The Unicorn Curse

O friend, have you yet to meet
the unicorns in their froth-maned flock?
Hooves of onyx, fierce and fleet
and their hides pale white like marble block.
Fear them, O friend, and their gaze,
their eyes like pure-polished porcelain
that flinch not from brightest rays
or from any malign course of sin.
They look like frolicking steeds
galloping across the Springtime plains
alike to many horse breeds,
but they will suffer no mount or reins.
Suffer! To suffer, indeed!
For they bridle a man’s life instead,
as they did me, and mislead,
like a mug of witch brew to the head.
Their aspect is not equine,
but headed like babes but a year old,
and their hearts are not divine,
but unfeeling, cruel, deathly cold.
But what favor they show oft
to virgins who dare to travel far
to touch such a mane…pure…soft…
following Virgo, from star to star!
But what of virgins oft said
to be honored among these pure things?
Come, if you dare; lay your head
in their laps and see how their touch brings
a curse such as no man wants,
such a curse of loveless wanderlust
until ones memory haunts
the lonely years, one’s youth gone to rust.

Insectoidisms

The honeypot ant stores its trove
in its abdomen, bloating, fat, swollen as if
to burst,
engorged like a water balloon
stuck to the faucet head,
distended with cornucopian liquid
until the workers gather round
in the winter months,
to feed from the golden stores
that they offered from their wages
to feed in their time of need,
like honeydew welfare,
feeding until the honeypotis
shriveled
like a government in deficit
until the times of plenty return
and they distend again,
growing large, but not truly
excessive,
stuffed by the workers once again
for the winter months that will return,
that will always return.

The caterpillar grubs along the
tree branch, crawling, toiling,
nibbling at the summer foliage,
working to weave a womb to
birth itself again,
to take to flight on beautiful wings
and vacation in sunnier climes
away from its former life of inch-by-inch
drudgery, to
drink nectar not unlike the gods,
but only if he is born on the right branch,
only if he is not eaten by birds, by
spiders, by wasps, by
circumstance,
consumed from within by parasitic worms,
and then, even if his metamorphosis
succeeds
he can splatter across a chrome grill
on highways of speed and tech and
luxury
he could never have dreamed of.

But look at the dung beetle,
obsessed with his toil,
covetous of his dung, of his
stinking heaps as he
tiptoe-sprints like some absurd
Sisyphus
or, perhaps, Atlas,
shoving the bowel-ball along its way
as if it is his own
Shirikodama;
he is a Prime Mover,
in a manner of speaking,
his whole world before him,
reeking with conceit, his conceits
rolled-up before him until he is
blind to all else but his
Randian preoccupation,
paranoid with his pretense
that his fecal ball
is the world itself.

Sheathed In Silk

Unsuspected, the blade sheathed in soft silk,
as we blindfold ourselves with the attire
of kinder roles, as if kin to the ilk
of angels whose white wings often aspire
toward toplofty clouds, though we steal from
the calf its milk, or the lambkin its veal,
to render the comforts of our kingdom;
the wool, the cream, the calfskin, each filling meal.

How stained are our hands with the coins we snatch
from the pouch we slit in a neighbor’s throat,
that crimson pouch without zipper or patch,
which, once opened, now gapes as the scapegoat
sacrificed to devils for devotions
while we bleat like innocent lambs lined up
for slaughter—Bravo!  Our martyr notions
would have us, shameless, on such scapegoats sup!

But lo! The blade betrays its brutal truth,
reflecting killer in a crimson sheen,
the guilty stained with victim blood, forsooth,
and not so easy a thing to scrub clean,
nor does silk conceal the guilt wrought therefrom,
but bleeds through, leaking for all to see
lest the witness make blindfold wherefrom
anointed he, too, is likewise guilty.

Shun the shade! Forfeit the silk! Forsake yet
the dagger and rending the bloody purse!
Abandon evil, its comforts, forget
aught else lest you reap the tannery’s curse!
Such a world is for scapegraces alone
and its light illumes by human tallow
while the eyes flinch from what is thereby shown,
sheathed in silk alike to Justice, fallow.

Ambition

I was as the candle quite bright
in the corner, amidst cobwebs,
aflame, yet misplaced in the night;
alike tallow as its glob ebbs.

My tallow dribbled down to aught,
the flame fed by a finite host,
burning the wick away to naught—
no more, now, than a smoky ghost.

The bright light I gave was unseen,
lit only in neglected nooks,
and though I burned both bright and keen,
I commanded no second looks.

Forgotten, forlorn, extinguished,
a puddle lax in the drip pan,
melted by the ambitions wished
to be illumed within my span.

Yet, I burned nonetheless…so bright,
if only for sake of burning,
giving it my all for a light
meaningless in toil and learning.

