“Red Hats”

“Red Hats”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

“The end came just like the fella predicted,”
The old man said. “They were legion,
Wrapped in flags and carrying crosses,
And they were insane.”

He regarded me with a resigned calmness
Across the flames of the campfire,
Studying me intently as his eyes flickered,
His haggard face ensconced in a fiery
Red-yellow glow. At his feet, a small black dog
Lay curled in a tight ball of oblivious slumber
Beneath frigid late-autumn stars,
Occasionally twitching in some
Alien canine dream. The denuded woods
Surrounding us were silent save for
Sporadic cries that echoed remotely in the dark.

“They caught us unaware,” the old man continued.
“Their lies were slippery and darkly enticing,
And they awoke a feral animal bloodlust
In the gullible low-hanging fruit. It was
Modern-day sorcery, a triggering of
Mass psychosis, a mental blitzkrieg,
A philosophical paradigm shift of
Cult-like proportions.”

He stirred the fire with a stick as he
Gazed into the embers, scrying memories
Of the end of all things. The dog let out a
Muffed whimper and kicked weakly in its sleep.

“You never know a man’s heart until you
Dangle a piece of raw meat in front of him,”
The old man said, still lost in his contemplation
Of the embers. “All it took was the raw meat
Of lies and fear and hate, bow-tied in a
Pretty box of false patriotism. Guns and ammo

At this, he looked at me through the fire,
His eyes burning. “And they had all the guns.
And when they ran out of bullets, they
Used their fists. And when they ran out of
Enemies, they fell on each other like a
Pack of rabid hyenas…and their
Mad orange god was pleased…”

To the east, the bilious moon climbed
Above the bony fingers of the trees
As a gust of wind kicked up sparks
In the fire, sending them heavenward
Like a swarm of hellish fireflies.

“After that, it was just mop-up duty
For the shock troops,” the old man said.
“The base had fulfilled its sacred duty
Of wanton slaughter and blasphemous
Self-sacrifice. The plutocrats performed
Their symbolic fellatio on the
Mad orange god, then everyone hunkered
And bunkered down. And this…” he said,
Nodding at the cold dead woods,
At the distant insensate stars, at the bloated moon
Clawing its way up the night sky,
At the howls of the damned echoing
In the darkness, at the utter extinction
Of all hope, “…is what’s left…”

“What the Sun Denies, the Moon Divines”

“What the Sun Denies, the Moon Divines”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

This light that burns
Through bone-hued slats
As serpentine sun
Sheds its pretense
And glissades through
Fey reeds of twilight
Cuts razor-lines
Across eddying galaxies
Of dust motes
Infinities of minutiae
Indifferent spirals
A feckless requiem
For rise-and-fall futility
Ley lines annulled
As monuments crumble
Broken cities dissolve
In caustic deserts
Of ebon sand
Lifeless seas
Heave and sigh
And evaporate
Under red alien suns
There is nothing here
For light to illumine
Nothing remains
To set eyes upon
No ear-to-ground echoes
No cryptic communiques
Just dust and rust
And eternity

This light that chills
Through paneless frame
As bulbous moon
Worms slug-like
Across the night-void
On star-trail secretions
Casts a blue-white pall
Upon the multi-verse
Of frozen motes
A languid lethargy
Of sub-cosmic energy
Dust specks in moonlight
Aglow in spectral hues
Shadows of ancient arcana
Flicker in surreal death-light
Tumbled monuments
Glimmer restlessly
Under dead stars
Ley lines shimmer
In quicksilver urgency
There is something here
That hovers
Beneath the spectrum
Felt not heard
Sensed not seen
Permeates bedrock with
Profane vibrations
Sets somnolent cities
Imbues oceans with
Eldritch dreams
And eternal