by Joe Pulver
Room: appearance of pain untempered.
Below: street corner with a lamp post—a blonde, eyes to belly a poem, magnified—more than life. Both glowing, drawing the world to them.
Day the resident of light, played his part, met the end, went out.
Night, the desolate river faithful only to shadows (and passions, and crime, and blasphemies, and those bruised souls caught in the juju of inflamed black dreams), came.
The blonde, red rouged lips, blue eyes, blue eye shadow, sleek black dress that promised journeys in meadows of burning sun, came to stand. Didn’t have to wait long. Never does.
Above: the room of winter. And the heavy man (his crime, sorrow), rigid and narrow—condemned in a grave-room without bridges—whose last-puff-voice spent the stars on wayward empties.
But he remembers orbits, and threads, and the horizons of summer days, dripping with light that could not be withered by black rain collisions. Once he dreamed of flowers—soft peach petals, and easy chair futures . . . Once. He remembers . . . Yearns for more again, for flame.
At his window of steel he sees it.
Flame. So warm . . . so warm . . . to reach out . . . fingers free of millstone pockets, stretching, surging . . . to touch . . . something of the sun . . . again . . .
Presses his palms—exclamations, flat to the glass . . .
And she looks in his direction. Up. Smiles. Her gaze lingers. Invitation.
The instant dream, a tide of music fills him.
His feet a fever rolling, he leaves his room of warped confusion, of rags and cluttered ashtrays, and blank pages . . . The bird free. Its diamond eyes soar . . .
Through halls of dust and squabbling whispers of hunger.
He believes today is not yesterday returned to bestow attacks of splintered and broken.
His breath and dreams in the street of stakes, straight to her side.
He leans into her bubbling cheer. Hears answers flutter. Follows the wake of her chariot of light.
Her phantom-white hands open a door. He enters the bright shore of her pretty, glossed rooms. Shore to corner her castle is set with lace and rainbow flowers.
By the French doors to the balcony he sits. Has tea. Delicate, spiced and warm. And is drawn to her smile of spring in high places.
The night is young and sings of her. The smile of the moon, a spirit bird resting in its white nest joyously beguiled by her warmth.
That warm smile, the sweet thing of Earth that begins in her laugh and sings promises of redemption and more opens petrified places within him . . .
Drawn to it, as he would be drawn to anything or any presence that could turn him from ill star-winds and bleak phantasms of foul decay.
From her mouth and breast charms flow.
A pretty little web she spins.
Her sculptured sweater of All For You comes off.
A shoulder. Salt-white . . .
And soft. . .
His émigré eyes tremble.
The big electric moon colors the meadow of her breast.
She turns and laughs.
Opens the doors to her balcony.
Whirls in the naked moonlight.
The spaghetti strap of her clinging black dress falls from her shoulder.
She laughs, strokes the pale skin of her shoulder.
Her fingers dance in the pallid light.
He wants to say, “I have dreamed of you. Of your cotton candy kiss . . . Your gaze.” He remains silent.
Staring at her. At—
Her fingers, secret songs from far corners, touch ghosts captured. Spills them like wine.
They’re in his hair.
Sighing in his ear. Charming him with delights spilled from the moon.
They trick his eyes.
She blows him a kiss.
Rushes to his side . . .
The scent of his blood, kissing the animal in her soul. It rubs her in her dry places.
Her ache for blood-comfort throbs.
She sat on his lap. Put her arms around him.
Whispered, weaving her spell. Soul-stealer, cooing lyric yeah-yeah-yeahs in her game of I will love you . . .
Promised . . .
His barriers broken, swept away by the bottomless Paris hours of pleasure on her death-silent lips of rose.
Her face is a lake of open summer sun . . . He tilts into her eyes. In his midnight core cries her name . . .
Her fangs penetrate the smooth flesh of his neck. Get hold of his vein . . . the pleasure burst, the flow—enchantment—of sultry fire . . .
He opens his mouth of sad dreams to speak.
His voice of NOTHINGNESS drowns her voice.
No trance, no wine, this pain, This HOLLOW vulgar language of NOTHING.
TERROR, the journey of pain. Burning in her.
It, the black drift of the hardest truth, scrapes through her. This sharp pecking, tearing crow leaves her tongue a black dry rag.
She tastes her own FEAR. Tries to pull back . . . Too late. It has touched her in her deepest places . . .
She begs, black fever in her inmost deeps . . .
