It was an early fall in our fair city of Baltimore. My knees had already begun to ache in their manner which was characteristic of the colder nights and rubrefacted sumach leaves of my autumnal front yard. My wife, too, had begun her celestially timed plaints of “cold, cold” in the middle of the night in the middle of her dreams. It seemed the perfect time for a feast of dusky and gothic poetry by our patron saint Monsieur P__, who has been corporeally absent for at least 100 years but now still here with us in spirit, as a sort of phantasm du consensus; morphic resonances abound in the ravenous burgundy costumes of street arabbers selling purple grapes, or the gothic strains of strange avant-garde organs wisping out the windows like purple haze from the chimney pipes of so many stoned and paranoid brain-skulls of our city of languishment. And the ravenous crows congregated in so many sycamore trees in the dilapidated graveyards tucked down by the river, accessed by the train-tracks by hobos and bums and me, on a mission driven by my en-purpled darkened brain. The crows, looking like black spots stinging the skeletal white sycamores, and speaking their hoarse caws as I walk in the abandoned quarry, the quarry where wolf dives like a manatee to search for thrown daggers, treasure, and other macabre implements of abandoned urbanity.
I was just back from a walk in these woods when my good companion M__ visited my hovel on Bentalou street, for the purpose of a tandem journey out to the oriental grocer at the rim of the town, via combustion engine. Driving through the dense forests at the suburbs, no doubt where highwaymen are dwelling in the shade, celebrating some Ravens victory with burgundy ale, we reflected on the truly gothic spirit that comes to our town at this time of year. Guillotines are on display like some sort of decoration, and strange violet lights are to be seen in the leaves of hollies at night.
It was upon exiting these ghastly suburbs and re-penetrating the industrial ruins which marked the spot where i live, that my companion M__ told me of the house of Monsieur P__ where his body is enshrined along with his gothic poems of fantasy. Today and only today, said M__, will his body be on display inside the historic house. What, said I, how macabre, it must be a simulation? But a good simulation at that, M__ said, many have been fooled. We must go to the historic house and find out, so we packed our oriental groceries into the coolers and headed down into the basin of our town Baltimore, to the historic district known as “Scarey”, where the historic P__ house is.
Wherein we found old scrolls and parchments of the long deceased poet. Having read and reread no surfeit of the scriptures of darkness, I motioned to my companion M__ that we should enter the atrium and view the corpse. Why is there no thicket of visitors besides ourselves to this historic moment? In fact the house was empty with lack of concierge or mouse for that matter. Perhaps they had been scared by the meaning of the moment. Well lit for such a dark house was a perspex cube in the center of the atrium, tarnished by the smoky gray cloud-light seeping from the windowed roof above. As we approached our steps became slower exponentially, like a field of force was pushing us away from the momentous corpse inside the perspex geometer. After an eternity of echoing marble footsteps, we were close enough to make out the lines of the face, the sunken eyeballs, thin lips stained by a final pre-mortem slake of wine, high off-keel forehead, and dandy collar of our ancient literater.
Look at the jewel on his ring, exclaimed M__, and I bent over the plexiglass to see his hand within, and the soot-black jewel encrusted on a platinum band. No, it can’t be, I see in this shiny piece of coal little movements, micro-movements, I think his hand is moving! After 100 years this must be coinkidink, some draft of cool historic air moving his dusty mummy. But no, it seems to be making methodical movements, some sort of script writing in the air, searching for a platform on which to be manifest. The hand continues with this simple message but we have no way to interpret it. I blurt out, after reverie, “Monsieur P__, if you can hear me through this perspex cube, then understand that you are encased by a modern substance, plastic, which we can see through. Knowing this then, you may write your strange cypher by scratching the black gem on its inner surface for us to read retrograde”. With a slow creak of ancient bone and a moan that seemed to come from beneath the historic house, yes, the hand moved to the inner surface of plexiglass and slowly scratched it, sonically like a dapper crow cleaning his beak on a skull. Here is what it wrote: