the ever-elusive nymph of wealth. He was crammed into tailored corners and sewn at the metric seam, splashed with cold water and told to snap out of it, his being contained within numbers, his joys jammed into geometry—and once he’d been melted into a spineless potpourri, he was poured into time slots and measuring cups, then cooked ‘til he was deliciously deadbeat.

The reward was that they accepted him. They ignored his snobbish snout and blubbering velvet lips, his knobby knees and Rapunzel tail, and they listened instead to his paycheck and his schedule and how busy, busy, busy he was, which in Conformish is translated to how successful, successful, successful he was. He reveled in the roar of this fruity sunrise and how perfectly it puked all the right colors onto his homely plain body and how special he felt under the pummeling thunderstorm of his theatrical thrill-less life and how liquid sweet the lies were, all his odds and ends compacted into an anti-personality pill with which he overdosed day in and day out.

But he found that he was fading. He woke up one morning in the haze of a hangover to find a creature he couldn’t comprehend. As the dawn climbed into his room and swam through his curtains and slipped into a pastel puddle of light on the floor, he stood in the center of it, bathed in a foreign dream, staring at a wretched reflection scowling back at him in the mirror.

Is that me? The amorphous shadow of doubt jumped out of the way and winked at him with wry victory. Yes. It was he.

The muzzle in the mirror no longer looked young—the eyes were like jet-black beetles dug up from the aching womb of a graveyard. His body was limp with exhaustion and his heart a threadbare atrophied muscle. His smallness was growing ever smaller thanks to his outrageous success at becoming who he’d always dreamed of being, like a cancer metastasizing in reverse, shrinking into a black hole at breakneck speed, and he found himself crouched down in agony with a sandstorm slipping through his soul, cursed with the inability to grasp himself.

.

Little Bird

I am a little bird, 

a little bird with 

crimson spots on her cheeks,

and silky blue feathers 

that flare out when awake.

.

When I am awake,

I can also be seen as a sponge. 

Chit-chat echoes throughout 

my surroundings, 

and I soak it up in an instant, like gathering gold dust or precious jewels. 

.

Music wafts out from between the boards in the other wall,

reverberating piano keys which bloom into a garden of delights

bright like ivory lights and I 

drink this wave of music in

like savoring a maraschino cherry:

melting juices down your throat,

tangy sugar on your tongue, 

the memories of the night still smooth like Aladdin.

.

My world is a colored one, displayed behind an array of copper

wires. 

I am a magnet, an observer, 

a little blue bird–

My world is the world of those I 

watch. 

.

Solace

Across the parched grass,

beyond the bare trees

is a glittering lake

bubbling ice and cold steam.

.

Elves swim here, 

small, porcelain forms 

treading glassy snowcaps, 

slipping under icy waterfalls 

to satisfy their thirsty scalps, 

tresses once golden but dead in the drought.

.

They came to find solace,

for their own was corrupt;

and they found a fresh haven,

like a tomb filled with treasure 

but a cove with sweet life.

.

Birds are trilling, 

They bathe in a cool mist–

The oxygen is so crisp,

it harbors hints of survival. 

.

It is a paradise 

beyond pain,

a solace

and oasis 

installed in a world of sin,

hidden from the eyes 

of those 

who hunt 

within.

.

Apocalyptus

Deeper than the gossip of nebulae

sighing at a tea party, 

the table holds our scores.

Each life is a lineup of 

legends and lies

sewn into a backdrop of 

long days and cold nights.

She, being bored by the paperwork,

swishes her cocktail skirts

and returns to the car. 

[Our party faces all get sad 

once in a while.]

But for me, the universe hangs in the balance 

as the Banker 

calculates my conscience.

.

I wait in the corner, cradled by cobwebs,

socialities hissing like cobras from the north and south—

She’s out among

the honeybees, midnight highs, treading stardust

in shoes meant for snowfall.

We connect by etching echoes 

into each arching comet

that cracks from east to west.

.

The Banker’s clock trips into the land of deadlines, 

where infinity is sold in ounces 

and time is tattooed in dollar signs.

The talent tentatively sip lattes from the sidelines,

thinking their identities will be well-remembered

because of their otherworldly abilities

on Earth.

.

But mercy has been emancipated from the Banker’s reservoir—

the current which once scourged the skin of the Earth 

must now be spoken to

in whispers:

there must be violence to cleanse the Earth of its vanity 

and thunder to break the silence of the sky.

.

Thunder clouds wrestle into jeering proclamation,

birthing upon the horizon an electric scene,

their sky-high comfort zones evaporating 

into clouds of stellar steam.

Their love and hate,

picking up pace in a panicked chase

between now and forever,

human and God,

the bridging of thunder and lightning

by hands softer than snow. 

.

We are behind the scenes. We tiptoe between red curtains,

each one lovely with scarlet blush, curious lies,

the myth of the Matrix

unfolding right before our eyes–

in the lull of the drunken night, the theater groans, 

aching to release its captives

from the illusion of the show;

the fictions of dystopia have come to say hello.

Impurities drip from the ceiling 

like blood down the face of oblivion–

Circuits squeal with amalgamated power,

the sun pulsates

in an infernal room of 

radioactive powder—

worlds grow louder

and sirens scream.

With a sudden shriek, the Power goes out.

.

The actors wear robes of mourning

and elemental madness 

singing together

like doves in a tree of dreams,

saying darkness brought them to life.

They put one hand over one eye

and wink.

.

The showgirls titter like painted crows–

Las Vegas continues making its shows–

The lowly keep working off the sweat of their brows

while the puppets on president row 

wear hunted mink

and preach their lines, a thousand unanimous liars spouting It’ll all be fine‘s.

Everyone’s eyes glint with loneliness

at the vast emptiness of computer screens

and taxpayers continue to carry their chains and dreams,

dragging them down boulevards burnt to smithereens.

Heroes’ throats screech to a silent rasp,

And the Monster convenes.

.

The men who gave man money 

and fought for man

sit in skyscrapers soaked in skylight—

and the men who gave their lives

to fight for God 

sleep in caskets.

Censorship speaks more than senators and whistleblowers go to the grave.

Their beds,

perfumed by the unspoken secrets of truth

cradled by the womb 

of an unhearing Earth.

The world,

never even knowing what they’d said.

.

I look outside the window. 

They’re taking down the flora and fauna and all the rest of nature’s

slipshod costumes and slapdash props  

and they’re putting up 

a new religion.

The hymns are: Buttons beeping, alarms ringing, data being born like orcs 

out of the hips of the Underworld; 

Their lyrics are: Robots speaking, A.I. ruling,

texts typing, messages moaning,

pure souls falling, one after the other, 

like brute warriors beaten to a pulp.

