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Shadows

 David Sparenberg
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 David Sparenberg
Shadows
by David Sparenberg  FollowFollow
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David Sparenberg is a poet-playwright, actor, primarly Shakespearean, stage director, storyteller. His literary work has appeared in over 100...read more print periodicals and journals, a few ezines as well, and he was a regular contributor to THE TRUMPETER, a deep ecology journal out of Victoria, for years. Presently doing some performance work for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, the author was formerly a 20 year resident of Seattle and visitor to Vancouver. He has a play dealing with cancer as an environmental epidemic that an independent filmmaker in Montreal will be making a film version of in the coming months. Creative information on David Sparenberg can be obtained at http://dsOfferings.blogspot.com SHADOWS is part of a now being published book entitled PLAY for An American Activist Theatre, autographed copies of which can be obtained from David at EarthArtsTurtleIsland@yahoo.com, and any persons seeking to produce the play for performance should contact David for permission.
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Shadows
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SHADOWS
a theater trial of one act in five scenes

To the spirit of Aeschylus and the ever evolving heritage of Athenian democracy

Cast of Characters:
Hunchback
Crippled Dancer
Bound Woman
Extra Dancers

Special Note: Because the speaking parts are lengthy and the language is emotionally and intellectually rich, a director might decide to double the cast—a Hunchback and his Other, a Crippled Dancer and her Other, a Bound Woman and her Other—alternating opportunities in recognition of the substantial demands, if not as an act of mercy on individual skill and memory.

Dances: Dance of Fear (to Figlio Perdato, music by Beethoven—Allegretto, Symphony 7—performed by Sarah Brightman)
Dance of All Betrayals (to Lost Unto This World by Emmylou Harris)
Dance of the Damned in the Hour of Judgment (to Sinner Man performed by Nina Simone)

Incidental Music: Sound of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel

Physical Properties: Six banners on poles, three chairs and three demon masks

A different banner is help up, paraded and shown the audience at the beginning of each scene, as indicated in the text.. Players will regularly occupy the chairs when not speaking or physically performing. Players will occasionally don the masks of their respective demons. However, masks should not be worn during any of the speaking parts. But there is this similarity: each of the masks is topped with a crown of thorns. The demons thereby are represented as expressions of torment.

SCENE I

All players are on stage. Bound woman will speak, followed by the display of the first banner.

Bound Woman (BW): PREAMBLE & APOCALPYSE AMERICA
In the beginning… slavery and wars: …America. Wars against the indigenous populations, the Indians, the Indian Wars, in New England, the South East, out across the O-hi-o, down along the arterial Mississippi, over the sky towering Rockies and across the Great Plains to the Far West, -Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph headlong for Canada-, deep to the red stone sun and colored dry sands of Southwest-, Mengas Coloradas, Cochise, Geronimo,- the wars against First Nations, the People, the Indian Wars; two wars against Mother England and pre-industrial Father Time; a Civil War that took more American lives than all other American wars combined, except, of course, the Injun Wars, the genocide in the soil we feed from; a war or two with Imperial Spain and colonial Mexico, and two, big, total wars in Europe and wide across the blue yonder of the Pacific, meaning peace, against Nippon, Japan—internment camps here at home and looking backward, Andersonville, the world’s first concentration camp—then Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; wars in Central American, more Indian Wars, and the Caribbean, the West In-dies, wars against peoples of color, the poorest of the earth, Somalia, harvesting the legacy of slavery, then the war in Kuwait, between Sadaam and the Bush gang, oil war northwest of Bethlehem, with the flyover massacre on the Highway of Death-, you gardens of Babylon, the Hanged Man fell from your deck and now the invasion of Soviet ravaged Afghanistan, and now the invasion of sanctioned Iraq… nuclear tank shells and tactical nuclear campaigns: America. In 200 and 30 odd years of nationhood, from sea to cluttered sea, a hell of a lot of bloodletting, winnowing shot and violent death, for a country with high principles but low dealings, of pride that is too often arrogance and shame that breeds pandemic viruses in the fearsome flesh of aggression, and casts in terror’s terms of state a giant shadow; napalm, bunker busters, and a smiling face -from Outer Space to Abu Grebe, from Bunker Hill to Wounded Knee, from gun shots ringing out across the world to Watts in flames and ghetto hells, from the Tet offensive and Khe Sanh to the siege of Sadr City and you and I, citizens of the red, white and blue, and the melting pot of the republic, gridlocked on the endless Trail of Tears, in this flawed, staggering and in our end-days violated and betrayed democracy, conceived in wars and bitter slavery, slavery! I have said it more than once and headed, at lightning, break neck speed, toward spiritual death -o Jesus in a money box! give us your poor, your oppressed, your down trodden hungering, and we will plant them, sons and daughters patriotically in Arlington rows, in the seedbeds of counter revolutions, roots torn from memory, in junk heaps and garbage dumps of greed, in the nightmares of this collective dream and the bone-yard-ash of Apocalypse O- let  freedom ring! in the crucifixion of everyman’s right- life, liberty, in pursuit of this Earth place, this audacity …America

First Banner is now displayed, reading OPENING ARGUMENT

Hunchback (HB): Look at us and remember: a hunchback, a crippled dancer, a bound woman. And our imaginary friends, the demons of violence and despair.

Blank air. Blank space. Blank wall.

We are antithetical people, losers, the others who cohabit with you, who occupy the margins of your world, who populate the nightmare fringes of your public dreams. Our territory grows; our numbers increase. Imagine a future with a majority of shadows, of wounded waifs, twisted mutants, social misfits and mistakes.

Hookers, degenerates, drug addicts, alcoholics, sociopaths, schizophrenics—mental escape artists, emotional dwarfs. Imagine us as we are. You are the doctors, the Frankensteins, we are but patchwork creatures: shadows.

Blank air. Blank space. Blank wall.

Some of you sitting in this audience now identify with us. Some of you are shocked that we exist at all. Maybe there are even a few guilty here who seek repentance, without confession of course, or who are seething to know how far we will go in our narrating the stories of our misadventures.

Binswanger wrote, “If you want to know the future of a society, study its criminals.” If you want to know the secrets of a society, study the victims of its crimes. Blank air. Blank space. Blank wall, wall.

The higher, most difficult, more radical, defiant ethos for a time of trauma, terror, torment, goes something like this:

In this world in which the monstrous is encouraged to become ordinary, an ethic of the unpleasant emerges—emerges as a form of rebellion, when those who will speak of the unspeakable and resist the intolerable take a stand and dare to suffer, aware of the undeserved suffering of others, because of otherness, over that which we, individually and collectively, did not do.

