When hours passed and no one came inquiring

About the source of distant plumes of smoke,

I looked around and thought it’d be inspiring

If they were underneath this when they woke,

And so I made us beds within the basement

And watched the children cough themselves to sleep,

Cocooned a while in stifling encasement

So they’d emerge as I had from the deep.

And so they did, like groundhogs in the spring

Considering their nascent adaptation

While I explained that one day everything

Would mock their home’s infernal transformation.

I told them, “Children, learn to rest at ease in

Whatever detritus my gods provide,

For when the Earth begins its darker season

They’ll be no other places to reside.

And in that time, the ones who rise as leaders –

Your children or your grandchildren, perhaps –

Will stand alone, as all the world teeters,

In smiling at the imminent collapse.

Now, put aside all notions of returning

Your monstrous souls to permanent gestation

And let us start our home fires brightly burning

Along the path of gloried devastation.”



What simple-minded guru first invented

The mantra “in with good air, out with bad”?

What good is that when all the air is scented

With charring flesh that once was mom and dad?

The children, now my own, beheld the burning

And doubtless raised the question on their own,

And tasted of the atmosphere, discerning

If it should stay within them ‘til they’re grown.

I’d made them all a party to the killing

By placing matches in each little hand

So when the smoke arose they’d be more willing

To let their noses fill, their lungs expand,

Their lips stop trembling and pursue a kiss

From flames that shamed a parent’s tepid love,

Their ears start yearning for the pop and hiss

Of flames that blotted out the stars above.

And so it looked like they were breathing easy

When fire raged where every child had roomed.

The weather, cool and dry and gently breezy

Encouraged all, ‘til all had been consumed.

The wreckage of their home looked no more dismal

Than life within it surely must have been.

And it became the place of their baptismal

With ashes and expended gasoline.


I welcome my description as corrupter of the youth,

For that, it seems, is just a term society appends

To any influencer who indelicately rends

A child from parents with his blunt expression of the Truth.

And so, with gags and blindfolds I obstructed elder lies

And bid the children’s ductile minds to willingly enfold

The wisdom to be found in not just loving as one’s told

But rather understanding whom exactly to despise.

I left their Christian god and human values duly tattered

With tales of gods I’d met, that we could join, that so revile

Outmoded faiths as only so much desperate denial.

And thus a childish worldview was irreparably shattered.

I set to work upon their folks, encouraging the screaming

But making it more meaningful and easier to swallow

By telling where the souls would go and where the world would follow,

So awe could set in children’s eyes and stop their tearful streaming.

And then I let them know they all would find a long-sought voice

When those of their forerunners had been made forever quiet.

I wanted them to know it, though, not merely be compliant,

So I resolved to put the young ones to a real choice.

I noted that the oldest son’s expression was elated.

He’d listened raptly all the while and seemed to understand.

I held the knife before him ‘til he took it in his hand

And plunged it in his father’s breast. He never hesitated.


My worldly hopes and godly dreams both followed as I traveled

Evading all the dangers of a fixed investigation.

And as I went on running thus, those lively roots unraveled

Which might have turned one goal into the other’s expiation.

Instead, I saw my grayscale dreams become an overlay

For all the ordinary lives I casually encountered.

And so it was when on the road I found a place to stay

Among a country family who failed to make their outward

Appearances seem finer than their meager, base existence

Possessed of peasants’ faith, of resignation, and of silence.

Immediately I discerned in all the kids resistance

And in the parents only a pathetic kind of violence.

And soon thereafter, thinking of a life I had envisioned

I flared with rage at unexamined, valueless antiqueness

That keeps strong children and the very species quite imprisoned

And molds them in a shape that reproduces human weakness.

To place that shape on bright display, I bound the feckless pair

So mom would grow repetitive in desperate supplication

While dad did little more than slump down helpless in his chair

And let his kids be spectators to all my recreation.

I hoped the hideous display would help them understand

The worth of many parents is exhausted when they breed.

“The best of gods acknowledge this,” I said, “and they command

That you must sing a song for them; your children must be freed.”


In thinking on the visitation, I came to understand

My will, although subordinated, hadn’t been destroyed

But still would have a role to play. And since that day, I planned

To build myself a stable base from which could be deployed

My darker soul and emissaries that I would acquire

With pride at thinking I could forge my brethren out of fire.

I’d started on my path by disregarding the banal,

Like kids and marriage, as distractions from my true existence.

But then I came to recognize their weirdly altered call,

Which echoed deeply in my silent visitor’s insistence

That even these should bend so I would never have to bother

With love or procreation just to fill the role of father.

I hoped therefore to find a protégé, a pet, a bride,

Who’d understand me not as merely master but creator.

My stance, like great Colossus, overspanned a great divide

‘Tween artisans who sought to tear me down or make me greater.

How mightily did one side lift me up, and to recover

I’d have to place my foot more firmly down upon the other.

In dreams I heard the voice of gods all sighing their assent,

Their understanding that for the fulfillment of their mission

Their servant’s blood would need a sort of pathway of descent

And many anchor points to drag mankind to its perdition.

