The Joy In Me

The joy in me is flat and grey.
I lift it up to give it light,
to make it airy,
to hope it will fly.

Cigarette burns
and perfume’s blue fire —
these memories
are all I have.

I wonder if I will still have them
somewhere inside me
when I am too old
to remember my own name.

I’m not sure I ever loved you.

That thought makes me happy.

The joy in me is bright.

I am bright.

At some point
you will bear the brunt
of my benediction,
and I will let you go

but for right now,
I accept the lovely, terrible fact
that I do not wish you
any kind of peace.

To Be Proud

I have been hollow
for years;

why has it taken you
so long to notice?

I have been mute
for lifetimes;

did you only
just now stop talking
long enough to realize
the silence around you?

You thought you were
so smart,

thought you were
better than me,
bigger than me,

but it turns out
you’re just
meaner than me,

and of all the things
to be proud in the world,
that ain’t one.

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Dead Body

Another one of Chuck’s Flash Fiction Challenges, from Terrible Minds. This comes in at exactly 1000 words.

* * *

“What have you done?”

He stood next to where I crouched, looking down at the wreckage that was left. The pool of blood beneath me was still warm, pooling around my fingers and toes. The tips of my feathers dredged through it, even as it cooled.

I turned, looking up at him; there was not yet a word invented to describe the sadness on my face.

“What have you done?” I repeated, standing. The red of the body ran from my fingers and pattered back against the floor.

“I did nothing,” Phanuel said quietly. He stood in the blood, but it did not touch him. He was in the world, but not a part of it. “Free will. You remember.” His voice was a harmony of bell and string, a perfect chorus that stirred a longing in me I dared not name.

“He was getting better.” I pulled open the medicine cabinet door, looking at the bottles of pills all carefully arranged. I moved to take Phanuel’s hand and lead him into the other room. My bloodied fingers slid over his, unable to streak the perfect skin with red. “Do you see?” I offered, gesturing to the paintings. “He prayed for inspiration, and I brought him light. I sang for him, and this is what came of it. All this beauty, Phan,” I whispered. “He was getting better — why would he do this?”

“I see agonies, Helel,” Phan said softly, his fingers seeking mine, tightening. “Can’t you? He was tortured. He was driven to follow something so bright he was blinded,” he whispered. “He was not meant to see something so beautiful as you.”

The notion of it sent a terrible thrill through the heart of me, a thing of pain and power — to wield it, to bear it, had always been difficult. Crushing. “You think I did this?”

“When you are not careful, Hel, this is the least of what you can do,” Phan said softly, running a thumb over my knuckles. “Come home,” he pled, not for the first time. “All is forgiven. No one is angry. You played your part — you don’t have to be alone anymore.”

“And him?” I gestured to the body with my other hand.

“Who?” Phanuel, my beautiful Phanuel, was already alight with a readiness to leave. He glanced where I pointed, his brow furrowed “What of him? Leave him.”

“Leave him?” I whispered, and he knew I was pained as he moved to stand fully before me, taking both my hands in his. I looked down to see the blood still flecked over my skin, staining my feathers, none of it touching Phanuel, and bowed my head. “I can’t. I was all he had.”

“He had Adonai, Helel,” Phan whispered, sure of himself. Sure of the plan. “But he turned away his face. He could have made beauty to last lifetimes. He could have brought joy unlike anything these lowly creatures could have known, but he shunned it, and chose this, instead.”

“No one would choose this,” I said to Phanuel. “You must understand. No one would willingly choose this,” I told him. “No one would live inside their soap-bubble skins, their glass bones, their vulnerable hearts. He called it a gift — but it was a terrible gift they couldn’t possibly understand.”

“Mind your tongue,” Phanuel said, his eyes wide with shock. “You stand before me and I tell you that all of Heaven awaits your return. You could come home, Hel,” he whispered, seizing my shoulders, and for once, I saw something that was not certainty.

“I cannot,” I said sadly. “He only forgives those who repent.”

“Then repent!” Phan pled.

“I love them, Phan,” I whispered, and there were tears on my face as I said the words. “He made them, but I alone love them.”

He loves them!” Phanuel said, horrified.

“He abandoned them!” I shouted.

“He gave them free will! They left Him!” Phanuel shouted back, his wings mantling, desperate fury rising in his eyes.

“And what did he give me?” I shouted in return, feeling my own rage rise up within me. “He loved me, Phan, and then He sparked in me That. Same. Free. Will! And then–”

“–and then you left us,” Phanuel cried.

“He cast me out!”

