Saturday, February 25, 2012


                 William Knox

Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passes from life to his rest in the grave.

The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, Be scattered around, and together be laid; And the young and the old, the low and the high, Shall molder to dust, and together shall lie.

The infant a mother attended and loved; The mother that infant's affection who proved; The husband, that mother and infant who blessed; Each, all, are away to their dwelling of rest.

The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye, Shone beauty and pleasure - her triumphs are by; And the memory of those who loved her and praised, Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne, The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn, The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave, Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep, The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread, Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint, who enjoyed the communion of Heaven, The sinner, who dared to remain unforgiven, The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just, Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes - like the flower or the weed That withers away to let others succeed; So the multitude comes - even those we behold, To repeat every tale that has often been told.

For we are the same that our fathers have been; We see the same sights that our fathers have seen; We drink the same stream, we feel the same sun, And run the same course that our fathers have run.

The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think; From the death we are shrinking, our fathers would shrink; To the life we are clinging, they also would cling -But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.

They loved - but the story we cannot unfold; They scorned - but the heart of the haughty is cold; They grieved - but no wail from their slumber will come; They joyed - but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

They died - aye, they died - we things that are now, That walk on the turf that lies over their brow, And make in their dwellings a transient abode, Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, Are mingled together in sunshine and rain; And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge, Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

'Tis the wink of an eye - 'tis the draught of a breath -From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

William Knox

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dante's Inferno and Me

"In the midst of life's journey I found myself in a dark wood, for the right path was lost."-Dante's "Inferno".

Thus begins one man's journey through Hell. For those not familiar with the tale, Dante travels through Hell to save the soul of his beloved Beatrice while guided by the mentor soul of the Roman poet Virgil. As Dante stands at the gates to Hell he reads the words transcribed over the threshold, "Abandon all hope ye who enter." Much of our depictions of Hell come from Dante's imagery of demons, sins, and the condemned souls within each of the Nine Circles. It's a fascinating allegory for even a nonbeliever such as myself.

Now Dante did believe, as did most Medieval minds, that there was a Hell full of demons and Heaven full of angels. But he took that belief and crafted an epic allegorical poem about redemption, sacrifice, and love. Like reading Shakespeare, John Milton, or even a more contemporary author such as H.P. Lovecraft...the language can be daunting but well worth the journey.

Why wax poetic about Dante's Inferno on Facebook? Simple, it's what's on my mind. Demons and angels have always fascinated me. I don't believe in them any more than I believe in Valkyries or Harpies(though I've known a few women to make me wonder about the latter). Yet, I'm drawn to the mythology of them. I know, you can't call Catholic or Christian teaching as mythology but let's be honest, nothing in modern religion is any less mythological than what the Greeks, Egyptians, or even Norse believed. Men and monsters winged like birds and bats...but I digress.

Most of my writing has a touch of the demonic and celestial in that what each side promises is the duality of man. We are tempted by our demons and saved by our angels but in truth the Devil and God reside in our hearts as us. I write a lot about madness. Part of that is influenced by Poe and Lovecraft but it also stems from a deep fear of madness and slipping slowly into it. Exorcisms were performed on the insane who were believed to be possessed. They had their demons of the mind; we all do. What troubles me most about studying both angels and demons is how often they are one and the same. It was Lucifer who was cast down to Hell as Satan(which in Judaism, where the word originated, is simply a title like Darth or Pope) while many fellow angels were cast down to be demons. It gets even blurrier than that however. In many ancient texts angels were more feared than demons. They came from a bitter, petty, dominant God who cast them to earth for brutal judgments. If you saw an angel in Old Testament times, bad things were coming. Whether it was Gabriel, Michael,  Metatron(which sometimes is an angel, other times it's a title given to an angel such as Michael. To me it sounds like a Transformer), or any unnamed angel...misery followed. It wasn't until the New Testament that angels became guardians and the Devil's brood of demons were the only enemy. Thus began the war for Earth.

See why this fascinates me? There is a lot of rich background in these tales. Then when you stumble upon a gem such as Dante's Inferno, it piques the curiosity while making you ponder your own life.

In closing I will say this: Dante's journey begins in a shadowed woods for he got lost. We have all been lost. At times we all feel alone. Some turn to the Heavens. Others turn to sin. Yet how many would battle through the Nine Circles of Hell for love? There is hope even in the hopeless; there is redemption for those who have fallen the furthest. There is beauty and humanity in literature whether it be secular or faith based. There are angels and demons within each of us. Such is the dual nature of mankind.  We are poet and Pope, believer and atheist, reader and writer.

We are a beautiful allegory in the flesh.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leaves in our Lives

One day you wake and realize they're gone. Mentally you've known; emotionally it never felt real. You hoped they would come back. Maybe you prayed. Maybe you begged God or the Devil himself to bring them back or...even wake you from this nightmare called life. Or maybe, just maybe, you wanted nothing more than to die.

People float in and out of our lives like autumn leaves on the wind. Sometimes we desperately reach to catch them before they fall...anything to keep them in our lives a second longer. But sometimes leaves fall; and sometimes people leave. There isn't always rhyme or reason. There isn't always fault or folly. People drift away.

Holding memories as reality is a curse. How things used to be is never how it is going to be. Friendships may rise from the grave of broken affection but like anything borne from the Pet Cemetery, it is only a twisted reflection of what it once was. Replaying the movies in  your mind's theater of old loves doesn't again cast you in the leading role. And closing your eyes, begging for death, or sleep, won't bring you closer to one who died. Memories and photographs are all that remains of a life. Those fade until all that remains is a phantom of a feeling. You love and hurt over someone you struggle to remember. People drift away, they leave, they die...but it is simply one act in the drama we call Life.

