An Interlude–a writing in a particular ecotone

27 03 2009

Here is something written years ago, and originally published in a little journal called First Class. When I read it now I see the metaphysical holes in it. But, what the heck:

HIGHWAY

And an highway shall be there, and a way (Isaiah 35:8)

1.

His name was Ahriman
he came in the guise of a man,
he held out his fingers and they lit fire

2.

interstate 40 between Memphis and Nashville
a curve in the road
and at mile 157 a grey car on the side
and then a thin white cross

we passed the car at 70
miles an hour and came
to this place

but even as we passed,
the car and the cross rose up in my mind
—shimmering—and stayed there

the Devil came from a hole in our history—
cousin to Baal nephew of Huwawa–
Ahriman

3 days after we passed the spot 66 cars crashed in ice and snow

3.

off interstate 81 there is a place
you can stay—“sleep on a
battlefield” Days Inn, New Market

$42.95 a night for 2

4.

the Devil is timeless,
has been with us since the
dawn of our history
the Devil walked
with us when we first broke clay
in Africa

does He weep?

He weeps
and His tears are fire
they are ice

5.

there was no one in the
car at mile 157, not a breath—I remember:
the ice on the highway and the lights

the truckers came out at night
when the sun dipped below the
line of trees they stretched in bed
and woke themselves, they ate
breakfast in the café, chatting
on brown phones connected next to their
tables. as the moon rose they
boarded their vehicles and pulled
onto the frosty highway

angel wings and other things

those truckers drank their coffee or
popped their pills
tossing cups out the windows–
the highway glittered with styrofoam

and as they passed us our car almost stopped

the wind that passes pushes
you down into the abyss

6.

as we drove by the car
and then the cross I could see
a Figure in the back of my head

what does He wear
in the dark

why grey of course

what does He wear in the light

white

7.

where I am now:

outside the snow is silently
falling, flakes search
for the ground like butterflies

the Devil appeared to me one day
and I didn’t see Him
I was surrounded by angels in trucks and all I could do
was honk

8.

after we passed He
stepped back towards the car, out of the
shadows He appeared beside the car—the highway
was silent, He was
carrying a can of gasoline

nothing sinister here, I assure you
nothing sinister

except when He poured the gasoline across the car and lit
it from below

we didn’t see the flash
being too far away towards
the dawn of the country

but some of the truckers saw it
that flashing light

and called it up and called it the lie

the cross did not burn, it was just far enough away
from the car
just far enough away

and so was the Man

9.

those truckers pulled into that truck stop,
The Flying J,
grabbed themselves coffee
and sat looking out at the night

they called it pyro
technics they called it
someone slipping off the road

they stopped because they knew
it could be their own pyro show
and then the smell of flesh
would be raging in around them

in lie there is sin
in self there is Him

from my vantage point, now, the street
is quiet, the night
is covering us
with white crystal

for an instant those truckers knew
He’d drift in and out of their space
of themselves
and then further inside

the safest place is in the light

for that instant, they knew He was their
brother, they knew about
their wings

it is 12 midnight

10.

what He rips away leaves its mark
a faint imprint

(Ahriman, are you here?)

I singed my eyelashes
and they curled back in
horror

the Devil emerges in the spaces
left by broken souls

in the back of my head
I saw Him
He walked away from the car, in His
overcoat and jeans

holding His gloves and matchbook He
turned to stare at the fire
and saw the light dancing between the trees

“no body has died here”

remember: this Man is what I saw
as I looked back upon the reflection
of that car
and that cross

and though I was quite taken
with the notion of this fire
and went back over it in my
head the strangest thing was
that when I went there in my mind
the Arsonist

did not exist

11.

they say the thaw is coming
and when it comes
we will be ready with skin and bare feet—
with fire and water

oh He’s an old one—
Australopithecine hominids walked in His tracks

hiss Satanus

12.

we stayed on the battlefield one night
I was worried that it would be a room
full of ghosts
but we were warm in the bed with the night
and her haunts around us

13.

I can feel pressure on my
head—the further east you go
the closer you get to the
center

the closer to the heart

I told myself that the story began
with another man

And the Devil wept at his usurption by his younger brother–Adam

14.

