Unearthly Delights Sampler -- Marge Simon
A Garden of Unearthly Delights
after H. Bosch

I knew I'd find you here,
the residential haunt
of a dreary farmhouse
on the outskirts of Antwerp.
It had to be none other
for a Medieval artisan,
Maestro of the Grotesque.

The sound of my footsteps
turns into hideous laughter
that whispers through the house
and will not die.

Eyes alight with green flames,
you appear in a filthy robe
to invite me to another world
where owls nest in the grass,
moons howl and trees have eyes.

You give it raucous music,
beacons lit by weeping violins
and flames to punctuate the sky.
Indeed, you've landscaped Hell,
outdone the most esthetic demon
at the Dark Angel's command.

I've seen enough, I try to turn away,
but by some monstrous force, you intervene.
As my torch expires, I join your visions,
imprisoned in an ornate frame.
Storm Warning

El Greco saw
me coming,
Kandinsky made
me indivisible.
Kafka filed me
and Ginsberg
brought me with.

You hear me
like a needle tearing
into the strato,
Nine Inch Nails
on a jagged rift,
a soundwave
that spreads
like an injunction.

I'm the crazy
homeless man
in your back yard
ghost dancing
barefoot in the snow
until the flesh parts
and my inarticulate
protest stains
your finite canvas.

I'm the man
who let you ride
his white horse
to keep you happy
twenty years ago.
And I'm the man
who stole your life,
pens, brushes, voice.

I'm the man behind you
in the panic traffic lanes,
the man you hope
will return your tools
and take you home
before the storm.
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The Holes Through Which
the Scarabs Come

If you get high enough
you can worship down.
A beetle on a leaf
lays eggs, flies away,
thousands of  leaves,
a million times and more,
that many hatchlings.

You  see them through the holes
in O'Keeffe's geomorphic church,
the spaces of Moore's gestalt,
through the sights of your rifle.

You know them always
when the carnage comes.
Rome, Dresden, Auschwitz.
A billion wars, a hundred times
that many hatchlings more.

Hendrix, Dylan, Rolling Stones,
finite holes in platters
circumvolving light years
on the spindle-trickle of remorse.
A thousand songs intensified
and played a million times
to many eggs on many leaves.

At night they multiply, swarm
through the keyhole of your cell,
from the cracks in sweating walls.
They glut your memories, leave
answers to forgotten questions.
You hear them in the whine
of complex circuits on the lines
that galvanize the scourge of greed.
They scuttle through your mind,
invade your sense of reason,
steal time, broken watches, bombs.

You were there at the crossing
when the song of rails announced
the thunderous entry of passing souls.
Their statues draped in vines would
crumble.
Through marble holes and cracks
in barren bones, the scarabs come.

If you get high enough,
you'll find a way to worship down.
Plaything

It is bloodless,
clean and gray
with no insides.

I find it
lying mauled
beside the cat,
who thinks
it is a toy.

I take it for dead,
until it twitches
its tail,
and turns its
whiskers upward,
in a sad smile.

I put it in a bag,
take it outside
to a back lot.

I find a place
to set it free
where it
can hide
among the weeds.

It protests,
bites my fingers,
follows me home.

Later I find
it sleeping
on the bed
next to the cat,
whiskers upward
in a sad satisfied smile.
Language of Scorpions

Up polished steps of Cheop's walls
the scorpions crawl, speaking prophecies
in spider tongues.

The certainty of yet another war
has brought us here. We seal the chamber.

It's consensual, our voluntary burial.
Each bringing something precious
from this world with us to the next.

Mine is a photograph:
a child torched with napalm running naked toward
the camera, her screams frozen in a single frame.
By Munch's hand or a lens in '72, that unceasing wail
out of nothing from nowhere.

While packing for our sudden evacuation,
you ask, "Why this? It's just a photograph."

You take the Torah and a bag of other texts.
More sensible selections for the world to come.
If some future generation finds us
I trust they'll see I came willingly on this mission.

And if generations succeed our passing,
will future archeologists find significance
in the strewing of our bones?

