I don’t want to see the old children burrow in the ground. It is worst at night. Their skin in moonlight the old children twist like worms. I don’t want their eyes open and looking, I don’t want to drown down in dirt.
Girls and boys: lace together, sealed head to toe. I dig the dirt That they don’t hurt me; they are light, want to float so we soothe the soil with hands: let them go, let them go But do not look.
Will you help or not?
Stand between me and old children; sing a harvest song.
Today is harvest day Today is harvest day We touch the earth It gives its birth Today is harvest day.
Squint down the gray, swaying hall: wood-planked walls buck and waver.
Old nails escape their rust-holes dragging grit like grimy spittle. The
overhead bulbs gutter, swing and splash sickly light to reveal, at
corridor’s end (if end it is) a crimson wound carved through upright
rot: one Tally Door, your earnings.
Hold the gouged hand out in front
as arrow, your compass point leading. Acrid stink of the Purger’s hide
behind you. The thing thunders the barricade, feeble, shatters glass aside to
advance. Nothing between you now. No charm to stop it.
This close, a
doorframe surfaces from shifts of blur. At its peak, the leering face,
familiar, concealing in the split wrinkle of its grin an eager flame.
Embers burst boils of blackened skin, seep and belch from charred
blisters. Royalty, expecting its tribute.
It’s this or the Purger,
you know. Pick your poison. A victim could run. For an innocent, escape
might be possible. Not you. Not now.
Your eardrums brim. Staggered
churn of the Purger’s sclerotic engine, its gas-tank breath at your
neck, nearing. Thudding pistons and snag-caught gears.
Surrender a hand;
you’re forced. Feel your singed arm extrude to meet the mouth of the
Door, its drool of lava waiting. You’re bent past breaking.
to look. The twist of your changed, wrecked body. Collected, subsumed.
One moment, whirring cogs of the Purger skid hungry at your heels. The
next, you’re swallowed by flame.
A mortal man, contriving to rule the people, must answer to immortal
woman. Climb the 1300 steps, he should, and await entrance to the humble
aerie where destiny is tested. There Her spirit resides, presides, all
these aeons attending our spectacle below - the rise and fall of empires,
fragile; the exchange of power and servility, fickle. If you’d be king,
you’ll do it at Her sufferance. I know. I petitioned.
‘You talk pretty,’ she told me. ‘You like the way words feel on your tongue. You haven’t lived them.’ I said: ‘It’s no accomplishment to imagine their taste?’ ‘Better to acquire it.’ ‘Like I’ve done my fortune?’ ‘All that money, and only to fetch trinkets for your harem.’ ‘You should be the one lady to receive my gifts.’ ‘I can’t be bought.’ ‘We all have our price, even the perfect. Perhaps the perfect more than most.’ ‘When I was living, I’d weave whatever I wanted to wear. For a jewel I’d polish a kidney stone and dangle it round my neck.’ ‘Take my devotion, then. A wealth inexhaustible.’ ‘I’m a simple receptacle for worship. Invisible! You needn’t even look me in the eye. Your faith should be physical.’ ‘Possess a body, any of my courtesans, and I’ll make it so.’ ‘I don’t miss the flesh. The devotion I speak of isn’t to a lover but a task. A movement of the populace, guided by your hand.’ ‘I move the markets, at a gesture.’ ‘Turning equals to slaves by dangling a heavy purse before them, that is meaningless. A great man’s people follow him for free.’ ‘In the promise of prosperity, once the campaign is won.’ ‘They
follow him to his death, and theirs, holding a weapon not in their hands but their head. Its kills with the frequency of a thought, weighs heavier than any bar of gold you might reserve for
payment after men of action have done your bidding.’ ‘They sound like mad men.’ ‘They are the most dangerous men to walk the earth. They believe in something.’ ‘So if I want the army to defeat all armies, I give them something to believe in.’ ‘It’s
you who needs to believe. When you do, none else can help but notice,
and take up the thread as their own. Now they snicker at you, behind
your back; you remain a child playing with his toys. Nothing has so
inflamed your interest you can’t yawn it off after a moment’s diversion.
