Then again I was screaming

Then again I was screaming.  Fear was pouring up through my throat, up through my mouth and eyes, pouring out of me; it was a white-light fire, streaming across the dark corridor, out of me and into the eye-holes of the ghoul, rending it, destroying it.

N?

I lurched forward and gasped for breath. Sailor sat with me, close to me; she looked into my eyes.  We sat on the dry grass in the warm hollow we had entered to take shelter from the rain.

(Back door: Go back one post to Sideways, or back two posts to We turned.)

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We turned

We have to turn and look back.  We have to face it, I thought.

Sailor pulled on my arm, hard.  We lurched to a stop, whipped around.

The streams of light on either side of us poured down the corridor into the eye-holes of a face; the eyes were twin black holes, whirlpools, pulling everything in.  My body froze.  I tried to open my mouth, but no sound would come out.  My throat was paralyzed.  Sailor lifted her hand, pointing.  Her arm trembled.  I did not need to see her to know her terror, to know the courage it took to call out this face with a gesture of her tiny hand.  I forced a scream.  I looked into the wavering eyes and screamed into them until I poured out of my body and in through the eye holes of the ghoul.  Sailor whispered my name inside my head.  I had gone into the body of the ghoul.

 

 

 

Cricket and Crow

The sound of wing beats filled the corridor.  A chaotic black shape sped toward us, covering and uncovering the caged lights as it flew.  In a burst of flapping wings, a crow alighted on the floor of the corridor, just short of where the cricket walked ahead of us.  The crow spread its wings low along the floor.  The bright red cricket took hold of a wingtip with its tiny feet, and crawled to the crown of the crow’s head.  The crow took off in a deafening chaos of wing beats, and vanished down the corridor.

“Follow them!” I cried.

We ran.

Just as we had been impelled by the cricket’s song to run up the side of the mountain through inky blackness…now we rushed headlong down the corridor, the lights racing past our eyes, blurring into a bright stream.  Our speed transcended human speed; the tempo of our feet on the concrete became so light and rapid we felt that we could have flown.

 

 

Nest

Dried grass rustled beneath our feet as we stepped down into the hollow.  Overhead the blonde roots made a deep, vaulted ceiling, studded with mushrooms and textured with moss.  Still cold from the rain outside, we huddled.   The space was warm, and soon our shivers dissolved, and our clothes began to dry.  Although there was no torch or fire in sight, a golden light bathed the hollow.  The light seemed to come from the roots overhead. Nestled into the dried grass, we fell fast asleep, holding each other in a spooning embrace.

We slept for what seemed like hours.  I do not know whether we made love, or dreamed that we made love, or both…but I do know that my body became a rigid crescent, and that her body enfolded mine…and that her softness nourished me, and that my blood surged within that softness.

Later, Sailor’s body became hard…and she shuddered, and cried.  Afterwards we were both soft together, our cheeks hot, our bodies locked tight.

Then we were conscious, and our clothes were dry again, and soft against our skin.  We sat upright in the hollow, and stared into each other’s eyes.  As we did I felt an echo of the surge I’d felt before.  My body was hard again, and I knew that I had held my potency.

Sailor smiled.

Rain

It was the dead of night; unfathomable darkness pervaded everything.  It flowed in the gaps between roots and undergrowth, clotted out the nexus of branches overhead, seeped in on us like liquid…filling up all interstices.  The rain grew heavier: hundreds of large drops, cold as ice, drummed down on our heads and shoulders, dissolving whatever layer of warmth lay between our skin and clothing.

“We need to find shelter,” I said.  “We can’t keep this up.”  We were getting soaked to the skin.

thud.

“Oof!” Sailor said.  She lurched to a stop, as if she’d run into something solid. Her grip on my hand tightened.  I felt her take my momentum into her arm.  I stopped.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.  But check this out,” she whispered.  She pulled my hand forward through the rainy, inky darkness until it touched something cold, metallic, round.  With her wet hand over mine, she rotated the thing.  It was a doorknob.  The door swung open.  A soft yellow light revealed the door to be a low-arched, wooden, cut from the trunk of a primeval tree right at the center of our path.

“Shelter,” she said.  We ducked through and closed the door behind us.  We were out of the rain.

 

 

Verses, 11.1 – 11.51, Revolver

11.1

Why do I crawl

in reverse,

rewinding back, back

through the eye

of a needle, back

through a stageset

desert?

11.11

Am I inspired by acquaintances

who play so tight and close

their intimate whispers,

pregnant with trauma,

give way to a fetish:

a knowledge

of sutures,

de facto,

aid in a minor form?

11.12

The first ones

so lovingly forgive;

close those caverns

in the flesh.

Now chambers echo

where spinae yanked

tight as guidewires.

He who said so

set-to with

thickset hands,

unbuilding things

inside me.

11.13

In this way

my ambitious spell

was set in motion.

I gunned it, high-speed

down the highway

‘long uncharted deserts…

the lone oasis long departed.

