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Sinéad O’Connor “Fire On Babylon”

No mistake to be made
I can feel its prying eyes upon me right now
invading my sanctuary
mauling each of my senses in turn
nothing kind natured about this exchange
no hope to talk it down
as it knows not how to refrain
cannot be reasoned with
its season is my treason
its appetite my destruction
its pleasure my agonizing pain
its very existence my bane
and this beast cannot be tamed

it could end me in the blink of an eye
send me straight to the brink on a one-way expedition
devour what is left of my most stubborn resistance
tear the bleeding heart from its prised open cavity with bare teeth
strip me down to the ivory
like it is shelling an onion
flip me over and carve a canoe from my spine
as it hustles the gristle from my belligerent bones
and with no great effort required
the fire in its eyes tells me as much
and I care not for what it confides

this is the name it answers to
although precious few have lived to tell this particular tale
I’ve also heard it referred to as the Hound of Hades
either way
its purpose is the same
to guard these cast iron gates
none shall pass these cast iron gates
while this defender of the realm paces the perimeter
misery in all three of its faces
the putrid air it exhales casually slicing through graces
strangling any vague traces of hope
as it prepares to go for the throat
and tear it straight out

Serpents coil
flailing from each of its heads
running along its blackened mane like liquified death
caressing the flesh like snake skin scythes
they writhe
hiss their hateful intent
deadly venom dripping from their fangs
jaws retracted
ever poised to strike
but respectful of their host as it feeds
quenches an unquenchable thirst

each head a recurring nightmare
a trifecta of evils
each formidable in their own right
way less than explicable when unleashed in unison
they despise one another of course
take frequent swipes as they bid to secure the controlling stake
mask not their contempt
ask not for consent
as they voice their abhorrence through distasteful accent
this beast it vents
and will not be tamed

circling its prey as it sizes me up
warfare psychological for it bides its time patiently
searching for an opening
gaze locked into my own as the fire in its eyes invites me to burn for an eternity
tells tales of unthinkable suffering
a blood orgy of biblical proportions
all the while edging ever closer
preparing to pounce
declare and denounce

first strike
and it is my trusty broadsword which claims this small victory
as I lop the first of my three tormentors clean off
in a single swipe
the Cerberus recoils
serpents tighten their coils as a number of them are relinquished in one swift motion
sensing this momentary retreat
I cast my eye to the portico in its rear view
its solitary passage back to the underworld
and a single blushed red cedar to the southwest
20 yards or so from its position
this marks a sacred grove
and the Tree of Persephone is the one spot the Cerberus fear not tread
its lord and master simply would not permit this
as only the cold steel of Hades himself is granted the honor of bleeding his bride
and even then
only with his fair lady’s prior blessing

second strike
but the balance is now shifting
the beast it rattles in its cage
for sufficient time to follow up with a more decisive blow
this head is more stubborn than the last
refuses to go lightly
hangs on lopsidedly
as a fountain of black grue glugs from its jutting windpipe
but still it gargles hatefully
almost playfully
as though deluded enough to believe it still holds the upper hand
it holds nothing of the sort of course
and my next strike corroborates this
as it settles matters
severs any remaining ties
execution style

this one feels good
better than the last
as I watch the decapitated head roll through the pale white lily petals surrounding the cedar
painting them black as it passes
I commence to smell victory
makes no sense to advance timidly
as with two heads now slain
only one thing remains
to finish this thing
send this foul beast back whence it came
to sender and with a message most succinct
I am coming

I almost feel pity for this deluded creature
no longer nearly as brazen in its suggestion
even its serpentine head-dress appears to have lost interest
no doubt sickened by the effortlessness with which a descendant of the great Echidna and Typhon has been dispatched
two-thirds at least
and the last is up next for subtraction

further the beast reclines
and I match its every stride
raise it with my own
territorial advantage disowned as it backs up against the red cedar and obediently awaits the coup de grâce
utterly accepting of its fate
almost expectant of it
but all I discern is a shy little puppy
albeit one with hell in its eyes
and raw meat backed up in its stinking teeth
however, no more threat to me than falling autumn leaves
a companion for the short saunter to perdition
as I now plan to deliver this correspondence to Hades personally
it is no less than he would expect from his queen
my actions this day will please my king greatly I’m sure
for I hath subdued the Cerberus in terms of no uncertainty
silenced the screams within me
and embraced the ones around me
I am Persephone
and I am coming
my love

after all,
some beasts simply aren’t looking to be tamed

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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  1. Such powerful verse with a subject that can be applied to many a person’s personal battle. Defeat the Hell beast, decapitate to placate… love this one.

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