Tuesday
Sep142010

The Heracles House

Robert Kloss


 

The Heracles House is a beautiful two story modern style farm house located in the heart of the heart of—, a forty minute drive from the nearest city—in the midst of cornfields and—one time home to the one time hero and adventurer Heracles—one time father and son and husband, who (no one may dispute) became possessed by a great madness one wintry eve and, at the command of spidery-spirits and shades, is likely to have murdered both wife and son, although some believe both escaped to live out their—Tours of Heracles House are conducted week days on the hour and—Gift shop open to the entire family.


I. The Madness

O madness of Heracles! Eyes red muddied with blood of son, blood of wife.  A maniac chase through hallways and bedrooms, where screams yet echo.

The son, Pete, cowered under a bed, his blood puddle’d. Gagging tears and hiccups, the roaring of maniac father. Atmosphere swirled, dust of walls, thin pink mist of blood.

Below, the mother dead, her body quill’d with feather’d-arrows. Below, the mother, alive, her screams gone hoarse, ragged, the blood filling her throat. Eyes bright with television-fire, television screen quill’d with arrows, smoke detectors wail wild sirens.

Outside a soft fall of snow. Outside a dead dull darkness and glittering of stars.

According to the tour brochure: when wandering the Heracles House, if you cup your ears, you may yet hear the sounds of “living fear.” Elsewhere: “while the various tragedians and historians of antiquity, from Euripides to Diodorus Siculus to Sophocles himself, dispute exactly who was killed and for what reason, no one may deny the bloodstained floorboards.”

Euripides sings of wife and son “opened bellies to throats—” Of mad butcher Heracles, wild god-intoxicated Heracles, slobbering foam, grunting and heaving—“blackclad furies dance in his vision—”

Did black-tight’d figures, like spiders, quiver before crazed foaming Heracles? Seems it so: “He speaks in tongues— crazed words and brute shouts uttered as against his human will.” Emerged from the god in him, his words are beyond mortal-thought. Sounds of braying creatures, snarling and snorting.

Heracles’ father, Amphityron, crept from behind, unheard by the dazzled mad-man, and, “dashed a potted plant against [Heracles’] brute skull.” Dropped to a heap, the sad maniac lay snoring, perhaps mere moments before murdering his son, perhaps mere moments after.

O sad maniac you dream in red. O sleeping Heracles, you dream forests of burning tires.

Wrapped in spotlight, in swirling clotted motes, Amphityron, the father in robes, cradled his son’s bleeding cracked head: “O Heracles. No more will I wonder if you are of my flesh! Lingering doubts of fatherhood, carried now to dark. O Heracles like a fine wire snapped. Murderer of my grandson and daughter-in-law. My mortal skin would molt at such rage. My eyes would explode before such horror. My frail combustible hair gone to smoke and fire. So the truth is realized within me now. Pete, in pools of blood, belly removed from body. Megara, like a broken bird, wrapped from foot to skull, in blood and feather. Heracles (despite your mother’s most assured assurances!) you could be my flesh no more than I am a dog or a tree.”

Diogenes asserted, “The crimes of Heracles proved the purest moment of Human Freedom.” Said Plato of Diogenes: “that maniac gobbled grapes while publically pleasuring himself.”

Apollodorus dreamed a “Heracles so deranged he failed at the mortal blow”—son and wife, crouched in the basement, their skin alive with the “near misses” of arrow and sword. Their lives become a nightmare of looming octopus furnace and mite eaten beams, of cold blue concrete floor, of rot and mold and drying blood. Each footstep above, a waiting death.

In the basement, Megara smoothed Pete’s hair, soothed “your father is just”—His tremoring chest. Hyperventilating. Megara rummaged through a cobwebbed toy chest. A pocket video game with peeled decals. Silver-green screen ebbs and renews. Soft-blipping of aliens darting and shooting. Pete’s heart beat against her arm. His warmth. The live blood beneath.

Unnamed others, their writings lost in fires and the various ruinations of time, insist Heracles “returned from his final great adventure in Hades,” only to find the bodies of his son and wife “butchered” as it were by a “roving band of minotaurs” apparently bent on vengeance.

