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The Raven and the Regret

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Part I--THE RAVEN

It’s early.

After a long night—
Feathers gloriously stained by her charcoal quilt—
I can feel the last shards of darkness pushing through the cavernous hole
Where my soul ought to be,
Rubbing it raw,
Deceit and manipulation driven forcefully in and out until the message sinks in:
A message of tremendous torment in the form of lost hope because
There is no heaven and there is no god
Without a soul.
All that I have is instinct and will,
A will to survive tonight’s looming obscurity.

I can smell it.
It may be yet far off, but
God in Heaven,
It’s there.
And I can smell it.
A feast.
My name to describe my hunger—
Ravenous—
Flight pushed by nothing but craving of the purest breed:
An innate craving.

Wind rushing past my eyes,
Drying them,
Furiously blinking and flapping wings that have not yet awoken.
I’m coming closer—
Through the trees—
Closer still—
Across the tar—
Even closer—
Towards the smell—
Closer, closer,
Until there it is,
A rotting masterpiece beneath me:
Potential to be beautiful and sadistic
(Sadistic like me),
Potential that was soiled when her charcoal quilt stole the last breath of life
By hungry suffocation.

The carcass reeks of putrid flesh—
So satisfying—
Hovering just above before landing on a blood-stained ribcage and hurriedly pulling stringy sinew
From a cavernous hole where something ought to be:
Maybe innocence, maybe a soul, maybe even life;
Whatever should be there isn’t.
But my hunger is prepared and willing to fill that hole
With lust and greed and broken promises of brotherhood.

A feast like this is rare.
The blood is still warm,
The tissue newly torn,
My empty stomach filling.

Part II--THE REGRET

It’s early.

The strained humming of the car’s frozen engine overpowers the radio,
And so I turn the music off,
To experience the stillness of morning
(As best I can with the engine not yet warm).

Frozen fingers turned purple,
Waiting to thaw inside,
But now clutching the steering wheel and involuntarily twitching.
Why does it have to be so cold?

And then it hits me.

The memory I have been desperately avoiding since opening my eyes this morning,
Not really waking up,
Just opening them because
No one can sleep through such a night of torment:
Torment’s charcoal quilt.

He said,
Come outside and talk to me.
Just thinking about it makes me laugh—
Not with contentment, but laugh—
Because innocence and naivety are blinding;
(The realists are right and the idealists are sleeping),
And I am glad he made a realist out of me.
Granted I’m years older than I was at this time yesterday—
The engine never used to overpower the radio—
But we all need to grow up someday.

He looked into my eyes,
Held my face in his rough hands, and said,
I love you.

But I know he lied.
I’m not stupid,
Not anymore.

Love doesn’t wait in shattered innocence,
In deceit and manipulation,
In lust and greed and broken promises of brotherhood,
In helpless tears and sharp pains inside you—
Deep inside you—
In places that weren’t meant to be touched,
To be tarnished, and torn, and rubbed raw,
By a liar.

It burns.
Oh God in Heaven, it burns
And stings and bites at me.
Since I climbed back into bed trembling,
Since I stood up with the sun and tugged on blue jeans that say in public,
I promise, nothing is wrong,
But then turn to lies and hypocrisy to hide all different kinds of pain...
Since my purity fell asleep into a charcoal quilt—
More than that, into a grave without a tombstone—
And it finds me again.
Relentless.

Not just a physical burn,
Because trust me, that is another beast,
And is all too present, all too constant as a mocking reminder
Of the cavernous hole he carved into more than heart,
More than soul,
More than past and present and future—
But there is also a mental burn:
Shame, agony, embarrassment,
I wish I could go back and unwish its happening,
And then maybe I could be satisfied enough to stop blaming myself.

But then, it happened for a reason.
It had to.
And it was okay.
It’s okay,
He told me,
But deep down in a heart that seemed to have stopped beating,
I knew that it wasn’t.
Because then he added,
Don’t tell anyone...

