“From an unwillingness to chastise flawlessness to appease curiosity came clarity, and that empathy allowed Major Faust to decipher another riddle – a polarized message that was etched into the mosaic of dry clay. In accordance to the nature of the canvas, the riddle modeled hard truths. Only through unbiased acuity could the timeline of portraits, and the riddle hidden therein, enlighten misguided ideals. From left to right, Major Faust opened his mind. From the first picture frame, he acknowledged that the glorious mutation from things ordinary to surreal was cultivated by the artistic edification of a Jew. But not solely by a Jew, insisted overlapping impressions, he was accompanied by the hand of (a) god, which – continued clumping clay – makes this a holy place, and should, therefore, be preserved. To label the mysticism of the Clematis Ballroom as taboo purely because the Star of David had once blessed the home was a level of ignorance the timeline of portraits would not allow Major Faust to propagate any further. Blinking. Unmoving. Yet traveling, still. Not physically, but philosophically. Major Faust was squeezing his way out of the alleyway of narrow-mindedness and propaganda imposed by the Third Reich. The walls were tightening – philosophically; a headache was constricting – physically. The only therapy for his mental and corporeal discomfort was the alfresco of sanity lingering at the end of that narrowing corridor, so he jostled on to the next portrait of clay. Traveling deeper into inception, Major Faust began to rationalize like an artist. Under that constitution he discovered that creativity was god’s benediction to mankind; that art was a union of free-will and reverence that was offered to man, and denied to angels; that that union functioned as an avenue to heaven, and an escape from reality. It was stated that paradise was lost when Eve took to temptation, but did she devour the entire apple after swallowing the first bite? Major Faust of the Waffen SS – correction – Major Faust, the Clematis Ballroom’s apprentice, considered the effects of regurgitation: whether paradise lost could be rediscovered by forsaking the discrimination facilitated by knowledge. In that portrait, Major Faust solved the riddle of faith. Blinking. Unmoving. Yet, traveling still. Not physically, but philosophically and dimensionally; Major Faust awakened – philosophically – and observed – dimensionally – that he was standing naked in the Garden of Eden. The debilitation of his Waffen SS uniform had been unbuttoned by artistic consciousness, and the stitching had been unraveled by faith. Divested, the fuliginous portrait of clay – the third and final chapter upon the mantle – recited scripture: “Surely those who guard against evil shall be in gardens and fountains… For Allah has promised to the believing men and believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement…” And it was upon those goodly syllables that the Clematis Ballroom was revealed to be what god had promised believing men and believing women. Those dense syllables rattled the hardwood floors, beat faded fabric, and shook wood-ants from champagne curtains. A miasma of dust clouded the air. Major Faust closed his eyes and was shown Babylonian Hanging Gardens that, too, transcended natural laws. A gravity-defying stream swept him into a current that was blessed with levitation and tranquility; a current that flowed from the alleyway of narrow-mindedness; a current bound to the motions of the universe.”
“Choose your weapon wisely…”
Minerva could wash away the blood but she could not wash away the sin. Dark, red tears clouded an icy creek that slushed through the Kabacki Forest, and within that diluted stream of gore she envisioned warnings. Though the Kabacki Forest was calm, there was still pain splintering along spiraling pine trees, and regret crunching upon dead blades of grass. Between floating ice blocks and piebald sections of slush, however, there was a hidden face sparkling with delight. An old lover licked the gore of Reuben Remus’s enemies. She washed his savior’s flesh and polished her tools. She rippled on the surface of the creek, but the horde of Minerva’s dejection left her deference unnoticed. A gentle breeze swept by, so Terra sailed away with it; or, perhaps, she vanished, because she was that breeze sailing by. Reflections of Minerva’s discontent colored the currents left behind. Her loneliness flew from the icy creek, as if her subconscious was chasing after the comforts Terra had taken elsewhere. But, instead, her worries clung to splintering furrows, and her sadness chirped with winter birds…
- A point or pointed end
- The zodiacal degree that marks the beginning of a house or a sign.