I ran those re-treads thin, left

that smoking hulk aside,

tumbled out on a sandy

shoulder to save

my skin, birth

a little shiva.

11.2

Call it what you like,

but I know my own

private fear of death.

It was laughter over radio which

bubbled up from wreckage wires

and echoed in that dented hull.

11.21

You know I did not get

away unharmed…

could not make my break intact.

Now my undelivered

foot must sweep the dust

as Lefty, clopping clods apart

and falling, just as

poems fall, suggests…

11.3

(I later note

a fear of death

to be the flare

laid out

on asphalt,

which gets us gawking left,

such stupid geese,

while right

a parked car smolders,

its shadows on the grit.)

11.31

Meanwhile,

the mechanic, slave

to other accidents,

sweats and bends,

his dream catcher

hooked to the roll-tor.

Yet I’m the one

(Waaaaa-Waaaaa cries martyr!)

who hoists that

fucking engine.

11.4

You note an emotion

makes your trapezius

knot and lift; your shoulder

the record, the softly turning vinyl

of a breakup.

Revolve;

A needle

inscribes

its world

upon your surface.

11.41

I must turn.

I must turn and

Turn.  And turn and turn.

After all, my dear one…

There is no Witch-Doctor, no Alchemist.

Only a locator of grips, a deft

unwrapper of phantom fingers,

one who makes wake for her

who would choose superstition,

flying along the mirage of our secret

inland sea, strange wood fins

nailed to the side of her aqua car,

(a rooster tail, a big deal).

the painter’s knot left

unfurled at the dock, I

the one who cured her.

11.42

No magic here,

no paradox.

Instead, a desert lake:

a perfect fake,

now spoiled,

a silver mirror

rippled

by the speedboat

with its tall-tall yards of spray,

its superstitious show.

11.5

You and I,

ever pragmatists,

know a boat will make its

desert rescue even

across the sickening mirage,

in the middle of nowhere,

in the deafening silence,

in the absence of fanfare.

11.51

So why do you

force me on

the thing you deny,

(though you think it already):

Every means is orthodox,

when you bite down,

train the mind to skip

the trauma we both

know as cause and effect.

11.52 (Three Epilogues)

1.

Now we dance

beside the smoking car,

its radio tinnily

doubling the bursting

ring of laughter,

its broadcast hollow;

we sing across

the sands, black asphalt

ribbon’s end no matter

now… We’ve seen its vistas,

and survived.

2.

We dance at dusk…

in the cool blue shade

of metal husks,

‘mid radiowaves

and tiny shivas,

and in our

spirals,

thread

the eye

of Christ…

3.

…a decoration

slid ‘long twine

hung round

my neck,

then yours,

(a fisheye, a wet

black bead, an

ornament worn

for tiny dances).

Mountains

Traffic thinned in the high country.

“There’s no room for a statie to turn around out here.  You can open it up.  Once we get into those mountains, it’s deputies in SUVs…but until then, we’re solid,” Sailor said.  She stubbed out her cigarette on the ashtray, shifted her hips forward in her seat, and placed her hands behind her head.  I pushed down the gas pedal.

We kept the windows rolled down.  The cool alpine air rushed in, tousling Sailor’s hair.  Peering through the glare of late-afternoon sunshine on the dusty, bug-covered windshield, I could see near-flat, open fields, and mile upon mile of pale green, unharvested hay.  Scattered farm buildings broke apart the landscape, their walls worn down to the bare boards.  In the distance, towering up, making those outbuildings look like miniatures, stood the mountains.  They were stark, roughly snow-capped, purple-black.  They stood so far away, and yet were wrought in such sharp detail that they seemed unreal.

“…the fuck?” I whispered.  I took a breath.  I felt disbelief.

“I know,” Sailor said, “nobody knows they’re here.”

As our little car tore across the dusty plateau, she explained to me that there are some high mountains you cannot see, even from very close, because they are set just far enough back from the foothills that no line of sight permits a view.  But once a person climbs past the initial threshold of elevation, up onto the plateau, the mountains emerge suddenly, starkly, filling the sky.

I stared.

“We can stay up here for awhile,” Sailor said, “It’s cheap to live.  We can hide out.”

We had money we’d kept from Harlin; big paying tops that he’d never skimmed, a glovebox stuffed with a profligate’s ransom, enough hard cash to get us into a cabin near a little lake that Sailor knew about way up in the mountains.  She and her sister had vacationed there as children…until the winter her father broke both of his legs in a skiing accident.  He never spoke of it; they’d simply never returned.

With the car tucked into a trough-like driveway beside the cabin, and my heavy duffel and Sailor’s big backpack cast down on the bed, we made our way down the gravel road that wound around the lake to a little fake chalet where tourists could sit on a deck and look out across the glass-green water, into the mountains beyond.  We sat there and drank cold beer, smoked cigarettes, and stared out…as if the air could quench our bodies, as if our very skins could dissolve into the dusk.