The Black Lance of Talbot

Two knights, one foul – one fair, met in the dust of a forgotten town. This was not the first time.

The war was over. The war is never over.

The Black Knight leaned on his lance. The White Knight tightened her shield-strap.

They had a late lunch. The local inn was nearly empty that day. They talked with the easy familiarity of gravediggers. The innkeep’s bread was stale but the ale was fresh.

A few of the townsfolk made note of them. Enough to tell the tale later, enough to remember the wrong way. None of them remember the toast the Black made. None of them remember the song the White sang. None of them remember that they laughed together.

In the heat of the drowsy afternoon, they rose from their table.

They walked together to the end of the town, walked together behind the ivy-crowned walls of the church, of the graveyard. They paced out the ground together, helped each other with their armor. Then they mounted their chargers. No more words were said.

The Black was a lightning bolt, the White was the mountainside. Again and again they met, ending each pass with more pain, more blood.

It came to chance, as both knew it would. One horse stumbled, one did not. The black lance tore through the white armor. Both knights fell, one rose and leaned on his lance.

The White died soon thereafter. No more words were said.

The Black walked away with his lance.

The townspeople say this: that the Black Knight was a true servant of evil.

That he stabbed his lance into the stones behind the church as a curse, a warning, a blight. That it can cause warts, destroy crops, summon demons when the moons are right. That only a heart as black as night can lift it from where it rests.

But none of them were there. None of them truly know.

The Black Lance waits still, like the stump of a vile tree.

None have been able to lift it. None have ever discovered the fate of the Black Knight, or even so much as his name.

None of them know the secret.

The war is never over.

Advertisements

retrograde

My life has been defined by desperate acts.

(crack of thunder)

Yes, I sip from this goblet of dark wine and stare out this window at the darkening moors. This is not going as intended, but I have become accustomed to such things.

I’m trying to write my way through something. Writing is just words, just symbols and shapes – pushing them around until they look like what we want to say. Until they look like what we see on the inside, on the other side, on the upside down. I often wish that I could draw or sing or sculpt or dance – something to cut down the latency. I’m feeling  this, this is how I feel, hear it in my voice, see it in the clay. Words are the best I have but I’m never sure. Never sure if I understand what I’m saying, if I’m being understood. Then I come back later and read them like a stranger’s riddle. My memory is an ocean, without bound, no maps, few islands. Does Circe remember me? Does it matter that I bled here, bled there — it’s all just salt water.

And then I pull myself up. Make a joke. It’s all about where you stand really. I ring the bell for the butler and daub wine from the tips of my immaculate mustache.

The same images, the same shapes – the ocean, the desert, the tower, the sky. Places without directions, travels without motion. I write with my right hand, erase with my left. My palm across the hot sand brushing away the sigils.

What am I doing? Where am I going? I choke on the questions and blur through the days. I feel like I’m failing, know that I’m falling – but am I? Am I? After a while it’s just air on either side. I wake up and I’m gone and I’m home and I’m alone and I’m in the shower and I’m driving, driving, driving. Is this part of it? Is this wondering part of it?

I like a narrative, it goes well with these drapes. If in a month, in a year, in a decade I — what? Arrive somewhere. Then the wandering was part of it, I was building my backstory, John Wayne in the desert, prophet gone mad in the dunes. But what if there is no arrival? Then it was just empty, callow, hollow, simple, mundane.

But I don’t know where I want to arrive, what will put the end on this beat. I like making, I like being petted on the head, I like not being poor —

 

Now it’s too simple, its just about failure. Common as brass, sinister as salt. I don’t know where I am or who this is typing, but I don’t want it to be that. I don’t want that to be me.

Because that’s the trap, isn’t it? If it’s about corporeal success, then take Door the First. If it’s about deathless prose than take Door the Second. But that’s not quite it either.

That’s not quite it either. The drum that beats.

Part of me is just ready for the wandering wizard. Just walk out from behind a wave and either point me towards my destiny or let me know this isn’t for me and it’s okay to go home.

I hate this. I hate the feeling, I hate the reeling, hate that everything becomes low, becomes base materials, becomes nothing more than feeding the fish. I don’t want this to be me, I’m glad in an hour I’ll forget.

Writing through the swell of a dark wave, holding onto the keyboard like a rudder. I can’t see anymore, I only have muscle lore to rely on. Where am I going? What do I want? The stars that burn at night are just holes in a sheet.

Pull up. Make a joke.  This scone has entirely too much rosemary, have the butler shot.

I know it’s the act of a child to want a parent. Please just sit me down and give it to me straight. Tell me it’s okay to forget. Tell me it’s okay to not sing at midnight. Tell me it’s okay, tell me Lucas can stop playing the lines. The lines are never going to connect and the mask-man is dead or the mask-man is me or the mask-man will never ever stop whispering. Tell me to put my head down and die again. Tell me I can come home and tell me it never mattered.

This is what I’m afraid of. Of the things I can see, of the things I can know, of the things I can make – but that I don’t. I feel old, I feel tired – everything is heavy. That’s the way of the world.So far I’ve been able to leap forward in tiny ergs of desperation, acts of drug-seeking blindness. But now I don’t know, now I don’t believe.

I repeat the same things again and again without resolution. I’m not making a map, I’m keeping a journal. Hoping that one day I’ll read it and know the answers.

Now, what. The very act of typing illuminates and it elides. This moment is already erasing. I can find a nice picture to put at the top and click publish but the moment is already passing, without clarity. I come back again and again and I still don’t know. I still don’t know. Is this part of the plan or just flash in the pan? Where am I doing? What am I going?

Here is the place this thing was said. These shapes I chose, as well I could. Not quite right.

I sit alone in my study and watch the rain begin on the darkened moor.