THE GODDESS SORROW
Sorrow walked in a halo of flies by the poplar groves,
Her long, sweat-stained hair hanging in unkempt locks,
As she meandered like a mad animal,
By the river’s edge, searching,
Searching in vain,
For something only madness could define,
As the long-sun-drenched day waxed into shadow,
And the haunting shades slipped between rocks and trees,
Taking refuge from Sorrow’s fury and tears,
And whispering amongst themselves and to Her from,
Unspeakable niches in the craggy rocks and twisted boughs,
Where they had found refuge from Night’s searching eyes.
When Night fell,
The shades came forth,
To cavort in the tree-hung glades and copses by the river,
As Night walked, star-eyed, amongst them,
Wondering at the poor unkempt maiden who walked Her kingdom’s halls,
At last, Night took Sorrow by the hand and led her forth,
As stars fell like tears into the rushing river’s edge,
Frolicking with the shades in the feeble starlight,
At the razor’s edge of Luna’s glinting moonbeams,
Unafraid of the horror hidden by the water’s edge.
Perhaps only Sorrow knew what was there,
When She pointed mutely in the direction of a muted figure,
Squatting by the river’s edge,
And Night let go of Sorrow’s hand,
So She could join the figure by the river.
For you see, at last, Sorrow had found me,
By the river’s edge where my beloved wife Sarah lay,
Drowned, her unkempt hair hanging in still-wet bangs,
Along the skin of her dripping face,
A gash across her brow from the rock where she had slipped and struck her head,
Before falling into the water, upstream.
Too late, the ambulance arrived.
Even Sorrow was too late.
For before Her, Hate had attended me,
His cursed demeanor still fresh in my mind’s eye,
His spite, still flushing my skin in reddish blotches with His fury.
For, you see, it was Hate, that evil God,
That guided the hand that killed my Sarah,
I admit, my own.
And Sorrow, that ever-present specter of a Goddess,
Was too late in finding me,
Yet convenient enough of an escort for the moment that was upon me,
As the police and the ambulance techs came forward with their questions.
Tears rushed quietly down my face as I addressed them.
In the vague distance, I could hear them,
Malignant voices whispering in forgotten rooms,
Far-off laughter, dissonant music,
That lingered in the mind like some cursed cacophony,
Knowing neither source nor termination.
Labyrinthine hallways burned with the fever of fluorescent lights,
That shone with the off-color yellow and gold of madness,
Like some beacon in the mind that never ceases to burn into the retina,
Its blasphemed image; its malingering moods.
A distant piping sounded from somewhere outside a nearby window,
Wandering derisively from some elusive key,
Meandering in strange intervals and chordal progressions.
A measured yet off-beat pounding throbbed in blasphemed accompaniment.
Together the noxious instruments performed musical mayhem,
As they reached an intolerable level of volume.
Then, just as the music reached its most fevered pitch,
When the voices appeared to be just within reach of discovery:
I rounded a corner in the madhouse,
And everything ceased.
I’d finally reached the locked door of the Violent Ward,
And waited quietly for the authors of the music and the voices to make their appearance.
The gray clouds shifted and moved to the West,
As the harsh winds blew them in strong drifts towards the sea.
There, the black-robed hordes had gathered,
Masked and clothed in the dark vestments of their forbears.
They knew the omens of the storm God,
And had come to worship,
To pray for the transformation,
Which those before them had borne with them into the waves.
Noxious shapes stirred in the green depths, just off-shore,
And the waves churned black and green with the pollution of their numbers.
Writhing and gyrating, blasphemously, they waited,
Coiling and uncoiling their green appendages and ever-moving tendrils,
In a horrifying conspiracy of motion,
That brought dread to the eye of the sane beholder.
As darkness fell, the chanting, murmuring mob approached the waves,
Praying and muttering the required formulas and rituals of invocation.
And as they entered those polluted depths, they flung their masks and vestments from them,
Which drifted away, unneeded, into the foul depths that housed their numbers.
The green-faced assembly then commenced their frenzied culmination to the rite,
The unholy union between themselves and the things that churned in the foam,
Of the storm-tossed waves.
When dawn finally came and the soldiers arrived to the streets of Innsmouth,
No one was there to greet them,
Only the shuttered windows and doors of abandoned homes;
And fishing boats that drifted lazily, unmoored, just off shore.
The driving wind sent dust-devils writhing down the streets,
Stirring clouds of dirt to swirl like ghosts along the empty avenues,
As signposts swayed and noisily moved in the wind.
Suddenly, along the beach, a lone body washed up on the shore,
Green faced, gilled, still breathing,
The victim of a shark attack.
The soldiers gathered around, shouting.
As the shape writhed and shrieked,
Half-screaming, half-croaking in the blasting winds,
That drove upon them in full fury.
One of them finally lifted his revolver and fired.
Across town another shot was heard,
They had found more.
For some had not yet transformed.
John T. Carney was born in San Francisco, CA on December 13, 1960 and has lived most of his life since then in the Bay Area. He has had some several poems published by the International Library of Poetry in their various poetry anthologies and has also been published in small college literary magazines. He will appear also in Death Head Grin’s forthcoming e-book anthology available in June 2012 on the web site of the same e-zine. He also has a book out, available on Amazon.com, called The Vampire Sonnets.