Her arm and her hand go numb, fall away lifeless.
The toes of her left foot wither in her shoe. Fingernails dry and split . . . Her skin goes grey.
It, the HOLLOW NOTHING, moves. Consuming. Not harpooned. No BOOM—no BANG—no boots splashing, no hulk shambling through the labyrinths of her mind . . .
It takes NOW, and ME . . . Scatters all the grains of I. Broken shapes the lost in ashes countries of her memory. Takes sorrow and fight. Leaves holes in images/concepts.
Losing the places and things between the lines. Words are broken, guttural fragments . . .
What parts of HER the indifferent destroyer leaves burn to run, but there’s no where to hide.
THERE disappears as it erases every “Mercy” she barricades herself behind.
The dead blood in her veins sours and burns.
Facts become unstable. Incomplete.
Fear becomes pure.
Being’s gallery is full of holes, tiny infinities of emptiness. Identity, pieces of it, now a difficult narrative littered with craters of blind motionlessness . . .
Some bitterblack, silent tiger crisscrosses her thoughts, mind—Soul. Takes sad and dreamy and past of wishes and stories. Its mouth of nothing takes, invades, leaves barren EMPTINESS. The nightmare beast feeds . . . No pretty smile, no tone, no knife or fork, no jaws, just takes . . . and takes . . . There and gone . . . Takes any something into its hollow and leaves HOLLOW.
Quietly it numbs. No method. No precision. No fitting or connected . . . no cracks or mysteries to hunt for information . . . I, or some part of it, transformed, into NOTHING.
Turns off edges, pieces, leaving NEVER BEEN.
It, the soul eater, is moving the borders of her mind. It ripples, rends, burying what parts it takes in absolute of DARK . . . Self divided by SILENCE, but it’s not an impact, not a surface pulling, it is just something that exists, something without heat or consciousness that leaves gaps . . . holes . . . HOLLOW . . .
One I crumbles as terror presses.
Another piece/section/pattern GONE.
Panels woven of iron-and-steel-I and undying, monolithic-Me that could not be dislodged and had outlived one vampiric death, feed the cold expanding BLACKNESS.
A slender piece of Me (perhaps it was a foreground, perhaps a translation, perhaps the memory of a woman in a painting, or a flood of baggage fighting for escape in a song), out of bridges and keys, reaches for a wavering candle of hope that dies alone in the saturation of blank space.
She, summoning a dimming I, shivers as things close, as interiors lose their center and are sucked into Never Again. She can almost see them unwind . . .
laughing when the old man’s false teeth fell out as he tried to scream/the way home/the dark tunnel in the fog and the snob/the message rushing in Babi’s chest/the early autumn chill on the marble floor, her bare feet leaving bloody footprints/the New Year’s mimes lying silent—truly silent/the hottest blood of all/the pretty black-haired girl in the devil suit on all fours, begging/amazing/intricate/the game of nursery rhymes that ended with a half-gurgled grunt of a scream/how warm it felt/bees and marmalade/being informed it was not the end of the world, merely the end of summer—all the clairvoyant nights after/Miles’ hushed bye-bye crying/needing math/. . . impulse . . . /absorbing expressions/existence struggling in the white steel hands of the incomprehensible
how simply amusements arrived
flanking prey (wide-eyed Casanova, or courtyard-smooth, god-like thigh of pungent poetry sick of her husband or boyfriend’s urge storms—blood’s BLOOD) before sampling
the quick fix of BLOOD
sureness/pleased/when I was/reached/solved/every minute of faith closed by this coursing never again of atrocious emptiness . . .
A tear scars her cheek as she tries to recall things now not simply forgotten, but wholly eradicated.
Where first and before were, now is no after, no moments of concern, or doors. Where the authority of solid and known stood, now is things no more.
Losing: all the howls that climbed the walls . . .
what she made
what she has seen
the Frankenstein mind of 200 years [feeding/hunting/shaking that fine, tight ass for the prey] 200 years The Thirst drinking hot, gushing BLOOD—200 years of hard, ugly mass murder, dripping (and smeared) with scarlet red BLOOD . . . 200 years of corners and lies: she has been a bitch, a breathtaking syllable in a poem, a coyote, a vagina, an altar, a killer of men, anger, and not quite sure (learning to redecorate after the new clock stomped out the sun) . . .
it’s her world
as SHE understands it
mouth putting an end to
she thrived on their fire
. . . preface/possible
She is losing herself—
-for a second
-dirty rags of silk
-for the living there is only death
-had to have/not asking/wanting to explode/every juicy little tidbit
-so help me
-what do you mean
-his gray and green rotten fangs
Losing all the pieces and threads of 200 years of power . . .
