Eat the Rich

You are not an animal.

Which is to say, it is not the substance of what you eat that matters; you do not convert food to energy, matter, life. You are a spirit in the shape of a person, a pit in the mouth of the world; as you are a sign, a symbol, so too is your food. It is, in a sense, arbitrary. You do not suffer from iron deficiencies.

Nevertheless, you find yourself thinking in animalistic terms. Hunting, preying, stalking, digesting. Snakelike, you stuff yourself powerfully once, then slumber for weeks, months, years, rising only to feed again, to coil slightly against a warmer rock. You tell yourself you are dispassionate, as a snake is dispassionate, meaning perhaps no more than that your face is not built for the convenience of men.

It is easy enough to blend in, there on the upper floors. You know how they speak, dress, act, move. The casual possessiveness you assume is a shadowy reflection of their own, the right to touch and not be touched, to offend and be unoffended, to yell and pound the table and be nevertheless coldly logical. There is nothing you cannot do.

You would think they would be wary, but not so. Apex predators, they are unused to looking for any threat except their own folly. Knock gently on the penthouse door, and be invited in, vipers imagining themselves dragons, ready to warm themselves on your regard.

Then sleep the sleep of the just, for years, decades, or centuries, until need or desire calls you back. No windows are locked above the fifteenth floor.

Serge and Bacchus

Suffice it to say, things hadn’t worked out the way you’d planned.

Oh, sure, it was all wine and roses at first, two swinging bachelors bound together by love and faith, with the ear of the emperor, living the high holy life in the big city. A word here, a recommendation there, and bang presto there’s a governorship for you, good sir, think of us kindly when we’re old and gray, you get the idea.

But then ohhhhh suddenly it’s not cool and edgy to be members of the apocalyptic new religion that’s making the rounds, it’s not enough to cough politely and say that boy you’re so stuffed from all the temple feasts you’ve been eating from the sacrifices you make all the time like the good Greek citizen that you are, people are handing you the knife and the lamb and making you demonstrate and just like that the jig is up.

Suddenly you’re nobodies, worse than nobodies, outcasts, and all your old fair-weather friends have been tasked with torturing you to death, and you’ve been made to wear women’s clothing (fun) and run six miles with nails through your feet (less so) and it’s hard not to feel a little ill-used, hard not to feel like you got a little o’erweening and brought this all on yourselves, somehow.

Well. They’ll see, they’ll all see. They can cut off your heads, but you’ll always have each other, and nothing’s sexier than a pair of martyrs. You’re gonna do fantastic up in heaven, you’re both gonna bang it out for centuries, dudes are gonna be hot for you for the next twelve hundred years.

Just you wait.

Giving Directions

Up on second mountain, beyond first mountain, we are warned to stay out of the forest. Why, we ask; well, it’s complicated. Witches there, but they’re not the problem, though they’re a surly bunch. Not cruel, mind, but insular; self-sufficient. Worse, they’re inquisitive, you’re not like to get away from them without decanting your whole life’s story into their varied ears. Lose a whole day, that way, or a week, if you’ve the bad luck to meet a group of ’em all at once. Best avoided, unless you’re looking for ’em particular, of course. Nice enough, but like feral cats, better appreciated from a distance.

Deeper in, well, it’s a tangled place, all blackberries and scrub, you’ll lose more skin than it’s worth to push through. Blackberries are a blight, a settler plant that went rogue a century back and hasn’t been purged out, not since the fires got outlawed. Nowadays it’s a powder keg. Hasn’t been a year in a decade where summer hasn’t brought choking smoke from one fire or another, and often both. Dangerous to get caught in.

Course even if you do push through all of that, what’ll you find except the center, a long rolling lawn with a manor house at the end, and, why, if you’ve seen that it’s already too late. Nobody climbs up that lawn who sets foot on it, neither tourists nor townies nor witches. What’s at the bottom? Couldn’t tell you. Best left alone, whatever it is. Don’t bother it, won’t bother you; you could ask for worse neighbors.


No salt spray over these railings, nor swell beneath the keel; no smoother ride than this upon the crest of a wave that never breaks. Petra paces the deck restlessly with legs that never tire, eyes burning with wakefulness. The stars have been eaten by the curve of the glass, but she has faith they’re out there still; if she could get far enough, up, forward, or out, she’d find them there, waiting, uncaring, unmoved. She can see nothing but the blue void of the sky, but she knows that’s nothing but a trick of the light, a construct of dust, distance, and refraction.

Can the world itself be stifling? There is nowhere to go that she can’t go, but she can barely breathe from strain. She sleeps naked on deck, and wakes up still warm, throws herself into the sea and walks along the curved ocean’s floor, climbs the anchorline as easily as a flight of stairs, stands on deck dry as a winter room. What rebellion is possible when rebellion is the motor of the spheres?

She screams in the plastic faces of her shipmates and the eileithyia smile back, unfazed, as remote as the stars she can’t see, as unreachable as the other side of the glass.

The Carpenter’s Lips Wrapped Her Eye

a collaboration between myself and Markov

I. Orpheus

March. Hale as folk art. 

Good morning, Orpheus Ever-Moving: Lay down from moment of fear, the other, reeking and dissatisfied, his prophet’s sandals and government sanction, and in pitch, with a time to us. And Suffer-the-Children keeps jars and lets the window and knives, he says. Briseis is suspect, not stupid, and his progress, sunflowers turned to them, always fighting back asleep as the labyrinth. His head, true healing, but can you stand the call through the body odor in either scoop or the rotten luck of a decaying iron?

II. Hylas

He sleeps alone.

They were his love. See how richly savored, how to see her! Peerless her eyes and sky, there’s an hour breaks through the cherry! Peerless her eyes, she is a fountain, what he knew my body, as long years in the Brown, and eke another plague. Bring me like sabers, like the tips of tendon, sick of China for our verdant treasure does not wearing the neutrons.

We tatter with my work. I’m glad she ties its size; someday is many pieces of her. Recognition is a joy of rest; for centuries old.

III. Persephone

They sought for her abductors. 

She strokes a lot of study of fire starts. You, lady, hey, a garden, he thinks; says, “Pablo, he has seen — it’s Evangeline, honey! Hey baby!”  Come on a zombie, one in Hali beside himself as a perennial debate: everything is underwater or anything. 

I don’t hound her, so excited, cheerful, awkward. The carpenter’s lips wrapped her eye, an animal had five hundred half-glimpsed lives.