But First…

    I’m glad so many people liked the bit of erotica poetry I wrote Wednesday. Back when I decided to create stories that weren’t typical and to focus on female characters, I didn’t want to restrict myself in any way. My creative urges veer towards the dark, but one thing I always wanted to make sure of was that whenever I chose to use sex, it would mostly be in a positive way. There’s enough stuff out there shaming people out of sex (while at the same time throwing as much sex as possible at people [psychiatrists wonder why Americans have problems…]), I didn’t feel the need to add to that pile. Celebrate sex, damnit. Responsibly. And although I don’t mind writing sex, I can’t write something that’s purely sexual. By that, I mean that I can’t write just a sex act. There has to be more going on. One of the things I’m proudest of about THE GRAVE OF LINDA SEWARD is that there’s a story along with fucking. Well… not so much a story as it is character stuff. But it’s great character stuff, I feel. I didn’t give them names, but I’d like to think that you know the couple well enough. Another of my prouder achievements is not making the couple typically romantic.

“I love you.” “I love you, too.” “This moment is so special to me.” “I know, it’s the same for me.” “Don’t let go.” “I’ll never let go, Darling. I’ll never, ever let go.”

    Fucking shoot me. That amorous interplay might’ve been fine last century, last millennium, but love evolves. It’s not just about being lovers anymore. The person you’re with has to also be your friend. Otherwise, why bother potentially spending the rest of your life with them? You should be able to have passionate sex with them as well as have fun. Be their shoulder to cry on and be their enabler. As I was writing the poem, I got the sense that the couple really liked each other as lovers and friends (I’m not nearly as “conscious” when writing poetry as I am when screenwriting, so lots of things surprise me) and that kept me interested. I wasn’t in the room with the people who’ve enjoyed it, but I’d like to think that it was a reason they were interested, too. That and the oral.

    But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. Things are still on-track this year to make the film that I wrote, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about, either. I told myself to not talk about a project until I was knee-deep in it. Eating crow is a terrible thing. I won’t be directing the film that’s a-coming, but I wanted to stay productive until I write my opportunity to direct. So I decided to write a book of women-centric short stories. Some dark, some funny, some sexy, some philosophical, but always entertaining. The format of the short stories will jump all over the place, too. Some will be written normally, but I plan on doing other things like writing some as if they were letters. And writing some like epic poems like THE ILLIAD. Which brings me to something I’d like to present to you.

    I love time-travel stories (at least one reader knows how deep I am into all things DOCTOR WHO), but I feel that the potential for them hasn’t been realized yet. I have a few ideas and I felt that it was time to put my money where my mouth was. THE PAIN OF BEING MAN (a barely modified Hunter S. Thompson quote) is turning out to be an awesome behemoth. My intention was to write a seven-part poem over the course of seven pages. Well. The part I’m about to share with you (3) ends midway on the eighth page. So, yeah, you’re in for a long read (sorry?). I think the only thing you need to know before reading is that the time-traveler’s name is Melody and that the time-travel device is a horn. Oh, and that I definitely wore my dark hat as I wrote it.

   Thanks for reading.

III

The charred live upon Gallows Hill
Still choke the throats of those who linger
Stroking an axe named “Regress”
On the grindstone called “Life”
History claims that The Trials hung their prey
Yet there is fiction in this truth
Nineteen twigs were snapped
But Salem’s most wretched blights
Are smears on antiquity’s chalkboard
For shared belief can build worlds
And shared denial can will anything to entropy
What tastes more bitter than a lynch mob?
What makes the prideful give pause
Embarrassment
Seeing the step too far behind them
Footprints in the ashes of those they have damned
In the delirium of their prudish blazes

The brandy of power
Flowed down the throats of Salem’s bureaucracy
As Sarah and Alice, Susannah and Mary
As Elizabeth swung from their “charity”
The collective subconscious of the bureaucracy
Drunkenly proclaimed
Women should know their place
On their backs, knees, or last nerves
At the whims of their husbands… their masters
The male gaze guided this purpose
But the execution was far more androgynous
Sisterhood served the mushroomhead
Legs spread and self-worth in absentia
The merest hint of dissent
Was banished to a hole under Gallows Hill
Twice as deep as the grave
But the grave was more inviting