Flies settled with crimson wings along Megara’s eyes of glass and her mouth, yet unclenched as if to scream or to yawn. Amphitryon in the doorway shook his bitter head. Blood seeped through the white sheets he now spread over Megara. Amphitryon, father no more, father all your life, what is it you clasped, dripping blood? Was it as Diodorus Siculus dreamed, the baseball bat smeared with Heracles’ blood, or is Appollonius Rhodius correct, it was fragments of a vase, shattered? No matter. Into the basement now old man, you dragged your pink tattered robes. Oil and chirping crickets. Under the furnace, sopping, oil and sawdust, chains, droplets of pitch darkness trail. Upstairs again. Blood dripped and smeared the brow of Heracles, slumped against the wall. We know, because we have seen it, he will wake chained to the bed-frame. Before him, gone, his son, while all that remains, the bloody outline of son, of Pete, little boy’s blood-of-viscera, is soaked into the floorboards.

Flash now in Heracles’ mind: son and wife, blood, sheets, while vague memories of assassins intoxicate—

O Petey, you dream yourself and your mother side by side, covered by white sheets, soaked in fuel oil. Dream of papa, your papa, weeping over you, weeping, alongside your granddad. Faces lighted by fire. Flickering fire all over—

O Heracles sing into the blighted night: “What have I done father, what did I do? Why this ravaging guilt, spread throughout my chest, like some web of cancer, malignant and consuming? Those blackened furies blotted my—Father please—I dreamed a thousand assassins—I shot and cut and gouged and chased and made to scream—to whimper—to beg for their—”

Amphitryon, you crept the basement stairs, whispered to the dark: “He’s sleeping—I knocked him out-cold with a vase—a bat—if his madness is gone—I’ll—” From under the octopus furnace, the absolute darkness, came Megara’s voice: “No please—don’t tell—” Now Amphitryon you were at their side, yellow bulb swaying overhead, dabbing cotton swabs and alcohol along blossomed rosey wounds— “But he’s still Heracles, he’s still the man we love—still your husband, still my son, still the father of the boy here—” “Perhaps…” Shhh, Amphitryon, now he stirred above, the chains-strain-above, so you left to quiet him. You are, after all, his mortal father, the father of calmed thought, not, after all, the God-father, of rageful blood and encompassing violence.

We turn to dear Petey, with his grandfather departing up those stairs, we turn to a poor bird, quivering into catatonia— If floorboards melt under your Papa’s fury, what of you? What of you when his chains burst? What of your bones, what of your skull, of your gray-brains gone to— Now the slow drag of chain. Now the moan of father. Papa above wild and—. O Petey when all is stilled, when Grandpa calms the wild-mind of father, when you, dear boy, fall to sleep, what shall you dream? Another world? In the arms of your mother, you dream of—(Papa above—black smoke of burning tires— red canister of fuel oil—red droplets flash—full of yellow moon—) O Petey, you dream your bones into paper, you dream your skin gone to ash—

The brochure claims Heracles may have been “immediately” exonerated for his crimes, had he existed in this modern world, rather than face the cruel penance imposed by the ancients. “Certainly we would not have so faulted one of our great heroes so momentary a lapse in sanity.” The brochure makes no mention of guilt, of horror, of night-sweats for our “hero.”

“Do you know where you are Heracles?” “Of course Papa” “Then where” “The House of Death, of course, tied down in the heart of Hades, returned to Hades, dead by the hand of assassins, black assassins lighted my eyes, thrust the cruel points through my—” “Why do you believe” “My head sticky with blood—Papa, who could injure me, but assassins from Hell?”

Voice of tour guide will sooth: “Close your eyes and imagine the blinds drawn while the sun plies through in white beams, lighting the motes. Stifling, musty, for those closed windows, the trapped summer air, the blood smell and perspiration.” Yes, the tours of the Heracles House replicate the atmosphere of these early days with a “horrific verisimilitude” down to the stale atmosphere and blood stained pillows (these stains we are told are freshly applied to clean pillow cases each week. The original pillows are stored in a glass enclosure in the museum basement. These authentic stains, long ago gone brown, fail to achieve the correct “aesthetic reaction.”).  We heartily recommend a day trip to the Heracles House for those interested. Brochures and “live video” on the official website scarcely do the experience justice and the inevitable catharsis alone is worth the gas money.

