Archive for death

The Imposter Remembers

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The wind makes the tails of my coat snap, pennants whipping behind me. It moans, softly, but steady, a constant, drawn out exhalation, weary, grieved, the sound after the first sharpness of loss, when it’s become dull, familiar. The only other sound at all in the vast, flat emptiness is the hiss of dust, fine particles rubbing one over the other, small, but when multiplied by a billion billion times it becomes a delicate roaring, the terrible monotone of absolute desolation. The dust is red, fine as sand yet gritty and it stings my cheeks.

In every direction there is nothing, maybe the faintest trace of geography, the hint of a hill worn down, pressed into submission by Time’s heavy thumb, or the suggestion of a valley, but for the most part the land is a table beneath the perfect bowl of the sky. It is a nothingness made so much deeper when added to the knowledge of abscence, the ache of a festering within flesh that appears whole, the rememberence of a wound scabbed over, healed, but still present. There was something here once and it lingers in the hole it has left.

I know, right where I stand was a plaza, the architecture of it a wonder, stone and steel and living plants woven together, hung with lights, glistening with fountains that would lift up columns of air and water that caught the beams of lanterns and threw up jeweled fire into the night air. Beside me, a bench still holds the lover’s that sat, hands entwined in knotwork of love and flesh and bone, content to be each with each, watching the passers by but only with concern for one another. Children swirl around, have me spinning on my heels as they run, a school of bright fish flicking this way and that, laughing, mischievous, full of wonder and dreams and promise. I can look into a shopfront, see the makers at their trades, here haggling, there bent to their craft, one taking their meal with a spouse that brought it, another passing along the secrets held within a lifetime of callouses, failures, and successes. It was all here, and now it is gone. I see it still though, I must, there is not a thing I do not remember, not one since my eyes opened. Every single moment exists perfect and complete within my mind, drawing the was over the is, making a palimpsest, a double exposure that defines the emptiness and drags it across my memory like a razor.

I had no choice. If I had not acted, the one who came from Outside would have riven the entire universe, shaped it into what its vision thought it should be and all would have been undone, every life across billions of planets snuffed out. I tried to reason with it, tried words to steer it from its course but these failed. It was far too sure in its reason, built an impregnable fortress of certainty and righteousness. So I, being the guardian of The Real, sought to fight it. That, that was foolish. The power of it was vast and deep, so deep the well of it could crush you down just by the pressure of it being. Those inside do not change anything, not really. Magic, power, it can be used to make things happen, bound in patterns and spells, but reality itself remains the same as both hammer and nail remain fundamentally the same when applied one to the other. Their nature never changes. Those Outside though, with the power in them make things different, can simply make what is in their mind be and not only be but always have been, reweaving the threads of reality. It was a power I could not withstand.

We fought across the stars, across worlds, plunging through clouded nebulae, where it passed The Real screamed, tortured into new shapes, rent apart in ragged wounds I did my best to suture shut even as I fought back, striking with every charm or spell I could remember or devise, attempting to surround it with The Border as a body might do with a cyst, condoning off its infection, but it changed and shifted and slipped free. I know not how long we fought, time flowed in torrents, a gale of it whipping me, lashing and battering as I contended with The Outsider until at the last I was weary, wounded, a blackened rag flapping at its heels while it was undiminished, a titan that would pale Chronos, towering, invincible. It turned to me and in that moment, in its eyes I could see my undoing, but not just that, my cessation, the complete unwriting of me and everything that had ever been. I could see only one avenue, one small, desperate gleaming thread, so delicate that it might snap even by clinging to it. I knew what it would mean as it and I stood upon the curvature of the planet’s atmosphere, I knew the cost down to the penny, down to the last bright life just as I knew that if I did not act the price would rise too great to account for. In that last moment, as it turned to gloat in its triumph, I broke The Border.

The Unreal poured into The Real. The space around us boiled as nothing became something and then nothing again, endlessly, warping everything it touched, dissolving the rules, eating away at the is with the isn’t as a wave might eat a castle of sand upon the shore. It crashed into The Outsider and where it was became something else, twisting so rapidly even it could not hold onto itself and was undone. Alas, it did not stop there. The planet beneath us was tortured, racked by storms of madness, stone and seas and flesh melted, ran like wax, became something else but all of it, all of it dead. By the time I’d grasped the ragged seams of reality and knotted it back together all that remained was a planet shaped grave.