I said to myself
this man was a human man

an old man

a man who, on the edge of death
drove out to the turn in the highway
and planted his own cross

call your other Brother on the phone
and beg Him your forgiveness
and hand Him the key to the lock on your house

to explain to myself why
the car and the cross sat there
quietly,
refusing to go away

I told myself a story
about the old man who sold his soul to the Devil
to his Brother
and then wanted redemption

this old man traded his soul for his life
and when he knew he stood up against the end
he looked up and saw the sky go up
in flames,
the 4 horsemen and all

and then that the old man drove out on a sunny morning
planted that cross
his cross
said to himself: perhaps this is
redemption

the Devil takes your body and burns up your soul

15.

Ahriman he
came

like a fire

the Devil is your brother
look for Him in yourself

if you move at the right speed
you’ll cross the country
and see the perfect array
of light and shadow

you’ll see the shapes form, just so

you’ll see His outline

16.

there is something to be
said about those truckers

because, as you know,
they are angelic to a fault
but what is the angel

Get behind me Satan.

what is the angel
what is the battalion

in the ice of the night who reflects back at you
but yourself, your own wings lit by the fire of their headlights.

if we had allowed ourselves
to stop to just
stop as those trucks pulled by,
if I had said, wait, pull over, signal to them
please bring them to me,

because that is all they ask for
this little salting of desire

if I had said, yes, I will listen to you
truckers
angels I know you
I will follow you back

perhaps the burning might never have happened?
perhaps the Devil would not have his due?
perhap Ahriman would walk alone
in the dark down the road His cap gently cocked his hands
and the old man’s soul gone
gone gone

because the angels are only intermediaries in their own way,
connected to their deity by strands they cannot see,
and forget because to remember
means to disappear

a spark in the space

they are nothing without their Brother

the battle for heaven wages itself outside of our being

17.

old man, digging in the earth

(burning)

old man driving forward and
back in his old gray car

(burning)

old man’s skin like
a lightning rod
dead and the cross there awaiting him

when the heart breaks open, let it flow
let it flower

is it a god or a Devil
that holds your heart to the fire?

push

18.

Ahriman
old man

come here to me in the darkness
I cross this land I see You in my third
eye I see the burning of the car
I see the flash of the firelight on the
white cross and I know that the smell is
flesh, for all of our fleshes that so burn
and burn
again, in all of the kennels of our life

old man I cannot cry for you
for something more the shape of
evil had drawn itself across you

and when I saw your car and your cross

I opened my mouth and smelled and
tasted you and knew

19.

The truckers are spirits
are ghosts of the new world
are angels are the Word
when they look too closely at who they are
they disappear like mist

I am afraid of His approach

the body in the trunk, singed and burned
and was nothing—not corporeal
it was spirit

the old man sings and burns inside himself

the truckers die young and
get their wings

jackknife—a bird in flight

20.

the old man sings
and burns,
hums and sizzles

and even with the cross
with his remorse
after he died his soul crept back into the trunk of the car
after the service after the burial

because they still thought he was good
because the closer they looked the further in He moved
into that old man, further into the corners
Ahriman crawled, waiting

old man your soul like an eel squirmed through the earth to your trunk
rising up in a dust cloud and soaking in through the gap

your soul sat there and waited for the Devil to cart
it off, your body buried your body gone
but that other piece curled in the trunk

because grace is not born out of
regret
because grace is presence, not absence
because hell is the only place you’ll ever really belong

miles away, decades
away we smell the burning

because the Devil is timeless

because the Devil is relative to our belief in Him

the less we believe
the larger he becomes

21.

now I will tell you a story

about how I called Ahriman

about how I was obsessed by the car and the cross
and I asked for Ahriman’s help,
I asked the Devil to explain it to me

I asked Him why, when I thought of Him
my mind grew blank, my mind became cold

why, when I felt Him draw near,
the truckers gathered in waves
hovered in my periphery

Ahriman, please

but when you turn to the Devil
for an answer
you have already sold your soul

22.

And so, perhaps I did
as did the old man, and when the car
burned up when his soul, like a flash of light
like a match head, burning out in seconds

burning out in the eyes of the truckers
because they knew… even as I did not
yet
at that time know, and only after I wondered
after I sought knowledge in my own way
as I succumbed to my obsession
did I recognize Him standing right before me—and I saw myself
incarnate in the old man. visible in his walk, visible in his absence

I was aged and burnt, and as my soul dissipated to hell

I asked my self what

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