A sweet angel, with wings that had bled,
and the sorrows in the wind, demons in her head.
She radiated like the sun, bright in the Colorado sky,
and I wish she could have stayed, didn’t have to die.
The Demons that beat me down, she rose above.
I couldn’t find the way. She followed path of love.
In a book store, I read of her, and came to the light.
To a world so endless and warm and so blindly bright.
After these years, and the warmth has gone cold, light gone.
I still call to her in these endless nights, fighting until dawn.
The Church was just a smile on a corpse, a deathlike rage.
But she still shines. She was real. She was the Holy Mage.
I’m driving across the plains, to where I can give my soul.
I love her still, she led me back to light, even as bitterness takes it’s toll.
Love her like an angel, a saint, a magic known only in a fraction of days.
Maybe she loves me back, maybe I make her proud, as this Lost Child prays.
End of a cul-de-sac in an abandoned suburb,
surrounded by a plain of golden wheat,
as golden as the sun.
Musty and broken A-frame church,
mid-century bright and pretty and full
of light, shines for no one, or only one.
The starburst cross on the wall,
the altar empty and broken,
by our greed, restlessness undone.
I sleep in the old nursery, with a happy Jesus
and bright colors and a nostalgia glow
of a happier time before doubt.
I write words in my yellow, legal tablet,
trying to touch God, be touched by God,
in the ruins of a world left to those left out.
I remember, seeing something in the sun, once,
in an August morning, so bright and pure
that my child mind couldn’t help but shout.
The sanctuary still glows gold in late summer,
in the morning glow that may even be a Sunday morning
as I wait for her to come back from the war in Amarillo
I pray for her safety and bravery, and to know beyond this world,
when I wrap her in my arms again, the weight of her reality
and the softness of her kisses, the harsh breath from a cigarillo
and that we will be one flesh, and one spirit, complete, total,
made new in God’s sight and the musty gold and holy light
of this old church so full of light, as the fading trees still lush billow.
Faith is the name my mother gave me.
Faith she always had. Always all she had.
She couldn’t keep the demons back.
She couldn’t keep him from betraying me.
Faith held her together and held me close.
But my heart was wrung out without deliverance.
He took something precious from me.
Something that’s beautiful for other people.
He took something precious from me.
And God looked the other way.
Out in the desert hills, cold in the night,
I look up at the sky, all those distant stars
Faith is the name my mother gave me
and it’s in short supply, as I smoke my last ciggie.
Faith my mother always had. Always all she had.
Faith? Is it my name? Is it me? Is it in the sky?
I see a blue light come out of nowhere, up there,
sharp and warm, cutting the dark, spilling bloody light.
I feel something I can’t dream, or say with my tongue.
Demon or angel, it’s a passing in the night, a terrifying wonder.
And then it’s gone, a flashing spark blinking out,
and I am without a thought of what to wipe away.
Faith is the name my mother gave me. My name.
Out in these desert hills so cold in the night.
These lonely hills I could walk home or to Tartarus.
To the underworld or to the arms of my mother.
He took something precious from me, forever tainted.
But there’s a blue light in the sky and another world.
Faith is the name my mother gave me. She gave that to me.
Maybe God is indifferent, but mother is not, not ever at all.
I walk back home, to mother, to home, to walking on to paradise.
Maybe God will come through, and he’ll wipe away my tears.
But I know my mother will tonight.
Her buzzcut was growing out,
> A fine tawny bristle on her head.
> Same cool, bottle green eyes
> That took devotion as their daily bread.
> Thin fingers, hand rolled cigarette,
> She cut the deck, showed the Death Knight.
> She exhaled pungent smoke, ghostly smile,
> Then the name of God she did slowly write.
> A name that drew blood in my amoral heart
> And gave her the only peace in her dreams.
> My lover was a fickle thread in stained cloth
> And that name was the strength in the seams.
> I ate the note, which tasted of honey,
> And the name pinpricked my lover’s tears.
> The woman before me offered wine, wrath,
> But I made my sword a plowshare many years.
> I kissed her head, golden bristle like a bird,
> Her eyes stole a daydream of us making love.
> It was another wing, a beleaguered seraphim.
> Her face was quickly hidden by a cooing dove.
“Do you think it’s like in that old movie, that like, Hell’s full?”
“No, because everyone who dies comes back as a zombie, and that would mean everyone goes to hell, and that The Church has been lying to us all these years, and were fucking suckers, and also that it doesn’t matter if you’re good, you still burn, and who needs to think shit like that?”
