Title art by L.H. Grey



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Nine Inch Nails “The Mark Has Been Made”




Inception truly is a most wondrous thing. The very first seed of an idea is critical to any creative looking to nurture their vision as it allows for grander cultivation. Often I have but a solitary word in my head at the offset and this suits my sense of mystery just fine. How rich harvests come to pass is anyone’s guess, none least mine, as design is not a cage ever meant to confine. Off I trundle into the unknown time after time, with nary more than a busted compass and some well-worn wits to guide me. I’m never less than grateful passenger, never more reposed than when coasting on the alabaster cuff of high tide. It’s here where the wind is most bracing. Here where we learn the true thrill of the kill. Here where we spill.


Since first picking up mine quill, the Keeper has bled many shades of ink unto parchment. Court jester has been my default setting; tickling some ribs with my feathers of folly. It’s just so dang fun playing Merry Andrew and it seems an awful waste of a painted white face if not used to self-efface. Naturally I’ll do so with grace as the frown of a clown is an eye-liner nightmare just waiting to happen. But playing the fool can be cool, and besides, ice can normally be found playing with fire. The blaze of conception is one I warm my palms on most willingly and I’m never short of a quip when toasty.


That said, while I’m lover not fighter, and a lovable blighter, within lies a ravenous beast. This muddy-eyed monster has been chained up for four long winters passed, nay way longer, captive to my interminably sunny outlook. For my 2015 dark amalgamation “Bequeath” I let the beast out of its enclosure; just to flex its thighs you understand. It needed to prowl and could smell the very season of another in the garden. But now simply wasn’t the time. Life had other plans to impart in the customary obstinate manner while the lion slept and the ambush since then has been fairly relentless.

A barrage of blows from every conceivable direction, that has been the penance or, at least, what my contused abdomen informs me. Couldn’t tell you to be honest as my eyes were opaque and reclining. Death’s wish was to remind my face that it’s merely a skull with a throw over. I stared into the eye of my visitor, mine demon, with an intensity that had once appeared to me during reverie. And I calmly recited but one solitary word. Enough. Not enough of my darkness. I bathe in such blackened sludge just to savor its sour flavor. But one thing I waiver is my right to confine it, resign it to the pit when I can just as easily invite you good people inside.


Suddenly my lion-heart was roaring beast-like, ready to ravage and savage on command, hyper alert as to what had been planned. It was then that I spotted the Elusive White Rabbit, darting through Cupid’s felled arrows as she skirted the perimeter. The shrubs waltzed in her wake as she led her ivy trail to a curious fissure just out of plain sight. Curiouser the lion became, furiouser the blackened heart of its white soul thumped beneath the striped veil of its fur. A rabbit hole. Curiouser still. Furiouser will. “Come inside” was its plea, then it confided to me that a single White-Knighted leap was advised. I couldn’t believe the very reds of my eyes. The lion then leapt with great pride.


Wonderland. As vast as any I’d ever observed. A sprawling, yawning Havana for all seven of mine senses. I may have taken quite the tumble as I fumbled with four years of jumble and hit every last twig on my descent; but the vista before me did an ultra sound job of breaking my fall this day. Under closer scrutiny, I deduced that the rabbit I’d followed was not white, but grey. Ashen. And the pathway it fashioned led direct to none other than my innermost passion. Therefore, there seemed no just no cause not to spill. Just a pint or ten you understand. It’s tough keeping track when your faith’s flooding back. Eat me. Drink me. See me. Unjudge me. Slay me. Join me. Love me. Fear me. Revere me. Cohere me. Each of these labels read clearly.


Now comes the spill. And it is here I reveal just a slither of how this all works in our compound mind. Each burnt offering is a slice of our grateful flesh and it would be most obscene not to lay on a theater macabre for those who wish to spill alongside us. There is great muchness beyond the stage curtain, a freak show of torment laced with desire, forbidden not to transpire. By the light of tomorrow’s moon we shall reveal “Heel.” The opening act may have come and passed, but this is an event we believe can unite the creatives within all of us. It’s art with the very sweetest of intention – to steal you away as it dances and plays. The more playtime we share, the more we all care, the more we inspire, the more we set fires. The rabbit hole is as far and as wide as we make it. Bottomless. Boundless. Profoundly arousing. History can be made if we sway the same way. So what say you? Shall we spill?




Richard Charles Stevens


Keeper of The Crimson Quill



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