Trial by Wonder

And the young monk
on the hillside thrice gave
weight to his staff against
greenhold ground found this day
along his sacred quest.
In answer, the land opened,
revealed a winding descending stairway.
The monk feeling bidden, ventured down.
Below, he became aware he had entered
cavernous chamber lit by broad torches.
An array of ancient armament displayed
upon a large wooden table, its edges
intricately carved.
Exquisite poignant music, angelic pure
voices unsullied by words emerged from
vibrating air.
“Welcome, child. You are expected.
Nourishment will arrive soon.
Knowledge will take longer.
Think on your questions.”
An old wrinkled presence, kind without sign
of emotion, spoke and settled into
luxurious green tapestry now clearly carpeting
the room.
The monk had embarked on his journey without
That was one of the rules.
He eagerly followed each of seeming reasonless
instructions, on and on.
Now he had reached a place of contemplation,
a different kind of challenge.
He considered his questions in short mental movies.
Brought to him food exactly suited to invigorate,
water like clarity washing through him.
His mind paints the walls, animate characters flicker
in shadows. These converse with the monk, and each
other. Merry questions cavort as shapes, colors,
directions. When the monk awakes, he is walking
a familiar trail. The teller of his tale has decreed
it leads to a sacred hillside.
He hums to his steps, rehearsing his questions.
Their answers reside in his trusty backpack.
He has collected and carried these shiny pebbles
with intention to fabricate a magnificent rock collage
when the appropriate backdrop appears.
How lucky to be a monk in a time of such


Emissary (from Something Sacred)

At first she walked without thought, mind caught up in languageless reverie, body exquisitely attuned to every sound, scent, touch of living plant against her skin. Feet and arms bare to ground and air, though toughened by years of work and exposure, Caela moved into this landscape bare of expectation.

Scurrying, hiding creatures, peering out curiously slowly came to understand that she could be safely ignored. Walking into a rhythm in tune to the forest sounds, she could feel the music. She could feel very alive, a creature in this natural world without guide, constraint, responsibility or companionship of human kind. Not thought, instantaneous panoramic realization of another level of being outside of society, inside the ecology of the forest. There is a restfulness to shedding roles. There is an energy that comes from rhythmic movement, a relaxation from moving in tune to the natural music of the moment. Habituated ways of sensing, of perceiving, of thinking can silently fall away. Without preformed valuations, what is speaks for itself.

Moving through purposeful actions as if in meditative ritual, Caela felt herself getting caught up in a quietly graceful dance, each movement blurring into the next. Bright sun star shining into rippling water, trees standing their ground as branches play with breeze, rustling scratching chirping squeaking creatures playing out their destinies, dramas, simple cycles of life.

Darkening forest, ebbing, flames, tired body ready to sleep. She found her way to a nearby sheltered grove noted in her earlier brief exploration. Having improved it for her purpose in rudimentary fashion, Caela lay down upon the soft forest floor and relaxed into dreams.

They had assembled in ghostly presence. Shifting positions, faces, garments, props, several of these dream ghosts bespoke her, as if acting out a morality play, vagabonds in the woods begging for favor. The ground around her shifted as well, quaking, dream sand turning quick, sticky, flimsy, unstable. Yet she was not falling through, but with this slow-motion molten panorama. Voices, figures fashioned of old friends, memories, and memories of what had never manifested past dreams and musings, continued their performances into the changing scenes. Too amazed and swept up to notice fear or her own reactions, Caela dreamed unlike any dream she had known before.

“Somebody called me. Was it you?” she asked of each ghostly presence. They all had their stories. These became a song of endless verses. When she awoke with the morning light, Caela was still singing. The feelings evoked by the dream lingered. Still dreaming, she resumed walking, perceiving multi-layered forest imperceptibly interweaving with the many layers Caela had never realized she contained.

Caela felt the memory of tears. She wanted to give comfort.