“Papa O Daddy it’s me it’s your little boy O Papa it’s me Petey! Not an assassin at but your little boy—”

 

The tour guide will bring you to a patch of soot in the back yard. The wind will whip and carry his words far beyond where they are meant. Euripides, the guide will tell you, places no special emphasis on the funeral rites of Megara and little Pete. He notes only that soon after Heracles regained his senses both Amphityron and Heracles left for “the city” and a new life together. Diogenes, however, considered the funeral pyre all important, citing the event in his infamous “defense of cannibalism”—born of the same substances, returned to the same, the mother and son, born of the same, return to the same, swirling, ash of mother to ash of son, smoke of son to smoke of mother—

Son and mother flee—the dull stars—crunch of snow under socked feet—“Mommy please I’m” “Faster darling and no words remember” “But he can’t—” “Shhh—”

Smoke swirling—blot the yellow light—blot the moon—swirl of mother, swirl of son—

Huddled outside the gas station—sopping frozen socks—shivering chattering boy—hot coffee and cocoa for the two of you—the

Cascade along the

 

“Your little boy! Daddy please I’m your—!”

From the brochure: “Neighbors insist the Heracles House remains much the exact farm house of those long ago days. In fact, on the Nights of Replication (every odd Saturday and Sunday), when the bonfires rage and cotton and wire effigies are soaked through with gasoline, those same neighbors insist they ‘smell burning hair’ and ‘something far worse’ just the same as that ‘hateful night’ when a loving family was reduced to cinders.”

 

II. The First Lion

O Heracles your madness was born in the yellow guts of goats and sheep, discarded along your father’s yellow and brown grassed fields. Gutless bodies—mere empty skins—A mere teenager, you stooped to this horror, the viscera—the fly swarmed stink—O Heracles, crouched on your haunches, you felt the breath of Eternity pass through your figure. Your chest rose and fell with the realization of a hundred thousand skulls bludgeoned, of cries for mercy ignored, your fame born and sung out by school children and news stations, the death and funeral pyre of your wife and boy, the narrow escape into the winter cold by your wife and boy.

Other herds across the valley, herds of cattle sheep bison emu goats are slaughtered. The guts sucked clean out. Heads discarded, rolled in the gravel, the flies. A bus of school children devoured, the bloody twisted metal and plastic, smoldering on the news.

Summoned by the king. Moss’d stone walls and gray pillars. His gold crown, rubies and sapphires, and steel-gray beard. He smoked a pipe and offered you a drink while you sat. “Coach would kill me,” you said. “Of course he would,” said the king. “Don’t we all know what a fine half-back you are, a credit to local athletics, the spirit of our youth, and don’t we all remember that fourth quarter run your freshman year at State?” King emits a yellow fog, continues, “I thought you would kill those other boys, the way you bullied through them, your forearm smashing their gullets.” Bloody teeth sprayed to the turf.

Now, spread across the table, a series of black and white photographs. Crumpled machinery. What looked like melted doll limbs. “I feel like I can speak to you in a way I cannot speak to these—well, to these mortal fellows.” The King smiled. “Godhood radiates off you, my lad, the way I’m told it radiates off of my own golden self.” “Well I don’t” “No need to blush. I don’t know the entire story, but it’s in your blood. Now my boy, my fellow godling, the business of being a successful king is owed entirely to the well-fed, well-being of subjects. Subjects starved or subjects devoured by unnatural animals tend to—” the king smiled, puffed his pipe, gray-lemon clouds winding like corkscrews, “well, they tend to murder their kings, my boy, so now we arrive at the purpose of all this:

“You rare athlete. You ivory hued man-youth. Do me a favor: hunt and murder this monster. Return with its tongue and its eyes and its heart and all the fruits and spoils of my kingdom shall be placed at your feet on serving trays. Do you like daughters? What a coincidence—I have fifty of them. Strawberry and blond and raven haired. Slender and buxom. Virginal and experienced. Your’s separately or in packs, it makes no matter. Whatever your desire, my boy— I know the pure range of strangeness when it comes to youthful lusts. Why, when I was a lad—I dreamed—do you know— If you like bathing, you can bath all the day in my pools and these lovelies of mine, they will trail you in the pools nipping at you like minnows. Their hair like seaweed and their rough nipples like coral. Drown one or two if you like— that is the pleasure of having so many, nobody cares when a few are lost in the—

“Spend the night Heracles— although, you have no choice, after all, I am your king. While you doze and dream my lovelies shall come to you like frail kittens to purr and rub against you, or, if that’s not your amusement, then consider them spirits, lovely in their diaphanous—”

“A great strapping brute—I mean, a fine brilliant athlete like you my boy—could satisfy five, six daughterlings at a time—Why—such a one as you!—in eight, nine shifts you could have them all and each this exact night—Ah!—To picture you—young beautiful creatures—glistening— in sweat and juices—sprawled in layers—coarse moans—bloody and pale—oh my—Find the monster my boy and all this is yours: why, my daughters, for now, piled as you desire, however many you need—And, after they burn me in the field, as my one true kin, you will be seated at my throne. My boy, you will harvest this kingdom.”