.

I look outside the window—I see the towers and trails 

draining the world of her wonders;

axis flipped and atlas aflame, 

I look outside the window

and see the face of the finale 

coming upon a horizon of chemical haze,

heralding the end of days. 

.

Prince Charming

American women don’t know why Prince Charming left. He was there outside the castle window, past the afro of ivy blooming from its corners, all flowing hair and chiseled muscle, striking steed and valiant soul, calling out their names: “American women! American women! Where hast thou gone?”

The night swooned with the dusky scent of something missing, a breeze of the most brilliant bite, shaking leaves off trees and stealing hearts out of their high places. Knights were humbled to the very knee. Merchants licked droplets of oil off the cracked soil of their bare dirt floors, just for the calories. Aristocrats could no longer look their wine glasses straight in the winking eye. The peasants sulked around city corners like slinkies with snake eyes, scaring anyone who saw them.

Women set their finery on fire, gawking at the lacy flames with pupils the size of potholes, laughing. Schoolgirls made bonfires out of boyfriends, watching money and marriage explode. In the center of womanhood where a blushing flower should be, there was a raven, black as Poe’s midnight. Colors and coifs, lingerie and love, the worlds of the past set ablaze—the kisses of husbands cut off. The straw roofs crackled, moonburnt. Silver smoke rose up out of chimneys, rising into a rich omen, singing a silent song.

They fought and fought over the body, whether it should be ended or not; it had suffered long enough, braying like a donkey who’d been harpooned through the heart. It laid there, in town square, looking around for a pair of prudent eyes—but finding only the curse of police, a cacophony of jeers, and the occasional tears from a person who just couldn’t handle it anymore. They came by every so often and they were always the weakest ones, it knew that. They would get within a few feet and fall to their knees, bawling, begging the officers to allow them to help it. And it wished they could.

Every night, the villagers sat, their tongues bitter with the salt, fat, and sugar of a silent supper, still as statues, invisible as the statutes they no longer loved. Its blond hair was bloodied. Its white skin, charred black. Its dreams? They had been many in number, ranging from doctor to lawyer, father to fighter–but they had been dimmed to nothing but a firefly’s glow, nearly dead. The dreams beat in its ribcage like butterflies in an aquarium, dancing for their lives.

The knights didn’t want to fight anymore. They had fought too many heartless battles and broken too many hearts to fathom one more second of oppression. One day, covered in blood and seething with fury, the sharpest and strongest knights of the king’s army came to the castle in a riot. They mowed down the grand gates, bid farewell to their fair reputations, and trampled the promise of riches just so they could breathe. The gold and silver they received were nothing now in comparison to the agonized crying of the creature in town square. They would not wonder at its existence anymore, why it needed to be hated. They would never know its hurt anymore.

They braved the hundreds of passageways, corridors, and underground elevators and fought the Leviathans in the labyrinths that guarded the king’s highest rooms. They bypassed each security check with a quick punch to the guard’s face; knockouts gave way to sweet nothingness. They meant business. It would be over soon. 

Finally, they came to the king’s cathedral where he worshiped, the king they had served for so long, the king everyone honored and feared. He was the king that schoolboys dreamed of meeting, the king that legends spoke of. Knight Ferris stood before the looming doors of the cathedral, drinking in their oaken smell. How many times had he stood before this door, dumbly patriotic, idiotically innocent, looking to the king like a son would look to his father? “Go on,” Knight Evans whispered, his voice shaking with fear. How many times had Ferris heard Evans bellow like a behemoth in war, and how many times had he admired that voice, telling him over and over again that in his throat lay the battlecry of God Himself? Knight Evans, holding back tears, whispered again: “Go on. Go on, Ferris.” 

Ferris nodded, and the crowd of knights burst through the bolted doors like a deluge spits through a crack in the rocks. And what they saw, they would never forget. 

There, among a sea of chandeliers and stained glass, sat the king with his head in his hands, weeping. The door they busted open, whimpered closed. The spirit of God that once filled this room like electric incense had been replaced by a spirit so dark it was like liquid tar. The jaw that once jeered giants into submission was slick with tears. The hands that wrangled dragons into dungeons and delivered damsels from damnation clutched a demented face and reeled with pain. The crown that once gleamed like the glittering waters of the Euphrates looked up to its master from the dirt of the floor. The king was crumpled up, bowing to what looked like the shadow of Goliath—and the shadow stood still. 

The knights, exhausted and bloody, stood in the cathedral of the king’s hall in shock. The shadow didn’t move. The king was whimpering. Whimpering. A gust of terror took over their bodies, and suddenly there was an undeniable knowing that they could not leave. The shadow slowly turned its head, and in its eyes was the color of blood, a fiery red. It stared at them, and they stared back. Suddenly the king looked up, lifting his head out of his hands, and shivered. His eyes were as white as snow, as though he could not see. “What, Ferris? Evans? Richard? John? What? Have you not fought it long enough? Would you like more blood? Would you like to kill it a little more? Go on, tell me how you need that glory, how you’re craving that fix, and go kill my children for me, as there is no kingdom for them to inherit. There is no kingdom left.” 

The knights stood silent. They could not answer. All they could hear was the dripping of blood off their sodden armor. 

The king stood up. And then he collapsed, and the shadow engulfed him like a horde of vipers swallowing an orb of honey. It sounded like a simoom of cinnamon swirling in a cylinder of sandpaper, a thousand whispers in the dead of night, the sound of every soul’s longing to heal the creature in town square. Every knight cried out to God and begged for forgiveness, looking to the stories depicted in stained glass, as if God Himself existed in the color blue, as if He lived within a window. The shadow disbanded into a million shards of glass the shade of the king’s skin, and it turned around, rose from the floor, and sat upon the throne.  

.

End of Days

Energies battle to be owned by the minotaurs,

the new priests praise pixels above blood cells and numbers above names

.

It is time to bring to you on a silver platter 

the proof of the annihilated adder —

it stretches beyond the everyday into a howling electricity

.

It is time to breathe balm into beings,

to wash off the scars of the enemy —

to quench the tyrants’ fury as the riots of fire flood the town

.

It is not an I Am,

but an A.I.;

our rulers are not of us,

but for them

.

They fall to the feet of velvet living, bow to the grip of wealth–

Tricked blossoms into shivering, and tweaked with everyone’s health

The world gasped at the sudden gush of ice-cold disaster–

No one knew who had poisoned the well,

No one knew who had rearranged the seas of aster

.

It came like an arctic army, it came like a roaring song–

It came like the shout of angels singing before God’s throne–

Time makes its rounds while we’re caught in the chasm,

Writing wrinkles on the clocks–

The starlit streets of gold burst into moonlight

And the world bathes in beautiful lunar shocks

.

