“There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the Bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”
OK. I think this will be my final epic poem excerpt for the while – I don’t want to over due it, over talk it, at this early draft stage. But this little bit is another, sort of stand alone piece.
I make a lot of allusions to favorite authors in this book (especially Poe and Dante). I take phrases and lines from some of these authors, and bend them to fit in various places in my patchwork book (I think of it like improvised Jazz riffs where a musician starts with some pieces by his/her favorite musicians…and then improvises into their own).
Let’s just say that the underworld of my epic, Sheol, is a dark, Escheresque sort of city, full of odd angles, bleak buildings, Plutonian streets, and shivering walls. In one chapter, the fallen angel, Syth, and Crow enter a mansion and a grotesque masque ball full of jaded souls. It resembles, more than a little, the masquerade ball in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” However, I have a hidden homage within this homage, as Crow notices the jaded shades (I use the word “shade” when referring to the trapped souls in Sheol, as it’s a word often used in Classical mythology and, I think, sounds cooler than soul or ghost) and comments on them.
From here, I pay an allusion to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl.” I structure it like the beginning of that poem and even nab and modify several phrases (good poets borrow…great poets steal).
So here it goes (you can check “Howl” out online if you wish to compare):
The ball assaulted the senses from every angle,
trying hard to keep any lengthy thoughts,
any brainy meditations,
from forming in the skull.
The ball, the great handicapper raged,
leveling all intellects, to one low line,
all flat-lined . . .
The music shook the floor,
and the flicker-flash strobe lights,
pulsed outside, through the color-tinted pains,
producing all manner of grotesque effects within.
They danced and sashayed, in dead, languid gestures.
They grinded and groped in dead body languages.
These, a particular species of the souls unsure –
I could already see the leopard spots plaguing their skins.
Down in Sheol . . .
I spy the good and the bad and the worst and the best minds of all generations gone to their eternal restlessness, gray madness (madness comes in different colors), light starved jaded shades,
shambling through the necro-streets at the 13th hour, hungry for a fix of forgotten emotions –
broken angels yearning for the severed, heavenly connection, the starry dynamo lost to the anti-sky, to supernatural darkness, in the machinery of the Word –
and the supremely jaded shades shamble here, to the grotesque masque, jaded shades who . . .
who find life and death as equal jests, but who never really laugh –
who shed no tears for fear of ruining statuesque demeanors, but suffer black stains, that run like mascara, along the soul –
who writhe and grind and suck and swallow and snort and cut and staple and pierce and pump and pop and buy and flaunt and shoot and die years before they’re dead –
who commit sloppy cries for help just for a jingle on the phone –
who giggle and compare black pearl necklaces and giggle and compare the calibers of suicide bullets rattling in their dead, rich spouses’ heads and oh darling, yours was a .22 too? let’s do lunch –
who poison their minds with background noise until the one in the mirror is just a stranger they hate and try and kill with plans and pills and procedures –
who, mind-poisoned, mind-fucked, and dead before their time, loose the communal-memory-instinct to lust after curvy and plump and healthy and instead hunger-lust after dead things, after emaciated and bony and anemic and hollow-cavity filled – until magazine covers turn to necrophilia porno in disguise –
who commit carnal acts till adnausium, writhing in and out in animal acts without primal rhythm, without the simple animal wisdom to enjoy the yin/yang dance –
who scab over their eyes with ever sharper medias and ever increasing Oedipial daytime talk and freak-legion queens who talk into their freak-legion scepters and build their empires on modern geek shows and freak shows and the audience constantly picks the eye-scabs open and they bleed less and less and less –
who leer and jeer and sneer in VIP thrones in new world order club houses, commit blood and soul sacrifices to Moloch, saluting stone statues of a dead owl, play competitive games of hop-frog with their exclusive peers by procuring solid gold toilet seats and other trophies of white-collar crime –
who play the hunters hunted game on the meat-market dance floors, alone in a crowded, writhing strobe-purgatory – poachers hunting for maidenhead merit badges – and throngs of undulating bacchante parades committing bloody sporagmos on self-esteem –
such multitudes of jaded shades –
I had not thought life had undone so many.
And is there anyone left to Howl for Solomon?