For now this monster, nestled nicely with skulls of children and legs of lambs rotten, for now these girls, a line of fifty, Megara among them, one of many brides tonight. In your hand, their hands, the soft white petals of tulips. Palm ferns blackened to smoke. For now legs arms nipples tongues pink painted toe nails giggles and smiles, for now dozing, shouts and moans, the dreams of flies and warring tribes. Gun-powder wafts, the yellow of napalm, the yellow of eyes a-sliver. Death yowl, the whirring of chopper blades. Soft red flesh. For now musk ducts and long teeth. For now quickened blood and limbs. Before you, a green lawn at the eve. Before you, a valley of burning tires.

Three cheers! Huzzah! Main-Street blotted with ticker-tape and confetti. At home slender sensual girls hide giggling under your bed-sheets, outlines of bodies, shifting and kicking like weird spirits, while under the ticker tape, men in hats and coats shook your hand, called you “buddy.” Strange requests: would you help them move furniture, build a back shed, demolish a barn? The king mounted the monster’s head in the trophy room. Later, after the marriage to Megara, after your father-in-law, the king, is dead, after the throne is stolen from you, Heracles, you consider those far-off glassy eyes, the pulled lip snarl of the monster you strangled with your bare hands. His hoarse cries for forgiveness.

 

III. The Aftermath

O muse sing the song of Heracles the woozy, Heracles the recently gone mad and now apparently returned sane, his golden brow over run with brown-dried blood, Heracles once bound with chains, rusted and slick with oil, now freed, Heracles (so says Euripides) who remembers only “the vague shadows of assassins rummaging—” and none of the screams of son and wife—if he killed them as some insist or if they escaped, gone to the city, where they rent an apartment, it matters not—

Sing of Megara, alive, a pre-school teacher in flower-print dresses, in black rimmed glasses, a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies awaiting Pete on his return from soccer practice, his grass stained knees, his scabbed elbows. Does he yet dream of the gasoline sheet laid across his face, his mother’s face, the fumes soaked through? Does he yet dream the razor-click of Heracles’ lighter—

Sing of Heracles and Amphityron, at the kitchen table, soot and smear of ash, as they contemplate now their flight to the city, as they contemplate minotaurs, as they contemplate digging a pond in the back yard, filled with lilypads and cattails and goldfish in anticipation of—“Petey always loved animals,” Heracles mumbled, clutched the clay-caked shovel—

Your tour guide will wonder aloud: “Did Heracles after all craft a pond in anticipation of his boy’s return? Excavations are uncertain.” He will gesture to the well-groomed lawn, “We have, however, found otherwise unexplainable remnants of cattails preserved in the clay bed—”

 

“O Father how was I to know it was my wife and son? Assassins in black-tights, except their yellow eyes—they peeled the walls and devoured fists full of electric wires—assassins dipped in shadows, as if shades, but not shades— men, but less than men—assassins made of burning rubber and choking smoke—Rusting fleshless hands of wire—O Father in Heaven—O Father—I cry out to you and yet you offer no judgment—I repent what I have done. I repent in dust and ashes—I have dug deep into the soil and I have said to the worms you are my son and you are my wife—If you made it so I never killed them—I would offer this house in return and my cars and the monies and prizes and newspapers and the false glories from all my great deeds—I offer it all so they may be rejoined from the swirling ash—(Still, I receive only silence, no gesture, no motion from you)—Well, then, if you won’t bring them back—at least—obliterate them from my memory—If it must be they are gone then please father remove every last trace—So I may stop dreaming of them alive—so I don’t dream they have returned home—their warmth, their kisses, so lifelike even my heart believes them—Please, so I no longer wake to emptiness everywhere—This cold nothing—”

The brochure illustrates in neat red ink the route by which Heracles and Amphityron fled. You may drive these lonely back-roads. If you do so, imagine the complete darkness of a sky too clouded over for stars, the howling of half starved animals, perhaps the whirring of helicopter blades, overhead, in pursuit of the two murderers escaped.

