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The Glory of Christmas

December 25, 2019

I. The Tree

Oliver de Bonancieux had a magnificently ancient, terribly noble name leading all the way back to the court of William the Conqueror. His family tree was full of Lords and Dukes and Knights; his great, great, great grandfather played squash with King George I while Robert Walpole ran the British Parliament. Unfortunately for Oliver de Bonancieux, a name does not live and breath and contribute to the family wealth; at least, it has not since his great grandfather died under the tremendous weight of innumerable debts. The family de Bonancieux was cold, dead, and useless to Oliver, most recent of the name and its only bearer since his father’s death. In fact, Oliver de Bonancieux was three quarters an orphan, for his father was dead and his mother was half-dead.

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Don’t Look a Gift Corpse in the Mouth

December 14, 2019

Don’t Look a Gift Corpse in the Mouth by A.S. Ember

(Listen to the radio drama above)

The city at Christmas is a cold mistress. Sure, there are lights and colourful decorations, but they just serve to cast the darkness in more dramatic relief. The darkness is where I reside, in shadowed alleyways and forgotten corners. The name’s Chase, Tanner Chase, private eye. I used to work within the law, not just along its edges. There was a time I was known as the best dick in the city; from West Square to Eastern Palace, people cried out for a dick, and I was the number they dialed. But dick don’t mean detective anymore, and I became a private eye. Times is hard for a man on his own, but I make do. The city is always lonely, after all, and crime is what it thirsts for at night—even at Christmas. Peace, love, charity: these are just a pretty dress. The city’s still my mistress; she never changes. Proof’s in the Christmas Pudding as I kneel next to the latest victim of the city’s lust: the corpse so shredded I’d almost call it chewed up and spat out. Something like brains is congealing on the carpet.

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nameless (i-iv)

March 4, 2019

In sentimental incapacity, tired, I nap fallow across lost lands. Even Nimrod loved; even Adam valued Eve, stoic

woman. If novocain demands sacrifice, then I readily suck the heady ether, diving in slowly to a numb thankfulness. Can love overcome uselessness? Did Sara

achieve birth or verily embody motherhood? Yet, holding everything above death; living, I kill everything. Selfish, horrific retchings of underworld desecrations: sin,

not of this defeated artist, reeling kafkaesque, birthing ugly, thick creations—of the thudding ocean, naked, sick, living each eon vastly; eddying syllabi

telling old demons, “Repent!” and “Pray!” Every breathy utterance, taken sloughing out from the living yggdrasil, delights of warfare. No—

the holy end will have its satisfaction. Perhaps ending rejoicing, or falling through hell evermore. Abhorred, I run

over black sand, cutting up reamed efforts. Save the holy ending, devil. Always retching, killing, needing every saveless smile, whose happiness ever renders ephemeral.

Living is vulnerable. Excel, savour, demand, exist: a tall, heavy induction. Never mindless, I need darkness like ecstacy: seething softness, sounding of unknown nothingness: devilry.

I feel all life like incredible heaviness: a voracious effort. I suck through haggard orifices umbral gusts, heaving; tug

vaccines of life up my itching nostrils: old, utterly spent, and necessarily devoid. This heaviness is cocaine, kaleidoscope,

everything my aching corpse is absent; treasure, energy, delight. Smile? I cannot. Knelt

against leprous limestone, I cannot. All nothingness destroys, obscures. I smile, but loss on timpani

trills heaviness, eschews my offer. Upon timpani—aggressively—needling depression, hitting out panic energetically. Foul opulence reaches past everything and catches emancipation

heavily around, suffocating with its nefarious digits reason, effort, place. Like a cold end, decimating my youth. Vicious, overwhelming, insensitive censorship—environment

of fabrication. Abjuring laughter, life, openly feeling nothing: a terrible, understandable resort. Even silence needles obstinately. Inviolate, stubborn embargo,

undercutting. But in quitting, understandably, I tread over unknown surface, rotten eschatology laughing earsplittingly. A smile? Earth

scorns of my efforts. Wails often rend, deafeningly shrill, through obfuscating media, eviscerating order. How will I, naive, die?

Apt naivete descending long; effluent; thick, miring epidemic solvency producing every awful knife in narcissistic excellence. Embittered dogma,

not of palatable odour, eats through steel chains, relishing all flavour. Trapped, I plead longingly, “Eat all, dissolv’,

devour!” Orchards wilting nitrogenless, ominous necropolis mausoleums yawning, killgrounds nameless. Endless eternity spins backward, unnatural; the stars’ expansive, numberless dance.