But it’s okay.
Even though we had to sneak through black obscurity to do it,
And even though, the whole time, my frozen heart said,
Stop.

Don’t broadcast the dripping of tears unless you really have to;
Sniff, fix your makeup, and think of something else.

Everything looks so still outside the car.
Nothing is moving and no one is alive until
I glance to my left around a curve in the tar
And jump
To see the steaming corpse of a deer
Resting in a tangled mesh of blood-soaked meat and gooey viscera,
Eyes poked out,
Legs stiff as tree branches and ribcage jutting awkwardly into the sky like
Some distorted monument made by a monster.

And on that ribcage sits a raven—
Maybe a crow, who knows the difference?—
Hauntingly perched upon a throne of brutality,
Pride and satisfaction etched into his sinister grin.

And as I pass in my civilized shell his head rises sharply to gaze at me,
Judgmentally, criticism oozing from his piercing eyes, staring straight into mine,
As I fly by in a machine content upon polluting his sky;
And I can see strings of muscle tissue clenched in his beak,
Draped over his hunger like Christmas decorations.

Part III--THE RAVEN

One of those big metal monsters roars past me,
Interrupting my frenzied banquet,
And when I look up,
I look into the blackest eyes,
If only for an instant,
And somehow I feel like there’s something missing from this human,
As if another cast her into betrayal and cut out some vital part of her.

But then she’s gone and I forget to care about how she feels because
I still feel hungry and have means to destroy that hunger.
Beak back in blood,
Maliciously cutting out vital organs,
Devouring the harmless and helpless,
Defacing the innocent,
And barely bothered by it.

But those black eyes won’t leave my mind.

Part IV--THE REGRET

Thank God in Heaven,
The day is over.

Back in the car again.

By this time my brain is so burnt out that I’ve forgotten how to think,
And am content to relax,
Allowing myself to melt into the heater—
Why I need it in 72-degree weather is another question—
But for once my frozen heart feels as if it may begin to thaw,
And as I breathe in and close my eyes,
Sealing my troubled mind into an artificial charcoal quilt,
She suffocates me.

And the last thing I see
Is that grinning raven—
Satisfied by another’s misfortune.

Part V--THE RAVEN AND THE REGRET

I finished eating a long time ago,
But staring at the remains of my meal makes me feel fuller—
Less life for one means more life for another—
And so I sit and wait,
And wait,
And wait,
For hours,
And watch torrid, fetid flesh sizzle and bake into the tar
Under the unforgiving sun.

Until all of a sudden a machine comes hurtling around the bend in the tar,
Soaring out of control,
Polluting my sky,
The human inside with the blackest eyes shut tight
And a smile pulled tautly across a mortal face,
Smile sharing face with thick expressions of pain and regret,
And then the machine crashes and flips in a glorious explosion
Of glass
And metal
And fire.

I watch a limp body fly as if it were made to do so into the middle of the tar,
Land with a thud and a series of electrifying crunches,
Blood splattering onto pavement from her cracked skull and ruptured stomach.

And in an instant it is over.
The machine lies in ruins,
Burning and shrinking self-consciously under the criticizing gaze
Of startled pedestrians,
Fleeing dog-walkers,
Terrified neighbors.

In the distance I hear sirens.

I would be a fool to miss this opportunity.

So with a stomach full to bursting I swoop to the body,
Open the eyelids and pluck out her unforgettably black eyes,
Glad that they’re gone,
No remorse,
No fear of the humans screaming in disgust and rushing forward
In a pathetic attempt to make me abandon such a treat.

As I clamber to her exposed ribcage to devour the warmth of her innards,
I stare at her rigid legs—
Rigid as tree branches—
And I study the shreds of torn denim glued to her mangled body
By thickening clots of blood oozing from somewhere between her legs.

As I turn to indulge myself,
I realize that her heart is covered in a thin layer of ice,
Just barely beating,
And that someone has carved a cavernous hole into her body;
Right where I wish her soul would be.



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