“O God if only I was never born, if only all of this had ended the night I was conceived, O Father, O Zeus, if only you had never—”

Does she wake gagging on the smoke?

According to our intern’s diligent research, Diogenes in his tub, refused any utterance of the notion Heracles may have been ignorant of his crimes, as a Heracles “yet shackled to the idea of wife and child, home and hearth, mooning about, awaiting some fantastic return” was the anti-thesis of the “Heracles who defines the sacred concept of absolute Freedom.” However, our tour guide, in his gold and black polo shirt, his creased khakis, informs us, “Local lore has it in the years awaiting the return of wife and boy Heracles would spend hours wandering these same fields”—

Why, imagine him now in his sandals and shorts and t-shirt, perhaps hefty in the belly, sunburned, skin of shoulders flaking, “always finally arriving at the pond just over the hill there,” the tour guide gestures toward a grassy mound along the horizon.

“I hear laughter on the wind and it makes me want to murder every last of those jokesters—O, Father, if only I lived in the forest, away from all these damned human noises, all these damned happy fools—”

Seems it wherever Amphityron goes, so too trail the ghosts of Pete and Megara, if they are dead, long ago cremated, they return as shades, mute and gray, waiting at his feet like pools of ink, while he drinks his coffee, while he reads in his recliner, while he stares out over the bustling city from his apartment balconey, or if  Megara and Pete live nearby, in town, under assumed names, Megara teaching pre-school, smelling always of cocoa and play dough, even so, their vestiges yet linger along the basement stairs, gray shadows weeping under the octopus furnace, shades stooping to the blood-stain-covering-throw rugs, trailing finger tips, gazing terrified and confused at Amphityron, hard drinking now, bottles hid under the sink, behind the toilet, vomit crusted on his chest, along his lip. “I’ve been a little sick today Kid,” he tells Heracles when Heracles returns from the ponds, his gray mucky hands—

“Why did I not die in the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”

Amphityron makes them sandwiches, grilled cheese with tomato slices, the crust removed for Pete, and they sit at the tables, their smoke-eyes observing. They are apparently unable to hold the sandwiches, yet they smile with soot lips, patient—

A forest of blades, helicopter blades, a spotlight, an explosion, “If they catch us they’ll put us to death—” “Good—it’s what I want—what I de—”

Our guide, the final tour of the day: “If you look out there, toward the falling sun, some say you can see—Is that? There he is, even now, across those yellow fields, yes, a tom cat trailing in his wake, a faithful tom, a beloved cat, who sleeps at his feet, a faithful tom to hold against his breast, to stroke, the gentling purring as he sleeps. O to dream, to forget—”

 

IV. The Ten Trials of Heracles

There is gold in the offering, the offended city council informs Heracles of the Erymanthian boar. Council is “on the run” when they contact him, forced from town by the beast, snorting from overlooking hills. It has been ravaging herds of emu in the hills, devouring all the corn. “It’s simply untenable,” they insist. “You must help us.”—Heracles peered into the darkness—Old dog covered in a smog of green flies, as if a carcass, Augeias the farmer in his denim britches and his hay and dung clotted pitch fork and Heracles, flies and chickens, clucking and buzzing. Heracles shoulder-to-shoulder with the old farmer, “what would you say if I cleaned your stables for free?”—staggering, this minotaur flailed briefly—Eighty-one heads in place of the severed nine—The bodies of deer and bear and much smaller wildcats, strewn about, rotting, half devoured—

Fat with baby in the autumn after their wedding, Megara alone, nighttime darkness, starless sky, an oil slick, Heracles gone, chasing the Erymanthian boar, destroyer of villages, men gouged and cattle beheaded. On the television, stampedes in the streets, bloodied tusks, mothers diving through windows—Hydra—Moon yellow and plump, Augeias led his wife to the pick-up truck, finger tips along the small of her back, lace shawl like an immense doily, and the old farmer himself nicely spruced in shirt and tie—whose venom left little children blackened and steaming—in fly ripened shadows, Heracles waited their departure—stalking the mystical deer by foot, his running shoes long since rotted—entrails and ribcages—Hooves pound and echo, trees and sky along the horizon, a dead yellow moon, shadows of trees and power lines. Heracles in pursuit, his mind gone red and black—their bodies, mounds of bones and hooves—“You’re a goddamned animal,” said Augeias, floating past in his canoe.—