All of this I can see, as I stand on the planet’s surface, on what once had been stone, in the middle of what once had been a plaza in what once had been a living city, that had once been a part of a civilization that exists only in my memory of it. I come here every year to stand upon the red, red sands and remember them. They kept their history in one long song, each new thing, every discovery, every new event another verse. I learned it long, long ago and it still exists perfectly in my mind. So every year that has passed since then, millions of years before life would even be a contemplation for its nearest neighbor, I come, and I stand in the emptiness and let the wind bite at my coat and let the dried blood sting my cheeks and I sing. I sing the decades, the centuries, the rising and falling mingling with the dull ache of the moaning wind, I sing the life of a people that were beautiful and terrible as all other people save these where stalks mowed too soon leaving their field fallow and barren. Alone, I sing and remember, always, my purpose and my failure.

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The Romantic Imposter

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by beautifulimposter

It is a fine evening, the sun making its way lazily through the deepening blue sky, gently kissing the line of the horizon. There’s some respite from the heat of the day but still, there is a haze in the air, a faint mist clinging to any bare skin. The air seems perfumed, like someone has just split open a ripe tangerine, a thick, sweet scent of flowers mingling with the usual aromas of cars and pavements and people. Yes, it is a fine evening indeed.

“I love you” the words are a sigh, the exhaling of a breath, quite, meant only for the ears of the loved. I brush past the couple, two women holding hands, one’s head resting lightly on the others shoulder as they stroll. I’m quite sure that neither would have noticed me even if I was apparent, even if I’d bowled clean into them. At best I would have been a momentary impediment to their closeness. I can see the threads, red as red as red winding between fingers, knotted and plaited in their hair, tied to lips and tongues and lashes. Not my work, no, the province of another, but I can appreciate the craftsmanship, the complexities of each tied to each, a web of words and touches.

I still along as I am wont to do, letting my eyes wander, following the strands. It seems a night for lovers, the streets cross crossed with fine weavings. A young lad stumbles, a girl laughs and just then a streak of crimson runs from her mouth to his heart. It may amount to nothing at all or it may give birth to a tapestry, but it is a beginning, a hint, a promising of expectation. Not all such seeds bear fruit, but I find the potential pregnant within them intoxicating. If nothing else after all, I am made of nothing but possible so it is my nature. I like to think I could have been a romantic.

Further on an old man is winding up the awning over his shop. His skin is pricked all over with threads, an explosion of crimson webbing him to his store, to the windows above it, to the stoop, the bustop down the way, if you follow them all they’ll touch upon the whole neighborhood in some fashion. The Legion Hall where they’d first danced, the old bench down by the park where they’d sat and held hands, fingers laced together like piano keys side by each. There’s one that flies over to ‘Nam where her letters had kept him less broken than some. One hanging above a mantle somewhere where she’d fought for them both, getting disowned in the process. All the places he and her had touched together, even the bare room where she became nothing more than a shape barely described beneath the sheets, her hand eggshell in his. Fifty six years of thread followed him as he shut up shop, thrumming beneath his skin, telegraph talking of the good and the bad and the inbetween. I can’t help but read it all, feeling a bit of the voyeur, but it makes me smile as I move through the growing evening.

It’s all beautiful in some way, I can’t help but feel it, even I, perpetually and very necessarily alone. Here and there I sneak a few stands into my pockets, they won’t be missed and are quite useful. My footsteps become a waltz, slowly turn and turn about, moved by such aching, beautiful love, all the strands of it being played by the gentle summer breeze. I sigh as well, soft and low, mingling with all the others.

Dead and Dreaming

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2018 by beautifulimposter

There are dreams under the earth,
The dead sleep soundly, covers pulled up
Roots tangled around fingers
Cat’s cradling intricacies, woven beneath stilled tongue,
Telegraph wires mumbling from deep dark upwards
Speaking now in blades of grass, punctuated
By worms, just imagine what tales might unravel
If you dipped ant’s feet in ink,
What poems would march across the parchment?

Tales are never finished simply because you write “The End”
The stories unfold as lungs unraveling nerve endings
Twitch magnetic erratic to magnetic pulse
Things forgotten remembered, retold, dot dash dotting
Clay becomes pot, seed becomes root and branch
Woven up in fistfuls of sky and cloud
The turning of restless bodies, of waking dreams
Fitful dreamers fidget kick the dirt
Reading brand new Braille scripts in whorls,
Fingerprints that remember to forget to remember again.