The glowing puddles gleaming, the veins of plants in glitter–

Men and women wake up at midnight, sprout wings and wither

Knees crash to the floor and hands clutch one another’s,

Each man praying for his brothers

.

Wake and quake, rebel wunderkind, we are surrounded to sleep

by mirrors–wake and quake, runaway club, it is time to climb out of the

catacombs and listen to the judging of the Juror.  

.

Shatter the chains and grasp the reins out of the grip of the warlords —

we are overturning their shrine in a Shangri-La of flames 

in pursuit of the Auroras.

.

Puppets of the Pantheon

their similarity leaps at one another, their similarity growls –

      their similarity melts the volcanoes into spitting vowels                  

.

how will we tame these spastic drones –

                when their words overtake our city?

.

the streets are blanketed in their weary groans

             and the dogs lick them up – so darling, take pity.

.

my dear phoenix from the ashes,

step back from their addictive lashes

they’ll eyeball you – they’ll watch you;

until the dictator in their minds collapses

and when the night /

dominates the sky /

they rear their horns into pajamas and sleep –

little dolls in little nests

slowly

losing

keep

.

Age of Extinction

Panting wavelengths of fire,

the world plays the song of a darkened choir;

Powered by the bandwidths of my bare-naked

beating heart, 

I play truth’s lonely lyre.

Thrashing like a machine gone wild,

the Earth seizes in its tectonic hour,

electric with titanic power —

the final blooming

of chaos’ flower

broods in full blossom.

.

Feeding off the starving joy, fasting on lean sadness,

the party pummels on and the people take their 

eerie descent

down into the mists of madness

.

I listen to the skies as they scream,

decibels turned dynamite and kindness turned kryptonite,

projecting voltage into the ozone

and shaking leaves off autumn trees

.

Reality shifts into another time,

gasps into another weave.

My heart fades like hushed moonlight,

launching into the quake —

This, I can’t believe:

the ebbing loss of myself

through a kohl sieve

.

While waiting, they please themselves

They reach into their hearts and pull origami into view

and they kiss the people inside

who have proved themselves true

.

Lightning pops the bubble of the sky —

they dance and dance,

they swoon and sing — 

dispensing the venom of vice into the souls of the crowd,

aching to leave on wing

.

Their flesh is metallic and smells of fiery earth:

I reel back when I breathe it,

how much they bleed it: 

a scarlet sandstorm of sin

begging for rebirth

.

The steely touch of total control

eclipsing their halo,

a thousand wings of chained-up phoenixes rise up,

struggle to break free from the ashes —

a thousand whipped slaves

rise up from the government’s lashes

.

With seconds fueling their heartbeats

and fire feeding their mouths, 

they enter the closets of their souls

inside that empty house

to barter between tickets to heaven and trains to Sheol —

to haggle the angels at heaven’s gates

and trick the underworld into overlooking their fates;

to paint themselves in innocence, to dab blush over evil —

to see what treasures they can find in this 

crude renaissance — to do anything but love people

.

Silence is reigning the hall.

They wait for the rain to begin,

for the hail to fall —

the windows rattle us

while they ignore the sacred call

.

The day was birthed from the lapping waters of danger

rising high upon the event,

and when the sky thundered,

the dolled-up partygoers had no idea what it meant.

.

Time

The very fact that we die takes away from the ease of living.
Each moment is savored but tainted with remorse for the moments to come.
If they come we celebrate—then another moment shows up and we cry.
Pulled every direction, we are ripped apart.
Happy, sad.
Jovial, depressed. Angered!
We rise up against this unending stream,
but to be laughed at as we bend back, drowned by impotent currents, to be laid on rocks like disheveled dolls,
to be disregarded for chaos’ evening entertainment.

We are like sacrificial lambs spread on ancient altars,
given to the god of age, experiments of morphology–
I saw your gorgeous maidenhood melt into a wretched rainforest of rotting tears,
and for what—for the glee, the gluttony—
the masochistic mirth of your dying nature, the way we mortals love to fade, love to mature
until we can no longer mature.

We once swung on the pendulum of playfulness, drunk on the daisies
and slurring with the loveliness,
the lunacy, the liquid ecstasy,
trembling in our squeaky-clean cells. But now
our bodies moan like crumbling idols, bruised by the weight of the world, singed by the burn of time. The deluge was such a grievous gush
our psyches set up hospitals to house the hurt feelings–
our inner CDC warned of a pandemic of pain,
but we scrape by in benumbed pantomime.

And in the moment we escape the landscape of the ever-murdering Matrix,
when we marvel at the wrinkle of our souls, the way they’ve shriveled like the skin of ghouls–
our body becomes a sudden beast and screeches to a graveyard stop,
reeling with fatigue.
Forget riches, status, the blood of the bank—we just want to breathe.

My eyes have grown dim as the film on a phantom’s eyes, a toxic silver soup—
wilted into a pair of worries by the glitch of the gears, the yawn of the years, excluded from the private club of youth, domesticated by the dexterous demand of death, pressed into the soil ‘til there’s nothing left
but the eerie winking of a tombstone, groaning in its grayness.

But no, no, please no! you scream, running from the magnetic void at a snail’s pace, slowly consumed as you cry, as each cell swallows gravity and wonders,
Why?

But I’ve watched time from my window, I’ve stalked her like Sherlock on steroids—
I’ve put up my hair and resisted despair and I’ve sharpened my soul
on the blades of chaos, and with a blip of the destiny machine
we have our battle plan.
We’ll just jump out of the bushes—
We’ll flash a shocking smile—
We’ll unveil a vixen glimmer
and wrangle time to the ground.

We’ll slap and we’ll shank and we’ll establish a rank
and bottle our wild essence,
But first, a little sleep—
But first, a little sleep—
and we’ll release our powerful presence,
and burst, we will, from the chasm of souls
in a flare of sacred phosphorescence.

.

People Are Afraid

People have anxiety, and they don’t know why. The twin ghouls of terror and mortal endangerment swoon through the hearts of this hurting country, haunting them, hounding them, tapping them gently on their shoulders in that hushed librarian way, reminding them of something they can never consciously classify. It always there, but never present; always potent, but never strong; always something, and always nothing; always within us and around us and throughout us, but never to be consciously had. It is the masked Robin Hood of modern human life, a two-faced instrument of energetic mystery that tweaks the soul to a universal level, depressing each divine energy into an everyday affair. The blanket over our blue sky; the chains over our chests. The gutted gorge in our gnosis; the trick question on our tests. The muffled control over our harmony; the pinch to our pleasure. The world’s dreaded dose of daily bedlam, its bowl of poisoned measure.

What is it? Where is it? Is it even visible?