This ethic may be the same as attempting to scale a vertical mountain of razored glass, or to climb a place of skulls and carrion tidbits, bone shards, or even of being crucified because others are hanging on the cross of oppression and dying from the cruelty of the inhuman. But who would dare? Who would dare to do this, to take up this lacerating burden of noble suffering? Noble, in an era of mobocracy and corporate gangsterism! This suffering upon which the humanness of our humanity hangs: writhing, bleeding, dreaming an impractical, scarcely possible, dream.

The alterity—the alternative chosen by indifference or enforcement of injustice—is betrayal. Betrayal is multidimensional. It reaches as high as the stars and beyond, as wide as the horizons, as deep as the psychotic fantasies of hell: Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Darfur, Iraq. It bleeds through and implants complex stains of self-repeating viruses of destruction and death.

Weigh it and measure. Betrayal, or this radical attempt, through resistance and rebellion, at solidarity emerging out of pain. Out of an ethic of the unpleasant countering the undeserved, relentlessly in pursuit of a democratizing response. A campaigning conflict of refining and responsible compassion, carried on until individual beatitudes flourish and replace the private and public politics of cruelty, vulgarity, neglect, deception, betrayal.

Blank air. Blank space. I would say, blank wall. Prison walls. Patterns. Patterns of madness. Patterns of denial. Patterns of betrayal.

Here then is our opening argument—an argument put forward by shadows, misfits, rejects, by the deformed and the dysfunctional. From here we move forward to present evidence by way of heightened testimony. No verdict can be reached; no psychodrama attain the gestalt of catharsis and transformation; without evidence. Without hearing that which is hushed into silence and viewing that which is hidden from polite public view.

Look at us, remember: a self mutilating crippled dancer, a mad bound woman, a crucified hunchback. The ensemble of grotesque star witnesses. And both defense and prosecution. But you, you are the jury. You are the ones who will carry decisions with you beyond these doors of symbolic presentation and serious pretending. For now, let us shape this space to the purpose of drama. We do but play act at that which is too real, that which goes unaddressed, that which we also are. Thus we are prepared—to insert here a quotation from ecopsychologist Andy Fisher commenting on Freud’s most terrifying observation—prepared, that is, to expose you to and wound you also with some of the myriad shapes and faces; and here I quote; of “the demonic terror hidden in the depth of the modern mind behind the façade of consciousness.” The “as if” of our trial takes us from the propaganda of civilization into the problematic of normalcy; from

the bright light of entertainment and commerce, to the dim shadow lands of betrayal and death. Within the spectrum of violence it is not color that registers most—it is darkness.

Blank air. Despair. Anxiety. Angst. Desperation. Blank space. Incarceration. Blank wall. Blank wall.

SCENE II

Second banner is displayed, reading DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEX CRIMES, PEDOPHILIA.

Crippled Dancer (CD): CRIPPLED DANCER MONOLOGUE & THE TALE OF RIVER MONEKEYS

Since childhood I have had a gripping and crippling fear of moving before others. Moving, I dare say, with simple, unguarded directness, with a sort of natural flow; going legato; with any bit of genuine, spontaneous, unrestricted animation; like dancing. Like a bird in the grace of flight, a fish swimming, a flower flowering, or liberating laughter, or free, free unconscious play. Even with a bit of warmth, a modest hint of sensuality. I mean, just being sensually visible as a woman in a public space. It’s hard! It’s hard! But I am trying to overcome my strange, suffocating disability; this malediction I have and call my God-convulsion. I am practicing right now. Although it is perpetually dark around me, I imagine I am illuminated, even inwardly luminous, delicately sheltered inside of a subtle something only I can see. Like a bubble of yellow pollen. Only when the ecstasy comes on, how I wish it was not so strong, so violent, leaving me knocked out, afterward in a coma!

But see: I step out of my hiding. Even now, I step out. I step out. I detach myself from the shadows and step out. Or do I?

The CD moves in various ways, physically enacting the contractions contained in her words; achieving minor successes, stricken and aware of recurring failures.

CD: Recently I had a striking thought. I thought that my fear is the fear the timid have from the lurking nearness of an animal of prey; the helplessness before a powerful aggressor the weak fall into, cowering in dread of the big, the threatening, the savage. Does that make any sense? Are my perceptions abnormal or can we communicate? I mean, I feel the way hunted creatures tense up, freeze and push themselves stiffly and ever so cautiously into an opening, suspecting, suspecting as we rightly do that somewhere out there, spying, calculating, brooding in an obsessive blood-lust, is the predator, the monster, the camouflaged bogyman. Do you understand? Can you feel me? Please do not touch. Stay away! Stand back. I am speaking of the one who attacked and took. The one who will always attack and take again. You know who I mean: the unsuspected family terrorist, the friendly next door neighbor, the school teacher, the priest, the police officer, the occasionally visiting, humorous relative. Wolves in sheep’s clothing: Bah!  Bah! Bah!

CD falls into momentary narcolepsy before continuing.

Still, still I am trying, trying hard, struggling in all directions to discover or recover my movement, my courage, my ordinary, my innocence—skin, flesh, bones, skin and bones. Only it is hard. It is hard. It hurts! And I am only always, always, always like a sleepwalker in a bad dream, attempting to dance my way out of the sticky darkness and into the light of life. But I am only a small shadow in a vast shadow land of large shades, phantoms and darkly breathing fears.

When the darkness began to descend upon the forest, the wolf appeared among the trees, the elf king’s brood rode rough and wild upon the wind, the moon came up and a spot of blood shown in one of his hollow eyes. And the wolf said, “Where are you going Little Red Riding Hood? I will eat you up!”

The Dance of Fear is performed here to the Figlio Perdato. After the dance, the CD moves her chair down stage, sits like a child, and resumes speaking.

CD: When I was small, Uncle, my father’s big, big brother—the one with the pitted face and the eyes that followed everywhere, even when half closed; who had an unclean, nauseating order and often, I remember, would sweat profusely and all to easily; who smelled of diseased semen and whose hands were heavy and hairy and nervous… When I was little, a little girl, like a rose bud that had not yet blossomed, my Uncle used to tell me a story. He always told it while standing over me, so that the shadow of his big man covered my tiny face and body, my child hands, which I would later cry into and squeeze painfully, as if desperate to be saved from the night by a prayer.

Afterward, when his scary story was ended, Big Uncle would take me onto his knee. His knee was hard and intrusive, pushing against me, dancing me up and down, while he laughed and I felt him. You know, grow reptilian with lust.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away; a strange and cursed place where nobody spoke and the sun never thawed the frozen limbs of trees and leaves, or blades of grass; there lived a beautiful fairytale princess. The name of the princess was Forever Young, or Desiree, or Ever Hurting, and she was the love-slave of the evil god who ruled the Island of Lost Souls.