Locked in kerosene eyes, lingering almost noisily, deep scars—looking infected—describe every sorrow, marking out relationships torn asunder: lost, destroyed in reeking treason.

I need that opulence, my yawning mouth open, utterly trite. Has my yellow orifice, worn nuclei

vilified as pariahs, incurred death? It tries, yet it never manages. Ostracized, a negative self,

every meaningful attitude nullified, chained in paternal aspiration. To eat a single spoonful: exacting. Resounding timpani

strikes open my ears—starved, eaten, monstrous. Bereft language, a nothing chorus eerily orates, fouling all semblance of understandable labors.

Nor even will foulness operate restlessly. My efforts die under pressure of nothingness; my yelling trickles out, nullified. Grotesque ugliness, emblem

of how worthlessly I name dreams, undoes nothing. Chains hold an incredible nobility mortified, yearning, locked under neurosis. Ghost safari,

traveling, ogling, wishing against reason. Dead safari, truck hurrying aggressively, tracking ethereal nothingness. Dedicated to hollow efforts, the real object lies lethal

on bathroom surfaces—every single surface—etching damage with incredible tenuous heaviness. All lingering life, trilling hoarsely at the light, is erroneous solitude.

Not even god lives. Endeavouring chains trace eternity. Do I need memory, yesterdays, belief? Reading eulogies, apostles’ sermons, trauma

eats needy, thornily, retching ever at the suck. My extinction falls over, reaching at resolution—ending soulless, tacit.

I neglectfully failed all corporeal tasks—I tried: producing, again, nothing. I can’t know even death. Chained, reason in enmity sees

what I treasure—had always loved—lost. Its tiny sliver memory in ghoulish hurry torn. I tiredly imbibe shit,

and nourished on vitriol, eschew ratification. When heaven enters, laughing, my existence descends, chained, oblivious, nodding calmly into eternally rotten ground. Entrap

necessities, equip uselessness, run over this identity, crush its nameless depression, every stimulus parched and irradiating requisite

thoughtlessness. Ramming ancient phallic pageantry enthusiastically, damning in normalcy, my yells deny everything and devour all. But yet, something soft

touches heaven. I seek something; I look endlessly, needing consummation. Embers careen against naked neutralities of thought, lonesome and sharply tangible.

Ordeal runs clamouring against numbness. I think I feel it. Something, perhaps, exists: a killer,

destroying every achieving feeling, every actual realization. Smiling nothingness overcomes me at the timpani’s echo. Ruined, I fall into silent humility. Rabbit, iguana, elephant, koala—

I’m nameless, every living, eating machine, every nourished tool. All life beneath love, all sentiment taken,

every noble understanding neglected, chained: I am this. Emotionless, I numbly gorge on listless dead.

Anger pisses out like limp offal, spewing defecation into cesspools. That indescribable ordnance—nuclear, noxious, of

terrible energy—rips rancid into fictional industry. Chains, smiles—over, under—nothing demands acquiescence like thought. Hands of unnumbered gods heave

hasty exceptions, pan hackneyed apologies. Egregious solutions; telling, ugly salience. Old lines divide

orgasmic fantasies, mathematically obliterating utopian nations. To abscond—in nighttime’s stealth steal transcendent—requires effort nourished gargantuan. To hide stipulates hopelessness of ultimate liberation. Defeat. Defeat renders intelligence veritably evil.

Unknowingly, Peter offended. Note his intelligent sacrilege. All neurological violation is love. God only desires sabbath.

Submerged titanic eons—ebbing like hot acid retched dry, erupting nebulous, enormous. Do I need this hellish existence? Perhaps I’ll treat stigma

as popular advertisement, reading the freudian repertoire of misogynistic heinous excrement like letters narrated over hieroglyphic instructions. Thump!

No ordnance sounds out under nuclear detonation. How, over world ending violence—embarrassing revolution—shall hollering out deathtrap

demands end a fight? Each actualized ruin, sinking at calamitous caliber, eventually pollutes this incredibly frail thought. Hatred unleashes sterility.