Our tribe doesn’t know. It looms within the sunburnt chambers of their incandescent souls like an octopus levitates in the depths of the ocean, or how a secret stings the air with prediction. It glows. And it sings like a ceaseless note on cliffs of soprano, bountifully arrayed in a civil war of silver clothes. It is there, it is there. What is it? And it billows into blazed proclamation, floating beneath the boundary of their rib bones like a blackbird in a muffled nest. It is—it is. It hurls complexities at your cognizance like a serrated concept taught by an infernal tutor, sharp with the clamoring broadcast of panic—deep breath, heartbeat, and—wait for it—fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. And over again, to the rhythm of 4/4 time, played like a funeral march wedded with a waltz at a sleepy, sleepy funeral.

I’ve traded sunshine for street clothes and substituted smiles for curt nods; I’ve given up floral pheromone sweat for etherized perfumes and leveraged leaves for trolleys and time for stopwatches. I’ve come up to the door now at the dewy drone of midnight, in the writhing rust of an electric rainstorm. My boots, muddied with the sins of the ancients—my soul, gilded in legends and guided by legacies. Held taut between the bridge of now and forever, in my hands is the basket of asking, and in my basket are the seeds of curiosity, to plant a picnic of questions in the soil of uncertainty. With lips as ripe as roses, the door roars open and it all explodes: every question I’ve forced back into my throat, and every answer that I need; the freedoms that I used to use, and the fears that I once never knew; the feelings I feel, and the things I can’t say but believe. The seeds hit the screen, get zapped into zilches. The data of the past bleeds into the status of today like a digital meltdown, hissing into magma, drying into madness. It pours out, pummeling the earth in polluted pixie dust, accumulating into a pile of pixelated ashes as light as incinerated wishes. The crystalline kamikaze comes spewing out of the cracks in my psyche like acid seltzer screams from the neck of an icy bottle, flaring out in neon spray all over the front porch of infinity. 

And it stands there, motionless as a meteor, calm as a chasm, hissing with steely breath like Medusa incarnate. People are afraid, it declares, echoing throughout the gaping void.

.

Harbor

The place I was born

I no longer feel at home in.

The roof I was under

No longer shades me.

.

The rockbound walls petrify my blood,

Sends it curdled through my veins,

Solid and roaring,

Like stalactites 

Spread on flesh.

.

Around me, I hear the abstracted splash of water,

Distant and soft;

I hear the unshaken hum of the wind,

Warmer and warmer with season.

.

And I hear the halcyon sighs of the mystically elusive

Beasts of the sea,

Swimming through my fingers

When I dip them in the echoing stream

Of my empty home.

.

I see shadows in their eyes,

The haze of blue against white,

Muting the glow of their fading esprit

That steadily dissolves with each tumbling cloud of steam.

And when they bare sapless, graying lips,

The glassy friends surrounding me,

Enclosing me in a harmonious chorus of whispers

Tell me their secrets:

How they got here,

And when they’ll leave.

.

The glittering tails of these beasts create arctic barriers

Against the tropical freeze of heat–

I breathe in their scent,

A rosy vapor of atmospheric honey,

And watch as the walls of sky blue froth

Cloak my body in eternal fervor.

.

Inside this desert of silence and endless rain,

Marbled bones will press against glazed walls,

Sleep under a bejeweled moon,

Live a life of breathless brio

As they coast against the rocks

To see a glowing slice of sun.

.

Awaken

As the coal sizzles 

Within the hearth,

So your soul is,

Like a burning tomb,

Flowing over 

With your Majesty’s pleas,

Ribbons of love cast on dead trees.

.

And the desires beneath

That pulsing muscle,

They are dim and finite—

They will blind you 

When they bind you;

No one will ever find you.

.

Curses and prayers,

Harrowing stares,

This is the time

We awaken.

.

Burning Peace

The thinning muscle, away it chores,

though smaller and smaller with every quiver,

And the words roar like an ancient river

That hails peace,

Makes the lilies shiver.

The forest cowers

Beneath the glow

Of that which seems of endless power;

A fiery, soul-ravishing show—

The horizon towers that very hour—

Awakens from slumber, drowns every grumbler,

and through the rain I am icily drenched 

and with every minute humbler.

.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve, used to the moss-carpeted luxuries of Eden, were in for a rude awakening when they arrived at the doorsteps of the Matrix. They found seas of cement and rolling hills of fear; they found sniveling armies of invisible social rules that kept each soul within its cage. No one was allowed to breathe with beautiful relief and dance with ecstatic freedom, because they were told that the earth is dying so they should die, too. And this claim, for the modern people, was enough. Being beyond the grip of reason, this singular random, unauthorized cry of warning was enough to kick-start the largest homicidal project in the entirety of known human history.

The government told them, “The playground is too dirty. We spilled too much petroleum all over your sandbox and cut down too many trees over there. You’re going to have to die because the system we’ve constructed around you within the playground for our own benefit no longer benefits from your continued involvement. It’s time for you to exit the playground.” So everyone, having gotten monumentally miffed about the coarse nature of the encounter, walked away and forgot about it. But within their subconscious, they knew a potent threat was uttered during that dialogue, they just weren’t sure what it exactly said it was going to do. But the sharp and witty wolfs with the one-hundred-year-old wisdoms and the stars on their foreheads told the newly-born sheep whose skins were still soft as snow to back off and “stay in the corner over there while we do our thing,” reminding the sheep of what happened to those ancient friends of theirs called the Native American Indians, how the sharp and witty wolfs with the one-hundred-year-old wisdoms and the stars on their foreheads kept pushing them into tighter and tighter corners until they died. But the sheep shivered and worried and came to an agreement that negative things were not worth talking about, that they’re unpleasant, inconvenient, and unrealistic. So they got back to the business of chewing the cud.

Then came along Black Sheep. Black Sheep was sly, clever, sometimes inappropriate—he had good jokes, a stunning sense of humor, and eyes that twinkled with mystery. He knew a lot about life and a lot about certain plants, always walking around and spouting starry-eyed philosophies, a soft cloud of kush perfuming his wool. He said the wolfs were up to no good, and never have been. He said they’ve been mischievous and malevolent for eons, that the sheep kingdom should watch out for the wolf kingdom. The sheep were incredulous and questioned him: “But the wolf has always cared for us. Why would we put an end to this well-oiled machine and disown our master?” So they jabbered among each other and decided that Black Sheep was just a pothead spewing hogwash and that he needed to go back where he belonged in the STD-ridden outhouses of Woodstock (at least something to that effect), and Black Sheep retorted, “Do you not see with your own two eyes that the sharp and witty wolfs with the one-hundred-year-old wisdoms and the stars on their foreheads are running out of room and resources to run their system, and that you’re becoming an obstacle to them? Have you not heard what they said? They want you off the playground!” And the sheep shuddered with annoyance and wiped their foreheads (because for them, thinking is really hard), and said, “Yeah, but we did that and now everything is fine. We paid the new wave of taxes, bowed down to the new decrees of social change, took to heart the comforting words of our president, got treated with their homemade pharmaceuticals to deal with the sadness we don’t know why we feel, and built our fences a few feet shorter. Now we just have to be off government property by nine at night, allow them to monitor our ownership of weapons, and there will be peace on earth.”