Indeed, with ordinary aspirations I united

The sunny realms of man with realms eternally benighted.


Eventually it became a regular occurrence

That creatures of the deep, the great beyond would take positions

Upon the surface of my dreams, drawn upward by the currents

That mingle base desires with rather loftier ambitions.

Upon the ends of tentacles and claws, the monsters fed me

A cavalcade of inspiration and nocturnal visions,

A sort of vague instruction urging me to be so deadly

The very veil between two worlds succumbs to my incisions.

They lashed themselves to me as if Ulysses at the mast;

They honored me by seeing that my mind was made a vessel

By which they’d enter into Earth triumphantly at last,

A bridge in which whoe’er I touched became another trestle.

In fact, I quite suspect if someone watched as I was sleeping,

They’d witness inhumanity in vibrant darkness streaming

Through rocky pores upon my mind, wherein those gods were keeping

The souls of slaughtered human lambs, still musically screaming.

Indeed, one night I woke to the peculiar sensation

Of something at my side that had stepped bodily upon

My soul, the architect and product of its own creation.

Its heavy presence lingered ‘til the harsh and cloying dawn

And in the meantime whispered unexpected affirmations,

Reminders that the work to come proceeds when I am dead,

That eagerness to serve ought not engender such impatience

As leaves nobody groomed to serve the monsters in my stead.


It’s strange to me that Man has got the nerve

To turn his prayers to lists of pleas and wishes.

You see, a proper god won’t deign to serve.

Instead, it rules, manipulates, bewitches

Its subjects into populating stories

That make the world richer and conclude

With men made agents of the writer’s glories,

As vessels for its energy, or food.

Your god may rest at ease in magic lamps

Or leave its gifts beneath a treasured rainbow.

Mine spreads like evening shadows and encamps

In mortal hearts. It doesn’t feel their pain, though.

Indifference is the first of godly powers

That starts my transformation so the prey

Looks up in awe and sees the role that towers

Above them as they’re exiting the play.

There’s some who make their final prayers out loud,

Who fold their hands and fall upon their knees

Then realize their “loving” god allowed

Their wishes to be scattered to the breeze.

It should be clear which deity is leading

In competition. It is plain to see

A trend of ineffectually pleading

Has never made one holier than me.


I come from she whom Swinburne calls

Every man’s mother and lover.

I wrote the line upon the walls

In blood, that they might recover

From that revulsion which one needs

To stay tied to moral duty.

Now may they recognize these deeds

For their grace and subtle beauty.

And may they stand reciting verse

In carnage, rosy and pretty

And feel they’re honored by the curse

That is visiting their city.

You fools, your outraged minds are bland

As old-style hats and coats. You’ll see

That handing misery to man

Can be a type of charity.

It may not be the Christian kind

But pious thought often clashes

With greater truths that poets find

In Grecian urns, full of ashes.

Upon William Blake’s suggestion

I write to set the reader free

From “Hell-or-Heaven”. A question:

“Did He who made the Lamb make ME?”


I came upon a diff’rent sort of satisfaction when

I’d put a greater span of distance and a little time

Between my urge and notions of indulging it again.

I saw it from a new perspective, warier than mine.

While I alone have felt and only I can understand

The feeling of the knife and the revolver in my hand,

Where lately I had made a home they’re bringing out the dead

And everywhere I wander I perceive the people’s dread.

With murders linked together, now the newsmen tell my tale,

Inspiring speculation with their bloody, grim detail.

Such dark imagination fills the holes in corpses’ heads

And roughly knits together what my blade had torn to shreds.


To hear my deeds recounted, I watch strangers turning pale

And sharing in a memory that lingers like a scar.

Assuredly, they wonder if their lives are just as frail,

And I exist to show the world that yes, they truly are.

While I am walking free among the innocent and weak,

The stories will invite the dark inside of them to speak.

I realize that I’ve achieved a special kind of fame

That carries brutal imagery but bears no human name.

Although I’d like the credit, it is better they believe

In guilty shadows that cannot be caught or grant reprieve.

But I will sign the work to come. I’ll show my red right hand

And thus be both anonymous and known throughout the land.


Previously: I. XIII.

In worry that the triumph of my deeds

Would start to show some casual abatement,

I told myself, “What now my story needs

Is something of a new and bolder statement.”

And so, with four behind me, I eschewed

The impulse toward another random hunt,

Instead resolving that I should exude

An air that’s ever ready to confront

An insult or an underestimation

Of what I can accomplish here and why.

So I declared with new determination:

The armchair sleuth from TV had to die.

I knew they’d link him with my virgin killing,

That if I stayed thereafter, I’d be found.

But also, without question, I was willing

To find another happy hunting ground.

Beneath my grasp, the vigilante withered,

And even so, he seemed to recognize

The face of he who lately had delivered

His friend to Hell, where he’d rejoin her side.

I left his body less adroitly covered

Than all the others, so I must suppose

That he became the first to be discovered.

But I was gone before the trap could close.