The Talk arrived late, six months in,
and the question I dreaded rode in on fairly pure wings.
"How many?" she asked in a squint of chaste suspicion,
whereafter I was expected to profess a certain something
near virginity, my own chaste integrity with the past.
I had moved about in some horrid shade, however.
Woods of shade-makers. No denying it.
So I stated.
"I had no idea you were like that." she said.
"I wasn't. They were."
A freeborn man knows once is once again,
shade outstretched to roll in his flames,
until he considers but one, holding this tightly,
the great one after all the once-more ones, a finality.
The official proposal came later, and to great tolerability,
marriage, and all throughout it, other sorts of talk.
Eventually I Stopped Believing in Myself
Naps aren't my thing, but I had one. When I woke in the afternoon,
there was fruit rotting in the mesh basket in my kitchen,
the air was horrid hot and reeked of pits in the earth,
and I found an eel twisting about in my bathtub—
you know, horrific imagery to welcome my new self.
Perhaps most upsetting was that my clothes no longer fit,
for my legs were covered in goat hair and my feet had transformed
"Oh hell. People will think I'm sinister, now. There'll be no more
trust to be had, no parties, no coffee shops, no cheer. I'll seem evil
because of this, and up to no good."
My wife returned home and shrieked.
"You're the Beast!" she shouted, leaving me.
"I didn't mean it." I muttered, alone in my apartment, the new Hell.
I decided to be a social beast, then.
Devil or not, alone or not, I still wanted to hang out in town.
Perhaps I might be able to change the general view of me.
They ran all directions, terrified.
This made me a terrorist, one who caused terror,
and some brimstone piddled down.
I didn't feel as if I'd done this, invoking brimstone,
but supposed I must have. Who else?
The first person to try and follow me was an entertainer.
He told me he was a poet, would serve me with wicked rhymes.
I kicked his khaki sack high onto a roof.
Had the world made me a great foe,
or had it ignored me so much I had grown to work against it?
My hooves clopped the streets, my breath rotted the air.
History had built my form from pagan gods,
to convert people religiously, and the name of my home
was stolen from the Norse.
I didn't do any of that; they did. I chose to abandon evil, then.
Becoming human again, and thought good, turned out to be
I just started believing there was a devil for me, as well.
Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and son, as a stay-at-home dad. He has been published in Aesthetica, Gloom Cupboard, and Pank, as well as in numerous others across as many countries. His novel Tatterdemalion (Cauliay Publishing) was recently released in print and is available most places. He tries hard.
For inquiry, publication history, and information, visit me online: http://raysuccre.blogspot.com