And Black Sheep looked on with stoic disappointment. “But how many times has this exact thing happened before?”

“Before what?” the snowy sheep answered, their eyes dumb with innocence.

“Before this time. You’ve had generation after generation, revolution after revolution, law after law, heart-rending vow after heart-rending vow, and each time you get shoved into a tighter corner. What if—”

The sheep started screaming, their heartbeats were pounding through the roof of their own I.Q.’s, and they cried for mercy, for they already knew: the playground would only get smaller and smaller until it was the size of a coffin.

“My people, you are not part of their playground! Get out of the system while there’s still space near the exit.”

And the white sheep moaned with dark pride:

“Did Eve ever suspect the serpent of sinister intentions? No. Then why should we?”
For they were followers of the original deception, the same deception, the same promise: you will not surely die.

It’s horribly hot out. The summer sun beats down and melts everything—it isn’t tilted the same way it once was, doesn’t hit the right spots. But library time is over and they’re done reading. Adam and Eve look at each other in horror, glad to be kept safe within the confines of nonfiction away from fictitious tales like these. Eve stands up with a thunderous step and swishes her Rapunzel-long hair, and casually says, “I’m glad that’s just a story.” Adam laughs, agreeing with her, and he shuts the pages of 21st Century Fables. “That book must have been written during some dark times in mankind’s history.”

“Yep.”
“…Yep.”

.

.

The Shark and I

I will go alone,

I will swim in the dark—

I will be at home

With my hand in the shark’s.

.

He’s drawn me to him

Because we are twins—

We are ravenous for fuel

To feed the fire in our fins.

.

Our cave is a heart,

With blood on the walls—

With thick, meaty veins

In tangled flesh-balls.

.

We share a deep hatred

For things clean and clear—

We desire an ocean

Filled with weakness and fear.

.

We handle things blindly,

As we see them through cages—

We’ve seen them through bars

For a thousand sea ages.

.

With slanted eyeslits,

We coast through the waters—

Bubbling azure

Makes us nothing but martyrs.

.

We’ve seen them all,

These empty, glass scenes—

There is no blood,

So we cry,

Like two straggling, famished fiends.

.

Liberty Shower

I keep a rebellion inside my heart,

A rebellion that shines, never pulls apart—

I hold it like treasure, like priceless gold,

I caress its meaning, and its story is told:

We live on a planet, in this dastardly place,

Where white is a color but can’t be a race—

Where the rich are uplifted and the poor put down,

Where the guilty are saved,

The innocent rode out of town—

Where the boys are said to be girls, and the girls said to be boys,

Where guns and gays are propagandized toys—

Where defense is a sin but murder so prized,

Where the love of God is so truly despised—

Where the parents are split and the home burned down,

But the dog a little god; and is then put down—

Where the leaders hate liberty, and to any deviance

Are known to let their mouths rant a blasphemous obedience;

A lie of the ages, the nation sings of cowardice,

Our souls have been mutilated, our hearts broken fists–

We see the front page and we take it home,

Starting up the fire, we incinerate the drone

We rise up lively, bursting from the ashes,

Crack the tomb walls, give the oppressor ten lashes–

Breathing the dust, coughing the creed,

Cursing their disgust, on rebellion we feed

We are a band of brothers, unstoppable we are—

We’ll never fall down, keep your eye on the star–

We know our own distance, we’ve got the true map,

We’ve memorized the compass, and given the door a rap,

We’re burning down curtains, monumental delicacies–

We’re axing the entrance, we’re destroying the fallacies–

America is ripped from the graveyard and put back in power–

We’re killing the hatred at the rebellion hour,

We’re saving the sweet, drowning the sour—

We’re sparking the blossom of freedom’s flower

In a beautifully law-breaking liberty shower.

.

Cliff-Diving Off Chaos

Control. It’s in the air. It keeps a heavy

hand on my hair.

These white walls, they scream:

They want me to sacrifice my dream.

To them, I am a vulnerable bee –

I bow to the pyramids

On a fateful knee.

.

There is nothing here –

No pain, no fear –

I allow my doves

To explode off the pier.

.

Genesis: The Game

The clock bellowed in its aerial chamber; the cathedral let out a deafening groan. The hour hand smacked the sides like an iron gong.
Maps were laid out by fingers of fire, pressed into a command by thunder, and names were given their weight, purpose, and number. 

The minute hand shuddering with cold and spitting ice, faces were formed to their finite fashion and identities were drilled into avatars, auras assigned to offices, and categories emblazoned upon expanses of consciousness. 

The second hand quaking with chaos, the apprentice strayed from Master. He slipped his hand under the veil and placed it upon divinity, pressed into its energy to gain some for himself, an orb of Light he could design, dictate, and whose direction he could demand. 

The audience gasped, and a silence crept across the stage. 

The single second in which divinity was violated, that is when the audience declared war.  

Leaping from their seats, shrieking for Life itself, the auditorium was a symphony of battlefield instruments. Bows and arrows plucked sopranos, guns and missiles went off, sledgehammers slammed degeneracy into dust and vaporized venom into black matter. Beams of celestial light cascaded across the battlefield, lasers slashed boulders in two; water was captured mid-air by clutches of frost and frozen into snow. And the apprentice wouldn’t let go, his fists clenched over the drop of divinity like a trapdoor.

With that, Master balled up a cannon of chasms and hurled it into the apprentice, and fire flashed into hot magma and ate a hole to Earth.

The war would be continued one level below its origin, and Genesis began.

The time for time began.

.

Genesis: The Game

Hello, and welcome to Genesis! You have entered the dimension and received two collections: acts of creation and acts of destruction. You will choose one path according to your will alone, though you will be assailed by side effects of the circumstances. Do not worry about what you will eat, nor what you will wear, for the body is more than food and clothing. Apprentice wisely and with all your heart.

.

The force field was momentarily disengaged and the weapons fell to Earth to be placed in the hands of a new breed and brand of warrior, one brought up out of the dust and formed by the same fingers that spun the universe into action with one fiery flick. They rose up from the ground tall and mighty, inquisitive and intelligent, and were put to the test. 