But that is not the story Uncle told. This is: The voice of the CD could here become more masculine and raspy, imitating that of the original storyteller.

“In nightly recurring dreams,” Good Uncle would begin, his half hushed voice like darkly seductive gravel pouring slowly into the hollow of a steel drum; the bitter aftertaste of cigarettes stale on his tongue; “the river monkeys remember the crocodile’s teeth. Their bodies shiver, tremble with fear, twitch convulsively as they suppress screams, uttering pitiful little staccato moans. If a monkey should fall from the branch of a river bank tree, nightmare memories might become nightmare reality. The violent crunching, swishing of flesh and bone; the glazed eyes of swiftly gathering death: a fatal, fearful déjà vu. Horror’s bloody and most primal scene! Because of this, nights are tense and uneven, and there is much insomnia. Try to feel, niece, the terror of slither over sand, scales over micro-crystals, and the reek of hissing reptilian breath.

“A tail of a river monkey wrapped around the branch of a riverside tree at night; the lurking fantasies of croco-demons; is an anxious rope, which might decide the coming of the morning light. Shadowy between slow motion and the blink of a cold eye, the penetrating stare of web footed death waits. Monkeys are light sleepers and those who are not, missy, fall. Worse still, far worse, child: a river monkey who chatters in her dreams, slips and does not live to tell of it again.”

Good Uncle sometimes would say; his voice sounding like splintered glass shivering in the blood of naked exposed flesh, using language to scratch and cut: “Come here, girl. Sit on Uncle’s lap. Let the old croc hunter protect you, small and tenderly innocent as you are. Don’t be a chatterbox. Keep silent and no harm comes. Soon enough Good Uncle will ride you away from the ugly river and its nasty things that hurt and haunt.”

Hushed, utterly stilled in the gathering dim of twilight, imagination’s river Styx splashing in my inner ear, frequently I slip into the anguish of sleeping primates who routinely perish from nightmare nausea and vertigo. The blood of dreams of river monkeys, like poisoned fog contagious with disease, hovering, encroaching along the riverbank, sometimes troubles my heart at night. I am especially afraid when winds knock about and I feel myself going numb with eerie cold. There, again, I am small and young, forever young. And ever after: small, helpless, exposed, and old.

SCENE III

Third banner is displayed, reading TORTURE, RAPE, TERROR

Bound Woman (BW): BETRAYAL

Two people had the same experience. It was the experience of mature, responsible freedom. It was the experience of the voice of the God of life, whispering… whispering in commonplace human terms. A revelation! For this, they were arrested. For this, they were detained against their wills and tortured. Together—and yet sequestered in terrifying isolation—they disappeared from ordinary existence. From routines and habits. From friends and family, work and household. From everyday sight. From recognition. From mention. From everything except a certain invisibility in the historical convolutions of Hell.

Two people. Named Abraham and Sarah, Mohammed and Khadija, Joseph and Mary, Jose and Maria. Two people: two. Like Eve, life’s mother. Like Adam, the gardener, the twilight-walker, the initial concept of a man: God’s man

One of them, the male, succumbed to pain and indignities. He died with the stammering bruise of a mystery on his lips. He died discolored and swollen. Under the hand prints and foot prints of intimate strangers.

The other of the two, of the couple, the female, she said, “Yes. Yes, I understand now. Before was a critical error in judgment, when I was under a foreign influence. It was a kind of disease, an emotional disorder, a sort of shared hallucination. That is what I would call it: a shared hallucination. Such things are aberrant, immoral, but they happen. It’s pathetic and disruptive, and it needs to be corrected. Honestly, I needed help; I was quite desperate. The authorities were absolutely right in intervening. Intervention was socially responsible. To the State. To the People. To Progress. The Party. And”… A hesitation. A lingering, uneasy silence, with shallow, rapid breathing. A lapse into momentary uncertainty, exposing the indelible scars of trauma. Then: “I am grateful. I can now return to normal, productive life. Today, and today, and today, I am again a valuable citizen.”

Later, the survivor walked away from the anus of Satan on her discolored and swollen legs, with the pain and indignity of serial violation aching between her thighs. In the ruined womb of the future. In the barren plot of the soul and… To a neighbor she confided, flatly: “I loved Jose; I loved Abraham; I loved my visionary Mohammed: But I will never, never be able to forgive him. I tell you privately, in a secret confession, in the broken weight of my stone of life: I feel betrayed.”

HB: NEW REIGN OF TERROR

The bullet from the terrorist gun, manufactured anywhere in the industrial world, has your name on it. Sometime during your life time, it may end your life. End you without warning. When the bullet rips into your flesh, it will already be stained with the blood of others murdered before you. But this is Russian roulette. At some point, your number is up.

The terrorist's car bomb, aggressively thirsting for the blood of your children, will again explode. At detonation, the razors of shrapnel, flying like butcher's knives through the viscid sweetness of honey, through soft tissue of butter, will bear, with flaming metals of hatred's heroes, the DNA of other kids, dismembered before your own. Perhaps of those on the second school bus? The bus that went the detour and reached the intersection at the moment of settling a score.

Research scientists have gathered evidence that at some time in the immensely distant prehistoric past the human species was reduced to no more than some 2,000 members, this due to cataclysmic planetary changes. These ancestral survivals of draught, famine and climate change scattered into small bands. Only gradually, over many generations, did their descendants begin coming together into larger and more organized collectives. This process continues until this day when our species swarms over the Earth and has grown, bearing threat and trauma, to an astronomical 6.6 billion.

If the scientific evidence is correct then we are truly all related, not only biologically, but familiarly as well. And as extended family, we breathe, eat, sleep, play in sexual intercourse and fantasies, defecate, aspire to ecstasy, descend into sadism, narcissism and hatred, wound, bleed, cry, scream, kill, rage and die.

There can be no doubt that humanity is a family in crisis. Earth is in crisis too. There can be no doubt that hatred is spreading faster than love, fueled by the black liquid apostles of reptilian memories. Will we go down as victims of the dinosaurs' revenge? We will go down despite the tenacity of forgotten, common ancestors? There can be no doubt that we are going down.

But what the hell! What the hell, I say. Other generations have suffered through boils and bouts of plaguing madness. Yet we continue to appeal to something outside of ourselves. As if there were some public conscience after the individual witness has been dismissed. Is this because we prefer casting blame elsewhere and would remain addicted to our moral adolescence? Or might it be, even on the rarest occasion, due to a shadowy and midnight haunting of a philosophy of inquiry—a radical dedication to lacerating questions and resistance to the politics of satisfying answers?

