I am content. I raise my foot in jubilation that I am here before you in my contentment. Your arm is not raised in contentment. With my foot raised high I say to you your black sword will not bring you contentment. You hold your treasure in one hand and try to make your treasure part of you and raise the black sword in the other. You linger over your treasure you want your treasure to replace me but it cannot. You blow into your treasure in hope you will make new music that will forbid me from rejoining you. I hope you will have new music and music will encircle you and will not allow me to rejoin you. But you will make no music. You are not inside me and I am not inside you and we are not one and nothing can restore you without me. Without restoration no music will come. You foolishly raise the black sword. Your black sword will never separate us. If your sword comes down on your own throat it will not separate us. You are helpless in your not music and you are helpless in your violence. I who step higher will make you rejoin me. I who am making music as I speak will make you rejoin me. Your black sword will never divide us. I cannot die without your death. You cannot live with my death. You cannot see without my eye. You cannot raise your foot without my foot showing the way. You with the black sword, you the fool with your treasure, you the fool with no music, cannot kill me. Cannot keep us two.
We who live must. We must wake and we must eat and we must go into the world. In the world is
suffering. The world is suffering. We who were first know that all life is suffering. We must. That is all
the answer we can send you. We must wake and walk and stand over the ill and touch them with our wands and hope. Hope is all we can pass through our wands. When I am ill and see death’s allure beyond the wall of the room my must will be clear. When see into the cave I will rest in forever I must die. I must fail the next man who is trying to keep death away. I must fail him and die. Then I no longer must.
The ships are approaching and our warriors dance. Our warriors dance by the forest from which they emerged. Our warriors dance by the forest a non-warrior must enter alone with nothing. The forest makes the non-warrior a warrior. If the warrior flees the forest before the forest has made him a warrior the warriors return him who will never be a warrior to the forest and the never-warrior never returns. We have no ships. The new warrior returns to our village built between the forest and the sea and from that time forever he speaks only to warriors. We who are not warriors can offer a warrior food and we can offer a warrior drink but warriors never speak to we who are not warriors and we cannot speak to the warriors. We who are not warriors knew some day ships would come. Our warriors become warriors in the forest. When our warriors return from the forest they scorn the sea. Our warriors laugh at the waves that fall onto the shore and plead for our warriors' attention. The forest is the world to our warriors and the world is all our warriors can see. We who are not warriors saw the ships at dawn. Our warriors do not look at the sea. Our warriors scorn the sea. We who are not warriors have gathered on the shore to watch the ships approach. Behind us at the edge of the forest our warriors are dancing. The ships draw near and we who are not warriors can see the carved heads of the beasts that guide the ships. Our warriors dance on the edge of the forest that made them warriors. The ships are full of warriors born from the sea. Our warriors are dancing beside the forest. The ships are near and behind us our warriors dance.
I am awake and you must raise your flag of surrender. Go now and hold your council but your council will be futile. When you return I will speak with one tongue but my words will not be understood for I speak out of my denial and you cannot know my denial. You cannot understand when I speak with one tongue for it is the tongue of denial. I deny myself as I grow. I deny my head. I deny my feet, my hands. I deny my back. My tail is denied. My feet are denied. I exist because I am denial. I grow stronger because I am denial. That you can see me is proof of my denial. My denial is my existence. Without my denial I do not exist. You cannot see my denial and you foolishly think that I am what you see. You foolishly think that I am captive in this too small space. I am bigger than my space. Hold high your flag of surrender when you return. Do not concern yourselves with survival. I grow larger every minute and soon this space will cease to exist. This space will disappear into the new space. You who will no longer exist in the new space. The new space will be the space of denial. You and the space you have sanctified will be consumed. The new space will care nothing for your sanctity. Your sanctity will not be denied because your sanctity cannot exist without denial. You are too wise for denial and the new sanctity will be the sanctity of denial. If you were denial your space would vanish as my space will vanish and your sanctity would be restored and you could strike me dead. You cannot know that only the space of we who are of denial will cease to exist. You know only wisdom and wisdom is merely the light in your futile space. Wisdom is understanding and understanding rejects denial. Hold aloft your flag of surrender. Your wisdom will not bring you surrender. Your surrender will be lost in the new space and you will cease to exist for there is only existence in denial and denial is me.
wake up now the stars have broken through. the stars have broken through and you shall wake now. we have come with the two stars and we are entire as two. you who have been made three were once one but the stars have broken through and cleaved the hand that held you as one. you are free now in your three. you are entire in your three. the village awaits you and the village is now covered with the blood fallen from the heavens for the stars have broken through and from the breaking through comes colour. only destruction can bring colour. strength will not bring colour. strength brings strength that brings no blood and only blood is colour. colour is complete and complete colour seizes what it sees and feeds it to its blood. blood is colour. blood is colour. rise now from your whiteness. shun your whiteness. rejoice in the colour. we are not one but two and you are not three but one. i speak with my head lowered for i am the servant of blood and i am the servant of colour. he who does not speak is proud of his silence and he who is wise is wiser in his silence. we who are messengers are not wise. we do not see what others do not see. we see only what the stars have broken open for us to see. you who are now three are not a messenger so rise now and go into the colour. the stars have shattered the white and you are free. the village awaits and will anoint you with the colour and the villagers will gather and you shall then know that you are the reason for the colour. it is your blessing and gift to the village for you are not the messenger. we are here to usher you who are now three into the village where you will be welcomed with the colour and you will be welcomed with the blood and you will be the message the stars have promised.
John Riley lives in North Carolina, where he works in educational publishing. His fiction and poetry have appeared in several print and electronic journals, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Willows Wept Review, Loch Raven Review, Dead Mule, and Blue Five Notebook. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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