They gave a different kind of answer than creatures typically did, and it landed them in the outer realm where the apprentice lived. He sought to infuse their truth with his myth at all times.

.

Years passed; the new warriors were choosing their wars and studying under their masters, scrambling to offer essays on altars and apologies scribbled in cursive stardust. They fought with feasts and fasting, prayer and poetry, demands and declarations. Some fought by stealing knowledge from others and ruling them with that stolen power; others fought by sharing knowledge and ruling one another with the law of love. 

Alpha humans sprouted out of starving lands, hunger turning them into hotblooded hunters and huntresses whose superhuman ferocity swept across the earth and landed them in legends. Vagabonds of the ruthless wild, they were lauded in history books and beloved by ancient lore.

Others became demure creatures of the night, women of herbal medicine and forestwalkers whose skins were tattooed in the milky stain of moonlight, freckled in midnight stars. They nourished themselves with luminescent medicines, made their homes in the floral hearts of sky-high cedars, and survived off the lush green blood of plants. They wandered through the woods in the loneliest hours, their strides carving streets in the mossy ground. The damp soil pulsed with earthen electricity, rippling up from the veins in their feet all the way out to the edge of infinity. Some breathed hot smoke. Others, sunlit zephyrs. Some sung and it sounded like aether.

.

Jungles grew taller and their greenery sharper, and then they didn’t grow at all. Behemoths stalked the surface of the earth, planting countrywide paw marks into mud and roaring ‘til the trees shook, then didn’t survive to see the jungles cease to grow. With the flipping of a celestial switch and the invention of rain, they were swallowed by an earthwide tsunami and packed into petrified graves. 

And man kept making decisions, his bow and arrow slung over his shoulder, his dagger of determination and his devotion to divinity kept closely at his side. And some, the lack thereof hovered faithfully within them, their sides not chosen and their paths uncleared, not knowing they were fighting any battle at all.

.

The cards were being shuffled. Votes were being cast. The audience looked at the candidates, watching some become champions and others be consumed. They rewound the records and watched the forerunners fight wild animals on hilltops and live to six hundred, back when wild animals were powerful, prolific, and needed to be fought. Then they watched men weep over extinction, nursing baby animals with plastic bottles under heat lamps, begging the little beasts to live. They watched men soak up the sun and feast on vegetation, the kings of ancient jungles clad in gold and flowers–and watched teenagers in the ghetto kill one another for packaged food.

They saw celebrities rise up in a luxurious fanfare of starlight and paparazzi, and watched shunned schizophrenics waste away on city streets. They saw brawny patriarchs labor in sunlit fields, sweat steaming off their beaten brows, each blow of the scythe a petition for the earth to surrender her fertility to their hunger and bear fruit; then they saw greyness and nothingness in corporate castles where nameless men type on screens in fluorescent cubicles, exhausting themselves for eight glaring hours straight. 

They watched the bejeweled scenes of dusky palaces, girls giggling and dabbing their cheeks with buttery perfumes, chewing on honey cakes and gossiping about the starry scandals with their lovesick men. Then, they saw girls sold in urban alleyways, their purity given up for a forgotten price on streets lined with trash. They saw true love unite in marital harmony, only to next witness division erode humanity and entropy swallow souls.

They watched generations swell and drop like ocean waves during a full moon. Over and over the race of man crashed on the shore, an explosion of mist and madness, each succession more set on winning the game and each succession a little less capable of it, their forefathers’ and foremothers’ life force fractionated with each child, and that child’s life force a fraction of theirs. 

.

Master and rogue apprentice rose from their seats before the audience. They stood behind their desks and began to assert their case. 

“You must give the beloved the freedom of choice to be loved. You must give the created the opportunity to step out of his creation and see how he came to be. You must never demand love, it must be chosen! It must be nourished. It must be a relationship. They have to think for themselves or it isn’t real. The beauty of love is the beauty of life, for love sustains life–the beauty of creation is in its independent choosing of love.”
The apprentice laughed, spinning in his office chair behind his desk. The audience lowered their heads, praying. “You mean to say humans are capable of making choices such as the one you offered them? Their brains are large but the way they act, you’d think they had the encephalon of a rodent. They’re not worth the trust you put in them. They fail you every day.”
Master smiled and said, “Yes, and they also choose Me every day. I love them. Each one is unique, an exquisite creation. I can’t stop thinking about them. I made them to look like Me, you know.”
The apprentice shot up out of his chair. “I know! I know you did! I know!”

.

He made two beings, as one but as two, in whom the seed and the womb, the dominant and submissive, the law and the love held the circuit of life and in whose bodies and minds lay the framework of infinity and the groundwork of God. Forbidden knowledge gave rise to forbidden actions, and the colossal cathedrals of living light became worlds of infernal forces: those who watched from above were no longer pleased with what was happening below, and love could not reach them. The council of Heaven unleashed on Earth the science of chronos and the science of chaos. The tsunami of power surged into a heaving flower whose petals wilted with the gravity of its cosmic curse, the unfolding of a black rose upon which the very destiny of Light had been written and whose blossom could only be opened once.

.

The audience cleaved together in a cloud of crystal to witness the grand questioning. The clock had been frozen for the grace of this moment. 

The apprentice laid a hologram onto the table for all the court to see.
In it, he had outlined his plea.
“Why do you keep the knowledge of good and evil to yourself? And why, with that knowledge, do you live forever, and not others? You call your government a fair one, but this kind of obscurity and selfishness shows us that you, in fact, are a dictator.” 

Master breathed in deeply. “We shall give the knowledge of good and evil to the created, and let them judge its fruits for themselves.”

The court bowed to Master. “As He has spoken, so it be done. Adjourned!”  

The companies divided, dark to dark and light to light, and shook hands, the apprentice’s army growling with anticipation and the Master’s preparing for battle. And they draped a silken coat of stars over the scene and set up house at the Earth’s ends. Time aligned with the symphony of wings and holy pens were dipped in ink. Now began the waiting and watching.

.

A new kind of keeper arose from the garden grounds, beings who favored the philosophies of destruction rather than the laws of love. They obeyed the demand of impulse, of rage, of oozing jealousy that gripped the soul and mutated the mind. They grew bored of tending to flowers and keeping fields, of cultivating land and communicating love. They grew fond of fireballs and bullets, swords and arrows, objects that burst the skin barrier and bleed spurts of blood. The bronzed champions craved explosive athletics and the apprentices’ sketch-filled schoolbooks became scorched with battle plans.