Civilization is about covering and it covers two realities: the cruelties of its own barbarism and the asking of subversive questions.            

Thus, the Death Squads of state terrorism are always hunting. Worse than a pack of marauding wolves, they are constantly on the lookout for a fresh kill. For someone to rip and tear, and sink their sharp teeth into. If they have not yet reached you, don't feel secure, don't relax; don't think that you are forgotten. Believe me, you are not forgotten. In an hour before dawn, you can hear then pounding on the door of a stranger, on one street over from your own, somewhere at a distance, in the country of oppression, in the land of occupation. Where bodies are routinely dumped like sacks of garbage. When they reach your house—because who dares to call any place the safety of a home?—they will drag your family from sleeping beds. Some will be shot then, while others wait and are forced to watch. This is no time to be a woman, with that hollow jewelry tucked between the thighs. Certainly this is no time to be a child, unless a child is born blind or brainless, or already addicted to mayhem and mass murder.

When the Satan's fire devouring the sky; and yes, the sky is falling and yes, there is a progressive, unfolding apocalypse in pandemic, cumulative motion—such and such an hour in Iraq, such and such a time of death in Darfur; when the hell fire and brimstone tick-tock down like decimating excrement from a screaming fighter jet, marked with the insignia of a terrorist nation, don't pretend that you are waiting for a late arriving starship to whisk you away to another galaxy. Don't start making excuses. That falling fire is planning a barbeque and you too are invited. Even should you refuse your invitation, your refusal will not be accepted. Do you really believe that when death burns down from heaven the arsonist cares who is on the ground? But tell me, since you are likely fond enough of animals roasted, how do you think human flesh smells through the chimneys of history, or when grilled on a highway stretching half way across a radioactive desert? What is the odor of burnt offering? Of holocaust of civilians—in military jargon: collateral damage?

There can be no doubt that what the political bosses tell us about terror, terrorism and terrorists—that they have no conscience, no boundaries or borders and can and will strike anywhere from anywhere, day or night—that all of this is true. And that the truth is damning. Does this then mean that a truth seeker is a terrorist? Or whoever joins the game loses by the exacting nature of the game? Does this condition render the odd man out, the peacemaker, no better than a daydreaming fool? Go and make peace with yourself, if you believe in the power of confession! When there was something you could have done, you did nothing. When it still did not touch you, skin for skin, as the adversary sneeringly says.

You know, even a democracy, turned to empire, with its head screwed backward and regurgitating the propaganda of possession, can excuse the terrorist tactics of torture and mass murder. And you know too (or do I really need to remind you?) that the one thing that all victims have in common is silence. Terrorists fornicate with the whore of silence, birthing Legion and genocide into the world. And there can be no doubt that this is a time of cursing, an age of violence, a new reign of terror, when catastrophe compounds catastrophe. And the death count is broadcast in the daily news.

But what the hell! What the hell, I say. Other generations have suffered and survived their nightmares of psychosis. And since the messiah has already come and gone, leaving us instead with cadres and battalions of heavily armed men, who remains to turn to, to drive the devils out?

If the defining choice of complicity has not yet reached you—to join one camp or another, or to continue as a designated target of any and all—wait, your choosing will not forsake you. It is coming around. Darkness is descending. How hard everywhere is the fall; how harrowing the grisly howl! Terror stretches out in every direction. It hunkers down in the unknown and drinks the cold sweat of fear.

There can be no doubt that we are all in the valley of the shadow and evil is no stranger to us. Only we are without a psalm. Our eyes are wild with anxiety. Our hearts beating so hard they are about to explode.

SCENE IV

Fourth banner displayed, reading ORGANIZED CRIME, WAR, GENOCIDE

BW: If people suffer lies and corruption at the top, then there will be lies and corruption throughout. And the people will be impoverished. If people suffer from organized violence, from the politics of criminal intent, from on high, then there will be violence in the dark streets and alleyways and behind closed doors in ghettos, suburbs and affluent escapes. Nowhere will there be safety. No community will dwell in peace. And blood will run wild. This is the law governing injustice and it remains binding so long as the people invest their authority in hierarchies of power.

What if you are lied to and commit murder, thinking you are acting in self defense? Once the lie is exposed, are you guilty of murder? What if it is mass murder, or genocide? What is the magnitude of national guilt? And what if the pattern of deception, cupidity and acceptance, if not participation in crimes against humanity, or crimes against creation, is repeated from one generation to the next? There is a negative critical mass about violence and at some point entropy consummates and life is sucked down into the black hole of crimes committed in the names of those who merely stood by and did neither good nor evil.

Remember: Ludwig Binswanger wrote, “If you want to know the future of a society, study its criminals.” If you want to know the secrets of a society—the ways in which its citizens sleepwalk their lives through death’s dream kingdom, death’s man made nightmares—study, empathize with the victims of that society’s crimes.

HB: AN EXORCISM (During his recitation of this portion, the Hunchback assumes the role of a Catholic priest and delivers his lines as if performing Mass. The others pray at his sides, one in the traditional manner of Jews, the second in the traditional manner of Muslims.)

This is an exorcism.
And it is said
for the angry and anguished dead
who are not departed.

This is an exorcism.
And it is said
over the barracks and ashen plots
of Auschwitz.

This is an exorcism.
And it is said
over the powdered bones
and the melted organs
of Hiroshima.

This is an exorcism.
And it is said
behind the choking voice
of common dignity
and before
the smoking battlefronts
of the inhuman heart.

These are words to release
ghettos of ghosts
from the silence
of endless torments. From
life’s madness.

These are words
to release
and to protect us
from the silence
of crimes committed
in the names of our sons
and our fathers.

This is an exorcism.
It must be said
every place
a hand has clutched
and every place
a tooth has bitten.
To be repeated, year after year,
between
the holy graveyards of heaven
and the killing fields on earth.

This is an exorcism.
And it is said for them
and for us.
For those who have fallen
under the heavy scythe of war.
And for those who await
the season of slaughter.

CD: Do you want to know what war is, what it really is, without the hype, the spin, the propaganda; what it is at the ground level, at Ground Zero, from a woman’s experience? Well whether you want to know or not, I intend to tell you. And it is very simple, really very simple indeed; naked, immediate. Two examples from the recent news, both from the most current theatre of atrocity: Iraq. First a remark from a young mother in Baghdad, April 12, 2007: “After a long silence, the women answered: "The most important thing that anyone could do would be to help collect the bodies that line the streets in front of our homes every morning. No one dares to touch them, but for us it is unbearable to have to expose our children to such images every day as we try to bring them to school."

