Close

The Last Epistle of Satan

I wrote this in the spring of 1988.  Its message of darkness and light still very much applies. Some of the images presented parallel parts of my fable, Love Thief, the Legend of Ixmal the Healer.

As the Chinese proverb says, “there are many roads to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.”   

Foreword

In February, my thoughts came to dwell on the nature of cruelty, heralded by a dream that viewed the world through the eyes of a wolf.   I ran with the pack, sniffed the scent of rain and pursued the herd.  Then came the kill, warm and glorious!  The next night I was a lizard sunning itself on a rock; the following a vulture, then a snake and a hyena; I even took pleasure from the perspective of a scorpion.  The dreams were too vivid not to be real!  I even awoke one morning with blood on my lips, but whose blood?  I could find no wound.

I feared I was losing myself to something far more powerful than I.  Yet, I longed for passage into those exotic lands, daring to slip past that grey curtain again and again.  Deeper and deeper I penetrated the secrets of creation, till I found myself in the belly of the Beast himself.

I shook myself awake, as I had done as a child when a nightmare crowded into me.  Sweat caked my skin.  I heard the soft snores of my wife beside me.  In the next room my daughters slept in bunk beds.  The cat, plump as a goose, lay nestled between my feet, paws raised to the ceiling.  Life as it should be.

Yet it failed to dispel my dread.  I had penetrated a veil, a shroud.  I lay staring into darkness, time punctuated by a passing car or the quarterly chimes from the cathedral.  What Pandora’s box had I pried open?

For the remainder of the night, I resisted sleep, yet a part of me, a very strong part, wished to surrender to its possibilities.

I turned in early the next night, too exhausted to care.   Again I visited that strange parched land, only this time not as an animal, but under the guise of my own skin.  Then a powerful voice called upon me, its source I’ll leave to you.  I am but a conduit, not a particularly willing one at that.

I awoke and knew what had to be done.  I could not exorcize what I had welcomed into my dreams.  I had to confront it, or I would lose my mind.  I rose from bed and glanced at the clock, just past midnight.  I climbed the stairs to the attic.  I pulled a pen from the jar.  I implored the Beast to speak.

 

1

I prey on those who deny the lotus of being 

Who never glimpse beyond sensory realms

Who never consider the possibility of madness

Who feed off their own kind

Scuttling like cockroaches across a linoleum desert

in quest of mirages

A hyacinth girl shimmering from a fathomless pool

Rose petals strewn in her wake.

Salvation lay at the end of a spoon

Scorched by flame, water merging with scarlet

Sweet sirens luring voyeurs to shore

Your soul a crocus greeting a false dawn

Your vessel straddling shoals, splitting the bow

Like Icarus you fall,

A motherless child adrift in a hostile land

Never pulled from the Nile. . . .

Do this in memory of me.

2

Dare not deny my role

Evil symmetrical with divine

Lest the Word be not flesh

And the Passion not fashioned from scrolls. 

Like lambs in the field

Perpetually at peace

You would have grazed

Never knowing the butcher’s blade

But I, the Advocate, planted seeds,

Forcing eyes to open

Tongues to speak;

Much as I, on the eve of my descent,

Strapped my back to the rack

Releasing the beast

The agony of want, of need, of denial

Gifts I bore proudly to the Garden.

3

And the Redeemer? 

Why not I, angel brightest?

Why the lambs?   Why such distinction? 

The Voice bellowing over River Jordan:

“You are my Son, my Beloved! My Chosen!”

Water dripping from flesh

the carpenter gazing at the face of clouds

He, the Son of Man?

He, hailing from a village of huts? 

From envy to exaltation came I

At last the object of my quest!

This slim warrior for Elijah, Moses and Isaiah

A tool from the Watchman’s hands!

In his scan of multitudes

He sensed questions etched

A hunger for deliverance

A thirst for a king

Who dare sate this hydra of need?

4

So he fled

Beneath a cruel sky I stalked his shadow,

Through a thousand eyes I watched

Cheekbones press against skin;

Serpents and scorpions

Witness groping through sand

No burning bush to brighten this path

No rock to quench this thirst

No staff to part the sea.

