Mad Kate

A severe widow’s peak favoring aquilinity,
nested over a murder of crow’s feet clawing
at her eye’s marge, with fresh, lunatically
hewn laugh lines creasing her etiolated

countenance, these lineaments on her face
presaged those on the page; her fingers vomited
words in widow speak, while anoesis urged the
violence in her closing strokes and the antre-

expelled extempore leading her to destiny;
dolorous and dour, like the oceanside plinth
upon which she was wont to perch, where
wicked waves maieutically persuaded her

already splintered intellect through orphic
repetition, to quash the squawking squall that
drew her nigh, as she craved the embrace of a
kindred spirit; she lost her love to the jealous

sea, but in losing her mind she’d found her apogee;
all that was left behind were the echoes of sanity
that reinforced her descent into madness and the
final wild-eyed dive into providential infamy

art: Mad Kate by Henry Fuseli

Notorious

Hers was a notorious disease, crippling. The lamb’s slaughter for most, the lion’s share for those whose madness was brought to bear; until they too were brought to slaughter. An existential blemish, she found nary equipoise nor heartsease in her quotidian quiescence.

An only child sans a brother’s stillbirth, whom she always supposed was the more sagacious; privvy to ominous knowledge that escaped her – about the world or big sister, she was keen to know. His brief presence, inhered in her an avant-garde avarice to quell this question.

Left pacing outside the cages, the lioness concluded that the best source for the answer she sought, must be those who have yet embraced that fate. Fortunately, she found accomplices in her patients, who supported the quest, albeit unknowingly.

She trusted her intuition after their office visits, a sense for which little ones were conflicted. They number six now, those she’s asked, after the mothers were lured to her clean room. It was the only way to question their unborns.

Often the last word she’d hear was “why,” which was a gratifying confirmation of her purpose. They, too, wanted to know in their final breath. Why their baby? Well, why hers… Or was it brother? It was confusing, her mutinous muddlement.

The gorging predator rarely thinks clearly beyond the carcass, unsatisfying though it may be. She’d found no answers yet to assuage her torment. So she’ll rouge her skin instinctually, on the hunt for her share of the truth, until to her slaughter she’s drawn.

art: The Night-Hag Visiting Lapland Witches by Henry Fuseli

Zombie

a destructive maelstrom of sudden revelation,
cast her into disarray
centrifugal reactions over violent questions
of her love, recherché

irrational repudiation of secret somethings,
a cognitive decomposition
taciturn demeanour of nods and nothings,
left cause as pretermission

confiding in no one, granting no absolution,
thus rendered dead inside
chaotic incredulity, marked mental devolution,
unliving thus zombified

beside herself, having endless disputes,
nourished relentless exasperation
a zealous need to set free hateful refutes,
resulted in her laceration

coursing within, poison pervading the veins,
an overwhelming pestilence
unwilling to die, desired retribution reigns,
thereby forcing her reticence

fissures agape, exposed the untended torment
of her feral corruption
savage dissection of answers left dormant,
then led to familial abruption

cordoned away behind razor wire, her dearest
imposed the coventry
alone she hungers, rapacious psychosis begets
this desperate gluttony

for others living, fury and cruelty conflating,
forever contemptuous
her lashing unbridled, for wardens not abating,
she’s ever tempestuous

naught will remedy the blinding insanity,
of this ravaging affliction
contained and restrained, abandoned by family,
she can spit only malediction

art: by Margarita Georgiadis

 

She’ll never know

Wonderstruck, she beheld her kingdom
Incomprehensible, the path of her ascendancy
In the sempiternal pause of a heartbeat
A king’s inscrutable command for his princess, or a father’s incoherent rhapsody for his daughter

She’ll never know

Her two greatest loves vanquished in a breath, and now she looks out upon the other
A commoner, no one suspected for it was unimaginable
He stands stoic, his gaze lifted toward his queen
Yielding not to the jubilation around him
Yielding not to welling springs
He knew they would be untogether hereafter
What of a man who swells her heart with venom for the country she must now care
Is it possible to love too deeply

She’ll never know

Now the queen, she must uphold the law of her forebears
Anachronistic they may be, she must put first that which binds the lands built by her ancestors
Perhaps she can change them, she is, of course, now the queen
What of a man who beguiles her avarice to seek desires over the sine qua nons of rule
Is she so arrogant to think she can bend the will of the gods

She’ll never know

It felt like an age ago when he grabbed her attention
Even now, his distant presence takes her breath away
He has unapologetically stolen her heart
And the only thing he yet holds as his own, is her hand
If only now, it was his to take
What of a man who would thieve the world, and lay it at her feet
Is she courageous enough to be the queen of only one

She’ll never know

art: by Aaron Griffin

Ophilia

Cecilia paused. She could never remember their names. Perhaps she is never told; perhaps she is made to forget. Briefly wondering how many have come and gone, she then decides that names are ultimately inconsequential, before lamenting sotto voce, “What’s in a name…”

They are only labels. She’d been given many labels by the therapists, in their vain attempts to understand her. Sufferer of pictophilia or metrophilia or autagonistophilia or whatever ~ilia sprang into their desperate minds. It never occurred to Cecilia, though, that her concupiscence was “suffering.”