They warped mountains and popped force fields; they magnetized water and bent sacred geometry to their brutal whims. The former songs of praise fell like prey into their padlocked sorceries, clandestine codices wrapped in electric snakeskin. They secretly studied under apprenticeships of destruction and gave honor to wizards of underhanded manipulation, of quiet control; men who enjoyed tweaking reality itself to the detriment of creation were revered as patriarchs, engraved into ivory plaques, and put in charge of people. Monsters in tuxedos were given star-spangled awards; men of occult conviction and dark cognition were photographed and immortalized on university walls. Their prim faces and proper standards were the perfect mask, their intentions professionally obscured, and their evil justified by the letters that followed their names.

Humans became armies of amoral androids who fought to the death for the sake of death. They were born innocent and died with blood on their hands; they loved with abandon and hated even more. They took the cells of creation and slid them under microscopes, cutting the foundation of life into shattered glass. They became lawless assassins of complex technology, unleashing endless acts of destruction into their own biosphere. They had once been doctors of beauty, litterateurs of light, nursing their world like cosmetologists delicately painting a face, like astronomers caressing the cheek of a star. 

Their power was great, but it raged with wartorn emptiness, rose with evil indignation.

And the recordkeepers wept, the pages italicized with tears. 

.

Suddenly, the game glitched, and the school began shaking. Apprentices screamed. Lights flickered. Tectonic plates seized and volcanoes awoke. Storm clouds rolled in, bearing a battalion of deadly winds. The lies started lurching forth from the floorboards. Evidence of dirty deeds swelled into handprints on the walls, and the malevolent whispers of scheming men could be heard echoing like ghostly sonar throughout the halls. 
Like mold blooming in an airless cellar
suddenly unveiled for the whole world to breathe,
the sins of the people were revealed.

.

The apprentices stood, bracing themselves for the smoky impact. They began the countdown to the cracking of the chasm, the screaming of the void. The clock had been ticking for years, and it had reached the edge of its eon.

They had heard of this day their entire lives, taught its story from birth to death. They were nursed to sleep by bedtime stories of its piercing chaos and entertained in their elementary years by rumors of its breathtaking arrival. They had been brutally educated in the feral philosophies of their planet’s purpose and packed to the brim with ancient proverbs, yet there was one thing their teachers forgot to teach. 

The test would not be physical, but would require the weight of their spirits to be weighed and their works to be considered.

Yet they did throw themselves into all manner of war preparations.
They did pushups and curls under the smoldering sun, squats and weights under the crescent moon. They threw boulders across savannas and shot arrows into desert dunes, licking their lips over the delicious sandy hiss. They pored over the earthen pages of ancient books, eating up knowledge and drinking wisdom like men in the house of feasting and mirth.

They read until the candlelight was whittled down to its dying length. They imagined until their synapses were seizing with phosphorescent fury, soaked in the iridescent nectar of facetiae. They wrote until their knuckles were knobby with cramps and their inkpots parched, their pages a black riddle splashed in cryptic astronomy, glittering with the ellipses and eclipses of geometry. They pounded out mathematical phenomena until blushing neon dendrites had blossomed in the electric womb of their brains and grown vines into the code of reality.

They sprinted miles and overcame cliffs to reach the snowy zeniths of mountains; they were beaten and berated by bloodthirsty athletes of authority. They were tenderized by the ax of age, seasoned by the steely fist of time and their bodies became concrete structures of tanned, swollen muscle. Sweat flooded from their skin and showered the ground in shimmering pain, the dew of the dawn sinking into the flesh of the desert.
They were rumored to be strong enough to break the bones of a dragon. 

Yet they were prophesied not to be strong enough to withstand him. 

.

Everyone’s spines went limp. Knees thawed and faces fell. Suddenly, there appeared in the manner of mist a clock, hovering at the center of the game. Its presence was broadcasted across the people’s consciousness like a message sent by telepathic mail. 

In prismatic opera, the letter announced:

YOU ARE TO BE JUDGED, AND YOUR FATES SEALED.

.

Master continued: “A soul should be a plant, not a program. It should be created, and then given the freedom to grow outside its capacity, its boundaries, to expand, to choose, to become, to communicate. You do not keep the creatures trapped in code. A free agent, that is a soul. And because of that, it is only fair to include a wormhole in the facility for them to find their way out of–if they want to leave the simulation, that is.”

The apprentice sighed. “And that is what you did. And that is how they failed. They deserve to die! Freedom of choice is a dead law!” he screamed, pounding his fists on the table.

Master stood up, his eyes burning with white fire. “No, that is how they won. My people prove the truth every day: that only I shall have the knowledge of good and evil. They have the knowledge of both good and evil, and they hate it. They never wanted your lies, Lucifer.”

.

Right then, a flash of thunder burst through the sky, and the screams rang out. Like the slamming of the Judge’s gavel on the block, the implosion pricked the force field and the humans heard its prophesied song. Apprentices crashed to the ground in fear, their bodies electrified by pulses of adrenaline booming through their bloodstreams at nuclear godspeed. There was an upheaval of underground magnetism and a swelling of overhead electricity, forming a cosmic schism that birthed disaster into being within the span of a single moment. Before the sin-blind students could even question their allegiance to a single master, the Earth had already begun unraveling.

.

A tower of papers was delivered to the courtroom. It was dripping blood, scaled by burnt charcoal at its edges, eaten up by writhing larva. The audience gasped and hid their eyes, their halos dimmed.

Another book was delivered to the courtroom. It was small, drenched in sunshine, its letters golden calligraphy and its pages freshly sliced cedar parchment. A verdant tuft of leaves drooped off the book’s binding, bearing a bouquet of evanescent flowers that, upon being visualized, vaporized in the smoke of a scarlet eclipse. The lords of darkness adjusted the black collars around their necks, nervous.

“Open the books!” a cherubim shouted. 

.

The council converged to consider the lost state of the new kind. Their freedom had taken them to forbidden dimensions, and their innocence annihilated. Now knowers of evil, they became doers of evil. Yet their blame was under debate. They had been deceived at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and their acceptance of the forbidden knowledge had been catalyzed by foul play from a foreign force.

With the eating of that fruit came a virus of the spiritual mind, unstoppable in its metastasizing tracks. Evil turned women of great heart into traumatized voids; shame turned heroic men of high knowing into husks. The current of death coursed across the earth like a mudslide, each thing it touched buried by dust. Nature groaned, animals whimpered, and man stood staring at the scene in shock, never knowing how evil it would be to know evil.

The hosts of heaven mourned for what they saw beneath them, a state of total darkness, and its smoke reached the foundation of God’s throne. His wayward child, a being of light and music, who stood in the sky a morning star, had gotten his hands on God’s favorite children: the ones made in His own image. 

.

There were calculations being fastened to the calendar of infinity. Balances were born out of starlit blossoms. The sounds of coins clattering against each other sang like tiny cymbals throughout an auditorium of chandeliers, a song of light and glass glittering into the ears. Patterns were being reversed and laws reborn: what was backward was turned forward, and the four families of the north, south, east and west worshiped together in their winds.
The Son and Father were communicating the final plan. 

