The Promise of Spring and Morning

The room is stale and dreary, pale and lifeless, and its off-white walls are bare and vacant and cracked like fractured eggshells. I lie swaddled in the itchy, powder blue linens of a hospital bed too short and too narrow for my crippled body—and the bed’s guardrails sprout up either side of me as if I were confined to a crib with nothing to do but look up toward the paint-chipped ceiling. Fluorescent lights blink back at me and glow a sickly green, fluttering constantly and buzzing like epileptic bumblebees. My neck is braced and bandaged in red-stained cotton, and I strain my eyes toward the room’s only window. There, the golden gleam of sunlight beams and glistens, fighting for some measure of real estate against the fluorescent flood.

An old, twisted maple tree sits soaking up the sun outside, its bark stripped and weathered, and its leaves as red and black as my battered eyes. It’s almost devoid of foliage, yet it stands tall and silent, relishing the lingering warmth of fall, and pondering the impending frosts of winter. What leaves it does have are worn and withered, and they shiver in the autumn breeze, trembling like trapeze artists resisting a faltering grip.

The sky above begins to blacken as the sun curtsies and dips below the horizon. Its flowing gown of pinks and golds blazes across the heavens before burning up and drifting down in rippling layers of orange and crimson. Curtains of navy and midnight blue unravel to the ground and blend with the fiery fabrics still sparkling in sheets across the smouldering skyline.

The fluorescent bulbs above me hum and drone a bitter lullaby, and my eyes begin to fade like the sunlight at my window. My chest aches with each shallow breath I take, and I can smell the putridly sweet stench of iodine and blood oozing from my sutured wounds. Yet, as the pain digs deeper and compels my teeth to clench, I dwell not on the freeway or the crash that brought me here, or the foul, fetid memories of fire and melting flesh. All I can think of are the maple tree and its leaves, and the evanescent sunset outside.

Why should I fear death when the maple tree is sure to bloom again in the spring? The last of its scarlet leaves have dropped now, and it stands a naked silhouette in the sun’s red afterglow. Dead it may seem, its long branches bare and black in the absence of light, but unless the heavens strike it with fire, it will endure the cold of winter and live to dress in leaves of green.

Why should I fear hell when the sun is promised to rise again in the morning? Can that same promise not pertain to me? Though some nights stretch on longer than others, the sun never fails to wake from its slumber, and its rays are always bright enough to rout the black of night. Yet if my resurrection is possible, and is anything like the rise and fall of the sun, will I wake to skies of darkness or to clouds of burning gold?

Dreams are Sweet and Fleeting

Beginnings resurrected by the memory of your
bloody lie:
a tale represented in mists of bottled earth
and petals stained with good intentions
that rot and drift in vaporous clouds.
Infuse me with your noxious dew,
deployed at midnight
as a means to make me want you—
and it works, my broken princess,
affecting my nostalgia
and allowing me to realize
how dreams are sweet and fleeting.


I happened upon it years ago,
covered in cobwebs
and dust left by my father.
I polished its surface
and marvelled at its golden sheen
then drank the spirit from its lips
and filled the void beneath my skin.
The flood that spilled into my veins
enabled me to take up broken swords
and slash at shapeless demons
that made their presence known
yet remained impervious to manmade steel.

Judicium Dei

Skin hung from my wrist like ribbons, stripped down from my elbow and falling toward the old church floor in flaccid, red-stained folds, reducing my arm to a half-cooked stick of shredded, bloody meat. My seared flesh shone amid the torchlight and burned as if a swarm of bees lay crawling underneath, nesting among my sinews and stinging and biting the length of my bones. But I held my fist forward, steam rising from my knuckles, and flaunted the stone that I’d pulled from the cauldron, clenching my jaw and tightening my grip and watching the eyes of the clergy.



Brendan leaned his back against the balcony railing and sat scribbling random thoughts onto a piece of torn out notebook paper, using his knee as a solid surface. He wrote about the breakfast he’d had that morning–poached eggs with a side of Texas toast and a plump red grapefruit–and about the man he’d splattered across the Denny’s parking lot with his Dodge Ram pickup minutes afterward. Then, he thought more about the grapefruit and its pulpy red flesh and its juices, and he stood from his seat and he turned, and he looked over the balcony.