“What say ye?”

His shrill voice echoed through alkali

A dusty wind offering no relief

My message like a dagger:

Alone.  Abandoned.  Betrayed.

I resisted the wish

To reveal my dark splendor,

Fading into starkness

Anticipating this warrior’s weakening

5

Lest not your shield fail

But there is no need

Trust what must be said

“What say ye?. . .” 

Fear oozed on skin

Lizard eyes pierced his armor

A split tongue flicked his chin

Fangs sank into throbbing sweetness

Spake The Tree of Knowledge:

Your father, your Creator,

Distant as the stars

Distant as dreams of fellowship

Orphan in my domain

Possess the lands at my feet

Change rocks into bread, why hunger again? 

Set Israel free!

I grant you any wish

If you surrender Heaven

Such is my love

Far deeper than jealousy

A shadowless noon,

His will drained of fortitude

Before men snatched him away,

Immortal, I whispered in the wind

I offer escape from destiny

Comfort and drink

Suckle my breast

Make the Rebellion complete!

6

And did he listen to the wind?

Surely He saw no need to sit at my feet

Lest a lapse of weakness, a momentary confusion,

Sully his precious divinity!

So beyond temptation was he?

Beyond the seven deadly sins?

A mere fraud with Buddha distance,

Viewing the world through a divine veil

Toying at the human, acting out providence

Secure in knowledge that this girdle of flesh

Would be shed come molting season?   

Verily unto you I saw the mirror’s opposite

Lapping up doubts as nectar from Heaven

He did open to the wind!

Mine was the bluff of the ages 

Oh I was at my best then! 

The universe owes a debt of gratitude

No fear here in grasping those dice

Not after gambling away Heaven’s bliss!

Yet, when I hearkened the voice on the cross,

Crying out for his beloved Father

I knew defeat be my destiny

In the echo of his plea

He did not fly off the cross

He accepted his humanity.

7

Even I could not resist the sacrifice

So I posed as a sorceress in Judas’s path

A friend with hemp, a way out of the maze

Come ye, suckle black pools of despair . . .

Indeed, I’ve played my role well

Serving as a bit player, opening a scene

Giving a nudge to history

Perhaps as Lear’s fool, a juggler or acrobat

A gladiator making an empress swoon

Once a Polonius, too often an Iago

Injecting poison into willing veins

Adding spice to the swill

Hubris makes a fine soup!

Yet more often than not

I now go my own path

Pausing but now and then

To torture a madman

Presenting a glimpse of what might have been

Forbidden fruit Faust craved

8

Without my enchantment,

Artists would not welcome obsession

Emulating the Creator,

Mining mysteries separate from perfection.   

Knowledge spouts exquisite agony,

Lyrics, notes, and painted ecstasy

Leaps into space defying gravity

The final curtain draws nigh

Men no longer dream, 

Choosing to scuttle

Bellies close to the ground

Evil, like pleasure, now mundane,   

Helen of Troy a pornographic queen,   

Murder packaged for daily consumption,

Frozen patties on the grill . . .

Home delivery at no extra charge. 

9

Defiance?  Rebellion?  To what end?

This be the ultimate revenge, the terrible irony,

So the wheel turns

I envisioned a land far more grand,

The envy of Michael himself

Not polluted with the blood of Creation. 

I seek a place of peace

Release at the end of a spoon

An injection of death

I weary of haunting in rags or silk

Chart your destiny as you please

I descend to sleep in the ninth ring

Perchance to dream of Elysian Fields.

Finis

Afterword

I placed the pen gently onto the oak desk, carved with the initials of my children.  Exhaustion seeped into my bones, but also a delicious sense of tranquility.   At last the dreams would cease; no more riding the tiger’s back.  I stretched like an old hound dog and eased away from the desk, rejoicing in the dawn streaming through the panes.   I was reminded of the last scene in Disney’s Fantasia, the sunrise stilling the frenzy, the strains of Ave Maria filling the valley.  Why the Angel of Light had selected this particular venue I could not say.

Only Heaven knows.

X