Just a harmless fetish or two, not madness. There is surely a difference. Not all ~ilias are dangerous, after all. So what, if she was drawn to artists. So what, if she was excited by the intensity of their piercing gaze, as they painted her portrait. They’d proclaim it was amore a prima vista, amidst their subtle seductions.

She felt like they bore into her soul; the only ones who could see her, see her secrets, see her desires. She supposed, none truly ever could. Although, the best of them could capture something in the portraits; in her eyes. Something thrilling, yet unfamiliar, someone deep inside whom she longed to know.

Cecilia stroked a finger across the clotting rue. She’d let them paint her, then she’d let them paint her. She was in control, the seducer; she was the power, and she was powerless.

While massaging the ruby rue between her thumb and forefinger, she turned away pococurante, wondering why Ophilia loved it so. It was one of her fetishes, she assumed. The aroma, or the texture…

Ophilia only visited after Cecilia fell asleep on nights like the last. From what she gathered, for she could never remember waking during the night, Ophilia had her own pruriences. Not the least of which, the therapists would no doubt label erotophonophilia.

It confused and frightened Cecilia, at first. She soon rationalized, however, that it was none of her business how Ophilia spent her evenings. “Come Dio comanda,” she’d think. Ophilia made her whole, so she learned to turn a blind eye to these “cries for help,” as the doctors would say.

Ophilia would also let the artist paint her, surely waking him from contented slumber in a boon to his ego, but afterwards, she’d paint with him. She, too, is an artist, it seems. Cecilia’s portraits always bore a more scarlet hue, the mornings after. Sometimes still wet, and flecked with the telltale rue.

After cleaning herself, Cecilia began to dress. She could never stay long in the mornings; it became habit to muse to herself, “Tanto va la gatta al lardo che ci lascia lo zampino.” She knew Ophilia made it more challenging, but they worked so well together; feeding each other, supporting each other…

The last thing Cecilia would do before leaving, almost reverently, was remove her portrait from the easel. Kleptophilia? Is it really stealing, since Ophilia contributed to the final masterpiece? For they each were masterpieces, regardless of talent. She always kept the paintings to add to their oeuvre. A magnificent gallery of themselves.

Deep in thought after leaving the flat, while neatly rolling the canvas, Cecilia bumped into him outside the door. Upon dropping his paintbox and portfolio, he began profusely apologizing. They always apologized first. She had come to expect it, and found it endearingly opportunistic.

After gathering himself, he saw her for the first time. “E tu come ti chiami, bella?” he put suavely, suddenly envincing machismo. Cecilia smiled, taking him in, as she absentmindedly, elegantly tapped at the ends of the phallic, portrait scroll to straighten the curl.

She then coquettishly replied, “Sei un’artista?”

art: Portrait study #2 by Jeremy Mann

Flabbergasted

He stood flabbergasted in the open entryway,
darkening a threshold he never again thought he’d cross,
frantically searching the room with as yet adjusted eyes

Backlit by dusk before it drew its curtain closed,
silhouettes of deadheaded roses were strewn upon the table,
casting long, hateful shadows of short, loving memories

The censorious scissors lay haphazardly on the hardwood,
glistening with maddened haste and violent torment,
while diaphanous dust danced on the moonbeam stage above

In a room thick with all the answers to absent, burning questions,
she was the biggest question of all, missing amidst mayhem;
save her tumultuous trail of breadcrumbs escaping between his feet

art: Wondering about the shift by Jeanne Bessette

Ceremony

He hears her before he sees her, garrulously babbling from inside the drive-thru window

Poor decisions, or unfortunate circumstances, unceremoniously brought her to their employ; skills lost to anachrony – or having none to speak of – she had no choice, she has to live…

He supposes

She was macilent, nearly emaciated, with grey cropped hair, and wore thick-lensed bifocals, fastened to a flowered lanyard hugging her slender neck

As she carries on cheerfully, regaling her half-century younger, fellow employees with non sequiturs and minutiae, her utterances chase after them

They totter here and there, busily filling orders, perhaps being sped up by the words launched in their direction

Soft clicking and tapping percolate from the floor; every step, every stutter echoes with the noise; it’s not unpleasant, rather like the staccato of heels in an acoustical hallway

Curious, he nudges upward in his seat, venturing a quick glance, in hopes of discovering its source

Ears; dozens, upon dozens, hundreds of ears strewn across the tiles

Quite unconcerned with her surroundings, the prattle continues

The ears appear to span years of decay; a gradient from the hardened noise-makers to the soft, silent sliders

Hurried footfalls urge their accelerations and ricochets, fleshy pinballs batted through a grandiose machine

And it’s only then that he notices the glaze in the eyes of the juniors, and the smooth, uninterrupted skin on either side

The volume of her galimatias increases, or certainly at least, he’s now losing sight of the aural detachments

It’s come to this for her, and many like; metamorphosed into a beetle, surrounded by incomprehensible lions

She finds her contentment in the speaking, not in the being heard

Is this where it ends? A tristful journey into senectitude, forced to ignore being ignored? Filling empty space with sound where, of course, it can’t be heard? Feeling useful in a token role, just to make ends meet?

And as she turns her head, still verbally masticating, he sees that her glasses are lopsided, with nothing there to hold up the far side

The young man at the window startles him out of surreal cerebration, and clearly mouths the words “Have a nice day,” while handing over the order

He mouths a “You, too,” in return, before driving away with his coffee, heartbroken…

And earless