Spiritual Dysphoria

It was not unlike the prognosis of
body integrity identity disorder,
but I had to cut it off,
despite having invested so much of
myself
into growing that misplaced limb of
belief,
faith,
religion;
dogma being a limb grown hitherto
from within the womb.
But I had to remove it
before its
eschatological appendicitis.
And I understand why many people react
violently
to losing their religion,
just as they would losing a
leg
or arm
or even their head,
because it is an attack on the self,
a psychosomatic assault
which is registered as such in the
brain’s errant cauldron of
miswired nerves and biochemistry;
but I had to cut it off
after spending many years
in the frigid frostbite realms of Reason,
cauterizing the rotten wound with
merciless progress.
It was, after all, a
liability soon replaced
by a more efficient prosthetic.
Even so,
there are times when,
in the shadow of fight or flight circumstances,
I feel the irrational itch
of my
phantom limb
and wish to encode myself fully
into modernity’s machines,
finally liberating myself,
if only temporarily,
from superstition’s angsty, tingling
codex of nerves.
What is this errant sensation I feel
in the dark, fearful hours of life?
It is merely a nagging pop-up error
in my cerebral matrix
for hardwired software
long ago deleted.

Facsimile

She had been
kissed by coral,
scarred cheek skin,
her crown floral.
She carved the waters
on her board
like Triton’s daughters,
her heart unmoored.
Glistening swells,
golden-dew thighs,
bikini seashells,
Hawaiian skies.
Dudes paddled hard
to catch her wave
because she starred
as their wet-dream slave.
But she was flighty
and avoided such larks
which just might be
a frenzy of sharks.
Her body was found
on a peaceful day,
the ocean’s sound
a lullaby lay.
The water was flat
like a mirror so clean
it reflected all that
spread above that scene—
the clouds, the sun,
the seagulls and crows,
each sail and pelican,
the cuckoos and swallows.
But the one thing amiss
in the reflecting sea
was that dead detritus
ruining the facsimile.
When looking skyward
to see her soul in flight
there was not cloud nor bird,
but moon—bone white.

Downstream Rosemary

Ophelia! Ophelia! The blooming maiden at rest
with her hands clutching rosemary to her burdened breast,
guided down this babbling brook, both gentle and strong,
with Undine eddies to sooth and usher her along
beyond the whitewater past, awash in the heart
afield of a dead father, lost lover, brother apart.
Let those figures in the rocky froth fight fierce no more
for she knows now the peace which neither nun nor whore
may find in Heaven, nor in Hell, however it please them
while men pull hither and thither, by hair, sleeve and hem.
Whether by method or madness, whichever Man may bring,
this girl lays in a sweet silence, or else she must sing
the songs of Lost Love and the songs of her Sorrow,
down the brook you go! Nevermore rue tomorrow…

“Fob Off”

To keep someone in need
dangling,
to deceive rather than heed,
claim-wrangling
with victims and out-of-pocket
policy expenses,
to disregard lawful time, mock it,
and hence this
“vested” interest, a chained adornment
to a press-button key
unable to open a car door meant
to compensate fairly
while waiting for a court date
and making demands
as if the victim was somehow late
with the paperwork he hands
in due time, and for the devil’s due,
wondering what the heck
his guardian angel might do
since saving him in the wreck—
Is he on the clock?
Has he the time to talk?

Ladderback Jack

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Ladderback Jack was as tall as a lamppost,
his spine reticulated, sharp, and longer than most,
his arms apish, hanging lax with lank hands
and fingers overlong from overactive glands,
his legs slender and knotted with knobby knees
while his greasy hair lay limp in any breeze.
He had a pale complexion, Jack did, like boiled tallow,
the whites of his eyes dull, waxen and sallow,
and he walked with his back hunched, bent double over
as if always looking for a rare four-leaf clover—
and Jack needed all of the luck he could get,
being an ungainly, gangly, graceless half-wit;
so much so that people said he was of the fairy folk,
born of a dimwit mother, herself a town-wide joke.
No one knew who Jack’s father could have been,
though they joked that it was Oberon, or some such kin.
As for his nickname, that was easily explained,
and once explained, that nickname remained:
when Jack sat down to relax in a ladderback chair
and then stood up, the chair would hang there,
hooked on his protruding vertebral pegs
as he pulled himself up onto his long legs,
and, so, crook-backed, overstretched, slack-jawed,
he was thought an entertainment as he shambled and hawed,
muttering to himself about finding his father in the sky
where the cloud castles, Fata Morgana, resided nearby.
“Jack, your father’s just a will o’ the wisp,” they’d laugh,
“so go look for him in the black bogs of a Kilt Gaff.”
Yet, though townsfolk laughed at him most days
they grew ever uneasy as he became set in his ways.
And then, one day, Jack asked to take for himself a bride—
the mayor’s daughter, Saoirse, her father’s pride.
Jack asked during the town’s Midsummer Fair
and thus everyone in and out of town was there.
The town laughed and laughed, whereas the mayor meanwhile
took umbrage at Jack’s presumption, commanding exile,
but even as Jack left amidst mean-spirited laughter
he vowed, in his quiet way, to have the last laugh hereafter.
“My father is both the Gate and the Key,” Jack said,
“and he will see that his line is hereby finely bred.”
The town returned to normal after the exile of Jack
and everyone forgot about Jack’s promise to come back
until one night when lights were seen in the midnight sky—
lights above the hills, each swirling like a firefly.
Jack came into town the next day, grinning ear to ear,
and walking, bold as brass, without any fear
up to Saoirse, holding a ring of strange onyx metal
and asking her to give to him, in return, her maiden petal.

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Saoirse was ready to call him an imbecilic cur,
but was suddenly transfixed by the ring held out to her.
Her father interceded, as did many of the local men,
and they beat Jack black, then blue, then black again.
“Go back to the hills, among the inbred Fae,”
the Mayor said. “Or you will hang from the gallows today!”
But Ladderback Jack was not of the fairy race,
nor was his father, that thing beyond Time and Space.
“My father,” Jack muttered, “is the Gate and the Key.
He is beyond the outer darkness, the stars, of all forms that be.”
And so the sky blackened in the middle of the day,
the villagers trembling to see the noonlight fray
as their town was pulled into a pocket of void, a world
unknown to Man, a place where madness unfurled.
Waiting for them there was a nebulous cloud of spheres
to which Jack pointed and declared, in worshipful tears,
“Behold! My father! The Lurker at the Threshold!
Behold what was, what is, and what will be! As foretold!”
The primordial sludge of luminous orbs and oculi
looked upon the people of that town, letting them see
in the fullness of its depths the endless cosmic chasms,
bathing their brains in luminous gulfs, the neural spasms
softening the meat of their minds unto a viscous pudding
and releasing them only after revelation could bring
them to confront the meaninglessness of their being
of which, ever thereafter, there was no unseeing…

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To this day that village still remains, quiet and quaint,
all of the villagers vacant-eyed, imbecilic with its taint—
all serving silently, reverently, the bloodline spawned
from Ladderback Jack, that avatar-son of the Beyond.