Opening her heart to these long festering injured spirits, bespeaking her in their desperation to be heard, feels natural, an outgrowth of who she has always been becoming. The forest and its spirits accept her love. They love her in return, not as a representative of her kind, but as her own unique entity. The seed growing in her since her birth is flowering. Multiple gradations of coloration, complex heady perfume, this flower, this Caela, is as beautiful as they come. Human hag, old, wrinkled, grey, yet what she projects transcends such definitions. Walking, traversing light and shade, consciousness as well moves. First cause, first principle: keep moving.

“Something vital was taken from us. We don’t know how to respond. We are wounded, unwhole. Tell us, healer, how do we reconcile? How do we grow new hearts, neural pathways, create what we need to feel alright?” Caela too felt severing losses that had overwhelmed her, wrenched away good lives, those she most depended upon.

“Did you grieve?” A grey solitary ghost came forward with open palms, tears dripping down her cheeks, thin, wan, faint, but with intense presence. The forest became a sanctuary, a shrine, a temple of worship and sacrifice. A dark pit slowly manifested, a well for sorrow. Each ghost contributed tears, wrenching sobs, wailing, whatever they could give. Caela felt herself dancing around the pit, drawn irresistibly into the music of ghostly crying. Coming into her notice, she saw her longed for long dead loved ones among the ghosts, crying with her over her loss. Slowly, hypnotized, she moved toward their circle. They embraced her, an ectoplasmic affirmation of love, dispelling sorrow. But what of those other wounded spirits? How could they be healed? Were Caela’s deeply embedded wounds so easily healed; or was this uplifting but part of an ongoing process? If we can be ever moving in the direction of healing, no matter how slowly, Caela was thinking. Silently smiling in the center of the pain, the wonderful gifts of intertwined lives leaving behind forever what has grown into who we become, better because of the beauty imparted. When we can let go of the pain and be who the totality of our interchanges and experiences have created, will that be a new kind of wholeness? Could this tentative resolution be useful to the forest’s spirits?

The well of sorrow metamorphosed into a peaceful pond in which graceful gliding silvery creatures glinted in the sunlight. Caela sat upon a convenient large smooth stony surface enjoying the solitude and warmth.

This forest, so far from human, seemed to understand and take joy in her. She felt welcomed as long wandering kin, with so much to catch up on. As she walked again in the sunshine, she openly shared her memories as the forest, too, shared its stories. They found common nonlinear, nonlingual, imaginal, perceptual language. Was this how it had been in that mythical garden of Earth, the Eden for which this planet had been named by human invaders? Was there a time in the early history of man when he and the Earth had been companiable kin? Could that kind of relationship be formed here, now? Could there be a reconciliation, a healing? What is this primal wound that keeps humankind from wholeness, integration with life?

“Why do your people divide? Not just here and there, spatial separations, but even within? Mothers and children separate to expand living. Death separates, but renews — feeding the whole. Yet your whole rebels, rejects connection. No, some connect. But not the whole, not seed to root to stem. Even a healer can still be divided. You have strong presence, strong awareness and integrity of self. You are separate from your kind, also because of your own conscious striving to wholeness of self. How is this? To what purpose? Feel your way along the division, healer. Can you weave it whole? See this spiral dance? Reattach your shadow as a companion of play, and dance so sweetly, so free, complete in every movement, every moment, in living embrace of music vibrating eternally. These are your pictures, your words, imbued with that which is love calling between us.”

As other loves had implanted their brightly precious cuttings through Caela’s being, she now accepted this growing loving friendship with sentience not of her kind, nor of the world her ancestors called home. What is home but where we learn to be and feel alive?

Mirror Shards Mirage (from Root of Desire)

Softly sane, Betty has a delicate voice, redolent of secret inspiration, not often used.
There is the high-pitched panic
drones like angry bees, chaotic, insistent. That voice is not hers, but of her demons,
flaying, cackling, castigating, sizzling knives flown from angry hands — pyrotechnic effect while consciousness bathes in restraint;
senses restrict to calm, to cleanse, safe inside.

There is another voice, sure as ocean rain, forceful as gunshot on a silent night.
When we hear its tune, we listen. Pure bell that sings only Truth, it is in our sacred core to listen.
That voice is rare and wonderful, the essence of beauty. We become attuned, in awe, compassionate wisdom takes hold.
We become the voice of welcome, of familiar kind regard.
We become complicitous encouragement.

