Saturday, September 20, 2014

MERCY STREET

by Edward Morris








 
Even with a magic wand and wings, the Fractured Fairy on "Rocky and Bullwinkle" could 
never open The Book all the way. Consider a poet who keeps slipping off, arms limp as old carrots, into the hypnotist's trance, into the Middle World, speaking what were once tongues.

Consider a locked garage, an idling engine, the warm. The warm. The warm in the guts from the vodka, the warm orange dashboard in the dark, the radio stuck on no music La Principesa can comprehend.

The clocks have melted down. The gods are going home. Anne Sexton is stuck in the time machine, swimming backward like a salmon, in a green early-Seventies Ford that billows and belches gray smoke from within. A black pool-sized hose is clamped to the exhaust, and runs in the back window around a blanket and strapping-tape that covers the last three open inches.

Anne is driving like a drunk; or worse, like someone asleep at the wheel and dreaming, drifting all over the flagstone crossroads of this perhaps-land, this Possibly Promised Land. But for once in her life, she doesn't miss her turn.

The sign announcing said turn looms from an odd traffic-circle that almost wants to be a corner, cemented with a stone cairn beneath it, a bench with the imprint of a long-ago leaky body, and sparse weeds trying to bloom anywhere they can. The sign is wooden, burnt black with letters never typed on Earth:

THE STREET OF MERCIES.

Anne mouths the story one last time, and keeps driving.



*



Once upon a time, in the distant kingdom of Carcosa, there lived the princess Anne of Sexton, who was called Briar Rose, whose father was mad, whose mother dug for gold. Madness ran in that family. Money didn't as much. There was math of some kind involved.

At her christening, he invited only twelve of the thirteen wise-women from the neighboring villages, since the number thirteen was ungodly. More math.

But the thirteenth, an hermaphrodite shaman whose name was Cassilda like their mother's mother, made it in to Town. Cassilda was a sight to behold, with fingers long and thin as femur-bones, eyes burnt by strange herbs. "For every scrap of your genius," Cassilda sang, "Insanity will drown it out. And on your fifteenth birthday will come a pricking. A drop of blood lost to a needle shall send you to sleep. "

To sleep. The King did not protest at first; in fact, looked strangely curious and scheming."None shall spin," he answered slowly when Cassilda had been beheaded. "And every suitor to pass through the door of my castle shall answer my questions three. Come here, little doll-child, and sit on my knee. I have a penny for your thoughts."

That night, the King and his rank mead breath came in a long midnight that was no dream, when Briar Rose woke from the laudanum too early and did not know the hour. She had dreamed red. Her nose bled, and a sea of blood she could never swallow hung in her throat.

She wanted to sleep forever and forget, but never spoke of it, for Sanity was awful enough. She let the bugs crawl into her eyes and keep her awake, and grew to be a goddess, dwelling in the King's rank yellow honeysuckle stench, while the impaled corpses of suitors drew crows to the impenetrable rose-gardens on the King's Preserve.

On her fifteenth birthday, she was playing in a haystack, and found the last spinning-needle in Carcosa. Or more precisely, it found her. When she collapsed, the clocks stopped, and the flies died on the walls.

The King, the Queen, the courtiers, fell into a Silence for one hundred years. The City died, stuck in its own time machine like blood-drenched kudzu vines, the roses swallowed the fief. And in his tattered cloak of jaundiced human skin, the inevitable Prince Charming was no cure when he came and parted the vines with something that might once have been a word, and all the dessicated corpses fell to earth like electrocuted birds.

When the King in Yellow kissed her, Princess Anne woke up crying Daddy, and never slept again, or let herself wake up in a dream. The kiss never stopped. It only pretended to. And no matter what she wrote, she never really woke back up all the way.

Now, wasn't that a nice story, kids?

Kids?




*



Do not sleep, for you will flee without strength,
and where You fall, the King in Yellow waits
to sew up your skin.

Do not sleep. The King will go up your nose and make a transplant.




He wants you to walk into him, as into a dark fire.

He wants to open his tattered cloak, and show, beneath,
The two little kids He sucked up like pollen:

Terror and Doubt
Instability and Division
Deformed and Deformer,

Their tongues poverty,
stinky tears like pus,
Sucking with love at the coral,
bobbing like grubs in formalin,
Foetal, half-alive, skinned
soft as avocados,
Dying in their tattered pen.

