The Masque of Misrule


“You are a cruel mistress of misrule,
a leech, a blind machine, a useful tool.”
– Charles Baudelaire

Saurian eyes look out of the green lime hedge
Beyond the portico, her stone intelligence
Misprisions me within this opium maze:

Swift laughter’s heart betrays its skill,
As shadows prey and whispered feline wiles
Quicken an eagle’s pyre on a black sun’s dial, 

While an owl’s new moon slow musings slay the night in twain;
An entangling web, her dark embrace, white teeth –
Her clasping claws – a metronome, time’s silver prophecy;

Her jeweled basilisk eyes, marking each beat that lasts –
The masquerade, the dancers in the bronzed cage:
And, I, her cloven lover succor her within this singular hell –

A beast depraved by her magic touch, dammed by
Her kisses, the metal pigments jutting out – black remembrances
Shading us from the bright life outside this red circle;

A darkening confederacy of love wreaks havoc
On the eclipsed stars, while we fall gracefully

Among these scarlet sheets so smooth and silky;

The embroidered ecstasy that is her fatal bite
Pricks the tempered steel that is my mind;
And, I, like an entombed archaeologist of corruption

Wander the mausoleum ruins of her ivory flesh
Like some vast and empty temple of lost time,
And in its frozen precincts I discover a blue stone afire:

It is her volcanic core – the extended screech across the void –
A fetid imbroglio hangs between us, and a delicate cord of ebony
That binds us thickly concludes this fatal tryst in a darker circle of love:

Connoisseur of forbidden pleasures I sculpt her life beyond this fabricated semblance:
                                                         A golden mask of joyous pain to the Lord of Misrule.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

*Note: this is more of a study in decadence, using the elements from Gautier, Baudelaire, the de Goncourt brothers and other infamous denizens of the Opium tribes who experimented with the lurid dreams of the great Parisian opium dens and forms of decadent closure manifested in the flaneur, Poe, the vampire legends, etc. I’ve often toyed with the notion of writing a decadent mystery novel with Baudelaire and Gautier as the Holmes and Watson of the era… of course Baudelaire as dandy and flaneur was perfect as a observer but in actual life was so hooked and depleted by Opium that it like Thomas De Quincey’s The Confessions of an Opium Eater and the many and various biographies from Gautier’s onward.

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