- informal. A person born on the first day of a sign
- A point that marks the beginning of a change: on the cusp of a new era
My biggest fan sharing a glimpse of her Monday afternoon with me! She’s the only person in this world who has read my book from cover to cover, rewrite after rewrite, through poor grammar and a sea of typos. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’d say she’s my #1 fan!
Your encouragement has always excited me to write more, and for that I am in your debt. A toast to Erica! May she retain her sanity as I continue to pester her lovely mind!
Prudent – not so much
“We experimented with the biology of flora before we made any attempts to alter the genetic makeup of creatures on earth. We would sprout gardens of wooden flowers along the banks of the Euphrates; or transform oak trees into glass during the winter so they could not be distinguished from the snow that gathered at the base of their trunks. We would calcify fields of orchids before summoning mighty winds to sweep them away and recycle them in some far off place; and, my favorite, which was the manipulation of gravity so vines, and otherwise earthly things, would float in a pleasant medium, never hanging, never soaring. Over time plains were reduced to deserts and oceans surfed elsewhere so that mountains could rise from their wake. And we were responsible for these changings, as well. Through our mastery of physics, matter, and biology we became the creators of these principles, capable of rewriting the codes that dictate the parameters of reality. More importantly, by learning how the world operated we were able to take recreation to its highest enlightenment: creation. Understand that we gods are an extension of the universe – a segment of its ever-evolving personality experiencing itself. We were the universe personified, and were, therefore, designed to continue the task of creating new life; for if the universe is the bearer of all living things (and, as we would eventually learn, dead things too) then it is our purpose to emulate that behavior by creating new life, and nurturing said life so that it may one day create as we have (and, as we would eventually learn, to destroy). Furthermore, since the universe created us to be a likeness of itself – to create and destroy and recreate as it does – then should it not be a primary function of our creation that we instill these very same principles? In the instance of our coming into consciousness, and in the instance of your coming to consciousness, too, we are consumed by the functions of creation, destruction, and evolution. And no matter how the principles of our realities are rewritten these underlying functions of our existence maintain the foundation of the only eternities we will ever experience: life and death.
So, those of us who wanted to recreate did so, and we called this forceful guidance — this hypnotism of anatomy, function, and consciousness — Aristeia. And those of us who wanted to create new life did so, and we called this engineering. And those of us who wanted to destroy did so, and we called this godliness.
Those of us who wanted to rewrite ourselves did so, and we called this suicide.
I was the first of my kind to consider the enlightenment of living beyond my own life to become somethingsomewheresometime. To embody the functions of eternities one must unify creation, destruction and renewal; and in order to do so one must destroy their singular presence. My hypothesis: to elevate one’s psyche past the confines of singularity and into a multiplicity of consciousnesses capable of embodying conflicting eternities – for me, to become earth itself – then one must fight immortality. More simply noted, I killed myself… The first instance of immortality colliding with suicide was a grand contradiction (and notably the first instance of humor). This imbalance between life and death placed me in a purgatory that fluctuated between both eternities, and it redefined whowhatwhen I was. Destruction: I hanged myself from a tree perched upon a cliff overlooking the Dead Sea with wet clothes and my hair matted by sediment. I had filled my pockets with the four elements and buried mine own heart at the base of the tree I was to hang from. I guided my regrowth further by swallowing one thousand and one different seeds from across the world, and when the last seed was swallowed I broke my neck. Then I hanged there, neither dead nor living, acting as a host body for the planet growing inside me while my brothers and sisters continued to change the world that I was to become. Death visited my suicide. She showed me fairness, offering her blessing so I could walk along the path of lives lived and those fated to be lived. Hers was obvious enough, but there were others to choose from. Renewal: I entered the path that was a hole and the entrance was covered behind me. My consciousness left my body behind; my body served as fertilizer. And I grew. A billion existences passed through me, and I became them all. The arches of their existences was the arch of my own existence; their births were my births; their offspring were my offspring and me simultaneously, and their deaths were mine to eternalize.”
I’m proud to say that the World War II veteran before you is my Grandfather, Cosimo Armando Delfino. The stories he shared with me throughout my childhood and the extraordinary life he lived are some of my greatest inspirations. He was born on December 25, 1919 in Sicily, Italy to a prominent Surgeon and his wife, who maintained duel-citizenship in the United States and Italy. But during the 1920s, while living in America with his father and three brothers, that picturesque lifestyle vanished after Cosimo’s father was shot six times outside their home in New York. Overnight he and his three brothers became Italian orphans in the United States with no claim to their father’s estates or inheritance.