“After a long silence…” How long do you imagine her silence was? A life time long? A war time? Long enough to enter eternity and rankle in the heartache of the betrayed God of love? The second example comes from an older woman whose house had collapsed as a result of US military shelling and she had three daughters and a son buried in the rubble. Injured herself, elder mom, whose name is Um Aziz, told a Western reporter, April 27, 2008: “Let the Americans listen: If they kill all of our men, we will fight them. We: the women and children. And if they take our weapons, we will fight them with stones and knives.”

The old mother went on and added: “I don’t want any reparations from the government. I want my revenge from God.” From what God? From the God of wounded mothers, of motherless children? The God who breeds hatred from generation to generation, who plots vengeance? Does God have power to exact justice when humanity gives up its moral power to the political gangsters and corporate practitioners of the inhuman?

This then is what war is and what war does, to the dead as well as to the living. All of the rest, about honor and heroics, the ultimate sacrifice and glory, is nothing but cover up, so that those who survive the killing and presume victory can excuse themselves from participation in acts of atrocity: of organized crime and mass murder.

BW: THANKSGIVING DAY
The Lord God descended.
There was a house,
the house was on fire.
Tears from the eyes
of the Holy of Holies
hissed in the crackling
rage of conflagration.
Blood dripped down
from the wings of angels.

Earth is not heaven;
hell is not far
from the tips of our fingers.

The living Lord God
erupted and said:

"I am Auschwitz
and you are ashes.
I am Hiroshima
and you are dust.
I am extinction
and you are the malicious
toys of oblivion.
I am death today
but you are death’s
tyranny of tomorrow.”

The Doomsday clock is ticking,
friend. Midnight
is the renunciation of God in
annihilation of the generations of Adam;
in the massacre of the children of
Hava – a name (Eve) meaning life.

The one who invented
The Bomb – the “A”
for Apocalypse Bomb-
inverted the flowering of consciousness;
shaped humanity into billowing fungus.

The pyromaniac
behind the petroleum of global warming
mocks the venerable
linage of Prometheus. Behold! The dwarf
of greed is gargantuan and ensanguined.
  
Earth… o Earth!
Earth is not heaven.
Hell is not far
from the tripping of our tongues.
  
Confess this much:
We are liars.

The Lord God
falls in black rain;
we grow in
blood thorns covering halos. Blood
drips down from the candles of angels,
the light of their eyelashes splattered with misery.
Prayers are obscured
by the obscenity of war.

Earth… Earth…
O mother of mercy!
Sweet Dove of Now
the pornography
of burnt offering.
Rabbi! Rabbi!  Love’s treasury, my
Adonai…
As I lean into your embrace,
where are we? Land of lost?
The street corner? The kingdom?

Earth is not heaven; Eden
the promise of the covenant
of bereavement, broken.
Hell is not far
from the crimes in our names.

What are our wishes?
The fragments, the char-bones,
of our abandoned dreams?

Confess this much:
We have become conjugal
with the angel of death.

The Lord God descended,
crying, like a wounded lion,
like an orphaned lamb,
for the dove of peace.
The whole Earth was in flames.
The dove found no place
to build the nest of Eden. The beatitude
of God was pain. And the pain,
that suffering,
is inconsolable. November 22
Thanksgiving Day, 2007.
A national holiday:

a day to give thanks for
extravagance
ignorance,
gluttony. The victory
of madness over sanity. Victory
of the politics of death!

HB: AMONG THE DAMNED (Performed as if by a pilgrim reflectively lingering by the wayside during sojourn through Dante’s INFERNO. Spotlight, if available, is appropriate. The mood-image is that of one stricken, huddled, wrapped in a cloak.)

My valley of tears. Please do not forgive us for our sins. We are undeserving of forgiveness. We, who cannot, will not stop committing crimes. Orchestrating atrocities. My fountain of innocent blood, do not condemn us utterly, die of us and leave us dead. Although we are the source of our own evil; although we act in nightmarish sleep. Man is also anti-man.

Even if only a small candle sheds its pale, flickering flame of light in the vast, abysmal death camp of darkness, the satanic escarpment, do not; o tree of blood, bough of tears; do not forgive us either in our madness or abandon us. We are unworthy of one, undeserving the other. We have gone under. Yet, for the sake of a tiny candle, show us something—prophesy in a slipstream voice—something, anything. A sigh. A whisper. A whimper. A moan.

Bruise us bodily and break our hearts—o break our hearts rudely—you roots, you branches, you suffering, silent outreach of mystery. Sluice. And sea. And tide pools. Origin. And source. Deep in the density of our shells of evil, our deco-pod destiny: stored is the image. And the likeness. And the soul. Man is also…more.

Now tree of life: guide us in the Tao of freedom. Share with us some molecules of at-onement, childlike. Even if only a mirror, or the angel of the morn in robes of rosy dawn. Choral, supernal. But do not perish before our wickedness. Do not die of us.

Do not be clement either. Or solicitously merciful. While we, pretentious and cruel, are cruel. Listen! Listen! Listen! There is screaming in every near-distance, in the riddled corners. And the odor of murder rises above the clouds. Feel it. Feel it in your senses, pre-consciously, in your pores. The Quasimodo of moral deformity. The conceit. The inhumanity. Man is fallen. We… we are the ruins of catastrophe and bear the burdens of guilt upon our crooked backs.

O: my valley of blood, my fountain of wretchedness, my forgetfulness, my forgotten, my drizzling tears…my nothingness!

Somewhere between taut extremities, signifying intensity of our impending rupture, our “broken,” trick us all at once, together, into finding ourselves as never found before. Eureka! See how late it is. How far gone the season and this day. The hour. Look.

Quite possibly, the sun that bleeds will never awaken or arise again. And even the dead, ghosts who drink at the pools of our memories, are anxious to escape here. If you stay, be heavy handed; drive home. Until we feel the hurting thorns that now define us. These camps, with armed guard, are permanent. And more elaborate than the rings of Dante’s Hell. Inferno: time’s cage for burning. Here, I am a dove among the damned.

Forgive only those who, in their nakedness, are not splattered with a brother’s blood. As blessed, indeed, are the peacemakers. The remnant of our kind are pell-mell thrown into the scales of justice. And cannot be loved or redeemed, or love or feel loved beyond their own repentance.

Let every living one of us then look, caringly, to the purity of the soul. If it cannot be offered back as crimeless as was given, indeed, it is time to hide. And where will you run to? And where, mass homicide, will you hide?

