I wrote this as a monologue for myself.  Haven’t performed it, not sure I will. It does express my sorrow and despair and disgust, really, at the increasingly militaristic direction things have taken. Really, isn’t there a better way? Really?

I admire the carrion eaters. I respect them. The ones that pick the bones of the dead. They do us all a great service, do they not? Imagine what the world would be if there weren’t the buzzards and the maggots and the carrion crows and all the little microbes that feed on death. Would there be any open ground left to stand on? Would we be walking on top of, I don’t know, a mile high pile of corpses? Just take the war dead, just that, everybody dies a natural death, their bodies go poof, gone, like Catholic Mary, zippo, straight off to heaven. But your war dead, the millions upon millions of soldiers and sailors, and babies and mothers and grandmothers, old men, young men, women of all ages, all the dead. Think about that pile getting higher and more staggeringly obscene by the second.

I think that would be a good thing. Really, I do. As a reminder, as a stark reminder. This is who we are, this is what we do. This is what we worship. You think not? You think this is too harsh? Then you, you, are deluded. You’re blindfolded. That’s why we need this pile, this statue of the uneaten dead so that you, and the millions like you, can see what you love, what you revere with your nationalisms and your closed borders and your voracious appetites for resources and your desire for control, control. This mounting avalanche of the dead is the idol you bow down to but never see because we have the cleaners to make it all sanitary for us. The cleaners and the gleaners to make it all go away. What was that that happened? That was for honor, that was for territorial integrity, that was for democracy, Islam, communism, a greater Russia, racial purity, a Crusade, a Holy War, not ever recognizing the oxymoron that that is.

The pile of dead would show you who you are. What we are, what we do. If we had to wade through these torn and twisted and shattered bodies on our way to work, grab a coffee, a hot date, maybe the going would be so tough it would slow us down enough to notice, hey, look at all the dead, all the lives cut short so I can gas my car, eat a cheap banana, get my dividend check.

Yeah. I admire the carrion eaters. They take care of us, they protect us from ourselves. Pity.

Letter From Hell

Wrote this a few years back as a dramatic monologue. I performed it at The Sierra Storytelling Festival where it was modestly received. It should be performed by a woman, obviously, and has been done that way a couple of times.
I like it still.
As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.  They kill us for their sport.
                                                                                          King Lear, III. iv. 36.

I write in advance of the arrival of your shade here below in the underworld, the nether regions, Hades. I am told you are expected shortly. I wish so much that you should receive this epistle while the spirit of life still breathes in that body I briefly called husband to mine. Yes, Orpheus, it is Eurydice, your bride of a single afternoon. Your bride, snatched from your embrace by the serpent’s sting on the day of our wedding. Your bride, Euriyice, whom you followed into hell with your song and your . . . lyre. Eurydice, the dead.

With the dead, here I arrived, having awakened from the sleep of life. After a time, you followed, to free me, to walk me once again into the light of the sun, so that like you, I should feel Helios’ warmth caress my cheek. O Orpheus, your song echoes in the vast vaults of hell still, still the shades residing here forever speak in hushed tones of Orpheus, the Divine musician, Orpheus, who braved death to free his love from Hades’ icy grip, Orpheus, whose anguished song of sorrow moved even the indifferent gods to tears.

What did you think you were doing? I was and am dead, doomed to haunt these vaults in waking sleep and then there you are with your seven-stringed-toy and your sweet song of supplication that sways the boatman to sleep and caresses the teats of the triple-headed beast Cerberus. So you charm your way here, even here, the first undead to do so, and you bring all that hope, all that certainty, Euridyce will be free, unthinkable, to live again, into the warmth, all that hope, to live again, it must be destiny, the charmer, the gods have willed it, the charmer, his immortal lyre.

What did you think you were doing? There was one condition, one condition only, don’t look back. Up we climbed, the long long walk through eternity, you leading, singing, charming, parting the way, I following, clutching hope, approaching life, climbing, upward, there, standing, the shore, you are standing there, in the light, the warmth, the hope, you, there, turning, smiling, rapt, entranced with your song, smiling, singing, turning, No! Turning. No! Stop! No!

