Love’s a capricious power; I’ve known it hold
Out through a fever caused by its own heat[.]
Over the waste of waters like a veil, a corpulent moon throws her silver light of hair; each tangle a portent of which portion of eternity her victims will receive. The moon herself once a mortal woman whom the gods had deceived and turned to soft stone, forever crumbling on her celestial throne, dropping down dust often enough to cough men from their sleep, and rouse them into her lap, into her deep coffin called night.
No light in heaven but the beacon of a single star, each flash bending a beating of a trickling tear bleeding from her heart. The toss of love, the treachery of fiends peopling an evening wherein gods speed to relieve vanquished hearts of their sweating reprieve: you know the battle well, its every censure, its dead tolling upward while tugging on their bells. Balls of flesh molten like brass so lurid in their flashing, so encompassing that hell itself feels blurry, its former fear loosened in fists of oyster-grey jelly, throwing up its debt. Leaving it at that proverbial death—the crash—the coming down of the chorus, in unison confused, asking, “Are we there yet?”
You have been there, you have journeyed; you have heard the moon summon you, and dismiss you; unapologetic, but very sorry you could not stay longer. You have let her fell you, maternal as she held you under the deep, hopeful you would sleep forgetful, drowning in the fistfuls of perjury her promises turned out to be.
Days break and so do hearts. In the hurt of the breathy dew sauntering across the pasture of sobering peoples passing through their shameful shadows, selves unaware, in which the moon herself laughs across the universe, herding her fury—I have seen you there, your mirth turning slowly to worry. In that poverty of pictures, that loosening bundle of conviction smeared with submission turning to regret, I have heard you weep, and I have wept, keeping to myself my own desire, so that I might resurrect you and open your mind to see that the moon is not a woman.
The moon is not a man; the moon is a government of fortune, suppressing fate from dispensing with its own jealousies. The gods, every one of them at odds with you, they seek, and have sought, and continue to still, to subdue anyone who knows the truth: that you, just as I, have the same need they do—to be loved, to be denied, and to be consumed. Lonelier souls empty space has never before known than in that dusk, burying all of us in its weighty communion. Have you ever fallen under the boulder of trust in another you thought you could shoulder, but your strength was not enough? Even patience is a path paved with pauses and partings.
Too long have I been a martyr to their punishment, so feeling all the vulture in my jaws, my hunger resolves to devour your applause as I slaughter them, every last god, and against all cost, profit from the victory of taking heaven from itself and making it ours.
No light in heaven but the beacon of a single star, dressed in ambition, bleeding over its heart whispers of an abandoned mission; on earth below, in seas slumped on sunken thrones, triton-pussied merharlots mouth come-hithers and open their three holes for some time, inviting in oracles of swallowed futures, for one last eternity, they swear.
Hot-breathed water spicing their blasphemy, I feign my best Poseidon, and I sigh, piping music down the surf. Worse guitars whirl against the edge of the earth, gushing sparks at the sight of them; each merwoman uncertain the fathers of their fortunes will return to them. Birthing coins, with pleasure and fury they pull fistfuls of treasure out of themselves, counting on something not coming.
In that moonlight at highest tide, each purpose-driven whore drives onto the shore; their broke-down chariots of chalk-cliffed lips wheel and whine, lines of white lace taking from the latest sighting of something cryptic tightening the chaste belt of asteroids above them into a wanting their tossed innocence once gave them. Solitude and abandonment transgress boundaries wide as precipices and each daughter crawls inside herself, uncertain if she has to go on farther to get away from it: the loneliness of immortality, the sting of disease distancing each heart from each mind. “If only forever lasted a night.”
As above them so below them, in a minute of pausing, the beacon of a single star winks at one, but she withholds its blaze from all of them; her sisters calling, but she goes on swimming, certain heaven must have an embassy on the ocean’s bottom, that she must be someone, not just entertainment. A hypothetical shell calling her to fill it with truth somehow and the moon laughing, sings of lost love, lost luxury, lost lines of poetry even Titans weep over, each verse a flame no longer yearned for—past particles no one burns for; past parties no one participates in anymore.
Shattered thoughts line the beach at sunrise, and surfacing with silent and selfsame ill ease, you will glance over, and see me, and seem relieved. Our want of shame will make climbing to sobriety all the tamer if we get to it before noon, and ponder not where our nude toes have walked; if we choose not to speak, and accept that love is a thing about which we of the night, in the anguish of day, cannot talk.
Over the waste of waters like a veil, no light in heaven but the beacon of a single star, come now; let me tell you of us; you and I, alone in a crowd of constellations clueless about who they are. We are the heroes whose parts do not shine; machines not at all oiled, but sublime. Two kindred tossed in a torrent of time spaced by punctuating patrons paying respect as they find beauty in the mire, peeling off our shine. Cathedrals happen, verbs more than things; moments, those spires of experience we chill in our hearts, the coldest marble rolling to a stop, screeching at our feet—every passage into an unknown bedroom a prayer sent up into heaven; the low-lying reliance upon generosity buying us—our kind—some finery, some time until our sins collide. Let me heal you from the inside.
Feel never disgrace, and know I am with you in the quest we have made, and every night make, through these streets wet like veins with what wealth I tried to guide you to. Come now, come move with me onto the other side of the moon; dressed in blue like a bruise, we will be free to fail and fall as we choose, and be whomever the gods feared we might become, and let us prove that even in the dark, love is enough to move planets, conquering all. Has the conquest taught you enough? Take pause to collect all that has passed and tell me what feels right, what you emerged with after last night. We will share the loss; we will share the loss of our darkness and give off light.
1Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto II, stanza 22, lines 169–170; written during Carnevale at Venice, the annual debauchery of which he frequented, Byron there met Teresa, Contessa Guiccioli; the married woman he called his “final attachment,” ending his notorious promiscuity. In Italy, Byron’s work reached its caustic zenith, incisively attacking Britain’s monarchy, church, and society; his lyrics markedly introspective, depicting conflict between his heart’s desires and sexual mores. London: Printed by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars [for John Murray], 1819; page 130.