We all hurt. We all love. It is in those feelings we find ourselves. It is in those feelings we find the power to change. Every life that touches ours impacts us. Those we love, those we hurt and who hurt us in return, they all shape us. We shape them. It's a symbiotic, parasitic, and erratic relationship with our fellow human that defines us. We are all touching another's life as they touch ours. We are many lives coming together. We are Legion for we are many.

Lastly, we need each other. We need love. We need bonds of affection that cut across romantic, familial, humanistic, and friendship love. But we also need to know when to let go of that love. The emotion is like energy; it never goes away, it simply changes. So let go of a memory, a friendship, a romance, or the ghost of a loved one and say goodbye. Then turn around to your future and say hello.

One day you wake up and will be ok after all.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


   She had hair as dark as midnight, eyes that swallowed you like quicksand, and Mediterranean skin hot as a Sicilian summer. Vines of ink climbed from spine to collar; trails of roses and barb wire lacerated her arms. The soft half moon of naked flesh rose from the sheets; the words "Veritas" in languid black letters glinted like angel script in the dim candlelight.
     He stared as the supple flesh rose and fell in sleep. An impotent cigarette rested between his fingers as the dying trail of smoke drifted higher. Who was she? The name, the face, none of it matched what his guts told him. She lied with her voice. But her body, the way she danced beneath the sheets, told him the truth.

     He would have to kill her.

     The cigarette blazed in the dark as he inhaled. Her body shifted, forcing the sheets to whisper like a sinning priest, before she settled. How to do it? His eyes stuck to the half moon and inked words. "Veritas".
     He exhaled. Then he knew.
     This angel would fly.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Maw Maw

"Don't care no way, no how I ain't sleepin' with maw maw...she smells like feet and dead possums."

     Billy stomped his foot. His arms tightened across his chest. They sure as shit weren't about to make him do it. No sir.  His lips narrowed under a barb wire patch of preteen fuzz. Billy glared. He could glare with the best of them. Why, it was goin' on a week since old man Cooter said he could stare down--
        Pops slammed a fist to the table. Beer cans, milk cups, and plates of Spam and eggs jumped. Ma shook her head, tapped her ashes into an empty Coors. Pops glared. Billy felt sweat bead above his brows. Lips trembled. It wasn't goin' to end well but damn it he wadn't no kid...he had rights. Let Brutus the bulldog sleep with the gnarled hag.
      But Pops glared. His hand tightened on the nearest beer. It crackled, then popped, until white foam spewed from the top. Billy's knees shook. His heels ached. He stared at the smoking Spam. The sweet glaze shimmered like starlight. Steam wafted above like a vapor halo. Drool bubbled on his lip. The smell, Oh lord baby Jesus the smell! The condo ain't never smelled so good as Spam day. 
   "Fine...maw maw can lay with me, but only for tonight. I'm serious, no more." Billy said.
      Ma blew out a puff of smoke in relief. Pops nodded then sucked down the white foam. Minutes passed with only the metallic squeal of forks scraping plates and wet slapping lips smacking together. Billy shoveled the eggs in between bites of Spam. It was worth it even if he hated sleeping with maw maw. She smelled like...
   "...And that's another thing. I know tonight's date night an all," he said, fork pointed at Pops. "But come mornin', we bury maw maw."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Upon the Shadowed Trail

Upon the trail I walked, curious shadows did avail, for they knew not where I go, so in darkness they stalked.

Midnight in the vale as I stumble, cold weary, wet and frail. Shadows grimace and balk, closer, whispers, desperate for talk.

I stagger, and fall, the twigs like blades, the rocks a dagger; but I push forward, I stand tall.

At last I see an end, a hope in sight. It comes from no God, no saving light. The trail comes to a gate, the end is nigh, my pain so great I beg to die.

But as the brave fail and the Grim awaits, I glance back to the trail, the fear abates. Shadows they be, destination unknown, but it was the walking that changed me...alone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Robert Frost

"Ah, when to the heart of man
    Was it ever less than treason
To go with the drift of things,
     To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept and accept the end
       Of a love or season?"
                                        -Robert Frost, Reluctance

"...two roads diverged in a wood, and I
      -I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
                                          Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flesh Games

Flesh burned hot like coals now cools. Sweat glistens along arms, thighs, and body curves like freshly gathered dew. Feet dance beneath sheets as silk and skin sing in a chorus of whispers. Fingers clasp. Eyes glaze from lust like frost on winter's window. Sighs, giggles; the symphony of fool's gold of the heart that is lust.

Flesh burned hot like coals now cools. Rustling sheets groan as the twin backed beast idles. Mumbles of promised need, of forever's greed, of the manly chariot's speed echo in the hearts and hopes of lovers.

Flesh burned hot like coals now cools. Skin slides like ice against ice as bodies harden in a glacial freeze. Words like a whip's lash sear the heart flesh, tearing, rending and bleeding love. Sheets of satin whine as bodies like Biblical waters part. Tears and fears bleed into pillow cases like a child's dream.

Flesh burned hot like coals now cools. Fingers like snakes coil around a fleeing arm. The bed creaks like a haunted step until the specter of loneliness rises from the sheets. Flesh remembered like a forgotten poem touches one heart, even as the thunder of a slammed door warns of life's impending storm.

Flesh burned hot like coals now cools...