On rough stone steps of Cheop's walls,
the scorpions crawl, speaking prophecies
in spider tongues.
The Native Finds Her
in the Wreckage

She is weak at first,
then she is the shark,
ever in motion to stay alive.
Better to live on her feet
than on her knees.

The smells she’s lost,
dill & oleander,
river mist,
another world ago–
things the native
wouldn’t grasp.

When she is well,
he gives her brush and palette.
She paints him sideways
so his wings look like a helmet.

Art talks a good game,        
but he breaks her fingers anyway,
stretches the bones to imitate his own,
binds her hands until they heal.

When this is done,
when she is beautiful,
he gifts her with his oily sex.
For her, the shadows overflow
and it doesn’t get light
until sunset.

The native mumbles
what is about her
on his mind,
to her, just to her
never sure if she hears
and understands
or if so, cares.
Theater of Fear

It was first conceived
as a solution to boredom
when hedon-holo games
became passé.

 
where you are:
 risk is the rush
 exponential extremes
 turn you on.

She tires of tedium,
wants to try
the latest fad at risk,
a potent street drug,
rumored to surpass
the thrills of
psychic synthesizers.

So for her I make
a discreet purchase
with no guarantee.

 where you are:
 dancing to sensations
 no stop style
 carousel prick tease
 unaware of my pain.

The injection is done
in a sound proof room
to seal her screams.

where you are:
the gray tides rise
the taste of neon panic,
the pursuant undertow.

where you are:
I know your companions.
Sometimes they poke you
with questing fingers.
Other times, they bite.

She tosses, moans
but never speaks.
I wrap her bones
in her best blue dress.

where you are:
Your skin sags. Lines appear.
You feel your body fold, wither.
Cold scorches, hunger sears.

where you are:
A sold out, soul-less
performer, on your own
in the Theater of Fear.
The Taste of Bitter Ale

The burning woman knew us
as she slipped from her dark skin
that we might take it with us
on the sunrise winds.

The children know us
as a flight of black moths.
Their parents know us
as a memory, a rain of ash.

The sky is breaking,
cry the children and run
to tell their mothers,
who tear their skirts
to wipe our smell  
from their lips.

Tonight, a father’s big voice
is wrapped around a story
to help the children sleep.

He marks our passage
by the curve of the moon
and the taste of bitter ale.
He carries us in the weight
of his dreams.
Neighbors

“That man is crying again,” says my wife.
“She must have locked him in his room.”

The nude girl-woman
in the top floor window
stares back at us,
a plum in her fingers.

She hasn’t moved
except to take a bite
of the plum.
Juice trickles
from the corner of her mouth,
makes its way down
between her breasts,
over her curving belly
and below.

It’s none of your business say her eyes.
You know he brought me here,
that he wants it this way.
I can leave any time I please.
None of your business
what turns a man on.

“We should report this,” says my wife.
She fidgets with the drapes.
“It’s been two weeks.”
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Portrait of the Artist's Mother

He ignores her as she enters his studio
to settle herself in the wicker chair.
She spreads her skirts to complement
the innocuous piece of furniture.

With a few strokes he transforms
her seat into an anthropomorphic idol,
exponentially dissembling her form
in an explosion of convoluted outrage.
Simultaneous brushstrokes converge,
spin into a vortex of movement at the center.
Yet in the foci are her eyes, her question.

Is this thing we do so wrong?

Slowly she rises, unbuttoning her blouse.
She removes the brushes from his hands,
presses his palms firmly to her breasts.
When she grows old
& minutes between words
become too hard to bear,
he finds a place for her.

She textures the hours
with patterns from within,
weaves a curtain out of time
& hangs  it in her eyes.

She knows the moment
he dies, the how & why,
as she does the rhythms
of tree rings, sand & fog,
the way a man thinks
when there is nothing left
but the gun in his hand,
cool and black enough

to feed the shadows.
She sends bright music
to aid his passage through
the seasons of death.

When he returns he’ll lift
the fabric from her eyes,
& wheel her to the window,
that she may see the sky
The Seasons of Death