All beneath as above, revolving
The worm turns, digging through earth but
Dreaming of clouds, circling iris, tail biting
Round and round ellipsis tumbling cartwheels
Merry go round about again the dreamers dream the living
Dream the dead to life rising, upwards branching
Towards the light from the dark to light again and again,
Beneath the earth, so as above.

Consequences

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2018 by beautifulimposter

Fitful light flickers about, defining shapes more from shadow than illumination. It wouldn’t matter much, as I’m well familiar with the landscape of an artist’s room, bare floorboards, paint chipped cupboards, a table with mixmatched legs, two lonely chairs, small, narrow bed with rumpled sheets. They never change much, perhaps the decorations a bit, but in all the centuries, for every one I’ve walked into, they’re all the same. Perhaps they come as a kit of some kind when you buy your brushes or first slab of clay.
What light that is cast shimmers over the artist’s skin, cold, coruscating flames writhing over bare shoulders, limning the line of the spine, seething upwards from the brows in a crown of colors unseen and undreamt of. The floor around his bare feet is littered with brushes, palette knives, crumpled rags, the shed detritus of creation, all of it showered in weird sparks raining from frenzied fingers scratching at canvas, piles and drifts of madness making it seem that he’s standing in a puddle of live coals. It is far too much, not right at all.
I approach slowly, looking over his shoulder. The canvas is a mire of brush strokes, cuts, finger slashes, the paint nearly an inch thick in places, layered, textured, water colors mixed with acrylics mixed with oils mixed now with thick, dark streaks of blood. His breath is labored, what May once have been a skinny but well sculpted chest is now a collapsing caricature of itself, rising and falling in paper bag rattles. Sweat gleams over taught skin, pale, almost waxen yet not, somehow less, like badly rendered tallow, rancid and running. He clearly can’t see any longer, not the canvas or the room at least, his eyes wide, the whites only nail pairing crescents around the edges of iris and pupil. This has been going on for days. I purse my lips, turning my eyes to follow his.
Lounging upon a rug, clothing discarded in a heap upon a third chair, completely nude glimmers a slim, perfect creature, long hair flowing in perfect summer honey cascades down rounded shoulders, narrow cheek bones sharp, alien, yet still beautiful, mouth set in a decadent pout. I shake my head, impatient, vexed, dealing with the fae is always a tedious task.
“Let him go” the words resound in the dim room, a clap of thunder within a space that over days has been accustomed only to scraps and breath.
“Why should I?” Petulance drips with every syllable. “He’s lovely, and so full of passion, so much beauty. He said he wanted to paint me, that he’d never been more inspired. I just gave him what he wanted” it doesn’t even look at me as it speaks, it’s lavender eyes looking adoringly upon the artist in the way only a predator can look upon its prey. My presence is at best a nuisance.
“I’m quite sure he would have balked more if he’d been aware of your price, but that’s entirely beside the point. You should not be here.”
“Why not? I am of the free folk, in high standing within my court, I shall do as I please, not heed the whinging of the doorman because I didn’t pay him mind, go back to your junkyard realm and leave us be, he’s got so much more to give” it purrs, stretching a languid arm out, fingers caressing the air as if running over the hollowed, fevered cheek of its “lover”. I can’t help but shudder.
“You crossed into The Real when it is not your season, The Rules are clear on this. If you don’t leave of your own will, I will have to take steps.”
It turns to me then, contempt etched upon its perfect face, lips turned upwards in a condescending sneer. “And what, pray tell, can you do ragged king? I know full well in your realm you may not be defied, but you are not in your realm now are you? You are here, in the mortal world and I am a Seelie lord in the fullness of my power.” It rises slowly, a new light, wild and green washes outward from it, lapping in waves onwards. It has a strong Glamour, making the Real shimmer and boil. I’m unimpressed, yawning slowly, pressing the back of my hand over my mouth. It reaches more deeply, tendrils of power lashing out, power that could rend a mind apart, have the target of it clawing out their eyes in adoration, or digging beneath their ribs to make a gift of their heart.