In 1942 my grandfather was drafted by the United States Army to fight the Axis powers in Europe. While stationed in North Africa during Operation Torch it was brought to the attention of his commanding officer that he was not a US citizen, which was a great threat to him, because if he was to be captured by the German Army he would not be treated with the same amnesty that other American soldiers were entitled to and would have likely been sent to a concentration camp under the accusation that he was a spy. The United States Army solved this dilemma by issuing Cosimo Armando Delfino his US citizenship in a North African desert weeks before the Battle of Kasserine Pass.
… And this was just the start of my Grandfather’s adventures as he journeyed through North Africa, Italy, France and Germany to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.
Killin’ time with a head-full of Rick Remender’s “Deadly Class”
Raïsaic looted six more bodies on his way out of the graveyard but only found talismans and mementos of superstition, and those tokens had not saved their owners, so he left them untouched lest provoke their rotten luck. Throughout the war, he had abided by his own superstitions so he avoided the remainder of the corpses like their fates were contagious. Blind greed has a way of finding us all, however; and just as Raïsaic was nearing the edge of the battlefield he noticed a frozen corpse, leaning back-to-back with another corpse, with an unlit cigarette frozen between its lips. The man held onto an empty pack of Eckstein No.5 cigarettes. The other soldier had smoked his cigarette down to the butt before dying. Raïsaic looked at the two of them indifferently. Nationality was absent in death. He snatched the unlit cigarette from the man’s frozen lips – blood stains coloring the filter – and tucked it inside his own pack of smokes. The blood of the fallen tainted the rest of pack, but Raïsaic was oblivious to the warnings of the new talisman he had accepted. The fortunes of the dead had earned his company, after all. Warmed by a bloodied winter coat and fed by a can of murdered peaches, Raïsaic continued to march homeward toward the beast.
Nearing the steeple of Sacre Coeur Basilica, Juno sensed a familiar personality coating the travertine stone. Do not be so shallow as to dismiss the notion that buildings too possess souls. Architecture is no stranger to personality. Hospitals are as easily identifiable without a red cross just as churches are illuminated even in the absence of a golden one. The Sacre Coeur Basilica did not resonate with such bright spirit, however. Whatever essence of the Judeo-Christian god that supposedly existed there had been overwhelmed by a more relevant voice. That dark tenor spoke silently from the columns and rippled mockingly atop basins of holy water. It laughed a different laugh at each stage of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. The voice was darkness, and it was responsible for the vandalized fresco staring down from the ceiling of the church, as well as the revisions marked in the Gospel. Red ink bled over what were once holy passages, and when they were recited from the altar that sinister personality was there to mentor the reader, too. And Juno knew this voice in all its ancient familiarity, for it was one that had existed since the beginning of her time. But, suddenly, there were two voices joining as one, but one of the speakers had never uttered credence until this day, and that voice chimed like honey, singing a sweet tenor that was both lovely, violent and deadly: “Walk with me. Back. Back. Back. And sing with me My song of fire and stone.” And from there, there was nothing but rhythmic humming to bear forewarning.
Prayer was in session but the word of the Gospel cast shadows; shadows inked in red – a stain cast by lava upon stone. Absent light disguised as visible salvation was guiding the hearts and minds of those joining in worship, shepherding them towards wicked pastures. The Red Gospel: a utility to hijack one’s faith and to realign all notions of good and evil.
Juno and Minerva entered Sacre Coeur Basilica with their heads down and their hands clasped. They avoided the holy water at the entrance – whoever’s it may be – and took their place at the back of the congregation while the sheep joined in song:
As I kneel before you,
As I bow my head in prayer,
Take this day, make it yours
and fill me with your love.
All I have I give you,
Every dream and wish are yours,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of mine, present them to my Lord.
As I kneel before you,
And I see your smiling face,
Ev’ry thought, ev’ry word
Is lost in your embrace.