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Haunting Place

One eye.
"Body of Christ."
And a sliver of tongue.
"Body of Christ."
Blood, and silk, and razors.
"Body of Christ!"

Jessie's fluttering eyes snapped open and he looked up to meet the priest's gaze, and the open disapproval that was sketched there. "Amen," he mumbled, and the slick white host held between the thumb and first finger of the priest's right hand went home between his parted lips. He closed his mouth as the fingers withdrew, tasting faintly the salt of the man's sweat, then turned left past the ranked rows of watching pews and the half dozen or so elderly worshippers who had turned out for Mass on this raw wound of a morning.

In Their Ruin
Wet eyes in a darkness holy shine
carapace of paint,
on fossil lips
wasteland of ribs
bright with runes
He rolled the bones
cried them down
Prayed for hell to fall

--- 1 ---

The black flash of vultures drew him. The clouds refracting fire.
--- 2 ---
From the north the man known as Krieg came walking, nearly naked with his axe--to a place called Stoned Woman. Dead oxen littered the settlement. Spent weapons coiled in the bloody grass. The flies were yellow, glutted. They stayed away from the smoke that still rose, swarmed the living man to taste his sweat. He ignored them as he moved, let them drink.


Dena Parker came awake to the sound of wind chimes tinkling. Dozens of them hung on her back porch, just under her bedroom window, and others were scattered beneath the eaves of her house. They were made of river stones and sea shells, of cut glass and polished metal, of thin wires that were like the fragile rib cages of birds.

Clowns In the Dark

There were faint laughters, as of clowns in the dark, and the falling of shadows, like black flakes of snow. There were movements that lived in the corners of his eyes, always gone when he turned his head. He watched for them in the mirror but could not find them. They hid themselves away from the light, hid themselves away from the knife in his hand and the deadness of his face.

Wall of Love

The body wore a rosary that encircled its throat with beads of ivory and a silver crucifix. Kneeling, the young man reached to touch that cross where it lay draped over the flattened swell of womanly breasts, then bent down to lick at the cold, cold metal and at the tissue around it. A silk slickness greeted his lips and the bitter taste of silver burst ripe into his mouth, mingled with skin oils and salt. He could see his reflection in the mirrored metal, could see his gray eyes and his bald scalp with its sprouting quills of wire.

Wanting the Mouth of a Lover

There were seven bells ringing, three of iron, three of brass--one of silver. Their sound was as chaotic and cold as the wind that blew at Kainja's back, as sharp and dark as the scimitar shapes of the mountain vultures circling above his head in the perse sky of evening. Those vultures had a purpose here, but it wasn't that they were waiting for him to die. That would have been futile. They were waiting for him to leave so they could settle again to the feast he had interrupted.

Vessel for the Holy

In a still place on a mountain's side, amid a caravan of boulders left from a time of ancient ice, the vampire stood alone. His name was Kainja. Night's face was dark and fair around him, comfortable like an old friend. A mistral breeze rilled down from above, licking his cheeks with the taste of snow and wintry spice. He was here in response to a summons written in a language dead to all but his own kind. Yet, no one had come to meet him. Though he had waited long.

Wine and Swords

The night sands whispered with rain and hooves as shadows moved in the dunes and steel slid softly from leather and silk. Trailing wings of the rare shower lifted equally over the cloth tents and camels of a mendicant's caravan, and over riders with charcoaled faces and blackened swords. Among the tents, they thought all sounds were children of the rain, and they died for that mistake when raiders came from the darkness.

What Was Asked; What Was Given

The dry road was shaded in a hundred crosses, and in the drift of raven wings that spilled the sunlight. It was not yet midday. But the east wind was already white with heat, and its snap was loud as it whipped through dead men's rags and through the right angles of the wood. The peasants hanging on that wood did not mind the wind. For a while they had been warriors more than they had been peasants, but now they were mostly bones and tatters, with eyeless sockets that stared blankly north along a way called Crucifixion. The dead men did not see the movement in that distance but it was there. A woman came walking in gray. On her face was a need, on her lips a prayer.

The Lady Wore Black

The lady wore black, with green in her eyes, and there was the frost of years in her hair though it had not yet touched her face. I watched her often as she came down to the shore of an evening, as I sat unnoticed on a pier out over the ocean where I could paint the waves called by ancient ritual to break themselves on the sand. The lady was like the waves, and I watched her and wondered.