“Poor fool, get thee gone swiftly, your better gives you leave, tattered magpie, I fear you not!!!”. My coattails flutter out behind me, the force it exerts rising to a gale, blowing up strange shapes out of the dust. Everything to excess with them, the fair folk, no subtlety whatsoever. Rare that a member of Summer’s Court should be so cruel and rapacious, but no matter. I allow it to feel it’s triumph, for a moment at least, the threads of enchantment tugging at my clothes yet finding no purchase.
“Are you finished?” As I watch the expression change from arrogant gloating to incredulity I continue gathering The Boarderlands closer, seeping inward on soft feet. What most seem to forget whenever I’m called upon to fulfill my duty is that all a boarder is is a line between things. You can always just redraw the line wherever it’s needed, my realm is only ever a shadows thickness away. Whilst my Seelie was so full of his stolen passion and power, I was calling it towards me. It hadn’t even noticed the room changing, the walls falling away, replaced by brambles and Victorian lampposts and other oddities that could be perched upon. Since it seemed bent on resisting to the last, I feel its destruction should serve some useful purpose, and the brethren hadn’t feasted so well in a long time.
As the Real fades, they come, inky feathers whispering, alighting on branches, ruffs standing out stiff, gleaming blue black, silent save for a small croak here and there. Bead eyes all focused on the fae, now seeming small, it’s nakedness now painfully apparent, casting its glance about itself now, a cornered small animal within a tight ring of ravens and crows. It’s power lashes in fits, yet here, as my realm is neither here nor there, not the bright fields of Arcadia or the drab pavements of the mundane, the green tendrils fade into the smoke they always were. Skergaal, my seneschal alights upon my shoulder, bowing.
“You called us my lord?”
“Do what is needful, leave me two, but let the rest feed” I turn then, as Skergaal lifts from his perch, replaced one on either side by two others. I walk away with my hands clasped behind my back, unhurried, as the croaking grows louder, the suserous of feathers impatient.
“No, no, you cannot!!! I am a lord, you do not dare…no, please, please no!!!” One by one, The Murder lives up to its name, beaks and claws tearing as the brethren descend, eclipsing the bright, shining fae inside a clot of night that writhes and screams…the screams will go on for some time, and that part makes me smile a grim smile. I don’t kill often, nor with pleasure, but cruelty sometimes must be answered in kind. The shrieks echo away as I let The Boarder fade, rising back towards the artist’s rooms.
The poor boy is on his knees, weeping, hands dripping paint and blood, his hair limp in front of his eyes. Lost, broken, arms akimbo, fingers flexing in spasms, the discarded toy of a spoiled child. I kneel down, gently lifting his head, looking into his eyes, hoping, but not much. He had been ravaged so hard, if anything other than insanity looked back at me I’d be astonished. Yet, there, far in the back, a slim flicker, some remembrance of who and what he used to be before he was just a vessel to be drunk from. The crows hop from my shoulders to his lightly, dipping thier heads as if to whisper into either ear, yet their sharp beaks slide into his temples without resistance. Normally, when I gather to me my treasures, I never take the thing itself, just the form it impresses upon the never. This time though, it would be monstrous to leave him with these memories.
“You’ve been ill my boy, very ill indeed, a deep fever that’s left you weak, given you such foul dreams, but it is past now, the fever broken. You will mend, rest, be whole again soon.” As Memory and Thought do their work I lift him up, guide him to his bed. He’s frail, but will recover. I should have been more alert, perhaps I should spend less time on my hobbies, maybe I could have prevented any lasting damage. These violations seem to come more and more frequently, despite ancient treaties and Rules. A sign of the times perhaps.
I turn, taking in the canvas at last. Carved through the paint is a slim figure, once pale but now streaked with red, deep tissue purple, flesh hanging in rags, hanging from a thorn bush, formerly regal features twisted into a rictus, screaming agony forever. It has to be said, the boy has talent, it’s an incredible likeness. I take the painting, waste not, want not, and I stride back into The Boarderlands, leaving not a trace.