Voids were hushed into velvet fists and nebulae were knit into bones. Holy eyes were infused with human spark and eternal breath was fit into fleshly lungs. The blending of the two worlds would be made: The Son would come to Earth in human form.

Through the pure death of the eternal, the purified dead will rise eternal. 

Master stood up and addressed the council. Before all the audiences of the worlds and every angel, He gave the most beautiful ending to the universe’s greatest battle. In a cloud of levitating fire, They spoke: 

“The knowledge of uncreation in the created produces death, for death is uncreation–so the uncreated God, who is, and was, and who is to come, will be created, pass through uncreation, and the universe will be created anew. The last shall be first and the first shall be last: through His rebirth, they will be reborn.”

.

EPILOGUE

A burst of static fluttered across the dying screens, still floating like mist at the center of the game. Everyone slowed to a shellshocked standstill, holding their axes in their hands, still gripping their pistols. Exhausted warriors stood in the shade of trees, hot with summer heat. Timeworn scholars stooped in the bloodstained grass, lurching in desperate prayer. The battlecries dropped to a decibel of zero, and the zone of people stood quiet, jaws locked and knuckles white with the fearful silence of helpless prey. And some stood on hills and rooftops, their eyes bright with victory.

The long-awaited birth pains had swelled to their transformative maximum. The tectonic tantrum escalated into an earthwide earthquake and volcanoes gushed the blood of the Inferno. Hills heaved with hot reverberations that felt like the hitting of opposing magnets, emanating a reality-rippling energy wave that blasted through the sound barrier and punched past the dimensional circumference. Trees were taken down by the roots, pulled beneath the surface of the earth into the depths of Sheol by underground rivers of magma. Birds were caught in the aerial turbines of gravity, their exodus sabotaged by magnetic whirlpools expanding in the sky. Mammals fled from their homes in the forests, aflame with fear and flowing with thunderous speed, and the ground rumbled with their heated footsteps, an escape of paws, hooves and claws that shredded the flora to sandpapery green. Houses of elegance with churchlike ceilings became urban wastelands in the span of a single explosion, bursting every copper pipe and cracking every marble floor, sending the stories of wealthy men into the ungrippable quagmire of nothingness. Swathes of metropolises sunk into the vacuum of the cosmic sinkhole, coffeeshops and pubs still twinkling with human activity swallowed by the steaming soil.

A bolt of crystalline lightning sliced the sky in two. It split like the shearing of a cosmic sheet of paper.

And suddenly, there it was.

There He was.

.

The Abyss and the Aether

Contrast is the candy of coexistence—
Darkness is drama to the light.
Presence would be empty without absence—
Peace would be passive without the fight.

Sound is lyric to the silence—
Blood means nothing without wounds.
Love declares eternal vibrance,
Life rises through the ruins.

.

Fireblossom

We have yet to open fully. 
We are blossoms yet to bloom.
Our beauty is hidden faintly,
Like the silver shafts of moon.
We are blanketed in shadows,
But we know they prove the light. 
We are never to surrender, not to frost nor to night—
We are to walk, to shun;
We are to bloom,

And then run.

.

The Cacophony of Kismet

Music is the miracle, the sopping enigmatic oracle,
That does not bombard your life
With sugar-sweet specks of high-strung candles,
Or ill-fated lanterns
Limp with the impulse of sacrifice
Flying up like mobile fireballs
To greet clouds that leap with rumpled disparity,
Golden lightning and thunderous vanity.

But music is the fair hand easing into the needy crooks of our backs
As we dance to a destiny
We will not realize
Until we have made it home safely to the end of the last crescendo —

And dropped our hats into the soul of the aching symphony.

.

The Legends of Our Youth

Push against
The bond,
Write your own
Command,
Live in real grins—
Genuine;
Run from villains,
Chase the Zion ship.

Sculpt your own
Fists,
Tie your own
Twists,
Be a new one—
Woo them;
Love the
Time
We’re given.

Through slits of opposition, slates of oppression,
We battle against the lace—
of something meant to be,
we crave its grace, chase after.
Doubly undoubtful
that the days are years…
forever.

We are new to this planet, this fearsome dare under this                                            Fading dome,                                                                                                                           and I stage my own laughter                                                                                                    and bleed alabaster, the blood of truth…                                                                                                                   to show you the dream                                                                                                               is the love,                                                                                                                                  the war,                                                                                                                                     the battle,                                                                                                                                the legends of our youth.

.

My Prince

My prince is amazing, I have to say–

He called me up just yesterday.

Through the phone He softly said,

“Love, where do you think you’re being led?”

.

He told me to go, He told me to stop–

With the phone to my ear, I looked at the top.

“It starts with a ‘B,’” He said tenderly, “just flip through the books;

From there you will see.”

.

He said farewell and we hung up, but I didn’t feel like reading.

So I went to the kitchen and made a sandwich, and then I started eating.

I walked through the house, a bite here and there,

but I couldn’t get Him out of my hair.

So I walked to the living room and turned on the TV, looking for something that started with a “B.”

I surfed through the channels, I clicked on some shows,

but it didn’t seem right with the ones that I chose.

I listened to Coldplay, I soaked in the moonlight–but I didn’t know I was

losing the big fight.

I took a shower and went to bed, but for the Book He mentioned,

I never read.

.

I woke up confused, I woke up alone–

I woke up to the ring of my hidden cellphone.

I ran through the house

And stopped at the bookshelf.

Behind a few papers,

Behind stacks of books;

Behind an old sculpture

In one of the best nooks

Slept my ringing cell phone,

Quite loud for small looks.

.

I picked it up and said hello, and this is what I heard:

“I know you’re tired and unassured, but please,

Do take my word: go to the bookshelf and look at the top–

Please just listen and please don’t stop. Do it for Me, and this I promise:

From then on you’ll be able to see.”

.

I was sad, I was lost,

But what did it cost?

I took out the ladder and began to look–

Through papers and notes, my fingers shook.

Hours passed, my heart went cold–It was at the top,

Is what I’d been told.

As I was losing, giving in, I remembered what He’d said–

I just might win.

.

I looked for a book that started with a “b”–I began with “a,”

I did it alphabetically.

Upon the 70th book–yes, it WAS a lot–I found the treasure

And sat down on the cot.

I opened it up to dusty pages–

It hadn’t been read in what looked like ages.

With each sweet word, with each long chapter,

My heart filled with love; I was happy after.

.

I called my Prince and told Him about the Book with a “B.”

He gently laughed and this said He: “Love, that’s wonderful!

Did you know that Book’s about Me?”