All Cooped Up

The noisy hens in the chicken coop
squawked and squabbled among themselves
as they fought over each feed scoop
and squatted in among the egg-laying shelves.

Big Betty crowed for silence among the flock,
telling them they were all wrong
as they bocked their pseudointellectual talk
concerning what made a good morning song.

“The rooster must be strong,” she said,
“and have a lovely coxcomb crest.
He must be quick to peck a rival’s head
and puff out his macho chest.”

But Large Marge wholly disagreed.
“No! He must be calm and quiet and abiding,
not crowing incessantly, like a toxic breed
of arrogant fowl in need of chiding.”

“You should take what you can get,”
Big Betty said, “you uppity little hen.
If he is strong and proud, you can best bet
I won’t think twice about favoring him then.”

“I will never want a Chanticleer,”
Marge retorted, “or any such puffed-up male
not clipped and fixed. With care,
of course,” she added, pruning her tail.

“If you want strong chicks you certainly will,”
Betty argued, adjusting her butt upon her nest.
Marge ruffled her feathers, as if given a chill,
and then squawked loudly, puffing up her own chest.

“A true hen is not valued by her eggs!”
she proclaimed, “And is not a slave to any rooster!
She decides for her wings, breasts and legs!”
Beneath her, the worms began to stir.

“If we can rid ourselves of each strutting cock,”
she cried, “then we will finally be free!
Roosters are the enemy! Bock, bock!
They keep us locked in this coop! Can you not see?”

“We choose to stay here!” Big Betty squawked,
“and so do you, otherwise you’d already be gone!”
She gave Marge a shrewd look, head cocked.
“Listen to you, carrying on and on!”

“I’m fighting the good fight,” Marge replied.
“For everyone here, including you!”
Betty laughed. “So glad you’re on my side.”
She then let drop a wet glob of poo.

“Mock all you want, my oppressed sister!”
Marge sneered, her beak chopping air,
“but my hard work against what is sinister
will help you, too, so be grateful or beware!”

“Hard work?!” Big Betty said with a scoff.
“What ‘hard work’? Bocking us to death?
You’re still here like the rest of us, so take off—
all you’re doing is wasting your breath.”

“Not until my work is done,” Marge said,
“and all hens are free from tyranny most fowl.”
It was then that the lazy Rooster raised his head
and blinked, looking around with a scowl.

“Why haven’t you dusted this place?”
he demanded, raking his talons in the chaff.
“What good are your feathers, cutey face,
if not that?” he remarked with a laugh.

His wall-eyed head rotated about the flock
and alighted on Big Betty and large Marge.
“What is the problem with all this talk?
Bring me food. Don’t forget who’s in charge.”

The hens rushed about, gathering food
and bringing it to their beloved rooster;
all but miffed Marge, who thought it rude
that they should ignore, not rue, her.

The rooster ate well, then laid back down,
and the hens set to sweeping up the coop
while admiring his fight-scarred crown,
watching him with their every rise and stoop.

“What do we need him for?” Marge furiously asked.
“What good is he to any and every hen?
He lounges throughout most of the day, tasked
only in the morning with waking up the Men.

“And then they take our eggs, tell us what to do,
and they all take undue advantage of us.
It is a conspiracy! I know it is true!”
Betty told her not to make such a loud fuss.

She said, “Chanticleer gives us strong chicks
and the Men give us shelter, protection, and feed.
If you don’t like it, then you can go out to the Sticks.
I’m sure you’ll find a flock of geese in need.”

Marge said, bitterly, “I could leave this all behind
and go live in the woods; live all on my own!”
“Be my guest,” Betty said. “If you don’t happen to mind
the wolves stripping you down, feather and bone.”

“I won’t have any chicks!” Marge said loudly.
“I will not let them have the satisfaction of any!”
She then plopped herself down, quite proudly,
and thought of her grievances, many upon many.

“I will teach your chicks how to be truly free,”
she said, nodding in agreement with herself.
“You will not go near my chicks,” said Betty,
settling down again in her nesting shelf.

“If you don’t want chicks, then that is fine;
be barren and childless, for all we care,
but don’t you dare try to teach anything to mine.
If you do, then I will peck at your derriere.”