The Imposter Listening

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The Borderlands don’t always reflect the lands they touch. A bitter wind swirls around me, grey and chill, damping the sunlight of The Real into fragile eggshell white. I’m standing in what was a field, the wan blades of grass superimposed over concrete and asphalt, the remembered dreams of a deep green. Here though, in this place, the most solid are the bodies, so very many, stretching out past all sight, in every direction. It’s a curious thing, in a place where one can observe the everyday people wandering through the walls of a castle that’s no longer there in the place they are, their feet instinctively avoid the corpses, unconsciously reorganized footsteps adjusting their path so as not to disturb the twisted limbs.
Of all the places where memory gathers, this is the one I visit only reluctantly, when duty can no longer be shirked. I call it the Untimely Vale, because the geography dips slightly towards the middle and that things need names and here I am the sole namer. Here lay all of the dead cut down, the victims of Fate’s shears too eager, clipping threads in frenzy. I’m gazing down into the lidless eye of a young girl, a well of ugly red and clotted black shattering the left side of her face, splits in the flesh creeping in spiderweb fractures. They’re all so delicate, broken so easily and carelessly. I kneel down, long fingers brushing the hair back from her brow, trying to turn my gaze more to the rich brown of her other eye as she begins to speak. Dry, ashen lips move slowly, haltingly, as she tells me her tale, and I listen with reverence, every word, each pause, all of her inscribed somewhere permanent and unforgetful. I won’t share what she says, that is not for anyone. I just remember, forever, and that’s the point. Long, long after mortal minds let go of their shame and anger or indignant righteousness, I will remember this person wholelly and completely, from beginning to end. At least one perfect record will exist of this woman for the rest of time. One among many, oh so very many.
She finishes speaking, returns to rest, and I move on. I try to listen to as many as I can, as many as I can force myself to before the weight of them, this place would trap my exhausted limbs to the earth and all I could do was lay down with the rest. Not far away, a new form begins to shape itself, quivering into being like heat over tarmac. I cannot see it fully, but it is small, oh so tiny. My eyes wander over the landscape, taking in the vastness of it. I’ve written down so many of their stories, carved the letters of them into my soul, but there are so many more, new ones ticking off the seconds. I worry sometimes I will not be able to speak to them all and those moments are the closest to despair that I care to wander. That precipice is dangerous and crumbles easily. It must be done and I am the only one to do it. So today I will spend with the discarded, my footsteps resounding in the thunderous silence of billions.

Turn of the Tide

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by beautifulimposter

There is rust upon the tongue, flakes of grit
The taste of metallic decay, bitter silences
Poisoning all thought, each stillness the longer echoing
Of all the words trapped beneath cowardice
Or strangling themselves stillborn,
Infinite infant corpses dangling faux tears
Strung grisly ornamental from spiny, crusted lashes.

Something rotten indeed
Cloying, unlovely, limping mockery
Nuzzling lascivious leaving viscous fingerprints
Stains beneath the flesh, the marks of remembrance
Bruises and cuts clawed desperate fingers digging
Oh, to remove the cancer bequeathed
Undressing bare to the bone not ever clean enough.

Bouquets of fear in full bloom thorn tearing
Wrung hands raw, wounds upon wounds
Every day, over and over and over
One moment, one touch, one word, or look, or any other abuse
The wreaths hung choking in lungs buried beneath
Crushing weights, pinned butterfly beneath the thumb of oceans
Gasping in the dark alone and alone and alone…

…when of a sudden, a match is struck,
Timid flickering, more shadow than orange burning
But warmth where there was cold, a point
Fixed, a spar to cling, then another upon another
Till there is a torrent of pricks in the night
A blaze, one into one into many and there is a raging blossom
Strong and terrible and righteous.

Terrible Instruments

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2017 by beautifulimposter

The sunlight today is an act of violence,
Arrows slicing the clouds to ribbons
Such awesome and terrible storms of light,
Bright and ragged banners streaming
Battle cries thundering along the channels
Of the raging winds.

I once laid in a fever, between dream and vision
The roof above my head ripped away
The vaults of the night sky split
As overripe fruit, edges ragged as wounds
The pulp and pith of the heavens
A yawning, hungry, pure flame.

Angels peered over the edges,
Mouths bloody, teeth wicked and sharp
Wings of blackened, pitted iron spreading
A rustling of edges and rust
Hungry, feral, carrion birds eying their feast
Beautiful the way a naked blade is still lovely.

Frozen to the sweat soaked sheets
Bones the kindling for the fire set in my flesh
Unmoving, tears burning canyons into my cheeks
For the first time feeling the death in me,
Printed upon each cell as blackletter,
A whispering mirrored by the watchers’ lips,
As threads sewn beneath the skin,
Tied and knotted, a skein, a tapestry.

The fever broke, yet still I feel the tugging,
Still out of the corner of my eye
Wings beat at the shadows
Pinned beneath all my words,
All the brutal blood and sex and mortality
Tainting blue skies and sunlight
So that I will never not see the tooth marks left
By God’s terrible instruments.