Lawson McGhee Library on a Friday Morning. Mental health day.
A real one. The demons and furies and mad, guilt stricken mobs
all out in the open prairie, beneath the holy bowl, in my mind.
The sun is soft, but growing hot, in the simple, one pane windows,
as I sit, trying to dream a new dream that lets me escape, not fear
the light and heat of the coming summer, all the poisons sweated out.
Hide in the thick and close non-fiction stacks, away from the windows,
and most other people and their nitpicking and accusatory eyes of green.
I look for the testament of witches, the last words of a blasphemous prophet.
And I don’t like the wide open places, too like the prairies without cover,
easy prey for the demons and beasts and the stars that tear your soft flesh.
Deep in the stacks. Deep in the quiet. Deep in words not motivated by lust.
And evening falls, the most cruelly banal part of the day, the deadest inside.
And I must walk in open territory of The Fort, with my demons, and with drunks.
A book I carry my finally reveal the Words of God, in a dark and raging story.
Felicity came, ethereal spirit, broken winged angel.
I lay on my side looking at her in the dark of the room.
Her light flickered and was ashen grey, blurry at the edges.
She was dreaming, a moment of sleep out on the front.
She sent her light to me, as I lay in the mental asylum,
slipping away from her and what remnants remained of hope.
Her smile was strained, and she held her side, chest rising laboriously.
Even in dreams we hurt and we bleed and the demons come to claim us.
I had been awake all night, and now I could make it through, for she came.
Her light walked towards me, still in her tattered and dirty uniform.
She crouched beside me, and she stroked my cheek, looked into my eyes.
I saw the light becoming distorted, I saw the horrors blotting out her hope.
Tears filled my eyes, and I felt shame again at being broken, and left behind.
Through her light, she kissed my head, tenderly kissed my lips, wiped away the tears.
The war was here and it was everywhere, no escape from the blood, the loss, the bitterness.
She stood up, and then flickered and disintegrated and then was gone, her eyes lingering.
She can never stay, only comes in the dead of night, and is losing herself out on the front.
I am broken and cannot be by her side. I weep bitterly. I slip away into tormented sleep.
There are still stacks of opened boxes, the windows still uncovered,
but I feel somewhat safe, being back from the road, and behind a
row of thick trees.
Just a couch and my laptop, and the plastic, toy horses my kid sister
played with when she was little, before the demons started an endless
war in her head.
I sit Indian style in front of them on the floor, hardwood against my bare
ankles, playing with them, trying to make stories and find the right childlike
spell that will make her whole again.
My kid sister, not a kid, now a woman, sleeps upstairs, still plagued by bad
dreams even then. The demons don’t let her be. I can’t call down the angels,
and I doubt God saying doesn’t forsake us.
I put on puppet shows for her, about King Arthur and Guinevere fighting Satan,
and make up ballads of Archangel Michael fighting Satan, casting him out forever,
giving her hope her ware can be won.
At night she’ll sometimes sit outside on the back patio, even as winter comes,
in her nightshirt and jammie bottoms, listening to melancholy hymns on her
headphones. Even with God, this world is bittersweet.
I remember, when she was little, I was her favorite brother, and she followed me
like an angelic familiar, like the hope of a new morning even after a long dark night,
and I remember playing with the horses she so loved.
And she could make me see, in my older and lazy third eye, that we were riders on
the steppes and on the plains and the ancient mountains, priests and warriors in the
world so resigned to evil.
And I try to call that magic now, re-open my third eye so I can make my way to the battle,
so doesn’t have to fight alone, so she can be happy and wild yet again, be Michael chasing
Satan out forever, so she can be Gabriel, telling the world what it needs to hear.
I push her on the swing, tied to the tall branch of the giant tree in her front yard.
It’s not like when we were kids, but it’s still sweet on a warm late April afternoon.
We are quiet, letting the wind whisper and the leaves rustle, the sun warm us.
She’s back in town for Spring Break, and I’m having one of my calm spells, all is well.
Her slim shoulder blades are warm under my palms, as I softly push her up and up again.
The tree is the Tower of Babel before it was struck down, when we could both speak.
Another year has passed. She sends funny cards for my birthday, and a book store gift card.
I write her poems that I email her college account, wresting beautiful words out of my unquiet.
My uncle joked when we were kids that we’d get married one day, but her angels were stronger.
Her angels were stronger and she is still a child of the sun, and I fight to climb back to daylight.
Demons, like wasps in caterpillars, plant their fetid seeds in your dreams, eat them from the inside.
She looks up through the leaves to the blue sky, and there’s still one of her angels holding my hand.
She asks if I want to go with her to Roland’s for supper tonight, says it will be her treat.
I say yes, and I almost feel normal, like a real live human, having friends, going out with them.
She hugs me, and she seems so small in my arms, so much gossamer swallowed by my weight.
She gives me an extra squeeze and she walks to the porch, waves back at me before going inside.
I wave back, and then walk down the streets that seem so mocking, so dark in their amiable light.
Tonight I will see her, and we’ll have a good time, and I’ll keep that ember to fight the hungry wasp.
Ariadne, golden thread,
when I was left in the labyrinth
to be devoured by The Minotaur,
led me, through the endless halls
and lightless days and awful cold
and the terror of the beast
back up to the light, back up to
the sun, and the warmth of summer,
away from The Minotaur’s devouring.
Golden thread, alight and golden,
shown in that bottomless pit,
through the catacombs
as I shivered in that bitter bleak,
as the fear of the beast hunting me,
the fear of endless dark in it’s belly,
to hold onto, thread through shaking
hands, and follow back to the sun,
to warmth of daylight and life in bloom.
Ariadne, standing there, as I came out
of the pit, that bottomless pit, holding
the end of the golden thread in her hands
hands that let it go as I emerged, and stroked
my face and wiped away my tears, and raised me up
and showed me the sun was still there shining,
and that the beast had not won, The Minotaur
had not taken my soul as a feast, that I was out
of the darkness, and it all could be wonderful again.
Awake in the night, watching sparse snow flakes fall,
wishing I could see the demon that is out there,
that can see me so clearly.
Hot, black coffee, because what is sleep? What are dreams?
Rebekah is in my mind, poetess, the impossible good thing.
Not her, not any other woman, will ever be at my side in these moments.
I lay down in my bed, knowing there is no hiding from the demon, he knows all.
My enemy is closer to me than any passing women ever was, knows me true.
The snow stops, the night goes on, and I dream of being innocent.
Of kissing Rebekah on our wedding day.
She’s wearing a long sleeved white sweater,
black capri pants, and plain white tennies.
Mother is fussing over her, smoothing her hair,
telling her it will be alright, she doesn’t need lucky pennies.
Her first date tonight, something like a normal kid,
something good in this world that’s taken so much.
She turns to me, the one found her that cold night,
when she was almost lost, beyond the sun’s touch.
Her eyes hopeful, but unsure, calling for reassurance.
I smile kiss her head, tell her it will be real swell time.
She smiles, all light from a vibrating star, her light
finally escaping a black hole, making dreams rhyme.
I take her picture, wanting to hold onto this moment,
hopeful and beautiful and sweet, after we almost lost her.
The demon did not win, we saved her in time, but he is patient.
I know that darkness falls again, can’t defeat, only defer.
The doorbell rings, and she squeals and is so ecstatic.
She found a boy who loves her, who will be her brave one.
Me and mother hug her, and then she runs to the door.
The boy is there, hugging her tight, consolation for what can’t be undone.