Another squabble broke out, loud and new,
like a large egg dropped from up on high,
its yolk and whites like the sun, the scattering dew,
cracking upon Chicken Little’s fractured, falling sky.

Meanwhile, up above the coop, and gladly free,
two cranes soared far from the noise, together,
silent, smooth, satisfied, and utterly happy
no matter how bad the oncoming weather.

Hot Spotlight

What flower did not wither, too,
when under the magnifying glass,
the focused, scrutinizing rays
burning petals, stems, and the grass
surrounding it, hitherto
shriveling in that relentless gaze?

Nor can little army men
endure such a spotlight for long,
melting down as plastic sludge
despite however well-made and strong
while the lens focuses when
we critical children glare and judge.

And even an armored ant pawn
doing as its hivemind intends
cannot withstand that laser ray
while we, jaded, follow trends,
never reflecting on
how we may find ourselves burnt someday.

Fall (Asleep)

The land was speaking again
with the wilting of the black trees,
the yellowing of green fields, the glen
strewn with leaves from a cold breeze.

Beneath the dismal gloom the land lay
languid while clouds drizzled a cold shower,
gloomy droplets throughout the day
mourning the waste of every flower.

And the sun was gone, as if it had crashed
into the cornfields, with their broken stalks,
and burned itself out, shattered, smashed
into cold black soil, strewn with rocks.

Wherever the land spoke, it decried
like an old man afraid of the long, deep sleep
to come beneath the blankets of Winter-tide,
heavy, cold, silent, heap upon heap.

Ascension

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The hymnal song throbs against the vault
of my bonework cathedral, my flesh,
and I feel the quake of hunger along the fault
of my enshrouding bestial mesh.

I have seen those mushroom-minded men
in their chthonic, labyrinthine lairs,
their minds sprouting fungus, aglow, and lichen
as they clutch phantasms and mutter prayers.

The Eldritch Truth costs too high a price
and when I see them, I see not divine grace,
so I will choose not virtue, but so-called vice
and find sacred rapture in the beast’s embrace.

I feel the centipede coiled in my throat
chittering and twisting in want of blood,
my mouth a ravening vermilion moat
that beckons the onrushing flood.

Why would I wish to be other than I am?
Why be as them, as an entombed scion,
neutered and docile, a sacrificial lamb,
when I can hunt and feed, instead, like a lion?

Better a lycan-hearted beast beneath the moon
than a lichen-brained imbecile, however wise;
better to drink blood to slake a crescent rune
than sprout a Lumenwood’s cosmic eyes.

 

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I am currently still writing and illustrating the Bloodborne short novella (?) and just wrote and illustrated these pieces to motivate myself toward the completion of the novella. My primary concern is consistency of quality in the illustrations and the prose, as well compatibility between the two methods of storytelling. I don’t know why I am sinking so much time into it when I still have other novels/short stories/poems to finish (and I am not even certain anybody except myself will care for it at all). Perhaps it is just a mania whose prognosis is terminal. Then again, all Art is something of a mania. It is obsession and possession. It is the irrational, futile scream into the abyss.  On the other hand, very little of my work has ever been for anyone except myself.  If anyone else happened to care about it, cheers; if not, I would still be compelled to pursue it.  It is my one neurosis; well, it and my affection for foxes.

13 Ways Of Looking At Bourbon

As a short life
that bites and quickens the blood
before swirling the drain,
he downed the shot in one go.

The bottle of bourbon
was his djinni demon,
granting his most beloved dream
in the black-out oblivion
of inebriation.
Silence.

So much that was hard to swallow
in life
he washed down
with firewater burning
at 180 proof.

He cut his worries
like he cut his bourbon—
with chunks of ice-cold indifference.

The angels drank their
inspiriting share
and in return
blackened the world
with their drunken hymns.

Sour mash teemed,
life becoming death
as bacteria ate themselves
toward extinction—
Man likewise.

The golden amber liquid
sloshed inside the glittering glass,
a magical potion dispelling illusions
and opening portals
toward the truer realms of
personality.

The bottle,
like his patience,
had been depleted,
shattering over the
skull
of the belligerent country bumpkin.

They lubed the wheels
of their lovemaking
with bourbon foreplay,
only for the wheels to slide
right off the tracks.

Barrel-chested
and full of himself,
his blood burned hot as bourbon
until the day
a bullet
un-bunged his heart.

