Invoking Aphrodite

By this candle’s burning light,
I ask for love and passion bright;
I long for radiance, sweet and pure—
A subtle beauty, and secret allure.
Venus, oh darling goddess of hearts,
Embellish my soul with your loveliest arts.

I yearn to shimmer in shadows so dark;
I ask for assistance, from roses and lark
To ode on me their glorious tunes—
To make me more tempting with the passing of moons.
Pearl skin, ripe lips— a visage divine;

Oh Venus, pray let such treasures be mine.


(2019)

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Calypso’s Song

Weary vagrant, godlike traveler—
Upon my shores you have stumbled.
Heart aching for that beloved home,
Where Ithacan men pray— humbled—
For the return of their illustrious ruler.

And yet, here you are, and must remain
For seven impassioned years;
A victim of my insatiable lust,
In exchange for your richest tears
(Which will not have been shed in vain).

But I shall care for you, oh vagrant!—
Sustained on ambrosia and wine—
The great Earthshaker intended your stay on this land,
For yourself to become a possession of mine—
And I care for my treasures as my fellow-gods command.

Why lose yourself to this ignoble sadness
While my ardor runs unchecked?
Surrender to the potency of my affections,
Which hunger after you with a divine madness;
You have a nymph-goddess’s predilections.

On Ogygia you arrived after the shipwreck
That left you bereft of your hope and crew—
But worry not, for I shall nurse your sorrow;
I will care and dote on you
With a love no mortal could bestow.

For now, retire to the depths of my charming cave,
Spellbound into our holy bed, and put away
Those worries that have ailed you far too long,
My dear Odysseus.

(2019)

Duality

Yes, you look lovely when
Your eyes ignite like little stars, when
The light hits your face like that,
Tracing, deftly, each soft lineament,
Touching your lips; yes,
Light lends you its brilliance.

Yes, you look noble in the morning sun,
With the gold dancing across your
Brow and lingering at
The finest angles, the sweetest lines;
It kisses you, thus, an angel you become—
Light turns your blood divine.

But in the murky black, in that
Depth of night, you become something else;
They snake across your skin, those thick shadows,
Sensuous and ripe— you are transformed into
A being detached from your own self,
And the gloom into rhythms you transpose.

And I love you then, when dark’s
Ink stains your skin; and I love you
When the light makes you pure.

You embrace both worlds, don them like a cloak;
You wear them with ethereal allure.

(2019)

Sovereign’s Artifice

Oh, sovereign!— that wily ruler of my mind
Whose pretenses are gentle, ​yet at heart, cruelly unkind.
How did I stumble upon such a lamentable fate—
To be left, prey to He who only serves to frustrate?

He is wicked, dark, insatiate— every cunning spell he casts
Transfixes those who come beneath his unrelenting grasp;
His speech is thickly honeyed, rich with mellifluous​ words
That could draw down lovely Venus by whose beauty men are stirred.

Yet, his flatteries are false and betray cold disregard;
His artful praise, incarnate of that much beloved Bard.
All he owns to be are notions subtly contrived—

Still, I am his loyal subject, though of sympathy deprived.

(2019)

The Audition

Content Warning: Gory imagery and violence!


The auditorium was dark, and deep, like a cavern.

It was silent like one, too.

And then three men entered the auditorium, and it wasn’t dark anymore, or silent.

Their footsteps sounded against the spotless, tiled floor, each of them wearing slick leather shoes with buckles that glinted in the dull light of the room. They sat side-by-side in the faded seats before the stage with their cold hands shuffling through sheets of paper. One of them, young and severe, checked his timepiece— began tapping his foot, glancing every which way. A furrow creased his brow. “We’re ready, aren’t we?”

“Tell them to come out,” said another, balding, with a nudge to his pudgy neighbor. The fat man sighed and rose, about to reach the door, when it slammed open, revealing a boy who effused fervent apologies. His quivering legs carried him up to the stage, where he slumped over on a spare chair. A few moments following his introduction were taken to collect his breaths, and he began to perform.

“Get him out of here,” said the first man in a sharp whisper. “This is terrible.”

“Come on, Charles, he’s only thirty seconds in,” the balding one replied.