Mariana’s Song

Another eve passed alone
and I ponder my cold bed,
the night air chilling to the bone,
the hearth of day dark…now dead.

Single candle, you burn low
on the window sill nearby,
your flame is small, your wax aflow
as the teardrops from an eye.

Do I fret the solitude
and its all-too-silent hours?
Do I linger in this dark mood
of a wine that quickly sours?

I take turns about my room
and recall your lips to mine;
and in that mournful midnight gloom
I can see the full moon shine.

It shines afar—ghostly wan
with the daylight it borrows
from a fickle sun that has gone
to happier tomorrows.

Away! Away! Flee you far
from whence you oft wished not leave;
you were as constant as a star—
now dew athwart spider-weave.

My looking-glass shines no more,
nor can it with thin moonbeams,
nor my eyes, nor my smile, nor your
gilded glamor in my dreams.

When I shine, now, I am pale
with the distant light of you,
you are memory of a tale
I tell myself: I love you.

Your scent no longer remains
nor shadows from your light;
I cannot clean these linen stains
of wine, and blood, red on white.

As It Pleaseth Part 1

There was a cottage near icy waters
and in that cottage a family fair
with father, mother, and seven daughters
whose upstairs bedchamber was theirs to share.
The eldest daughter was of such an age
that she looked upon the neighbor lad’s heart
with the favor due, both proper and sage,
of a Christian virtue and reserved art.
All the town spoke of their marriage as though
it had been a prophecy long foretold,
and her preacher father deemed it just-so:
as right and goodly as if writ in gold.
All said the eldest was pureborn as Eve
before she had partaken from the fruit,
and said she was of nature as would leave
all others impoverished, stem to root.
But the eldest daughter dreamt otherwise,
seeing a face midst trees not far from there
and, at night, she flew across starry skies
to meet the man who beckoned her elsewhere.

So, one night, when all had fallen asleep
the eldest lay with her shift set aside,
she opened the window, without a peep,
and looked out upon the auroral tide.
Airclad in night clouds, and boldly leaping
from out of her cottage bedside window,
while nearby her young sisters were sleeping,
shoulder to shoulder, in a restful row,
the witch bore herself up, beyond the home
where her father had sought to teach her fear
so her soul would nest at night, never roam,
admonishing the lass year after year.
Yet, her preacher father could not forbid
the eddies of her heart that rose in gusts,
and she flew free as a soul gone morbid,
yet alive, burning pale and hot with lusts.
Over glen and vale, veiled in stars and shade,
she escaped the lectern’s brimstone bluster,
coming to a man camping in a glade
whose dark eyes gleamed with a goatish luster.
“Where fare you, my fair lithesome lass of night?
Where do you go, lass, mantled in the moon?”
She said, “To swim in the milk of moonlight,”
and into his arms she swept in a swoon.
As a hart in Winter’s rut he set to
and she welcomed the rhythm full and fine
while the winds rose up, the smoke black and blue,
and lips ripened sweet as grapes on the vine.
And, indeed, there was pain in their union,
and there was pleasure to be had betwixt,
much as grapes with stones ate in communion,
and a sweet wine can sicken if not mixed.
Yet, she had chosen him all on her own
and knew her preference better than most,
nor did she flinch, skin to skin, bone to bone,
nor from the coiled horns of her woodland host.
When their congress had swelled unto its end
they laid aside, the one near the other,
cooing like doves in a curious wind;
she said, “I am nothing like my mother.”
Her new lover laughed in sardonic glee
and stood up, stroking his grey satyr’s beard.
He said, “Your mother could oft leap a tree
to enjoin in my company.” He leered.
He then disappeared from the glowing  glade
and the fire went with him, nought but embers,
but he whispered low to her like a shade,
“It is not love, but it warms Decembers.”

Returning home, barefooted in the snow,
the young witch had much too much to regret,
and was surprised by the hearth’s sullen glow
through the pane—her father’s hard features set.
“Jezebel!” he shouted. “Harlot! You whore!”
He yanked her indoors, his fist lifted high
and struck her once, twice, many times the more
until black and blue—she thought she would die.
Crumbled on the floor, the witch could but weep
as her father read to her Bible verse,
meanwhile her sisters pretended to sleep
and her mother lamented her own curse.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest,”
the patriarch quoted, his voice afire
like the hellmouth hearth as he beat his chest
and denounced daughter to a phantom choir.
“Think you well on your blackened heart,” he said,
“and recall the bruises I have dealt you
when next you dare wickedness out of bed,
for the next sin shall be your last to rue!”

