Presence, Pretense, Breakpoint, Voice, Clash, and Expulsion

(Machinery is really thought poured into mineral)


We couldn’t break the pretense
for days. At the storm’s
feet, in Paradise, writing my
Apocalypse, on the Island of
Revelation, no tempest to tame,

only a vision to articulate.
When it split, something from
the silver tint of sky-tarnished
mirror other than inspiration came.
Lightning quickened until it didn’t

and stilled, steeled knives of
frozen piss, one thought, heaven’s
urine in glistening, chiseled blades
of fading light, coloured neon
straw by some unseen pastel


gas passing over us its
casting of some strange spell,
for a dissipating moment anticipating
coming fright caught in the
curtain of makeshift night, clouds

fabricated by sudden haze against
which iron silence played in
place of thunder, occulting what
was yet still day, enveloping
time’s passage in an omen

of decay. We could not
move or look away. Some
great ancient weight. A performance
or a warning. Thickened the
atmosphere no voice could crack.


A shattering, instead, of what
peace of mind our heads
kept hid when we felt
its presence at once arise,
descend, surround, and confront, without

and within, with no known
or discernible origin. What piece
of us was left as
its angles rounded to swallow
up what fraction of that

angel knew consuming with shadow
would ruin us, we who
do impossibilities justice by writing
into probabilities what miracles others
dismiss as nonsense. And as


we believed so much in
truth, blind trust blinded us,
or rather the dust of
forgotten documents, ignored manuscripts from
abandoned hermitages, true witnesses to

pilgrimages turned to pillaging, did
as we opened scrolls no
one else had the courage
or foolish hubris to chance.
Not since centuries elapsed. Dancing

then with our undoing, we
welcomed ruin the way drought
scorches land until, unforgiving, tortured
ground begs nature neither to
nurture nor nourish, but drown


what crop no seed allows,
that was how we attracted
that visitor. Sinister innocence malevolence
has, in a sense. Unrelenting
but patient enough to wait

until called. Unable, it seemed,
to enter, unless invited. Unwilling
to leave, only if we
could fight its pull, its
lulling allure, to will into

being our being hurled toward
what fate usually only bones
endure: the breaking open to
pour forth what its unseen
force was here for, our


souls it was after since
first conjured. Lured by a
word. A translator’s dilemma, to
be sure. To be so
certain of an ignored passage

turned to some working its
ink’s uncorking. Availed an evil
whose machinery our thoughts unveiled
when we poured its ill
into porous material. As though

through ears, nostrils, jaws, its
claws cloyed at doors opened
by skulls full of absence
noise ignored filled until noise
overpowered ensorcelled free will cancelled.

Notate Bene:
☞ The title refers, in progressive succession, to the stages most often observed as occurring in official exorcisms of demons from possessed persons as performed by those clergy authorized to do so under the auspices of—and following the formal ritual composed, regularly revised (most recently in 2015), and approved by—the Catholic Church. ¶ The rite itself is published (in gold-tooled red leather, with a red silk ribbon bookmark, and woodcut illustrations) for clerical reference and use by Libreria Editrice Vaticana (the Vatican’s publishing house, source, in every language, of all liturgical rubrics and papal documents used by Catholics—in particular, Catholic priests, bishops, and cardinals—worldwide, from lectionaries and missals to the decrees of all former Popes, and statements by the current Pontiff), entitled De Exorcismis et Supplicationibus Quibusdam, and comprising in Latin the entire procedure and prayers employed in expelling demonic entities from afflicted persons. ¶ This, however, is only a guideline and, though largely unchanged for centuries, varies in actual usage depending on the complexity of each case as encountered by exorcists in the field. Details of more recent exorcisms, with full case studies, as documented by active clergy can be found in Malachi Martin’s now seminal (and updated) classic account, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans, published at New York by HarperOne in 2007. Page 17 therein, within the chapter called “A Brief Handbook of Exorcism” outlines the stages which inspired this poem’s title. ¶ It is a tenet of Catholic faith, as outlined not only in Scripture, but in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published at New York by Image in 1997 (Paragraphs 328–336 define angels and their purpose, Paragraphs 391–395 account for the fall of angels as the origin of demons and the existence of evil, Paragraph 1673 confirms exorcism as a holy sacrament and an endorsed practice; pages 95–98, 110–111, and 465–466, respectively), that demons, as much as angels, do exist, even in the Twenty-First Century. ¶ Biblical precedent establishes exorcism as a Christian practice administered ever since (The Gospel According to Saint Mark the Evangelist, Chapter 5, most often cited), and belief in the efficacy thereof continues to persist, as evidenced not only by Martin’s best-selling first-hand accounts cited above, but more recently elaborated upon by Richard Gallagher’s Demonic Foes: My Twenty-Five Years as a Psychiatrist Investigating Possessions, Diabolic Attacks, and the Paranormal, published at New York by HarperOne in 2022. Evil does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, neither do efforts to remove its apparent force.
1Rudolf Steiner, “Notes on the Evolution of Human Freedom and Personal Consciousness Also Concerning the Concepts of God”, Paragraph 6, from Evolution of Human Freedom and Personal Consciousness, a private lecture given at Dusseldorf on January 19th, 1905, composed by Steiner in shorthand for his own reference and transcribed then translated from the German into English by an unknown translator; unpublished, unbound typescript manuscript (GA 90b) in the collection of Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland; page [5]. Digitized at the Rudolf Steiner e.Lib for online consultation by the Los Angeles Steiner Library.