The two others in the armored van continued like that. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, or at least lose myself in non thought, just free floating blackness. I wanted to lulled by the hum of the engine and the tires on the road, and the rocking of the van as we made our way back to Paladin Base.
It didn’t work though. My heart still thudded in a sickening and breathless hollowness. I still strained to catch my breath and not feel like I was suffocating. And the two other assholes in my squad would not stop yammering about god and hell and the undead. None of it went anywhere. None of it meant anything.
The van shuddered and shimmied as we went over the fat concrete lip at the entrance to motorpool. Finally, maybe, this night would fucking end. Harris and Walters where the muscle and the firepower. I was the Priest In Command. They would only have to unload the young woman’s body, but I would have to perform Rites over here, before putting the corpse into the crematorium to burn.
Harris and Walters unloaded the stretcher with the body, and placed it on the gurney, and started wheeling it to the Revenant Chapel, which held the crematorium. Then they’d change from their battle armor into civvies, lock up their weapons and be done. This job was hell for everyone who did it, who rounded up the Revenants, or who were present at deaths or any mass casualty event where their were in short order going to be lots of undead to be put down. But I hated being a Priest, and having Perform the Rite that we were told would send the good to heaven despite the Curse of Returning. I hated having to be last one to be with them, to bear witness to their final destruction.
Most of all I hated the thoughts it led to. 15 years the Curse of Returning had been here, and it never ended and we humans rose again after corporeal death, hungry and ravenous and soulless, to have to be destroyed again by a well placed hollow point in the skull, and for all the devotion and prayers and songs of praise all of us in The Church sent wafting up to heaven, it never got better, the curse never lifted, and society just continued to crumble, to grow tattered and dissolute, in the face of all this madness. All the awnsers The Cardinals could not supply.
The Revenant Chapel was nothing like glories The Church had once produced. Nothing awe inspiring or hushed and sacred. It was a plain cinderblock room painted cream, with an aluminum cross painted a flat gold above the hatch to the crematorium oven. All functionality and utterly banal, like everything else.
I was supposed to remain in body armor and keep my side arm holstered on my leg, and my main assault weapon on the sling when I performed The Rite. I was not going to do any of that. Off came armor and weaponry, and shirt, undershirt and boots. I was hot and I couldn’t breathe and the weight and the air and even the silence seem oppressive, like the weight of a million atmospheres.
This Revenant was a young woman, poor and already a mother. We’d killed her in front of her two daughters because otherwise the daughters would have been eaten by their undead mother. But the girls would carry the weight of that death forever, and already they’d been born with so much else to scar them.
I cleaned the body with holy water. I placed a communion wafer in her mouth. I said prayers over her and burned insense. I told her her Father In Heaven would receive her into paradise.
Tears welled in my eyes as I went through all this, though I never broke down into sobs. All that had happened and all that was yet to come and all that we, God’s Perfect Children, suffered in the dirt and mud of this world, and He showed no interest, just let it all play out.
The woman had been sweet and loving. She’d been a devout believer. She’d loved her daughters and did the best she could by them. She died in a stupid accident, and all of that and all that happened after they saw, and no angel wiped away their tears.
I crumpled against the cold cinderblock wall, the sobs finally coming. I held my crucifix in my hands, and mouthed the words of prayer, but I felt nothing getting past the ceiling.
I left Paladin Base as the sun was coming up. This early the day was actually cool and all was still quiet and I almost imagined it was all over, we’d all gone to heaven, the world would not wake-up and continue, we could all rest forever.
I share a small bungalow on a back alley, behind a ratty apartment complex and a old Victorian house down at heel and now a half way house, with my lover. Priests are supposed to be celibate and refrain from romantic love and pleasures of the flesh, but my heart is hungry and demands love and affection, and, well, there’s worse things I could do.
She is not awake yet. The morning sun casts a hollow on her. Her back is turned to me, and with her long, dark hair fanning out over her naked back, and the soft rhythm of her breathing, and that wonderous light making her glow like a Madonna, all purity and love. In that, in that simple sight, I’m reminded of what beauty this world can be, and how it can take you out of all the pain and emptiness, and almost make it seem worthwhile.
I lift up the covers and bury my face in my lovers hair. I reach one arm around her chest and the other meets it after passing under her neck. She sighs and I wash her body with my tears and anoint her with all the light and devotion and sweetness that is left in my broken heart.
We make love, and then she dresses for her day. She kisses me, once, softly on the lips, I drift to sleep with the smell of her perfume filling me with bittersweet dreams, and puts me in some long lost garden.