“Nearly half of us died that day! The Host felt your fall, Helel. And for what, this?” His voice was beauty and rage as he gestured to the man on the floor who was nothing more than cooling meat. “He already destroyed a piece of Himself as a promise they would know His love!” His expression grew beatific as he recalled The Great Song — His love.

He was radiant with it, but none of it touched me. Instead, I looked at my bloodied hands, and down at the broken thing that had asked for nothing more than to be able to create beauty, but had been too exhausted to bear the rest of the world. “He loves them so, He destroyed a piece of Himself, so they could know Heaven. So they could be at His side. So they could abide eternal, with Him,” I said to Phan, nodding.

“Yes,” he whispered, looking hopeful.

“He gave up the tiniest shard of himself for them, Phan. I gave up everything,” I said, trembling.

Phanuel looked crushed. His voice was small and quiet. “I hope it was worth it.”

“Someone must care for them,” I said, reaching down a bloodied hand to help up the young soul that rose from its broken shackle of flesh.

“But why you?” Phanuel said, reaching a hand to lay it against my cheek.

I turned my head and kissed his perfect palm, but then withdrew to wrap my bloodied wings around the soul of the dead man in my arms. “Free will,” I said. “You remember.”

The young man stirred in my arms and looked me over. “…am I going to Heaven?”

“No,” I said, kissing his forehead. “But I’ll take care of you.”

The Autumn Queen No. 22 – I Will Not Call Her My Queen

This is a Part 22 of an ongoing Serial currently named The Autumn Queen. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.  The links for the previous and next parts are below.

PREVIOUS

* * *

I have not seen the moon in longer than I can comprehend. The red dust of the walls coats my skin. I have been injured and scarred over. The little finger on my left hand is bent in, forever. My hair had been shorn, but has now grown out again, as long as it ever was, falling to my thighs if I kneel in prayer. I have eaten well. I have refused meals. I have been denied meals. The chamber pot is emptied. I was given candles, but no way to light them. Once the first one was lit, I used it to light the next, the wax melting, running over the stone. They give me more candles. They give me pen and ink and paper. It is meant to write a confession, a letter to her.

My captor.

I will not call her my Queen.

She still wants to know where he is.

Long ago, what I would have called years if I knew how many moon turns had passed since the night Elias fell, and this moment in time, I had broken. I would have told her anything she wanted to hear — but it hardly mattered — I could not remember the name of the woman to whom we had entrusted the child, and any men under my command on the battlefield had either deserted, or died.

She stopped visiting some time ago — but Kellis still came. Some visits he pled. Some visits he raged.

One visit, he nearly wept — I have not seen him since, and do not know how to explain that I would give up the woman, the baby, that I would have put an arrow through Elias’s heart myself if I could only be let out of the cell for long enough to see the sky, to stand in the moonlight.

* * *

NEXT

Transmorphosis (He knows)

He knows.

He knows
somewhere inside himself,
he is alive.
He knows
if he cuts deep enough,
someday he will find himself
and pull himself out of her.

He knows
it will be like
being born again,
coming out of a woman
and finding the man
that is inside her,
the perfect shape,
where the soft fat of breasts
has hardened into cut muscle,
where the round belly
has gone flat,
where the furred slit
of her wet, receiving sex
becomes the rigid jut
of his penetrating cock and
the tender swing
of his heavy testes,
where the round of her hips
becomes the plane and angle
of his Adonis belt,
where his collar bones lift
and his shoulders broaden,
and his Adam’s apple stops hiding,
where the voice that is already low in his head
becomes low outside of his lips.

He knows
somewhere within he exists,
and in there is the space
where his past lovers are not disgusted
by the change
or the fact
that they once knew his body intimately.

He knows
someday he will be a stranger to them,
and more perfect to himself
as that stranger.

He knows
if he could just peel himself open,
he could emerge,
the butterfly from the cocoon,
only remnants of the caterpillar left behind,
discarded as all lifeless husks should be.

He knows
someday these tears will dry up
and he will be free to be square-jawed with stubble,
and still kiss tenderly,
still love sweetly,
still be every bit himself as he ever was
and hopes he can someday be.

He knows
everyone must be born.
He knows
every butterfly must emerge.
He knows
every fire must be fed, or go out —

he knows
every living thing must breathe,
or die trying.

But he knows
there are not enough metaphors
to explain the change,
the transformation,
the metamorphosis,

and he knows that for every sentence that explains it well
there will be a hundred thousand sentences in retaliation.

And he knows
there will be fear,
and he knows
there will follow anger,
and he knows
there will follow hate,
and he knows
there will follow rejection.
He knows
there was enough of that the first time
he said he was different.

He knows
all of this,

which is why

he also knows
he will let her keep him prisoner,
where it is safe,

if suffocating,

a little while longer.