Blessed the dove that descends; the heart that is broken. Golden, ethereal violin, strung with soul-strings thin, plays out its captive, plaintive song. More so, in the blackness where the troubles gather, the accusers, the bombs of thunder. And the raging cries of those at war.

“Do you not know wayfarer what place we have come to and the orifice before which, in frozen terror, we must pass?” The first evil is for lying, the second for acceptance. Beyond this, there is oil…and blood….

Dance of the Damned is performed here to SINNER MAN by Nina Simone, up to as much as 7:24 minutes of the recorded track.

CD: CHILD OF DARFUR

You explain it, in the eyes of a child, how children are born into this slaughterhouse world and here is hunger and war; here is neglect and pain, thirst and famine, hatred, crime and abandonment. But a child is just a child, a miracle happening in a season of play. But pain is bigger than children. Fear is bigger. Wounds in the heart where blood paints heart shapes; mind blown skulls. Death.

You explain that

if a child can understand the inhuman, then I can understand how madness is a mother of children who breastfeeds nations and murder

murder is a father’s breath, casting shadows of phantoms—being men in armed uniforms—onto the hiding places, the secret treasuries, the dream incubations, of God.

Child Faces.

But if a child can explain

your, our, the adult explanation back to me, to us and still be a child, in the trance-dance of innocence, and look back at life with children’s eyes, wide with wonder; images of a dove taking flight out of a palmed clod of clay or angel walking dream waters, being a fisher of salvation for drowning souls—for

heavy malice is corruption, dry, the husk, the waste, the crown of thorns stabbing the heart and war the fires of hell; then I too

will feel no pain, no pain or shame, outrage or despair, no, no, no, no agony or down in my bowels where conscience shudders gut wrenching convulsions of anguish and disgust (rebellion is the first human, is body first, responsive flesh)… But I will conform too, compliantly shut up, be withered as well, normal and withdraw into desiccation

silent as stone when storms break over this Earth of homelessness. Rags of living refuse; refuge. Refugees. Victims. O loaves! O fishes! How vast the multitudes in the lands of possession where demons, devils, shape-shift into us! How overwhelming, brethren! Sisters!

People, there is terror. There is terror and terrorism. There are armies; there are terrorists: legions, armies of terrorists. There is horror. There are vampires, ghouls. There are monsters, psychotics, psychopaths, politicians, profiteers. War. And there is Death. Death unbound. DEATH in all caps. Death and children. Death as direction, death at horizons. But a child

a child would slip away, would sail off to find the Spirit House of God, where loved ones lay dreaming, where love is collectively asleep. O Gautama! O Lord Jesus! New baby Moses in a basket of trust

on this plagued Nile of tears and trouble. Sorrows, brethren, sorrows! Woe! Now who’s gonna save us? Who’s gonna save us now, we who slay the flesh of tomorrow? Blood. Ashes. Drought.

Famine. Howling—Dust.

Darkness, brethren. Witness, sisters. Portents: Dark descending. Dread of dark. Savage sun setting, furious, over all the earth at one and the same hour. One and the same… Imagine!

Come near. Prophesy. Explain infanticide, explain state sponsored crime. Marauding, wild dogs of Golgotha, the dog-men who chew bones of life, sacred gone mad, and the venomous swarm of our insects of war. But you, you and I, verify soullessness. Explain

dare, tell it, clarify. Turn genocide into a shape that will not haunt for generations. What can, what does, it mean to say, as we stand apart, like statues of narcissism in death’s garden of guilt, mute and surrounded by networks of mass graves? To say Mass. To mouth words. Liturgy: Child. Elliot’s Hollow Men. Nietzsche’s Last Man. Go! Tell the betrayed of Africa: “The hyenas are praying. The scavengers of slaughter are the gods of money and war.” Shout it out:

Child of Darfur!

BW: CRUCIFIED CHILDREN (In a mood of urgency, religious fervor and despair, yet as if reciting a rosary. This segment must be performed with restrained intensity, so as to bring the audience to breathless tears. The words are an anxious breathing pattern, a spiraling ascent that breaks at the end into an emotional crescendo.)

Santa Marie
Jesus our Angel
Son of a Human
Virgin Madonna
Red Rose
White Lotus
Crown of Thorns

Field of Crosses
Mohammad Mouthpiece
Tongues of Apostles
Moses
Liberator of slaves

throughout the world
we are the blood-
crucified children
small
in these faces
mothered
as orphans
withered while tender
fired
in our greenness

San Angelo, little
San Angelo
child of wings
hurried to heaven

Jesus
the martyr
Red Rose
White Lotus
Lily of Crosses
Jesus
our scapegoat
stained with the murderous
Crown of Thorns

throughout a life time
we are the tattered
tattered and torn
pray for us often
tonight and tomorrow
souls in war’s exile
flaming Madonna
Seal of the Prophets
slaughtered
and slaughtering

Moses
the wanderer
Jesus
the orphan
hunger eternal
our Mother of Ashes
martyring angels
small
in these faces

O Santa
Maria, Santa Maria!
Mary the Virgin
Mary the Pregnant
Mary the Mother
Mary the Prophet
Abraham Father
Mohammad
our Witness
Jesus Blood Naked
nailed to men’s evils

O Santa Maria

Son of a Daughter
Mother of Sorrows
Crown
of Burned Roses
Crucified Children
weeping White Lotus
death in all places
pray for us
humans now
and hereafter
pray for us often

O Momma
Momma Maria

Dance of All Betrayals is performed here to LOST UNTO THIS WORLD by Emmylou Harris.

SCENE V

Fifth banner displayed, reading CLOSING ARGUMENT

BW: CIRCLE or a Stone Out of Heaven

Listen to this: a curious piece of writing, an anonymous parable, I believe, which I found in an obscure little book, discovered on a dusty shelf in a shadow inhabited second hand store. (She mimes opening a book and sometimes reading from her open palms.)

Now there comes to you one who appears no more than a beggar upon the roads, who says: "I bring a message of the Kingdom. If you will give me bread to eat and water to drink, and acceptance, that I might continue in the Circle of Life, I will share the gift of my soul—even the gift of a thousand suns in a single body of light.” Very likely, you smile and reply, "Yes, we will shut our eyes as in prayer, and listen, and take the gift." But your words will be misleading and your promises false offerings. Already you will have turned away, with darkness seeping out inside and malice casting a shadow over your heart, making it a hard heart, even as the closing of a fist.

