the end of something…

For Penelope

The days are so quiet now that They are gone.
Sometimes I listen to their ruin breathe and sigh.
Sometimes I count their empty dens.
Sometimes I wonder why,
But on most days the silence is enough for me.

The gentle ones remain. They coo and hum,
They whisper-
The BIG ONES are gone…
Just gone just gone just gone just-
(The STOMPERS, the CLAWS and TEETH
The daylight MONSTERS are)
Gone gone gone…

Some say that the wind took Them.
Some say that They must have forgotten something
Far away.
Some say that They ran to the edge of the world
And jumped.
Some say that They were chased there,
Which is why they left their bones and flesh behind.

Now is for the humble and still to breed.
Now is the ascendency of the feathered.
The Dark Parliament has judged my kin,
So we offer our young as sacrifice-
And live.

The Old Gods never left.
They slept as we all slept and the world
Moved from here to there.
They must be fed.

We take turns telling stories about
The before.
Otherwise we would forget.


We would forget the holes.
We would forget the tunnels and nests-
The dark spaces between walls.
We would forget the under of things.

We would forget the Wait and the Fear and
The Run and the Stopping Of Breath
And the Sigh When Safe
And the heart’s Patter Patter.
We must not forget.

Tonight my son’s son will see the stars.

When the Loud Ones left They took our fear
With them.
When They left everything changed.
This was the end of something we were.

I can almost remember Them…
Like a dream of dried leaves and thunder.
Like a dream of fire belching smoke and glass.
Like a dream undone.
Beneath the fluttering of black wings
We are reborn. We are new.

The nights are so quiet now that They are gone.
Sometimes I listen to their ruin breathe and sigh.
Sometimes I count their empty dens.
Sometimes I wonder why,
But most days the silence is enough for me.

Fin

Pandemics are weird. So is spending time with my family. Couch-flanked by my wife and my 10 year old daughter- The Simpsons playing in the background, the baby in his bouncer- I painted a mouse with a balloon for no particular reason.

“Why is he sad?” Amy wants to know.

“Because it’s the end of the world?” Penelope suggested.

“Is everybody dead?” Amy asks.

“Did the mouse kill them all?” Penelope wonders.

And so on.

Finally I put my paintbrush down and ended all speculation with:

“He’s not sad, no one’s dead, he’s just a mouse with a fucking balloon. Sheesh, give him a break!”

Then I went outside to smoke.

Of course, later that night the dragons in my head began to ask questions of their own…

What if a virus managed to wipe out not just man- but all Apex predators? What would happen if the meek inherited the Earth? Who would rise up? What if there were still predatory birds? Would they become the new masters? What would the mice think about all this? What are easier to paint- owls or ravens? And so on.

I’m convinced that the preceding story is unfinished. There’s a lot more to imagine, write and paint before I’ll consider it complete. Think of this installment as the skeleton around which something truly odd and dark will wrap it’s Eldritch innards around. I’ll get back to you.

Unless the world ends. Or I learn how to paint an owl.

Brian