“The fool’s daft if he thinks he has a chance. He’s too fast. Too jittery.”

All three watched with disinterest as the boy’s tremulous fingers curled and released. When he was finished he nodded bashfully and placed the object in his hands on the floor; the men jotted down some lazy marks on their sheets and looked back up as the marley vinyl was scrubbed clean by a custodian. Another cage was brought to the stage.

They waited for the next player.


An hour had passed, and the men had not yet been satisfied with any of the performances. All seemed, as they discussed in disgruntled baritones, reluctant, or fearful, or even ashamed; the few that attempted at genuine passion could not quell their nerves— either that, or they were grossly theatrical, all smarm and not enough subtlety.

Charles’s face was red. “You know, I think this— this whole thing is hopeless. Horrible.” He clenched and unclenched his teeth, trying not to cry out in frustration. “They’re so bland.”

“There’s one more person on the list.”

“Yes, one more failure,” he muttered, leaning back in his seat. He crossed a leg. “My enthusiasm is insurmountable.”

The final auditionee ambled up the steps. From where the men were seated, her face was obscured by shadow, but still they could determine the smooth contours of her limbs, the outline of her body, each sure, slow step she took. “Marion Dupont,” she spoke, once she’d sat down on the stage. The light cast now revealed her features— full lips, olive skin, penetrating hazel eyes. “Year 11.” Her blouse was tucked neatly into a pleated tartan skirt; her hair was without a strand out of place.

For a moment she merely remained still, shifting her easy gaze across the mens’ faces, causing them to fidget uncomfortably. Then, without a word, she slunk to the floor, resting on her knees, and peered through the cage; a white rabbit regarded her with wide eyes.

She opened the cage.

The rabbit was now in her arms; she sunk her nose into its fur, caressed behind its ears. It sniffed her cheek— pawed adorably at her sleeve.

She picked up the object.

 

STAB! STAB! STAB!

With an expression of complete indifference she drove the knife into the small body, twisting it round halfheartedly, as if a child tired of his favorite plaything. Copious amounts of blood fell around her; the rabbit’s fur was soon matted, clumpy and crimson.

Marion stared hollowly for a while— watched the red seep into her clothes— and then tore open its belly, gutting the corpse. Her fingers worked deftly, precise, in prying the fur from the carcass, extracting the innards; slowly she dragged her sticky hands across her lip and neck, down, curving out the slight shape of her breasts, down to the fold of her skirt, between her legs— tracing a ragged red line wherever they touched— and here she curled her fingers in, pulsing, throwing her head back, throaty sounds escaping her mouth…

When she was finished, she was sitting inside a ring formed of organs, with the rabbit’s dismantled head resting in her hands. The smell of slaughter clung to her body like perfume. Her lips burned.

“End,” she said, with a bored sigh.


(2019)

Featured Image by Megan Wyreweden

By the River (2.17.19)

The water is gurgling, clear, lapping against the mossy bank, where I am perched upon a stone. I think it’s almost noon. I can see the wooden bridge leading into the deep woods and all around me are crooked green trees, some fallen branches blooming with vibrant fungi. The river is making a loud hush sound, ironically enough; my shoes are caked in dried mud and muck. My hands are cold despite the fact that the chill is pleasant against my skin. I can smell the earth, the grass, the moss, even the breeze— they fill my nose and lungs with warm ardor. The sky is overcast, a slight gray with sparse pockets of bluish-gray sky breaking through. I can see the rocks and pebbles assorted in sundry shades and hues beneath the river’s gleaming surface. Some clovers are poking out of the cool dirt. The water’s song is now thundering in my ears.

I don’t want to leave.

 

the belly of the beast

In the belly of the beast
I am. Round, smooth
(Almost velvet)—
Are the walls enclosing these
Soft limbs and tendons.

Air here, damp, I taste it bitter.
The animal gives a small roar, a tumble;
It shifts, and things now are
Topsy–turvy,
In the belly of the beast—

So I plunge my hands into its innards
(Like layers of sweet, pound–cake)—
I pull them apart and they oooze,
Onto my fingers, but now I am
Free, no longer

In the belly of the beast.

(2019)