Mobs, ignorant, angry, boo and hiss, too loud to hear anything useful.
Lords of violence, long conjured real enough fear, sneer for the big screen. Pimping for Jehovah?
We learn to fear from what attacks every day.

Nobody likes to talk about Betty; but you can bet we cream over her (secretly, all cozy in our beds, in our heads and groins).

Nobody likes to admit what casual cruelty we are capable of. Gang-raping children because we can doesn’t appeal to our desired self-image. Her mother allowed it in exchange for food, a place to sleep, the blessed drugs to keep away the pain of knowing the endless, hopeless misery life had become. Or, she was alone on that dark street, lost and frightened, with nowhere safe to go, no one protecting her just then. Her sexuality tempted me, in all that frenzy of bonding blood cries, heightened primal energies, hot insistent bodies falling under ritual spell. She is but a sacrifice, a holding cell for sin. There is no freedom for will to grow within her, only unwanted, tainted seed, thrust outward from the nauseous collective psyche to poison her potential. Does she need to be defined by what has been done against her nascent will? Is there salvation in finding a slim, hiding, healthy cutting from her core, carefully planted and watered in hallow grounding? And what of all those other sacrificial lambs? What cosmically sympathetic vibration can be turned to healing, calling forth a will to grow whole, to become one’s own desired destiny?

Choose to negate a life that is never true.
Better the degradation than devil’s compromise
to consensual reality’s unmeetable demands, measurements.
Like suicide, a mortal sin, to give in to bestial temptation.
End life of the day; descend into fetid disgrace.
Is that so attractive?
Is that reason to negate possibility of choice?

How can I explain?
Rats, spiders, assorted displaced vermin, semi-feral humans, scrabble through garbage, stagnant remnants of rain and refinement, to no good end.
Unspeakably worse, self-protection demands imprisonment to stave off temptation.
Children grow consuming what is available, what is given or taken.
Revised as zombies — no minds worth saving, subsisting on dead flesh and legendary fear. How can dreams cope?
One whiff and life as conceptualized dayplanner delineation loses all continuity, protection from chaos,
impossible to pick up such raveled stitch.
Nothing to be done. Leave them alone.

Watery imagery — the ocean that meant to keep me so many years ago.
I become a swimmer,
a survivor in the storm.
I don’t know why. It wasn’t my idea to be strong. I didn’t think, just let my body work along from one plane to the next.
It may well be about discovering one’s ideals and working toward them. It is certainly not about having it all together from the get go.
Sing of Summer surf, held close to mystery. Undersea caves cradle chests of gems, shining like starlight.
Stars far from here call our craft home.
Call the cheer that carries carefree souls.
We’ve made our career a matter of energy.
Find a free meadow under the sky.
After brief eternity, given the designation “life,” simple, mundane sensuality
— slimy tears dissolve eye grit; sore structural muscles ease into melodious jazz.

She is stronger more able, vibrant in song. We are all learning to sing, dance, play, in this world we create, build in conversation,
in turning conceptions from experience into a private wealth from each to each,
teachers and students on the art of renaming.

This peculiar Hades Bohemia reflects like jewel facets, bioluminescent charms.
Too bad those chained to arms,
deprived of what arms can claim to feel fulfilled,
seek release in arms defined to kill
or to be killed.
I elect representation, powerful self-devised agent to promote my best interests,
prescient shadows, to pay my penance,
ritually claim my soul.
Yet, essence,
possibilities inherent in living seed
grow in potent mixtures
(tinctures for violent bifurcation, strictures, intricate captivating lulls)
for acculturation.
Captive, imagination still wanders on
long walks that suddenly awaken questioning:
“Where am I going?
Who is this “me”
that has a destiny
or merely flits along prevailing wind?”
That wandering devolves to slumber.
No one to remember, holding on to random sensory familiarity.
Don’t trust the mirror.
Aging eyes have looked too far for reliable witness. They love to lie, lazy, wistful —
if wishes could be more real than these fantasies,
murals tied to greasy walls —
self-made Hell —
Why should death’s mystery entice so much more than life’s?
What hope the best of men survive death’s fiery trial?
Why insist, assume, the bond of flesh is blood consumed, all against every?
Where is ecstasy of hand touching hand?

