Dark Depths

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They stay for hours,

Just watching.

Omniscient totems,

They stare into his soul.

Epithetical tentacles keep him close

To a herd of aerial seahorses,

His mind flooded with

Metallic curses and ebony phantoms.

He tries to turn away, but

The binds keep him trained.

His freedom is strangled

Under leather blasphemies.

A watchful jellyfish steals his aches

Of unrequited love and spoiled flesh.

His face boils and his body contorts.

He feels his throat close.

Coughing up webbed hooks and urchins,

The boy vomits, pulling against his restraints.

Nearby seagulls cry for his release,

Silenced in the octopus’ vicious grasp.

Far below, a chorus of dolphins sing,

“Jump! Jump! The deep calls for you.”

The group whinnies and sinks into darkness.

An eel nudges him forward.

“Go on,” it hisses. “This is your chance

To silence the cynics and evade past negligence.”

The boy was trembling at the edge of the springboard.

Ripples form at the water’s surface beneath.

There was no going back to the

Harassment, deceit, and callous abandonment.

He dreamed of a land of passion and acceptance,

And he had a golden ticket.

In a swift motion, the boy jumped,

Feeling his neck snap against a knotted cable.

He drowns in a tempestuous ocean of icy regret

Before he can reach the water.

Featured image found here.

Beautiful Life

He grew his hair out so you’d forget the ugly shape of his face
Sucked in his gut to hide the Bacardi pints from lonely nights past
A life drowning in vodka sweats and bad intentions, he swore he’d swim

Once your lover, the man stood before you a blue collar stranger
He rubbed his naked finger where once there was a ring
Daydreamed about the life that almost was

He smiled when he greeted you because you said you’d never forget his dimples
Sucked in his gut further so you’d see how much he had changed
But hopefulness turned to humiliation when he noticed your finger was bare no longer

Once your best friend, the man wept quietly in his room
Tears streaking the old ultrasound photo he had hidden in his wallet
Fractured, he turned to his past demons and welcomed them back with open arms

He drowned in the liquor so he’d forget your beautiful face
Slit his wrists to forget the baby girl you both had lost
As his blood slipped down the bathtub drain, so too did the pain and regret

Once your enemy, the man drifted away a lost soul
Forever dreaming about the life that almost was

Cinders In the Murk, Ch.1

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The fuchsia sky peppered with cyan speckles; the sweet dampness of my shoulders after a cool rain; luminescent bubblegum butterflies blowing mini kisses at my cheek; forest sprites weaving between my appendages, humming their melodic tune like twirling enchantresses – it all fills my heart with warm syrup: I’m finally home. Although I have one mission left to complete, I can’t help but feel relaxed and at peace in the confines of Espian territory.

Princess Dalia greets me at the heart of the forest by batting those huge emerald eyes and giving me the most welcoming embrace a traveler could receive after returning from a journey. “It’s so nice to see you again, Kal. You don’t know how much I’ve missed you.”

Although I want so badly to keep my hands around my true love, there were other matters that needed to be sorted. “It’s important that I see your father. Is he in his chamber?”

Happiness drained from the royal nymph’s face, and her grip on me falls. “If you hurry you may catch him in the dining hall, but if you don’t find him there, check his chamber.” She brushes a string of hair from her vision, revealing more of her pistachio skin, and pecks my cheek.

I take her hand. “Would you care to accompany me, my darling?”

She shakes her head, no. “Jaya needs me down at the cavern; I believe she’s having difficulty completing the embroidery on the Kannimara tapestry my father requested. You know how important that tapestry is to him.”

After kissing her knuckle, I say, “Take care then, Dacia. I’ll visit you in your quarters tonight; I picked something up from Blarenwood you will enjoy.” I bid her farewell and catch the king in the dining hall, as she mentioned.

The king wasn’t known to exhibit abusive behavior for which many other monarchs are known. So it was to no surprise that I caught him helping clean up after dinner. “Your majesty,” I say, bowing.

“Kalenach, so you’ve returned. I take it the mission was a success?” he asks, shining the final dewdrop plate.

“Lord Espian, I’ve returned not to relay news of success, but one of peril. Although I safely eradicated the raiders around Blarenwood Heights as you asked –”

Espian stops me, turning to the other maids occupying the room. “My dear Zella, Ven, could you perhaps turn to tidying the west wing? Please leave the dinnerware for me – I find it helps me focus.” Then, after having the hall to ourselves, he continues. “I know what you wish to tell me, Kalenach. I’ve known for a very long time how you feel about my daughter.”

“Respectfully my lord, that is not what this pertains to. Rather, it’s about a war with the raiders. There are rumors that you have cut the food and supply lines leading into Gerniyew. Surely the rumors are mistaken; I told them that you’d never allow such a thing to happen because there are far more innocent people than raiders in the crystal city.” I pause to catch my breath. “I’m afraid someone is spreading acid about you.”

The king keeps his eyes trained on a glossy dinner plate. “Oh, Kalenach, they are not mistaken, mind you. And the decision was not an easy one to make, as there are innocents as you stated; however, I’d rather make the sacrifice if it means eliminating the threat of the raiders before they become a force too large to handle.” He smiles. “Don’t you see? The fall of Gerniyew will be so devastating to them that the raiders will surrender, and peace will return to our nation.”

Or that would enrage the masses and turn everyone against us for taking out the most populated settlement in the world. “There has to be another way.” The thought of standing tall beside a twisted king sickens me. I’d rather lose any chance I have with Princess Dacia than take part in this scheme.