No cause has captured your imagination or bound your resolve.’ ‘One has. The desire to see you stripped and whipped.’ ‘Take that ego, so easily wounded, and consign it to ashes upon the pyre. Come back purified, someone worth dying for.’ ‘You’re the martyr, not me. You burned so bright you tapered to a wick before anyone could warm themselves by your wisdom.’ ‘The
clarity I give is by my absence. I am the ground to your figure. If you had any better nature to illuminate, I’d have found its hiding place
and cast it into light. Go now, without my blessing. Go to your
Soon nothing can come between us. Not even the perilous depths. That day we’ll dance in the cobbled courtyard where crooked streets of your labyrinth villa embrace. I’ll set foot in that fountain with the one lucky coin glinting promise to me afar. You’ll ravish me in an alley’s amber shadow.
In answer to your wondering, yes, our fields are ever green under unfailing sun. But those bright blades of grass are the work of artisans. Above the clouds there is no rain to raise the real thing. And yes, we two may lie together in the turf fields, though I admit I find the material itchy. No matter, we won’t stay long. It would take only a moment to brown your pallid skin, so pale and thin (it must be lovely). Longer than that, and bronze darkens to burn.
We’ll retire inside; I’d rather be there. Out on the promenade where I’m expected to pose, is no place to stroke your sweet hairless head. How will we find the lonesome time to consummate our longing? With no glass to shade any window frame, every doorway an arch without barrier to block out the nosy Visitors making their rounds… No, I think the great moment will come in a tight, dirty corner of your hidden-away home. One day, when my rope is long enough to breach the brink, and I shimmy down to your side.
I’ll wrap you in my jointless arms and pull a feed-sack over us both for cover. We’ll find succor near the maze-edge where daily handouts are available, if not edible. But the ruins of old town at center court are no place for us. There we’re beaten, and forgive me if it’s part of your preference, but I’ve never taken pleasure in the act. Any shiny token you bring from Plateaus, guards will confiscate and add to the hoard of dishonored wealth in the well (not a fountain, dearest), where surely you’d avoid touching toe to poisoned effluent. Then your own coin might wink back at your lofted abode.
I couldn’t care if your trees were barked with plastic. To see shapes stand over me other than stark figures of the Punishmen; to perch on the veranda of your mother’s palace, not dangle from sharp rooves of the prison shanties here (as example to those who’d speak out of turn), that would be divine. And let any curious come-caller watch us hold hands when they visit, even swear our vows before them in the government arena. We’ve nothing to be shamed of and our union must be seen, taken for common and daily.
When you rope down I’ll be ready. If only my webbed fingers had claws for climbing, I’d have already swum the distance, and hold you close to my breast. Nothing will keep us apart. Not even the merciless heights.
Flying with us today? I like it better on the ground. But you’ve heard of Forever? Forever? Up there. In the clouds? That’s where we’re going. With what? Bird taknuljee? Yeah, bird taknuljee! Ha! Good for you. You should come with me. Why would I? Because we’re in love. Oh, is that what this is? Of course. Two by two. This isn’t your first time. Oh no. I’ve been. Then you don’t need me. I’ll be the judge– You already have a mate. It’s…different every time. How amusing for you. For everyone! Not me. All we have to do is climb. I won’t be doing any climbing. The first steps are the hardest. Not if you don’t take them. I’ll get a head start, You do that. And you catch up. I’ll take my chances down here. But miss. There’s nothing left. There’s people. Plenty people. Not for long. Long enough for me. You’ll come to your senses. Don’t get your hopes up. Hope is all we have! You’re crazy. You aren’t?
Here’s your gate, then. Tally ho. You’ll have to leave. Funny, I was just doing that. You’ll be sorry, miss. Doubt it. But thanks just the same. Where will you go? I’ll use my imagination. That won’t get you far. You never know where it’ll take me. At least try a map. There’s no maps for where I’m going.