He left his witch-daughter slumped on the floor
and returned to bed a beast beneath yoke,
and though his wife sighed, he would hear no more,
saying, “Speak not. My fists never misspoke.”
And thereby the grapes of his daughter’s lips
bled out to sour as vinegar in haste,
the wine spilling, aging, the bitter pips
expelled like her Bible lessons…a waste.
She rose up, at length, from the floor to stand
and tottered by the hearth, much like the flame
that swayed weakly in the hellmouth hearth, fanned
by the cold wind through the open door’s frame.
“Let only the sinless cast the first stone,”
she muttered to the shadows twisting round,
and then, listening to the cold wind moan,
she read her own blood, trickling on the ground,
and she saw a tooth within that puddle
and she knew it the pip from her own maw,
and she bethought how utter a muddle
her life was to follow any man’s law.

A Bit O’ This, Bit O’ Thine

Down by the frothy-fingered reach
of the greedy tides on the beach
lingering, lounging on the sand—
slimy, salty, seeking with hand
for what the sea has yet to take
with each moon-glossed, waking wave’s break…

Down, down, down where the waves all crash,
and beneath stars that glint and flash,
a shell breaches the sudsy surf,
dragged by a long arm on the turf,
an arm black like a seasnail’s skin
and slimy as a salesman’s grin.

The voice within the shell beckons
soft as the shoreline that reckons
the flotsam of the ships aground
on the reef and its heartbeat sound—
the desires that have been denied
by Life, by Love, by tempting tide.

And the voice laps oft at the edge
of the Otherworld, at that ledge
between the waking and the dream,
between daylight and how things seem
to the eye that sleeps otherwise
below the waves and moonlit skies.

The local pastor passes by
and gemstones ensorcel his eye…
The mayor glimpses shiny gold
and nascent greed grows overbold…
The wanton sees a dress to wear
like a jellyfish floating fair…
The widow hears the long-lost tune
of her husband who drowned last June…

Hear you that voice that calls to thee?
Hear you that sweet-tongued usury?
It is his claim he offers much
if you do not shrink from his touch
and give what he asks by his whim—
toe or tongue or a lithesome limb.
The cost is sunk, gone, like a hook
and the bait gone, too, oft mistook
as a thing fishermen can lose
without seeing the gain they choose.

“Tell me your wish, O friend of mine,
and I’ll retrieve from bitter brine,
whether gold bauble or glinting jewel
I shall bring up a gift of Yule.
All I ask, dearest friend of mine,
is a bit o’ this…bit o’ thine,
and that you see how fine a friend
I am to you unto the end.”

Refrain
Come! Follow my nautilus shell,
spiraling round and down and down,
and forfeit all you have to sell
for riches, rank, revenge, renown!
Come! Do not waste the tidal hour,
but bring forth what things you may trade
to sweeten a life grown so sour
within wreckage the tides have made!

The Poet In His Twilight Years

I have watched the black and white interviews
with the poet on his ramshackle farm,
quoting himself, word for word, his old muse
near-suicidal, disposed to self-harm,
and how dark are the later, silver years
when the laurels clutter the poet’s head;
it is enough to bring a man to tears,
if only allergies when eyes are red.
He writes so little verse, but acts a script
writ daily, with what life he may muster,
his mask such as is in a pharaoh’s crypt,
sometimes lacquered, sometimes just lackluster.

The Youthful Dead, And Useless Old Men

O, I hear the bean sidhe—she is shrieking
in schoolyard and school hall, the fell, bleak thing
sounding an alarm for the many deaths
when goodly youths shall draw their final breaths
while old men diddle and dither, at odds
with one another, and their bloodfed gods.
The gruesome Redcaps dip their dripping hats
into crimson puddles like vineyard vats
and a murder of crows descends anon
from the shoulders of grim-lipped Morrigan
and all youth is squandered in misty vale,
blooming anew with rot and maggots pale
till the ancient echoes of pagan song
be sated in surfeit of age-old wrong,
the wrong of wrongs such were long forgotten
when clans clashed fiercely, each chief besotten
with the blood-debts accrued in times before,
that fateful geas that binds forevermore.
Do nought for the dead but ponder and pray
and be grateful that the capricious Fae
demand no more than the youths hereby piled
for their burrows and mounds and woodlands wild,
for the Land of Youth needs our youth to bleed
ere Tir na nOg be a place old men heed
when nodding at their thrones as if glamored
and impotent, their weak hearts enamored
of the Cailleach, that old baleful elf
who enchants to think only of the self
as the long winter of old age reigns on
in those resentful of youth, their youth gone.
O, our country is as the headless wraith, the Dullahan, that runs forth with a faith
steeped in blood, cracking a whip made of spine
as if backbone is enough to consign
the peace hungered for in our times of grief,
times when blood-stained blade oft slips from the sheath…
but we’ve lost our heads, and the youth their lives,
as old men nod, ignoring Elphame tithes.