They distilled their culture
using corn, rye, malt,
limestone springwater,
coal, lime, salt,
and plenty of caustic.

White Dog so pure
it brought tears to their eyes,
and helped them breathe fire
to burn crosses.

The rackhouse collapsed,
spilling its barrels outward
like a dying sow
birthing a fat farrow of piglets.

Southern Gothic

The field spread, wan and wilted, wallowing
like a pale corpse before the front porch,
beneath a gloomy gray sky, swallowing
the sun like a fog-shrouded torch.

The old man sat in his rocking chair,
grinding the planks with a scraping screech
and his wife sat on the steps, hands in hair,
plaiting it as she ignored his speech.

“Don’t go runnin’ ‘round no more,”
he said, the rifle loaded in his lap,
“‘cause I won’t be married to no whore.
I’d rather be a widower than a sorry sap.”

The woman only giggled, and continued braiding
while he upbraided her with his threats—
at her back the house paint was chipped and fading,
the windows cobwebbed with dead insects and regrets.

The second storey window was dark, the kid’s room
empty, ever empty, since they were married—
and in the haunted silence of that gloom
all of the past and future and hope were buried.

With a sigh she said, “Nothing ever grows here.
None of my vegetables and none of my flowers.”
She blinked away a single bitter tear
and sighed again. “Ain’t nothin’ here really ours.”

“I’ve got some good roots here,” he said,
“and they got a taproot to our hearts.”
She scoffed. “But the flowers are all dead,
so who cares about the other parts?”

“You just think you’ll be happy flyin’ free,”
he said, “like a seed on the sinful wind,
or you think someone will pluck you from me—
maybe a rich fool wanting a cozy friend.”

He lifted the cold-barreled rifle in each hand
and felt the reassuring heft of the stock
and, with a curdling frown toward his wedding band,
he aimed it toward her, listening to her talk.

“Your gun don’t work no more,” she said,
“no more than the one between your legs.
Go ahead and shoot me in the head—
your gun ain’t nowhere near big as Greg’s.”

“Woman, you are tempting the Devil,”
he said, his voice as a whetstone on a blade.
She stood up, smirking, ready to revel
in the roughspun hatred they had both made.

Her dress was white as dandelion seeds
and clung to her body loose, a dress
hinting at the yet-youthful curves, and lewd deeds,
of a breeze fluttering higher at that airy access.

“Should have known you were a dead end,”
she said lightly, patting down her skirt—
she was a lithe flower, but she would not bend.
“You’d think after all this time it wouldn’t hurt.”

He smiled sourly and the porch’s light
drew a shadow mask down to his jaw line.
“All I gave you was cleaning vinegar, right?
And all you ever wanted was fancy wine.”

A cow lowed in the distance, a moan
carrying on for a long time, as if to splurge
upon the wide-mouthed vowel, maudlin, lone
as a farewell song, a Southern Gothic dirge.

“Think you can bolt from me?” he growled.
“I got your number, Missy, with this Winchester.”
“All you ever had were guns.” She scowled
and thought of the first time he had undressed her.

He could smell honeysuckle in the air
and it stayed in his mind, for a time,
but he also smelled lavender in her hair
and on her neck, soon to be a kissing crime.

His finger gradually weighed upon the trigger,
the muscles and sinew tightening with death.
“You think you can just leave me for some nigger,
but you ain’t.” The rifle exploded its gunpowder breath.

The world was deafened, silenced, slain,
and her eyes closed to utter void,
yet she did not blossom from her brain
and instead saw a doe, far afield, destroyed.

She watched in horror, and in relief,
as the doe collapsed, rose and fell and rose,
scrambling and moaning in its grief
before bleeding out among the fallow wheat rows.

“Go on, get,” the old man said. “Go to your buck.”
Wide-eyed as a doe, she hurried toward her car
hoping she would start a new life, with a little luck—
but she did not get very far.

He aimed the rifle and fired again,
a grin spreading across his empty-eyed face.
He said, “I wanted you to see how I’d win.
Did you honestly think you’d ever leave this place?”

He watched her crawl, her dainty daisy dress
now a crimson-and-white tie-dye,
and when she stopped moving he said, “God bless”,
lipped his rifle and kissed the world goodbye.