Act 1 (from Acts of Desolation)

“Share your body with me.  Let me in.”  She was hovering all around me.  Not as sexy as it sounds.  She wants to take over my will and use my body for her own purposes.  Well, maybe that is sex for some, but not me.

“You know I can help you.”  So enticing.  I can almost be persuaded, flooded by feeling of her concern, that she is so kindly offering me her soul.  I know the rules.  They can’t get in without an invitation.  Here, in the cacophony of noise, light, movement, I have the distraction to avoid falling into her psychic trap.  Concentrate on someone else, someone I can in some sense relate to.  There.  That girl in the background, her costume just enough different from the rest.  She is palpably alone, and enthused with a fear and excitement at being part of the scene.

The ghost can see her, too.  All that charming vulnerability, just waiting.  This girl didn’t have the experience I did.  The ghost desperately needed a body.  She had corporeal errands.  I, so far her only psychic link, was not cooperating.  If only she could manage an invitation from this lonely young woman who was looking for something new.  I would be off the hook, out of this mess that was none of my business to begin with.

Red and green spotlights were flashing across the stage.  The band was revving up into banshee shrieks over an accelerating, hard-driving beat.  Everyone was screaming, the dark, perspiration-dripping room closing in way too fast.  I wound my way out of there, back onto the minimally quieter, darker, emptier street.

It was raining, a cold January rain when it’s not interested in snowing because that would feel pleasanter.  Had it been this wet all night?  I didn’t remember.

She was there, the girl from the club.  I don’t know if she was following me.  Maybe the ghost had gotten to her.  I looked her straight in the eyes, and I was lost.  She was not the innocent I had expected.  It seemed that potent forces were collecting here, and I seem to be vibrating in the center of an impending storm.


Before I can gather up the necessary will to run off, she walks to where I am standing and takes my hand.

“Take me with you,” she says simply, quietly.  “We have a lot to catch up on.”

We make our way, through the rain and icy streets, to the hole.  I light a fire to dry us.  As it turns out, she has a flask of very fine brandy in her pocket, which makes the warming up process far easier.  In no time it seems like we were old friends.

“That’s because we are,” she tells me, laughing gently as if remembering a private joke.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this.  But, if someone had to, I’m glad it could be me.”  This does not sound encouraging.

“I know you’re retired.  I now you’ve been taking memory suppressants to help you stay truly undercover.  I know why.”  This is more encouraging, since so unlikely.  This must be another one of those dreams.  Soon the sirens and jumbled images will take over until I find myself suddenly awake, terrified, covered in sweat, with no idea why.

“I am sorry.  We have ourselves a situation.  We need you.  You are going to have to come in from the cold.”

Suddenly I am very cold indeed.  Shivering uncontrollably, as tears take over my face, I still don’t know why.

So, it turns out I am part of a highly trained secret corps of empaths, developed by the Genetic Weapons Initiative during Cold War III.  When the new Administration and Congress were voted in after the Worldwide Peace Convention, they dismantled GWI as repugnant to the conscience.  We were sold to a secret mercenary group for ad hoc assignments.

This is a lot to take in, and apparently the story gets weirder from there.  Calinda, my new best friend, is also my old best friend and my biological twin, though several years younger than I.  There was a mutiny against the mercenaries, a secret war between secret entities.

“Dorie, I know you wanted, needed so badly, to get away.  I know you just wanted a peaceful retreat.”  She hugs me as she speaks, holding off some of my terror as the visual memories run scatter-shot through my inner view.  What could they possibly need from me?  I am nothing but broken, hiding in self-imposed ignorance.

“You sleep,” she decides.  “I’ll walk your dreams.  It will all make sense when you awaken.”

I feel Calinda’s safe presence guiding me into the dream, the denied memory.

When you grow up in a vat, created as an advanced biology experiment, any semblance of family takes on great significance.  Especially for empaths, who are forced into intimacy relentlessly, having the security of well-known, bonded, intimates can be crucial.

