Black Sabbath church bells conjure dismal air.
The steeple spires into heaven, its cross, a black silhouette
against metastasized sky.
I come in from the cold piercing wind and peccarine stench
urinating air, I smell black rain oozing. My legs heavy
from trudging the country road.
Others there, huddle in pine pews,
no snake handlers in the crowd,
just the rattle drone of compliant worshippers:
somber, downtrodden, sit frozen; few mumble
words, hum tones to organ panting hymns—
plaintive B-flats filling the hollow church.
The preacher stands stiff
at the pulpit—white suit neatly pressed, lapels sharp.
Black shirt, dark as dirt; lily white tie.
He opens the Book. When the last note fluttered dead
quiet, he begins, eyes glisten a strange kindness,
glance my way. No fire and brimstone in his tone.
Thin paper of the sacred book crinkles through the homily,
his voice rising from quelled calmness as he reads:
Be ye transformed!
In that moment, his face unfolds revealing dead
flesh, the seeping wounds, the leprosy
of heart. Cheeks sink to bone, skeleton pressing through,
teeth gnashing… I turn
to run, but all had changed to the living dead. In one accord,
shuffle toward me. Their circle tightens; my mind spirals.
I hear the door latch shut, the zombies’ groans.
I feel their rasping fingers prod my flesh. I can’t move.
A loud-as-thunder rumbling on the wood: knock, knock, knock.
Who is it that stands at the door? His voice barely audible
above the chanting: Let me in! I am looking for my brother
hiding from the storm.
My throat is choked as if the filthy coat enstrangles me.
I cannot warn him away from this sepulcher.
My eyes dilate in encroaching darkness.
Gasping, I awake to the clamoring,
to my pastor pounding in the message:
Repent! For the wages of sin is death!
I’m in the aisle, face buried in the carpet, slain
in the spirit, the crowd in pensive worship,
all the penitents in their pews. Was that just a dream?
I wipe the sweat, pieces of thread stuck to my brow,
scratch the unforgiving itch on my head. But my hands!
The puss-filled lesions on my hands!
|The Magical Realism of Astrology
Of the stars, they say their influence pervades our life from birth. How do they astrally
project into our souls? Stare into the night sky, tears shimmer in the cold vacuum where
life has been sucked. My lonely atoms spread there in a cube of space three billion miles
on the edge. My consciousness floating with them. What of the stars now? Of their fury?
Of their heat, now falling shy of me? My own sun only fills a small piece of my space, and
I am cold. I see the stars of Draco coil around me. Its cold heart, Thuban, thumping the
black. Its dragon spikes piercing the endless night as it writhes around the long gone iced
North Pole. I fear it sees me. Will it eat me? All around me? Become my black hole? The
Dragon looms, its fangs breathing fire of a million suns. Why should I care? I am dead. Or
am I suspended between lives? I summon up, wrinkling space and time; draw myself
together through this piece of parsec; sew my atoms together, hemming myself in a
synched warp of space. I feel this strange carpet rumple the same as a mountain wave
folds the ground about to swallow-up anything in its path. His eyes sparkling. No way to
scream in this vacuousness. I swirl myself, spin time, teleport to a new place where the
constellations I fear transform. This celestial asp, partially deformed, now overshadowed
by a conjured mongoose.