“I’m afraid it’s too late. Commander Frossa has already received the order to suffocate the grand city. And the tapestry that I will personally hang in the Gerniyew palace is nearly complete.” Setting a shined plate down to fetch a dirty one, he adds, “This cannot be stopped.”

I once believed nothing could shake the trust and loyalty I had toward Lord Espian, but I am utterly ruined. Without saying a word, I rush out of the dining hall. While I close the door, Espian mutters, “He should have just asked to marry my daughter and minded his own business like I wanted him to; such a shame, such a shame.”

As I exit the palace, I’m dropped in an unfamiliar place. No longer does my heart long to see the glowing butterflies under the magenta sky; the feeling of joy I once got from the song of the forest sprites leaves me now with a caustic pit in my stomach. Knowing that Espian territory – my former home – will be officially declared hostile sends a stinging quake down my spine.

I am torn between the lives of the innocent and the one I would have with Dacia if I turn a cold shoulder and mind my own business as the king requested.

“Kalenach!” It’s Commander Frossa. Her perfect, ceramic lips are pursed to the point of shattering. The king’s order hangs on her hip beside a crystal blade. She stands under the shadow of the royal tower, her sparkling cape dancing against the wind. “We need to talk.” Her voice is hoarse, strained. “It’s about your wife. I don’t know how, but she’s escaped Espinglow.” Her stature drops. “Everything we’ve planned is in peril.”

Kingdom Come

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“It’s time,” announced the pendulum,

Tightening a tattered life vest.

Its twisted fingers tasted silken entrails.

 

From the void in the sky, an infernal howl

Resounded within the hallowed gut.

Caustic waves flowed from the chasm in erratic belches.

Oil replaced deep oceans,

Great mountains reduced to black chalk.

Conflagrations devoured tranquility.

 

The skeptic’s nightmare.

Destiny

Cadbury was Caleb’s first word, having learned it after Grandma Rose sneaked him the chocolaty treat during the Easter get-together. The word’s real significance was unknown to him, however; how could he have known that that was his papa’s nickname during the war?

At five, Caleb attended preschool. It was during his first recess that he met his best friend Juliette. He and Juliette loved the merry-go-round – he pushed because Juliette enjoyed feeling the wind in her golden hair. Although he could do away with nap time and the learning of colors and numbers, every day at school was one he looked forward to as long as Juliette was by his side.

It was not until his fourth grade year that Caleb truly enjoyed learning; math and reading were pretty cool, but science was his favorite subject. He was intrigued by the notion that, despite its apparent emptiness, an autumn breeze was anything but. Unfortunately, this new realm led to the debunking of popular myths, and an awkward silence greeted him and his family during Christmas.

Caleb asked Juliette to a dance during the eighth grade. She chose to wear an elegant, pink dress, so his father bought him a pink tie. His favorite memory that night was when the two danced the Macarena. He and Juliette were the last to leave, as they were having too much fun to remember the time.

At sixteen, Caleb got his driver’s license, and his mother bought him a teal 1990 Mustang. That was the year Juliette first kissed him, and heart disease claimed Grandma Rose.

During his high school graduation, Caleb gave a valedictory speech. In it, he remembered the fantastic times he had with Grandma Rose, and how her passing made him realize that life isn’t fair. Too often, he stated, good souls are taken from us when they still have more living to do, more lives to touch. Shortly after walking the stage, diploma in hand, Caleb decided he would make it his mission to reach out to as many people as he could, to give the countless Grandma Roses out there more time to live. He had never considered becoming a medical doctor, but surely it was his destiny, he believed.

Sadly, Caleb would never succeed in his mission, let alone even graduate, because his mother was pressured into abortion by her boyfriend long before.

They had trouble financing their own lifestyle, so how could they ever consider caring for a needy baby, her boyfriend prodded. And what would her Bible-thumping parents think of her getting knocked up before graduating high school, he added. “We’ll try for another one when we’re not young and dumb.” His sharp words left the young woman gutted and torn. Besides, he shot, if the news got out that he was fathering a stupid kid, they’d never give him a football scholarship. Didn’t she want him to be successful?

Passion

The taste of his skin on my teeth had never tasted so sweet. Our bodies intertwined, my lips move from his lips to his neck. Traces of warm spice and amber invigorated my senses with each euphoric peck down his chest until I reached his puckered navel. As I reached up to grasp his nipple, our eyes met. The man’s lapis eyes glistened like the surface of a crystal clear lake on a moonlit night, and it was at that moment that I realized he didn’t just want me. He needed me, at least as much as I needed him.

He must have sensed my infatuation, because before I could whisper three delicate words, he had me pinned beneath him. His callused hands held mine to the side as we became one. Every thrust sent us closer to the threshold until finally his porcelain face tensed. If I couldn’t have heard the grandfather clock ticking from the living room, I would have swore our love had stopped time.

His masculine frame collapsed beside me, twitching ever so gently from my seductive touch. “You like that?” I whispered. No answer.

So I repeated: “Did you like that?” Not a sound came from the beautiful man who had just finished inside me.

With a flash, I turned on the bedisde lamp and frantically turned to him – his eyes were just as colorless as his skin. I had lain with a caramel king and rose with a gutted ghoul.

I wiped the tears from my face, and with them my perfectly painted beauty mask. Hours of makeup preparation for the big night was ruined, the love of my life gaped before me an awestruck, bare corpse.

“Well, shit,” I thought, sitting up on the bed, my tears chapping my cheeks. “This makes number four.” There was no way I could explain this one to the judge.