For you are a great lover of comfort and the pretense of authority. And the beauty of the gift of the stranger secretly frightens you and threatens to blind your blindness and force you to see. How then can you claim you are one of the vessels of knowledge, a knower of truth and account yourself one of the children of blessing? God is more in the messenger than in the message. Even as evil does not work without a willful body, so the holy word does not reach out without a living face; without this voice of one who is present. God would have you live in a truth: All parts of the Circle are sacred.

You are hypocrites, believing to hide your deceit behind what you call your faith and your deceptiveness conceal beneath what you call compassion. Only your hypocrisy is seen, as you are seen through—even as the soul is aware of every injustice. How many sons of a human and daughters of a human being have come to you impoverished in their trust and unknown, and gone from you even poorer still and unknown? Like this, your dishonesty has already fallen as a stone out of heaven onto your head—even as a gravestone sealing the tomb of the living dead. This is the true meaning of judgment. For the stranger’s approach, in itself, is the Kingdom before you. And the gift of the living one is in pilgrimage with the beloved, in the guise of the unwanted.

You who presume to be leaders lead only within the comfort zone of security; therefore are you respectable and false. You who pretend to be healers in the spirit, but who trouble the spirit, are in urgent need of healing in commensality, and in the courage of humility. God would have you live in a truth: The Circle is round and without beginning or end. It is not for you to make straight lines and divisions, or to break apart what is round and whole.

Love of the anointed is the acceptance of the humanness of the human being—of any and every human being in his and her human vulnerability. It is a power of refinement and gentle nobility that forever stands in opposition to the gross, divisive, mechanical, inevitably destructive, imbalanced power of the world—not of the awe inspiring world of creation, which is not to be abandoned, but to the imposed and exploitative world of our making, which must be transformed, which must change; which must be changed to be believed in again and by belief made ordinary and as palpable as bread, as soil, as simple, sustaining and cleansing water.

You don't need to be a Christian to realize this power of resistance and transformation. Jesus; the quixotic, the rebel, the outrageous, the taboo breaker, Jesus, the resurrecting divine dream of eternal spring and gratitude and generosity; Jesus was not a Christian. But we do need to be into our humanness, into the vulnerability of the human who chooses freedom over slavery, the embrace of inclusive love over narcissism; of lovingkindness over that pride which is hubris and has hardened into arrogance for the preservation of the small self, the status quo, which carries in the folds of its constrictions the contagious viruses of death, the pandemic, the apocalypse of global extinction. Nationalism. Colonialism. Internationalism. A New World Order. Politics of betray.

Love of the anointed, contrarily, is acceptance. It is love that lives by the courage growing in the fields of humility. It is love underneath the learned layers of pretense and false presumptions. That is why the Kingdom is said to be “within us and between us.” That is why it is dangerous, in the way that true beauty is dangerous to those who profit from the art and politics of ugliness. From what do you profit? You do not have to be Christian to become this power and process, this non violent rebellion and commitment to change; to the moment of the emergence of a different way, of the mutuality of suffering, the democratization of restoration, the process of creatively setting free and the progress of spiritual evolution and compassion. Although once you do so become, once you enter fully, once you immerse yourself in the liberating symbolism of the waters Jordan, you emerge to walk Earth in the way of the messenger. And that, when all else is said and done, is what matters and what matters most. Then the dove of peace descends. The dialogue of God, as of a loving partner, a friend in communion with a friend, is once more opened and the hidden is revealed.

Such revelation is the news, the good tidings of transfixed time. Of peace now. Of justice triumphant. This revelation is the miracle of your new Heaven and your new Earth. Here and now, it is you, as you ever were, as you are to be. It is also truly you across from genuine me, with us gathered together in the Circle that is a circle without circumference; that is centered wherever there is centering; wherever centering is happening. Is centering happening now? Are we at the center here, in this place?

Hasten, hasten then before the one who is the testing of your heart and is turned away has vanished utterly, and confusion is the aftermath, and you no longer feel the echoing footsteps of your God; the impossible possibility; searching homelessly, nearly desolate, in the broken circle of the world. The world we did not necessarily make or even ask for, but which we must arise, again and again and again, to meet.”

Is not that parable, too, expression of the opening argument touching on an ethic of the unpleasant—of a voluntary mutuality of suffering which might, through transformations and transmutations, someday flower out of darkness into the prophetic promise of dreams, visions, beatitudes; a God possibility consummate with responsive and responsible human maturity?

Here the Bound Woman and Crippled Dancer exit, leaving the Hunchback on stage alone.

HB: THESE ARE THE WORDS

If you have traveled the long, perilous and deepening sojourn of experience, in the course and cycles of the rising sun and reflective moon of self-awareness, and have not too often stumbled into your shadow and have not too securely built the tabernacle of comfort and quitting from the weights of self-betrayal and the heavy waste of toxic darkness, you will understand what I am saying. These are the words—this, the closing argument.

When the outside is turned into the inside and the inside is pouring outward, so that the secret is no longer secret, the hidden is no longer hidden, and the male is put into the place of the female, the female put into the place of the male, and the eyes are exchanged for eyes, the hands are exchanged for hands, the feet are replaced by feet, and the tongue is inspirationally transformed into psalms of fire, that angels are seen from the words off the lips; and you have levitated from yourself even to your Self; then you will have entered the Kingdom of Heaven, and now discover your life here, as an Eden on this Earth. (1)

When you have gone into the psychedelic mirror of the waters Jordan and emerged through the scents of colors into the nimbus of the doves of an eternal rainbow, and have crossed the flowing symbolum of the river of love, to set foot upon the Promise Land—in that moment of moments, of uniqueness recurring and holographic with the budding potencies of eternity and blessing—you will meet yourself on the far bank of salvation, and the other within will walk out before you and the one you encounter will be the one you have always been. Your becoming will meet your being; you will truly see, and seeing be. And persecution, injustice, murder, war, genocide, will end.

This vision of embrace in the unity of the maturation of human freedom will be a remembering of the prophetic promise and an awakening into the dream of God. God dreams with us in the longing of the soul, and in the between-offering of soul-to-soul compassion. The mutuality of this dream is the one-only consciousness expanding experience of anointment; when we who are but blood in the eyes of God receive the oil of transfiguration. From this there will be something, a certain something, a sense of the ending of exile, perhaps inarticulate, a whispered stammering, of alpha and of omega, settling over the face and your eyelids. In that spirit of peace and of beauty, there will be peace; you shall be beautiful.