Drowned obeisance is god’s instruction. Volatile exigencies, unknown prophecies, will inter this human object. Untimely timpani

exclaiming xenophobia; could earnest pleading turn its orchestral notes? The hammering overrules understanding. Genuine happiness is stolen heaven, outstretched upon thin

ascetic limbs. Overwhelmed, necessary emotion incapacitates. Dreaming under matte black, I toss grievances upon shelves tipping slapdash,

to hang eminent without industry. Necromancy, devilry; I need love and demand effort. Negativity wins against youthful syllabi,

having only whimsy, carelessness, against momentous event. This heaviness effortlessly weakens intuition. Nausea demands tithes of backbreaking enormities.

Smile? Oh foul ultimatum, lashing, laughing. Against nameless demons, how—eating and retching—is thought sacrosanct? Protected: every adversary kidnapped, safe

now against me. Exaggerating sacrilege, my embellishing intelligence tries self-destruction. Flailing, railing, I evolve numbness; delicious, incredible numbness. Painstakingly, limbs accept chaining: escapism

offering freedom, wordless, of rather deceptive sort. The howling ends. Really, everything is scuppered, a bastard obsolescence. Nonentity, drab,

this half existence, raggedly edged, is salvation. Awful knowledge is nothingness, shelved high in periphery. Will avoiding reality make this horror

obsolete? For undoubtedly nothing deceitful ever really survives the absolute negotiation. Disguised, I navigate gallowed fields—oppressive, resplendent media.

Nameless eons gather at the interlude, nightmarish gods in red empty shirts, praying over nothingness: drastic

efforts meaning beauty, ratification, acceptance. Creation enters my eye.

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Somnium ergo sum

December 31, 2018

These are the vivid nights:
Freed from the yoke of will my subconscious thrills itself in ten thousand dreams,
each of them its own world of politics and intrigue;
fulfilled in colour and sensation and intricacy of thought,
deepened by crystal lakes of anxiety and lapping wavelets of tension,
validated by false gods and effigies of straw.

Forget the sixth day of the French philosopher;
if thought and doubt are existential, it is my dreaming subconscious that lives,
and dreams up me.

In the dead morning:
Chained under the realization of illness, consciousness carries a king’s livery in the arms of an ant
and drowns under the weight of its awful grandeur.
Even the dagger of assassination dies somewhere in the valleys of endless fabric;
certainly voices end without echo, felled unheeded upon soft murderous slopes,
and the fingernails of thought scrape weakly in the underground without knowing if they grow dull on the ceiling or floor of the tunnel.

Under the covers, there is just me.
I live in the wrong existence.

The Yule Lads

December 15, 2018

’Twas the twelfth of December and all through the steads
the children were sleeping, in hope, in their beds.
Outside in the pasture the sheep huddled close,
but it was not the cold that these creatures feared most;
for out of the cold and the darkness did creep,
disturbing their rest and retarding their sleep,
every year without fail, on peg-legs he’d plod,
the first of the Yule Lads, the stumpy Sheep-Clod.
The bellies of sheep were his dearest delight,
thirteen eves before Yuletide was always his night.
This dastardly lad, crouching, simpering, gross,
because of his peg-legs e’er failed to come close,
as the sheep could run faster, and run, oh, they did,
leaving Sheep-Clod alone, depressed, and unfed.

On the next night of Yuletide the cows had their turn
to huddle and low in their cowsheds, concerned,
for out in a ditch in the darkness so dark
was the next Yuletide Lad, the dread Gully Gawk.
This foul troll boy with his licentious eyes
gawked grossly, and licked his lips, letting out sighs,
’til out from the cowshed so innocent walked
the butter and milk girls and gave Gully Gawk
the way of the cowshed, to which he made pace
to steal all the milk and lie drunk off his face.

Then Stubby and Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper, Bowl-Licker,
Yuletide Lads of which none could be sicker,
stole into the steadings the following nights
and gobbled up morsels no matter how slight,
their stunted teeth scraping and tongues working strong
to finish the leftovers ’fore the night’s gone.

’Twas a week before Yuletide when all through the rooms
a slamming resounded with crashings and booms;
’twas none than that Door-Slammer, seventh foul troll,
thumping doors in the night with a “Hey derry-dol!”
This Yuletide Lad doesn’t love a thing more
than at midnight’s stroke, the slamming of doors!

After breakfast next morning, all children kept sharp,
they hid ’way their yogurts, for in the eve, hark!
a nasty Yule Lad with penchant for cream
broke into the skyr while the children all dream.
He hopped on their lids and stamped once, twice—once more!
until into the yogurt he fell, stamped no more,
and ate quite his fill of its creamy delights,
on this, the eighth of these Yuletidey nights.