Up from oysters and weeds
and the wandering tide,
the King comes

into my mouth when I sleep,
And I wake in dead Carcosa,
Nailed into place, and forget
who I am, drinking hundred-proof
blood from my wrists,

Sensual as cold yellow moonlight on the pond
where our bodies floated and bumped in moonwater
and the cicadas called like citharas
and all the toads stopped singing at once
when we came

when we came to Carcosa 


I am rowing into Carcosa, 
With no more old age or disease,
Wildly but accurately,
Knowing my best route.

I am rowing this fucked-up old green Ford into Carcosa,
With its cruel houses and strange apparitions, tall spires
of the country I misplaced,

The nagging rain, the skin trying to poison itself inside-out,
The saws halving my heart like a magician's assistant,


The people in Carcosa are made of macadam,
and crack. They have no water. They are not
allowed to touch.

Listen. They are bewitched,
Writing down their lives
on a century falling to ruin.

But I'm still rowing.


I never wanted to be this Rhea of evil luck,
longing to become what I could only visit,
Living in the ruins of the mansion I wished I had.
While all the toy villages fall


My eyes are turning purple, my mouth is glue.
Death was entangled into my beginning.
But I'm rowing into Carcosa,
Though The Moon is a blood clot,
the sun a smear of mud, the stars themselves
black holes,

Though there's blood in the water
And the oarlocks are rusty
Rowing toward the King, the King,

Rowing to see the King,
Driving onto The Street of Mercies
The exhaust smoke inside my car
coats my skin like yellow oil.
Driving toward Mercy.
The flagstones bump and bump
He's waiting up

He knows I'm home
The land becomes blazing pitch
The smoke rises forever. For generations,
It will lie waste, and none shall pass
again, yet I pass through.

I have dreamed the secret door
to #45 Mercy Street.

It is half a mile away.

Half a mile, half a mile on.
Into Lost Carcosa drove
the prodigal daughter, as
the human face moves,
knowing it will be kissed.

Two blocks now.
I see the stained-glass window,
dark as the leathery dead
No one around.

I'm.
Just.
There:



*



The car slowed to a stop, still smoking. The front door to #45 opened, and down the porch the King In Yellow came.

The seething snakes of His cloak licked the air. He cocked His masked face like a carrion-dog, wanting to eat the newcomer lips and tongue first in a kiss that couldn't halt itself.

Presto. She was out of prison. Queen Briar Rose of Carcosa exited the car, lifting the pallid mask of childhood from her own face, using it to cover her heart.

When Anne did so, the King actually backed up a step. "Yes," she told him, "Yes, I will, yes."


The King In Yellow knelt before this miracle, forgetting its knife.



*


SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ANNE SEXTON








~Click gas-mask to read
 Vincent Daemon's~
Of Cadence and 
Weathered Statues
appearing only on the FREEZINE
of Fantasy and Science Fiction~

No comments:

Post a Comment

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sanford Meschkow's
INEVITABLE

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE RECIDIVIST



Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE MEMORY SECTOR

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's
NOETIC VACATIONS

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)
GROUND PORK


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come
explore.

Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S
MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.
When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found here.


Johnny Strike's
AS YOU WISH



Johnny Strike's
NIGHT FLAMERS



Johnny Strike's
THE HOMELESS MUTANTS



Johnny Strike will beat you with his guitar
and leave you lying in the gutter wishing you
had never dared enter his under ground world
of fake passports, lucky amulets, rain soaked
hotels, and occult mystique. If you don't leave
nice comments under his story, he's sure to sic
his band CRIME on you. He also wrote the novel
Ports Of Hell (Headpress), recommended by
William S. Burroughs. You don't receive kudos
from William Lee himself unless you are the
epitome of cool. Besides, have you listened to
CRIME's album Exalted Masters? It was
released in 2007 on the Crime Music label,
on vinyl only, featuring a slew of their old
rare hits. Its real punk music from seasoned
veterans. Now go track yourself down a copy
before its out of print. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction is proud to host the story
that contains the line which titles his first
From Above (Rudos and Rubes).


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
works include a ghost story about a Cavalier
and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and
‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.


Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.



Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.


J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.


K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)