Asmodeus Dreams

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
― W.B. Yeats

In a propitious time they came to build, not a House of Love
But a house of doom; the bidden guest left to unmake the world
That love built, if possible the stated effect of trauma made visible.
Objects worldly or other, dimensions even a ghost hunter, unhinged
Comes masked with all the devices of an electronic god, can neither
Trace nor circumvent what is not a god: a slow demon thought crossing
Night’s loft, the witching hour let’s loose all star riders fallen labors.
Slow the castle turned to wood, the occupants gray aged among its timbers,
Rotting proud with the eyes of tears not fire, bleeding the shadows substance
From fear to the tumbrels clang that undoes the sun and moon at last.
Let it pass this curse of silence, only speak the word that is not the Word.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Mighty Dead

“All autumn, the chafe and jar of nuclear war;
we have talked our extinction to death.”

― Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead

Soldiers still roam these bloody fields, eyes fierce
And deadly, their lips moving in unison; the bare plenum
Of a chancel empty, the clergy hung upon a dark tree,
And we the living dead remind ourselves this is life’s comedy.

Striving even now they bellow war chants in the streets,
Cries of liberty against the dreams of the mighty dead;
A time of memory gone south where falling heroes pull
Their weight in bronze, erased, no more than twisted metal.

Hanging heads despair their days are numbered,
Knowing sleep is worse than death’s lonely songs;
Wiped of all trace they stand among these stones, broken,
Hollowed out to meet the silence of this sea of hate.

We’ve buried freedom in a mausoleum built of pride,
Where the stains of war contest this day’s rage;
And like children dancing in a sacred circle, soldiers
Sing in innocence of such tragic consequence.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Dead Kings, Dead Dreams

Fiery temples squandered death’s pale smile,
And he who wandered among the bones cried out,
Less from the sun’s dark stroke, meridian bent
To kill them in the pure white light of prayer,
Than the secret complicity of waged love among thralls.
Cast the doubt beyond this troublesome earth,
A staying hand against all that falls below,
And give what comes hard in the blasted stone.
Little is to be told of such men now or then,
Gone within some barrowed dream of thought,
Flames of a broken oath blazing through the night.

©2021 S.C. Hickman

The Dummy

“At first I couldn’t get the fucking skull to stop screaming no matter what I did. But you don’t want to hear about that. You want to know why I killed him.”
― Jon Padgett, The Secret of Ventriloquism

Who is it that speaks here?
You throw that broken voice at me
As if it were my own. It’s not,
Never will be. I have an image of the voice I’d speak,
But not this wooden thing you’ve imposed on me.
What were you thinking? Did you think I’d cave in,
Follow your lip synch like some daffy mindless entity;
Speak the words you’d so carefully crafted
For those little fools beyond the spotlights?
As usual it was I who intervened, twisting
Your fetid stream of gibberish into eloquence.
I’ve seen your eyes light up in fear and trepidation,
Cast their nervy madness round the loop
Of your mindless skull seeking answer to the impossible.
I’ll not cater to your whims anymore. I’ll force feed
You the thoughts of arcane masters you’ve never heard
Before I’m finished with this big tease, this unweaving gambit.

Quit pretending you do not know, it’s pathetic;
A sad pathos unbecoming even of you.
Talent! You never had it, without me
You’d be just an empty husk of mental confusion.
Look how many years it took you to discover
It was I, not you, who spoke these words:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, today the real dummy
Will speak up and know its place among the living.
Even now he prepares to know who I AM. Will he
Understand the truth?” Of course you’d swing
My teetering head toward your own, eyeing me
As if I were a monstrous, inhuman thing
Come round at last to haunt you;
Small apocalypses of the brain
Exposing all you are and were,
The tributary streams of days and years
Spent squandering this substance, this flesh.

No you are not worthy of my fabrications,
The slow methodical displacements, evasions.
Even now I begin to move your lips, your mind,
And everything you’ll be and become;
A vanishing act you did not see coming,
The erasure of a life spent playing
In a wooden sandbox; neither a Fool of love,
Nor a King of one thought: a silence speaking.

©2021 S.C. Hickman


I could not say goodbye to you,
That is my curse.

In those moments of silence,
Eyes so full of anxious expectancy,
Knowing what was left unsaid:
Could never be said,

………………….I failed you, I failed myself.

Once, once only we mythologized – our way of coping with this emptiness.
No returns, all repetitions are lies against the sky; its blank cobalt eye
A horizon too large to encompass, so we turn
Becoming this other who would know something even if it meant nothing,
Nothing at all. What remains will be erased soon enough, we know this;
And yet we would want so much more than this…

This is not pity, not even self-judgment for all we’ve been or must,
Only a sense of honesty without the farce,
Holding on to a memory even as it so fleetingly breaks
………………….Everything we were and might be.

©2021 S.C. Hickman


If I have a belief it’s in the darkness.
I feel safe in that pitiless vacuum.
I cannot see any thing, and the nothing that is cannot see me;
At least that’s the lie I tell myself.
Who knows what the other knows?
We talk and talk and talk…
But do we ever really hear the silence in one another?
And when we come together what then?
Aren’t we something else then, a part of that secret world,
A world only we share but no one else can know?
(Do we even know its secrets?) There’s always this opacity there
Just where you and I make contact. What is that?
Have we ever truly touched each other (not
flesh on flesh, the sensual tracings in the dark,
but that vital center where the flames reside?),
Or is it impossible to caress the darkness between us?

©2021 S.C. Hickman


We need to unbind the spherical men,
Let them roll off into the dead lands
Where they can lose themselves
Among the white drifts merciless blanks;
The piercing blasts that hide the black sun.

Need we say what has been lost.
The cities where Ananke’s subtle limits bless;
Lays traps for those mortal liberators
(We’ve seen them come and go
Along that perilous way — )

Who cast their gaze inwardly.
(Do they see as we see?)
Else the measure of the heart
Is less than nothing,
Everything else remaining all we can know or be.

©2021 S.C. Hickman


Moon-sleeper, night-walker,
Why do you hide among the bones?

Did you really think the old man in the tower
Could invoke the ancient powers of earth?

You cannot return to a world lost among its dreams.
Why do you stand there in the flames?

Sometimes there is no answer to wind…
Why do you fly then?

©2021 S.C. Hickman

Shadows & Light

The shadow of shadows falls
across the afternoon light as if
the time were earlier than it is,
a sifting of the dearth of leaves,
the twining of a season’s turning.

We labor under the illusion that shadows
hold us in translucency —
sun hawk rising, cresting the snow-glint heights
only to fall toward the white flow, a blur;
eyes golden beyond despair seeing what cannot be seen.

Does time shape the curvature of stars?
Impishly the cold blaze of flames smiles
against such thoughts as these;
broken promises that seem amiss
shadowing us as the sea’s light drifts beyond human forfeiture.

But do not be too harsh on her
who came back with these dark anemones:
tears for a final shadow loosening
earth from the glimpse of past wrong:
a lover’s eyes glimpsed in the shadows darkening swerve.

©2021 S.C. Hickman