No one has died twice but me. Eurydice, the twice dead. Eurydice, beloved of Orpheus. Orpheus, fool of the gods.

I wrap myself close in the blanket of my hatred for you. It is the only thing that warms me against the cold. The heat of my hate is my last connection to the sun; I clutch it closer even as the warmth of it ebbs away into that cool forgetfulness we dead awaken into for the remainder of our days.

Orpheus, I have seen your end. When the Thracian women tear that ringleted head off those terrified shoulders your mouth will still shape the song of your lamenting, and as your bobbing head floats downstream toward Apollo’s temple your broken lips will bleat for mercy. I want you then to listen for my voice crying out that you deserve none.

Charmer, singer of false hope, I, Eurydice, want to say, want, want to. I, Eurydice, grow colder, cold. Cold. No more sun. The halls of Hades, searching, I, Eurydice, walk, twice dead, I, I, forget . . .

Dressed to Kill

First written in 2005 and later revised in 2012, this paranoid fantasy reflected how I felt about my first wife and her new friends. After she passed on, I was able to grow beyond this rather sardonic piece of what is, ultimately, self-critique.

John viewed the occasion of his first wife’s funeral as an opportunity to pursue sartorial excellence. John regularly saw almost any occasion as an obligation to present himself as that most elegant of urban dwellers: The Well-Dressed Man. The supermarket would find him in raw silk trousers and an open collar oxford cloth pastel shirt tailored to fit. A trip to the mechanic would evoke jeans from his wardrobe, a rugged manly look balanced by devil-may-care loafers and a rakish sweater tied over the shoulders around a classic Hawaiian casual.

For the day’s requisite mourning dress, John chose a snappy navy three-piece pinstripe so dark it would appear black in most lights, a pale lavender silk shirt with deep indigo tie and matching handkerchief. Just the thing. Before departing in the taxi kept waiting nearly twenty pricey minutes as John polished his preparations he admired himself in the full-length faux-gilt mirror in the bedroom of his flat. “Damn,” he said to no one, “I know how to dress.”

The ceremony, such as it was, was to be held in the private home of one of the late wife’s arty friends. John was vaguely uncomfortable around her set. There were disquieting rumors of strange rituals, black magic. In fact, his wife’s deepening involvement with such people led, he often told himself, to their divorce. His numerous infidelities had been incidental. Well, he thought, they’re a bit odd, but my suit will carry the day (not to mention the brilliant burgundy Italian cap-toes now carrying him into the parlor of the arty friend’s home).

                  All eyes upon him, unease began to compete with self-admiration for his attention. He nodded to the general assembly, looked around for a chair, a familiar face, an interesting spot on the wall, anything to suppress the rising feeling that something was very odd here. He had walked into a room full of strangers who had been quite animated and who had now fallen into a silence as thick as congealed blood. He looked around again. All eyes upon him. He thought, I must get the hell out of here just as soon as it mightn’t appear rude. To his momentary relief, a person of indeterminate gender approached him. John held out a hand to empty space and said his name. “We know who you are, we’ve been waiting for you,” he heard.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was late, I thought,” he protested as fear rose within. Something was very wrong here. He fought to gain control of his voice, didn’t want to appear foolish, oh no. “Am I unwelcome, should I just leave?” He heard himself whine. How humiliating.

                  “Oh, we wouldn’t dream of letting you go.” A deep chuckle circled the room. “She would want you here, she wanted you to be here today.” John relaxed a little, and murmured his thank yous. The guests were forming a ring around him. John glanced about, and whatever respite from fear he had imagined now fled screaming, which is what he felt he had to do, and at once.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered thickly, “I just wanted to – to pay my- I really must go.” His Italian shoes pivoted of their own will and moved him into around and through the unyielding bodies of his persecutors. His arms, his elbows, his hands wedging grabbing, pulling. I’ve got to make it, I’ve got to get out, yes, yes, I’ve got to get out. “Please!” he cried. “Please!”

And then, suddenly, somehow, he was out, out on the sidewalk in the fading light, breathing hoarsely, shaking, sweating heavily in the cold twilight. And he said to himself, “I wonder if they noticed my suit?”

John’s arm shot up to hail a cab.