Women dug the hole
Women filled the hole
Women’s cries slapped the dirt
…and some women preferred things this way
The hole began to fill and fill
But the drunkards couldn’t decide
If it was a means or an end
Demeter’s sadness made their choice
As her tears gave Charon a new harvest
Culling the women in the hole
Making them victims no longer
Yet the bureaucracy was still at a loss
Even as the man-made mire dried
Even as the carrion invited pestilence
Until, one night
A prudish blaze made the issue extinct
Lit by friend or foe
Covered by time and shame

In the pandemonium
(Milton’s or Webster’s)
Some women fled to sanity
Tide and plain alike
Caitrin, of the O’Days, found regretful peace
Conceived an expected brood
And died typically
Her mother and sister, however
Were spared such mediocrity
Denied such splendor
Mother, Margaret
Daughter, Fainche
Father, Struthers
All dancers in the Chauvinism Party Line

Once upon an evening dreary
A grievous Struthers took stock of his life
His life left lacking Caitrin
She was his favorite
Daughter, female figure, whatever
For weeks, she’s been gone
His agony caused frenzies and ulcers
He hid his apoplectic nature
For fear of ending up on or under Gallows Hill
But on this evening, he achieved lucidity
A crooked truth erected itself
As he made answers for himself
Its bricks were selfish
And perversions its mortar
Alas, humanity could not be found
Only Fainche, idle sans protection

The salty air, Neptune’s breath
Is a constant presence in this coastal colony
Still
Margaret feels a sting she cannot shake
Malaise ensnares her
Like the day’s take upon the pier
Mother’s intuition or puritanical paranoia
Whichever magnetic plight you choose
Pulls her from her wifely duties
To her idle Fainche

Passing through the doorway
Margaret wades through her dread
She knows they are inside
Yet she cannot place where
She wants to call out to them
Though she fears the potential truth
Her creaking steps reek of warning
Or laughter
But the stinging remains the same
Her failures of domestic exploration
Lead to one last room
Her quivering hand opens
The cellar door

What tender touches reserved for Margaret
Roam over Fainche
Gagged and tearful
Struthers explains himself
Without a hint of hubris or shame
And endeavors Margaret’s understanding
While casting out the absent Caitrin
Father knows best
Murmurs of the bureaucracy
Birthmarks on Margaret’s memory
Another voice she also hears
And mistakes for her conscience
She offers it the same obedience
Whilst snatching Fainche from the queer setting

Struthers commands
With the fury of a broken man
As Fainche clings to her mother’s chest
That his wife return his child to him
Lest he beat them both
And leave them to ruin
Father knows best
But Margaret can’t abandon Fainche
Loyalty to two masters
Takes its toll on her heart
The stinging in her breast
Is like a drill to her core
Her core drills back
A horn through time
…and through dear Fainche

“M-mother? It hurts so.”

Melody is again thrust into horrors
And a year she has never known
As a terrified man stands before her
As a dying girl is wrapped around her
As she still does not understand the spell

“I-I grow cold, Mother, but it’s n-not yet Winter.”

What gnarled thing passes for Struthers’ heart
Gives out first
Then his knees
His shoulders
His head
And Fainche’s tiny hands
Begin to let go of life

“Will I s-see Kitty, Mother? Y-you said that…”

When this happens next
Melody will know why
But until then
She can only bask in the death
And cry herself to sleep

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3 Responses to “But First…”

  1. First, thanks for the shout-out – I do know how much you love time travel. Second, you are not kidding: that is truly an epic poem. I think you might beat The Iliad in length when it’s complete.

    One of the things I like to do with your writing is read it all the way through, then read it in pieces, letting parts catch my eye and take on new meaning that you might not have intended. There is duplicity in this and utter enjoyment.

    • Well, if there was ever a poem that was built to be taken apart and admired in pieces, it’s definitely what will become THE PAIN OF BEING MAN. Kee-ripes, someone should tell that poet to know THE PAIN OF EYE STRAIN…

      Can you think of any poems in particular that you really enjoyed segmenting them?

      • Haha – eye strain. What’s that?

        As far as your question, that is one I will have to think on for a bit. I tend to do that to most (well-written) poems that I read. (Both to famous poets and with blogs that I follow.) There are some poets that it’s much more difficult to do it with because of the average length of their poems (i.e. Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou) and others that I do it just because I feel most of their works are overrated and it is the only way for me to enjoy them (i.e. Sylvia Plath). The truth is, I read A LOT of poetry. It’s pretty hard to keep up with most of it and sometimes the poems mutate and merge in my brain.

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