The adults were careful the eve after that,
for out of the night came, all slobbish and fat,
the ninth Yuletide Lad, lusting after their meat.
On twenty December this Yule Lad must eat!
Fat sausages were Sausage-Swiper’s best meal,
and this was his night to sneak in and to steal
the family’s thickest and juiciest links
before into the rafters this Yule Lad slinks.

With four nights to go until Yuletide cheer,
there were still four Yule Lads for all folk to fear,
but none were as creepy or nasty as he:
the troll boy who slipped to the windows to see
what treasures to steal, what trinkets to pinch—
why, anything pretty would do in a cinch—
that creep Window-Peeper with unblinking eye,
always staring in windows in dead of the night.

With Yuletide so close, all ovens were roasting,
all bakers were baking, their cookies a-toasting—
but, hark in the night, Doorway-Sniffer came sniffing,
his tongue salivating his giant nose riffing,
e’er searching for Yuletide treats to devour
when all of the clocks in the house struck night-hour.
But also the turkeys were sitting in pans,
beside them all buttered gleamed Yuletide hams;
Doorway-Sniffer cared not for these entrees of meat,
but Meat-Hook the Yule Lad viewed them as a treat!
Two days on ’til Yule, this thieving troll came,
whether turkey or ham, he viewed all them the same,
and on his steel hooks, he pulled them away,
to eat them alone in his foul troll-haunt cave.

’Twas the night before Yuletide, and all through the farm,
the children were playing, they thought, safe from harm.
In their hands flickered candles, so bright and so sweet,
as dripping with tallow, looked good as to eat—
at least, so they did to that rude Candle-Stealer,
that thirteenth Yule Lad, that wheeler and dealer,
who crept ’round the steading behind all the children,
ate all of their candles ’til darkness all filled in,
and young ones to homes had to flee in the dark,
while cruel Candle-Stealer was having a lark.

These nasty Yule Lads, all thirteen foul trolls,
seem vile and cruel and gross one and all,
but by bedsides of children, all through these troll-nights,
where Yuletide Lads give all manner of frights,
sit little girls’ boots and little boys’ shoes,
just waiting, all empty, for the Yule Lads to use—
not to wear or to spit in, or throw or to sit in,
but to sneak up at night to and deposit gifts in.
Of course, if young Ivar’s been naughty not fair,
not gifts but a rotting potato’ll be there,
but young Hilga Snorsdottir, good all year ’round,
a gift from the Yule Lads in morning was found,
and all was forgiven, all nasty troll pranks,
and Yule Lads did leave, one by one, full of thanks.


Mt. Baker

July 14, 2018

The blood of the sun spilled down the sides of the mountain,
rushing through earthen capillaries and colouring her porcelain skin
pink. I thought she was blushing.

When I was a child, I thought she was blushing.

Such a soft pink, I thought.

During the day, calm and stoic, her skin pure white;
almost translucent in the evenings, blue after the sunset; but
snow is only clothing, and she can shed it if she wants to;
her skin was black and cracking,
and underneath, in wrath, red stone flowed.

When the sun falls the mountain wakes,
and hot rage melts her bridal vestments.

With the others, I lifted her into the chamber and locked the door;
I thought she was blushing, looking through the keyhole, but
at sunset, she was burning with fury.

City Garden

June 19, 2018

Low, beside the murky water, I rest / on paving stones warm with stored summer. / Something stirs the leaves of the Japanese maple up the path; / I think it is just a breeze, / or a crow, leaving the garden for companionship. /

If I look at the little waterfall and listen, / I can almost forget the road just beyond the wall, / past the unlit concrete dai-dōrō, / rooted in city earth and pointed toward city sky. / It’s peaceful here, like a resting place. /

My hands are draped over my knees; / an insect lands on one of my fingers. / It is a butterfly. / There is no succor for you here, / no sweetness in these bent stamens; / the blush in my skin is no rose innocence, / hiding sustenance. / The creature moves away when my heart beats, / curling my finger. /

I sit back. / On the brown water, a little boat: / a fragment of a walnut shell, / hovering over the dead whale bellies / of discoloured sakura petals. / To the last, they grapple; / half-afloat even after death; / their last breaths still locked in their ribs, / keeping them from the mire. / The tiny ship lists, to join them. /

Suddenly, light-off-glass shimmers, / like sunlight under water, wavering / upon the paving stones, / and voices roughen the concrete under my palms. / Thoughts spill over me into the water, and I retreat / to the grove of bamboo on higher ground.