Song of Introduction:
After the God of this world
has turned his back on his creation
a sole cowboy leans a shoulder
on an apple tree
atop the highest cliff in an ocean of dust
and looks as far as the eye can see.
God’s turned back
casts a permanent solar eclipse.
My soul sees you
your soul sees me
better as one
than we are as three
Under the black sun
the cowboy plucks a golden apple
from a stringy branch and mumbles: “to destiny”
and sinks six teeth into its ripe flesh.
Blue, rest now for your soul is
Old, like the wind that carries the breath of our fathers,
sighing between the branches of a willow tree.
Deep, like the ancient rives that still run beneath the ruins
a place once called home.
Dark, like the spirit inside all of us who become addicted to life,
holding on with a firm grip, and never letting go.
Be gentle, cowboy,
when you knock the dust off your boots,
with it carries the bones of the dead.
How much dirt does it take to make a body?
How much of a person can be salvaged from the
Great Fire after the embers have begun to cool?
Geb, son of the earth,
lets out a low laugh. Rocks tumble
and feel the thrill of gravity
finding new ground to rest.
The apple falls to the earth and Blue
makes his way down the mountain.
Author // Publisher // Editor
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.
I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.
I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came, and made z
My heart as dry as dust.
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky
Lay dead like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Just outside of Cairo, incinerating inside a tent with his thaloc tied up, Blue couldn’t take his eyes of the little god’s trinket. An amulet hung around the deity’s neck. Its face shifted from man to fox and back with a clean, toothy grin that Blue found disturbingly peaceful.
“Take it, cowboy. I am tired,” the thaloc said, “The amulet anchors me here.”
“Tell me about it, Andy.” Blue couldn’t remove it, so he held it between his thumb and forefinger, “How does it work?”
The thaloc’s name is Andy. Not a particularly ancient or culturally-centric name. Blue doubted it, but “Andy” is easy to pronounce. There was no discussion on how it knows English.
Sword & Shadow caught the Egyptian demigod an hour before dawn. The silent samurai tied the child-sized foxy creature to a tent pole. Andy never struggled. He never called for help. Every so often Andy smiled at something over Father Hammer’s shoulder and then behind Lily’s legs.
“It gives you and your kin immortality. You can fly. You are haunted by angels and chased by evil men. Take it.” Andy pleaded.
“It won’t come off, Andy.” Blue pulled the jewel up, but the chain caught behind Andy’s head.
“Not while I’m alive.” Andy whispered.
Blue grimaced, “Not while you’re alive,” and with his left hand holding the amulet, his right pulled a Colt.
The pistol pressed flush with Andy’s head, he closed his eyes, and exhaled. Wind swept in and around the small gathering.
Blue Crawford’s longevity is morally unlawful.
Immortality provides a perspective that perpetually proves
there’s no longer anything to lose.
The cowboy becomes an angel’s brand of being awful.
Now, “officially,” vengeance is allowed to exist
as long as the to-be-deceased are ethically diseased.
The creed of Blue’s intent:
“I first spoke with Enoch
who told me about the thaloc.
The prophet confessed without its jewel
I am made with a waiting casket.
Once within me my ethereal feet
no longer trod
towards a God who allows my anguish.
Now, there’s no sense of time,
but a terrific taste to torture every
Blue imbued with dark light continues,
“Until heaven decides to debate and defend
the slaughter of innocent, intelligent kin,
the thaloc’s amulet will remain a stain
beneath my brutish skin.
I choose this unwinnable, millennial war,
before dying to discover nothing more
than the futility of celestial ambiguity.”
Father Hammer hummed a prayer
Blue knew in Latin.
The paternal priest was also enchanted
by the cowboy’s desperate act.
Hammer always on watch, now in stone
standing, casting a shadow
outside their hotel window.
“Sleep, you childish beast.
Let that lady believe that, maybe,
you cherish her smell and lips
more than her marksmanship.”
Father John Misty
makes his way around the turn table:
Cowboy Blue Crawford turns off the sad rhyme
and absently thumbed his pistols.
The weeping, throbbing chest
cracks and seeps
due to the emerald, imperfect crystal.
His Colts in their holsters,
he consoles her, but an ocean of it
to contain her current of discontent.
Blue touches the talisman
charred into his chest.
An Egyptian, a last ancient,
a thaloc lost to the shrewd Blue.
The cowboy will forever croon, unable to die,
and under special circumstances – fly.
Rice, Azazel, and Mabel were tricky,
absconding with Miss Dixie.
Dixie: The mother of an American South.
Blue’s rage, they are the how, when,
Evil will not abide.
Blue’s family is his pride.
“Lily, don’t let doubt dig spines
in your spirit. I will unhinge hell
to have you happy.
But Lily still hurt.
To harbor a haunted man
sealed a deal she accepted
ages ago. Even so, no caring flesh adequately adapted
to the hollow
Blue holds onto.
and it hurt him,
“Baby Blue, you are one of the unspoken few
to be so shrewd and clever
that even the Devil
wants you to live forever.”
“What a difference a day makes.
Twenty-four little hours…”
A song for sweet Lily,
the tune Blue eases deeper into.
She deserves a serenade no less.
Out of the mess,
he now insists,
damnation will pay off.
They will both be (paid off)
in that bare-clawed basin,
and wash off the boring past
no longer wasted.
Lily dips her shape, a dancer’s, bartender’s leather,
she is pulsating
above the corruptible menace,
his double aorta, visceral pear
that pulses with a wendigo’s tearing
Lily sings from the tub
where she can get sinless,
but never clean.
Wound in sheets wet
from sweat squeezed from between them,
Lily lets him sleep.
Nightmare-eaten, Blue is brow-beaten,
by memories of Miss Dixie.
Lily prays for a soothing ending
before his malaise
makes a malicious scar.