“I find your garb, with every malice held there,
To assault me -here in my sanctuary!-
The one solace and shield where I may be bare!
“The worlds of flame and flesh are bestiary;
The carnal cannibals there hunt their own.
Seeking refuge from foul thoughts, I’ve grown wary.
“More pain than bought with bullets, which cut the Bone,
Come from those many words imaginary,
From agendas wishing to make the world stone.”
Thus spoke the shade, shrouded, she stood before me.
Her condition by far the most grotesque of any
Of the damned souls: my obligation to see.
A greater poet than I, of the many,
Had made the path clear, and rightly describe it,
But for one round with suffering uncanny.
My journey which led me there into the pit
was guided by my own line of Spanish blood,
Cristobal De Vaca, the “skull of crow” bit
The air which was wetted by the very flood
of souls that he, my progenitor, had led
to their doom the day he landed on new mud.
“The population of the sinners here bed,
Was miniscule in the days of old empire
But modernity here swells it like baked bread.”
“What has changed since Spain raped the new hemisphere?”
I asked my guide, my grandfather of old ways,
and he, with discerning eyes spoke back with mire:
“Have you not noticed that in your ears own gaze
You hear the vinegar of the Anglo tongue?
The God of Gibraltar sayeth in my days:
“‘Ask and ye shall receive.’ The souls here among
these scrolls have been given all requested by them:
Screaming for a dream world until black of lung.
“Had you, oh ancestor, not succumbed to phlegm,
And every discomfort in your life not hidden
From the grasp of your listening eyes, well, then
“You might have walked on paths where you were bidden,
Your feet would be hardened to the cruel beauty
Of the world that molds us: the true path ridden.”
“Is your meaning to tell me that my duty
Was to live my life like you? I think not so.
I would rather die than live your cruelty.”
“Then you have succeeded, for all that you know
Are the dreams of action, of a world where you
Are agreed with and no threat to your Ego.
“So pained were your fellows in this circle who
Will wail: ‘I am offended!’ at the first sight
Of any thought which should disrupt their pale new
“Novel of a world with their own wrong and right.
Absorbed are they in the letter of the law.
Their spirits bound, and forbidden to take flight.”
Not asking of my hereditary flaw
Permission, I began to speak to the shade:
“Why do my clothes upset and make you raw?”
“They reek of patriarchy, the cutting blade
to my cause of a most just equality!
I find it problematic that you have laid
“In your verse, a man to journey here to me.
Your clothes reflect your culture where women are
meant to be rescued, praise a man, or flee.”
Her face and body bound in sheets like kevlar,
But the armor here were the words that bound her.
Spread like on a rack, where the torture patients are.
Bound to a scroll of the world she would prefer,
The black letters made paths across her flesh.
Like a mollusc, an acidic trail deferred,
The words burned on her, new, as her skin healed fresh.
“Although annoying in your speech of your cause,
I truly do support it. I can not guess
As to why you might be tortured without pause?”
And she to me: “I ran a blog: ‘word of truth’
The title is above, on my paper Jaws.”
“How controversial, that through a bitter tooth,
You would step on my tradition and dare say
What your scroll is named, you most defiling youth!”
“מילה של אמת” crawled on the face like shadow play,
Of Caiaphas, who spat at the unnamed girl,
His mucus then turned, with intent to betray,
To form a snake of letters, with vicious whirl,
Did it turn and bite and burn his very soul.
My attention turned to a new tortured pearl.
“Palabara de la Verdad!” said it’s whole.
Deep within her world, I saw my blood again.
Love of this relative turned my heart to coal.
“Speak now Abuelo, is she dead, here in vain?”
And he to me: “Ah! now you curse your Daemon
In the Vulgar latin, born on spanish plain!
“She suffers the modern death of the freeman,
As dead as you. Not in body but in brain.
Her acts of spirituality she can
“Only use to further her own main-”
“How dare you?” Interrupted the life-born.
“I am an an apologetic with disdain…”
As their bodies were mangled like pages torn,
So their voices wailed in horrific echo
Through the anguished medley, my guide with scorn:
“Plus Ultra! To worlds yet further must we go!”