It was a small, efficient team:  Reag, our revolutionary leader, his wife, Romy, Arden, his bio-twin, and me, his oldest friend.  We had learned that the GWI labs were still in secret operation, churning out human weapons for the mercenary organization with which we were now at war.  We were all linked in, both for strategy and emotional support.

Arden and Romy were in the main lab building, setting the explosive charges in the embryo and accelerated growth vat rooms.  The kids in the vats, undergoing treatments to bring them to physical maturity in months rather than years, could feel our presence.  They were helpless.  There was no way we could save them and destroy GWI.  That would take resources far beyond anything in our power.

Reag and I were in the communications tower, standing look-out while scanning and overriding the data stream to keep our actions from being monitored.  Most of the lab’s operation was automated, especially during the scientists’ and technicians’ downtime.

We weren’t prepared for the silent screaming.  The vat kids knew why we were there.  Their energy, a massive panic surging outward, set off the explosives before Arden and Romy could escape.  Noise, light, pain, hundreds of young bodies ripped apart, still silently screaming.  Arden’s and Romy’s screams coming through even stronger, with poignant, tragic intimacy.

All God’s Children

“Great day, my brethren! We are ready to execute our plan, and some Baby Killers. (laughs) For those of you who were not at our last meeting, Joe here — come on up here with me, Joe — has assembled this sweet little high octane explosive device with a timered detonator from the plans we found on the internet.

Sister Mary has agreed to hide the device in a fake baby bump and take it to the clinic. We have figured out the time when it will be most busy, so she can easily avoid detection. She’ll just secure the thing where it won’t be noticed in the restroom, and set the detonator to give her plenty of time to get back here. Then, we all will just be having our regular meeting when we hear the news.

Yeah, Chris, you have a question? I know you’ve not been here in awhile.”

“Hey, Luc. So, let me get this straight. You want to blow up this clinic at peak time when there’ll be all those pregnant women at risk? You know this clinic serves all kinds of healthcare for local women who can’t afford to get prenatal care anywhere else close enough for them to get to. Even those women coming for abortions might be persuaded against that course with more gentle tactics, at least some of them. How does it make sense for our cause to threaten all these pregnant women and their children?”

“It’s for a higher purpose, Chris. Can’t get the Lord’s work done just jawing and making noise outside that evil den of murder. We have to let those Godless Baby Killers know the wrath of the Almighty.”

“Luc, you’re going way too far, here. Listen people, you don’t need to do this.”

“You chicken, Chris? Don’t have the guts to fight for what is right, to save the innocent?”

“What I am saying, Luc, is this violence you instigate is no way to follow our Lord’s Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill.'”

“Yeah, kid, you never did have what it takes. That’s why I’m the Lord’s special right-hand Angel; and you are only the sniveling human son.”

Vampire’s ingress (from Night’s Pages)


Before he grew bored with me, abandoned me to the street, my sire often enjoyed
imparting useful lore. He warned me, in grave detail, of sunlight, wooden stakes,
decapitation and fire. He bragged, repeatedly and with dramatic demonstration,
of the wonders of strength, teleportation, imperviousness to weather, immortality.
He took me around, taught me to kill so delicately, surreptitiously,
cleaning up my crime meticulously – always considerate of a society that
did not want or need to know that other worlds than what they agree to
go on with theirs, on these common streets and wilderness.
I have no reason to doubt my education. I continue it, learning
from experience in how to get on.
In a world where so many brazenly demand attention,
I am aware to refrain from encouraging observation.
I have nothing not to hide.


These myths about crosses, holy water, Christian artifacts, are in some sense amusing.
Such short-sighted arrogance these Christians expose.
Our kind greatly predate The Christ.
I have been told that some still walk who worshipped at the feet of our dark Lord’s bride.
Persephone, when she toured this world would take succor from such acolytes
in Her secret night rites.
Children of e God of Death and Transformation, we are born in intimate blood ritual.
We are damned with immortality to experience Hades on Earth.