Megara, sullen and silent, as Heracles departs with knife, bow, arrows, and because she packed them, a change of clothes, toothpaste, tooth brush. He leaves because the throne was stolen from them, because they need the money, because they must care for the child growing inside of her—his arms, blood and lion-saliva mixing, dripping along his neck, his body—The yard, alive, flies buzzing and writhing, chickens pecking along.—“Lord God!” said the red minotaur in the doorway—grunting and stinking with lather. Grunting neighing monster shoved to the gravel road. Heracles slid an arrow from the quiver, drew the wire taut—gasping and eyes—the motion of her arms, the swish of her apron. Flies like locusts throughout the kitchen. The grease leaping and eggs crackling. “Most visitors won’t eat,” Augeias’ wife said. “But after a while you don’t smell—” “Smell?” Heracles waved off a hoard of flies. “My aren’t you just awful sweet to say.”—croaked and blurted out a mouthful of blackish blood before falling face first onto the floor, more blood oozed from his head, his face—a frail silhouette and shotgun leveled—Silence. Sniffling and whimpering—the lion’s hide wrapped him like a robe, the skin of the head, the monster’s face and mane, a sort of helmet— Augeias, leaning on his shovel, denim overalls and manure caked boots, sweat drenched after a morning digging post holes along the dusty dirt road—The truck pulled away in a cloud of yellow dust—

Finally, the dam is split and the devastation wrought: the first floors of houses and in some cases the roofs are submerged and all the horses chickens sheeps cows bulls emus and ostrich float devastated in the soup and some of the work men and most of the children too floating face down or belly up in the hot sun while the flies remained above the fray—The creature snored contentedly, great tail wagging as if in a dream—Heracles wiped his hands—Bulging in the moonlight before the body goes limp—the minotaur flops to the gravel when Heracles lets it go, chest heaving and out of breath—“You young folks,” said Augeias, “is all just wild out your minds with entitlement.”

 

V. From the Heracles House

We have met a man here in the marshes, in the forests, a man in a thatched hut who dreams of tar pits and fuel oil blazing. At his command we have built gardens and raised gazeboes—we have imported silk carpets and bred dogs—We have saved the house from fires with steel buckets—we have found the bones of Amphityron, erected them with chicken wire and sticks, stuffed them with cotton—covered them over with sweaters and wool trousers—From inside his glass case, Amphityron grins now, his black teeth—Our security cameras and motion detection lasers chronicle the clandestine visits of a man to Amphityron, the dear old soul of paper skin and charcoal teeth. A man who traces his pond and peat clotted fingers along the glass—Does this stranger’s lips move? Do they somehow figure, “O Papa,” or no?

 

“I tie the shadows safe from gliding back—”

We have met a man who wears only the skins of animals he has killed or will kill. Tanned the hide or wears them dripping. He uses the incisors for razors and can-openers. The eyes and tongues and entrails he feeds to gulls, who circle above, insane landlocked gulls he bribes to carry love poems to his wife and letters to his child, who may yet live, who may have been scattered beyond his redemption—Their great wings beat even as the trees become clogged by feathers, white feces, masticated pages of poems from the Portuguese—their strange hearts, their brute blood—

 

“I sank and quailed as if God’s future thundered on my past—”

This man praying for echoes of voices, laughter, footfalls yet to come, scuff marks, handprints, lips and eyes. He anticipates them, we are told, because he has dreamed them—This man who dreams a white thrust of lightening through his chest, while his screams, the tearing of soul from flesh, are muffled by an immense cataclysmic thunder—the gesture of God—return him to the realm he knew before he was born—He tells us, “I remember dreaming of it when I was a boy, where I had been before I was born, the clouds and mountains, the sandals and long beards”—or to the house of death, where Amphityron likely wanders as a shade, to dwell within fires he once walked with ease, devoured by the mouth of the three headed dog he once carried out, under force—

“To slacken all those bonds which seem too soon—”

What of these gulls? Landlocked and crazed, these million white and gray and eyeless gulls, golden bills fat with love sonnets and prayers—their wild doomed thoughts of impregnation and mortality—their flight from ruin—their skulls pregnant with worms and beetles—this million lonesome multitude—this cloud of flesh and feather—What of the messages they carry, these gulls? What of the man who harbors them? What of the woman they failed to find?

Will they return to wander those halls side by side, man and wife, father and son—shadows and shades—

Merged now in the darkness—return to one another in this silence—dead images, shades, come again through veils of tears, hot and real—