Your enemies, they don’t have to kill a soldier anymore. They can turn him with a touch. Against himself, against his own kind. The weapons are their fingers. They can end this with handshakes. All they need is a clear shot at bare skin.
I’ve got one of your special sewing needles and I’m using it like a quill. The ink is my blood, from the cuts where your cloth couldn’t cover me. That’s a strategy for you, I suppose. Sew that cloth like it’s armor. Sew it over a soldier before you send him into battle. Any wound the enemy makes by sticking steel through, at least your cloth’ll heal it quick. But those things won’t bother with swordplay, is what I’m saying. All it takes to make a foe a friend is a tap on the cheek. So sew that cloth over a soldier’s face, too. With slits his eyes can see through.
Me, I won’t reach the city gates. Won’t make nightfall, if I’m honest. Thinking, this is as good a spot as any. No goodbye to pass on. No-one to miss me.
I’m running the last of your cloth up this pole for a flag. I hope you see it, and soon. I pray you come fetch this note I’m writing, before night. Before the dawn.
Tomorrow, an ending. I don’t reckon they’ll wait any longer than that to take the city. And I know you’ll need more than a healing cloth to stop them.
Blort the Short did once aspire To lord over the land entire Some say to over-compensate When size failed to intimidate. Even among the giants grand, High to knees Blort made his stand Amidst the oversized alone, He’s the one who hadn’t grown
Thence Blort, alert, one day took note: Dependent not on sense or vote One short of skill, wisdom, elan - A crown alone could change this man Into the guy with clout unspoke And due tribute from lesser folk Under this rule, Blort’s larger kin Could not help but look up to him!
So reach Blort did, if not for stars Then past a guard and through some bars Into the stoutest turret close To fetch the thing he wanted most Tho’ when his kind did spot this loot Atop his head, they deemed it cute Make him look big? Its job was done But only by comparison!
The simpler truth did Blort elude: A certain shift in attitude… ‘Cuz height, the man it doesn’t make How could a thing that’s left to fate? It’s action one is free to choose And dignity the prize to lose Giants who stand some less than tall Cannot transcend with spirit small
Jarkha writes there are three gates to pass before visitors to the
Pockets may safely exit with their hard-won treasure. He stresses: to
pass a gate is not to stride under a span lofted atop pillars, nor
follow a path between markers, nor even open a locked door. It is to
answer what each waypoint asks of you in the plain language of its body.
He offers the following guidance:
Through the first gate, bring more than you can carry.
At the second, lighten your load to that you intend to keep.
if you would find the final gate a permeable liquid veil - in lieu of
chill stillness everlasting - go empty-handed. What you entrust to
another’s able hands will return to yours when you emerge back in the
world, and worthy.
It is your privilege to observe these fine and fanciful creatures at their morning play, a ritual dazzling to the eye and inspiring to all four limbs.
For best results:
1. Enter the glade after sunup but not before both moons have set. Arrive with care; if tread of steeds or crunch of boots is audible, no performance shall forthcome. The Weightless are generous in their exhibitionism, though easily offended. One might imagine them as animals childlike in nature.
2. Guests are welcome to provide polite applause, but words are forbidden.
3. Sudden movement will be taken as intention to join The Weightless in the heights. A guest may be gathered by up to five Weightless at once. Be prepared. Their musculature can be frightening, but group touch is gentle.
4. Loud noises will be taken as an invitation to make song. The Weightless can descend from their armatures and provide a rhythm, often using natural landmarks for percussion. Guests are expected to sing, or at the least, hum.
5. Any attempt to approach or access the slumber capsule is considered an act of aggression and cannot be forgiven. Sleep is precious to The Weightless, for everyday limbic renewal and talent bolster. Coordinated effort by guests to build new play structures is permitted at peak season, but must be executed at a respectful distance from the capsule and its environs.
Heed these rules as gospel; failure to uphold them could be fatal.
With the above foremost in mind, you are encouraged to enjoy the show!