The Martyrs of Hell

February 16, 2020

Not your martyrs anointed of heaven
The ages are red where they trod;
But the hunted—the world’s bitter leaven,
Who smote at your imbecile God:
A being to pander and fawn to;
To propitiate, flatter, and dread
As a thing that your souls are in pawn to,
A dealer that barters the dead;
Who gloats with a vengeance unsated,
And sells the lost souls in His snares
Who were trapped in the lusts He created—
For incense and masses and prayers.
They are crushed in the coils of your halters:
‘Twere well, by the creeds ye have nursed,
To send up a cry from your altars,
A mass for the martyrs accursed.
Just a passionate prayer for reprieval.
For the Brotherhood not understood—
For the heroes who died for the evil.
Believing the evil was good.
Here’s a toast that has never been given;
Listen, thralls of the Book and the Bell:
To the souls of the martyrs unshriven,
The bondmen who dared to rebel —
To the Breakers, the Bold, the Despoilers,
Who dreamed of a world overthrown;
They who died for the millions of toilers,
Few — fronting the nations alone;
To the Outlawed of men and the Branded,
Whether hated or hating they fell,
I pledge the devoted, red-handed,
Unfaltering heroes of hell!

Lola Ridge

Now there comes the physical part – and therein lies the problem. Victimized by sex is the human race. Animals, the fortunate lower beasts, go into heat. Then they are through with the thing, while we poor lustful humans, caged by mores, chained by circumstance, writhe and agonize with the appalling and demanding fire licking always at our loins.

I remember a cool river beach and a May night full of rain held in far clouds, moonly sparks raying on the water, and the close, dank, heavy wetness of green vegetation. The water was cold to my bare feet, and the mud oozed up between my toes. He ran then, on the sand, and I ran after him, my hair long and damp, blowing free across my mouth. I could feel the inevitable magnetic polar forces in us, and the tidal blood beat loud, LOUD, roaring in my ears, slowing and rhythmic. He paused, then, I behind him, arms locked around the powerful ribs, fingers caressing him. To lie with him, to lie with him, burning forgetful in the delicious animal fire. Locked first upright, thighs ground together, shuddering, mouth to mouth, breast to breast, legs enmeshed, then lying full length, with the good heavy weight of body upon body, arching, undulating, blind, growing together, force fighting force: to kill? To drive into burning dark of oblivion? To lose identity? Not love, this, quite. But something else rather. A refined hedonism. Hedonism: because of the blind sucking mouthing fingering quest for physical gratification. Refined: because of the desire to stimulate another in return, not being quite only concerned for self alone, but mostly so. An easy end to arguments on the mouth: a warm meeting of mouths, tongues quivering, licking, tasting. An easy substitute for bad slashing with angry hating teeth and nails and voice: the curious musical tempo of hands lifting under breasts, caressing throat, shoulders, knees, thighs. And giving up to the corrosive black whirlpool of mutual necessary destruction. – Once there is the first kiss, then the cycle becomes inevitable. Training, conditioning, make a hunger burn in breasts and secrete fluid in vagina, driving blindly for destruction. What is it but destruction? Some mystic desire to beat to sensual annihilation – to snuff out one’s identity on the identity of the other – a mingling and mangling of identities? A death of one? Or both? A devouring and subordination? No, no. A polarization rather – a balance of two integrities, changing, electrically, one with the other, yet with centres of coolness, like stars. || (And D. H. Lawrence did have something after all – ). And there it is: when asked what role I will plan to fill, I say “What do you mean role? I plan not to step into a part on marrying – but to go on living as an intelligent mature human being, growing and learning as I always have. No shift, no radical change in life habits.” Never will there be a circle, signifying me and my operations, confined solely to home, other womenfolk, and community service, enclosed in the larger worldly circle of my mate, who brings home from his periphery of contact with the world the tales only of vicarious experience to me, like so

Sylvia Plath
Journal entry May 15 – 1952

Something lay in the bottom of the cistern.

At first he thought someone had bundled bamboo and other debris, including electronic junk, in some black and purple fabric, rolled up the lot, and dumped it down here. This perception lasted perhaps half a second as his mind put together the mélange into a complete whole. No, he wasn’t seeing bamboo and olive tree prunings, but big insect legs attached to a long segmented thorax terminating in a squat abdomen. And the head that turned toward him, extending on a ribbed neck, seemed that of a spider, with two binocular eyes of deep ruby, with smaller ones on either side of it.

He stood there utterly terrified, primordial horror freezing him to the spot. He’d never been particularly frightened of insects or spiders, or of the scorpions he sometimes found in his house—in fact, he regarded them all with fascination—but this thing was bigger than a man. Next, slightly displacing the terror, he felt an odd twisting in his mind. It was as if he had shunted aside a filter of some kind; as if he had been seeing the world in sepia tones and now it hit him in full color and clarity. Yet, when he tried to analyse the difference to his past perception, he could not find it. His mind suddenly working very fast, he realized it must be the surge of adrenaline driving a feeling of disconnection, dislocation of the kind people experienced when suffering from extreme anxiety. From where in his brain that particular knowledge arose he had no idea for a second, then remembered it had been in an article he had read three years ago.

The creature flexed out its legs, heaved itself up, and scuttled to the far wall of the cistern. It tried to climb, got halfway up then slid down again, and slumped there panting. Erickson emitted a sound halfway between a gag and a yell and stumbled back from the edge, mind still twisting in his skull as if trying to fit itself around the utter implausibility of what he had stumbled upon. He wanted to turn and just run away from the thing but, more than that, he wanted to get away from the horrible sensations between his ears, and the bright bright clarity of his thoughts He was almost back to the path before his mind seemed to shift into another gear.

Neal Asher
An Alien on Crete

no walls to hem you in

February 16, 2020

I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining.

Octavia Butler
Conversations with Octavia Butler ed. Conseula Francis

moody hues and subdued palate

February 16, 2020

I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Wooly jumpers, Wellington boots, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palate punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love.

Alys Fowler
A recipe for Rowan Jelly

Oh, Tom, no! That’s really naughty!