I know the world of whores, tired and dreary, though far from my dreadful habitation.
Prowling men, hunters of prey for a different hunger, a fantasy of the loins
that consumes some like a kind of desperation, or so they seem.
They mistake me for prey.
Something in my stature, façade of innocence, aloneness, attracts.
There are warm, dark, furtive rooms in the offing, cash, an easy mark in privacy.
We are safely locked inside his hideaway.
So simple to jump and take hold, my legs around his waist, my arms holding him close,
to give a little love bite of anticipation. Small, sharp, needlelike, I penetrate.
He falls into a swoon, into unknowing sleep.
Perhaps we are both satisfied, for now.
But before sunrise I must attend to disposal.
Burning would evidence too much stench, as would leaving the remains to rot.
He has a strong, sharp knife for defense on a leg-sheathe.
Obviously, he had believed no need to be readily armed against me, fooled by
my slight form, unaware of supernatural strength.
That strength, his knife, operating in his bathroom tub to contain bloodless gore.
I wrap the hunks in random paper, rags torn from his clothing.
Before I can rest, relax in this subterfuge won temporary sanctuary, I dispose of the trash.
I find an appropriate travel bag among his belongings.
I find his key and cash.
Fed and flush, I go out to the emptiness of darkest before dawn to distribute free meals.
I scatter fresh flesh bounty in places I have found favored by nature’s scavengers while
hidden to the human eye.
Back to claim my prize, inside before sunlight, I feel a kind of freedom. The kind that
haunted creatures feel alone with our ghosts.
I don’t sleep; but I curl beneath the bedclothes and indulge my dreams.


Old Man Rabbit (from Something Sacred)

Old man rabbit feels the call. He is not so spry nor sharp of sight as he once was. It is good that he is called; better than the young ones with much life and potential still in them. Old man rabbit is not afraid. More curious than anything, “What is this will that calls me? I am a rabbit, burrowing in the earth, gnawing on roots, nibbling on leaves, ever wary of the predator in all his mighty forms. I am quick and sensitive, enough, while I am lucky, to survive and become old — too old to count on luck everlasting. I have never felt a call such as this, overtaking a will I had not been aware of possessing. What is an old man rabbit to do? Thought is a foreign concept. Action, reaction, that’s what I do. An overwhelming power pulls me closer. Without thought or emotion, I follow the pull. Am I to be eaten by a mighty foe? That is, no doubt, my destiny. I am to be honored by assimilation into the great mystery of life eternal. In this way, prey becomes predator, becomes mulch, falls back into the cycle, becomes the essence of life.”

“Come to me old man rabbit. I call you, with deepest respect, to offer me your lifeforce that I may continue to have the strength necessary for my mission. I enwrap you in a happy, peaceful dream as your life recedes. I consume your remains with reverence, feel the essence of your sacred sacrifice.”

Thus Caela bespoke the creature in their conjoined fields of consciousness, binding it to her will. A special kind of hunter, conjuring the prey into view, into giving itself to her need. A very special power must be tempered with love, compassion, humility. It is well that such power be discovered in a time of liminal contemplation, that it be honored and addressed appropriately. It would not do to be overtaken by fear or bravado, or a desire for self-aggrandizement. All of this Caela understood as she sat there, in what seemed the beginning of the world, in a state of reverence and awe.

She prepared and ate the old rabbit. It took a bit of cooking covered by wet leaves on stones in the fire pit. It was clear to her that what she had gained from this lesson was much more than a full stomach or added strength and vigor. It was clear that her strength and will, her gift, were much stronger, subtler, more powerful than she had dared to imagine when she had lived as part of a bustling community.

It was clear that this knowledge was now being revealed so that she could hone her skills for the adventure ahead. Whatever was to fall across her path to be overcome, this time alone, learning the ways of her spirit, would surely give her the skills and confidence to do what she must.

Replenished, Caela watched the last performances of flame as the fire consumed what wood it had been given. Darkening forest, ebbing, flames, tired body ready to sleep. She found her way back to a nearby sheltered grove noted in her earlier brief exploration. Having improved it for her purpose in rudimentary fashion, Caela lay down upon the soft forest floor and relaxed into dreams.