Her mouth hangs open noiselessly. It can not find or form words. Not the ones she requires.
The gestures and posture of appearances, the muscles and foliage of time she could return to, not cast off, but zeroed!
Her passages erased.
She is naked.
“Fuck.” Sputters out . . .
Rain . . . The promise broken with pen and ink . . . The lush paradise the silver lady visitor used to spill over her childhood dreams . . .
Reckonings . . . the murmurs of listen here . . . the listings, noteworthy and those that no longer play the mainstage . . . each and all no longer contributing.
Once and coupling and directions and spent slowly, or ruffled, or carefully, have parted from consciousness . . . even “It was just of the tip of my tongue” is now lost . . .
Where she was sharp and unflappable, brambles of fear ring the hollows.
Predator is PREY. Not embraced, yet drained.
Less and less of herself to deal with . . .
Less and less of the I who is Me to protest/sustain, to know I and all its senses exist in the future—Any future . . .
Less and less of her very essence to rely on . . .
No stars within to find . . .
Her hunger taken from her.
Oh, for an angel . . . for a line . . . for a sky . . . but—
crumbs to follow home
No rope or white horses to ride to freedom and faces and life . . . No bone-faced winter clock of slow to snarl at. She has forgotten joy and how to scream . . .
No survival guide
No child’s books
and ever-soft Mama’s voice, so alive with beauty . . .
shades of life unfurled
or blood—life saving BLOOD!—soul feeding BLOOD!
in This END
or how to say it
The last fragment of her/I/Me/the vampire thing does not snap, or sink, it is not of birds, or Socrates, is not worn out by running through 100 strained lives . . .
The agonies of this spilled void—that does not call or sleep or move straight across
Auroras and places . . . NO.
Memory banks, various montages, streets, personalities, years living and morphing, interconnected to ideas and descriptions and inspirations unwoven . . . Empty.
No lore and its offshoots . . .
No carpet of cowards awaiting her sunrise grave-mouth . . .
Identity—first shy, timid life, and this fearless passage.
No longer unified.
Quietly there . . . and gone
This incarnation of her collective moments slips . . . away
an uncommon death, no thunder, no muttering, no black-wing worm thing from the stars—its red lust a fist of sickness—hunting mortals
broken, out of bravely and finally . . . she no longer knows want . . .
Her heart, a clock without real numbers, stops.
Not even a last breath to gain . . .
(No LOADED right side of the brain. Nothing crosses the corpus callosum.)
Empty takes EVERYTHING.
leaves a grey husk of flesh (No other Me on the other side of the wall of Self; No I to have faith in Me; Not alone (inside) with herself, keeping her secrets; No other coasts of thought; Me not waiting there; Me out of trouble and miscalculations; No Me to find Me; No Me expecting, rising to deal with important matters and truth—imagined or saw; Who I am, as lost as the words of the Purple Sage; Forgetting the addiction and the whip. Forgetting what the black magic d(ID). No I’ll committing . . . or thinking . . . or interfering . . .)
No clues; no headlines . . .
a grey husk of flesh
He inhales, takes his nothingness inside—back. Closes his puppet mouth. Wishes he could find a smile or a friendly hand to sever his ties.
He puts his hands in his pockets. Dust and forgotten tides of silence from his world of pain gets under his fingernails . . .
Back in his silent room of bitter autumn pain he tries to recall her smile . . . her eyes—tender birdsong echoed in their soft-fire starlight . . . thinks he remembers her clothes were almost off . . . maybe his gloom blushed as her golden grace gathered . . .
She laughed? Yes. Yes, she did, (it was real) he was sure of it . . . It spilled yellow/white/soft/shining light, warm gardens of light . . .
And was there . . . a kiss?
“Who cares for me?”
So full of teeth blazing, the sun (just this moment risen) is silent.
(LOVE ~ Forever Changes)
*originally printed in Sin and Ashes (Hippocampus Press, 2010) and reprinted here with permission of the author
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. is an author, editor, and poet, who general works within the horror fiction, noir fiction / hardboiled, and dark fantasy genres. He lives in Germany.