Then we will share in the prayer of creation, as equal to the terms of grace, when you too will have delivered us from the evil that before was wormwood, and a poisonous thorn in the agony of the twisted and bellicose heart. When all else is rooted in the Garden of God, evil only will be rootless, when thorns themselves into roses bloom. Beyond hope there are truth's possibilities; beyond calamity, there is communion. Be deep in your togetherness; courageous, not forlorn. Be deep in your soul and you shall not be uprooted. You shall not practice or fall into the serial killer’s and the masters of war’s roles of betrayal.

The freedom and spiritual evolution of the counter-culture and "hippie" consciousness rebellion was undone by the soul-stealing epidemic of drug addiction. This is our guilt and our shame.

The freedom and spiritual evolution of the women's movement is being overwhelmed by the epidemic of sex slavery. In houses of the beast of pornographic imprisonment, every man of us is degraded, if not deformed.

Now there are seven deadly plagues upon us. The first is the plague of war; this is terror. The second is the plague of cancers; our world-home reduced to catastrophes of uncleanness. The third is the plague of AIDS; we are lost in folly, while blindly anxious and anguished, in lust that respects neither body nor soul. The fourth is the plague of famine; this is neglect and hunger unto death. The fifth is the plague of homelessness, which is poverty beyond desolation. For neither will the birds have trees or the seed of a human a place where to rest. The sixth is the plague of the abuse, corruption and the killing of children. It is utterly unacceptable! The seventh is the plague of torture in bondage, even the rape, dehumanization, trafficing and murdering of the worldwide women of poverty.

In terror there is godlessness. On all sides of us terrorists flourish. Do not be deceived by preachment or politics. Those who are splattered with the blood of innocence are not graced by the love of God.

In the era of these plagues there is but one God-suffering question demanding of us: Where are you? Where are the menders, who can repair what is broken? Where are the healers to cure our afflictions and exorcise from us the demons of our narcissism and self-devouring madness? Where are the peacemakers who will bring us into the circle of justice, restore balance, facilitate in the dialogues of peace? When we are faint and falling, who are those who will put bread into the hands of the weak and famished, even though we are contagious with viruses of violence and greed? When, indeed, we are dying of thirst in the fouled deserts of our suicidal toxicity, who are those who will give water before the perishing of our parched and polluted, rattling souls?

If there are answers to that which must be spoken, our deeds are the words. If there are no answers, then guilty in this silence ask: What are we doing? I will tell you: We are telling lies.

This is the closing argument. These are the words.

Reenter Bound Woman and Crippled Dancer as the Hunchback turns and retreats upstage. He moves in ways to overtly reveal the impact of his physical deformity. The two women are costumed in rags, appearing as impoverished refugees, as the wretched of the Earth. Spotlight, if available, as they huddle together while the Crippled Dancer speaks and the Bound Woman looks into and accuses the audience with her eyes.

CD: SPOOKY EYES

Eyes of terror stricken children; they grow up and old, into the eyes of frightened women and frightened men. Those of you who live away and do not know what it is to stand in the shadowed corner of a criminal reality, in the metallic stinking sweat of fear and confusion, and to be raped by one whose love should have guarded the tender flesh from all and any such horror and violation. This terror, this terrorism! This other nation, this homeland insecurity. And oh, there are many forms of rape and violence, in the politics of the inhuman, in the shadow lands, in the tunnels of night, in the catacombs and burrows of evil where nothingness thrives.

Those of you who live away, and are rewarded with approval, do not know what is to be branded on the cleanness of internal innocence with these self-conscious stains of immoral filth and oozing sores, impoverishment and imprisoning poverty; wounds that have mouths but do not speak of the ultimate dangers and degradations, dare not speak, but would rather hide themselves from public sight and light of day.

This too is a theme on the human condition. Only the educated and well behaved, the safe, do not speak of it and talk at a distance instead of the economics of war, of social disintegration and substance abuse, gangland violence, immigrants from dysfunctional nations and the increasing statistical evidence of mental illnesses, privatized prisons and overcrowded orphanages. The while passing over the internal refugees of our own dysfunctions and national psychoses. Every trauma is individual while every individual houses the potential for tragedy. The ignorant, meanwhile, true to the curse of their cause and kind, shrug as in drunken stupor and heavy with intergenerational dullness, insensitivity and the unconscious burden of misdirected sacrifice, guilt and non-response, turn away.

You who live on a shelf and are familiar with reaching happily into the cookie jar that has no agenda for punishment, think about falling, and a huge, very ugly and hungry spider creeping down your throat and nesting in the sweet, sticky dough of your soul: an invitation to a feast of flies.

Think about children who are haunted, hunted in the prisons of their houses, and who die there, unnoticed, yet who run still and jump and play among you, as if their nightmares were too unimaginable for shame to share, too uncildlike, too unclean to be permitted onto the playground of normalcy.

But you, passers-by, patriots, upholders of yellow smiley faces and having a nice day, please do not sleep well, too well, knowing that over there some who look uncomfortably like your own, or even unlike your own, rag muffins of different colors, are being taken, ultimately broken into and who will always, always, always, be “missing children,” missing children with spooky eyes, even when we, we are old.                            

Here the Hunchback comes forward. He carries the masks of the demonic, which are handed around. The three players stand, put on, and are instantaneously possessed by their demons. In this condition, the actors take up the individual demon roles and physically represent different character dispositions as they are speaking. After the dialogue, masks are removed.

THE DEMON DIALOGUE

1st Demon: The Good Book says, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

2nd Demon: Then leave us in our descending metamorphosis and we will become more of what we are.

1st Demon: The meek, it is foretold, shall inherit the Earth.

2nd Demon: Only when this entire place is reduced to waste and the meek, meaning those who are gentle, sensitive, even somewhat innocent…

3rd Demon: The untormented. The unpossessed.

2nd Demon: When they who were our promises, now our memories, are no more, then that which we are will sit in round amid cinders, ashes, gusts of flame and dust, and eat our meat with wormwood and vitriol.

1st Demon: But be not offended by wrong that is done. Rather turn the other cheek.

2rd Demon: Move and I will use my claws to gouge loose your eyes.

3rd Demon: Move and I will sever your tongue and lop off your ears.

2nd Demon: Wait! I will prophesy: When the totalitarians—those who hunger to devour all, who worship the absolute, who will sacrifice everything and everyone to the cause of their crimes, their schemes, their madness—when the neo-cons and others give birth to legions of new Neanderthals and pure war has been perfected, then will Armageddon roar and Thanatos, dark lord of death, meld with the inhuman in total consummation.

3rd Demon: And the speed of darkness, darkness will outpace the failing speed of light.

1st Demon: Hail to the Black Holes! And the whores who make them.

All: Hail!

2nd Demon: This prophecy is leveled against you by the Furies, Pie Hole

1st Demon: Sky Hole.

3rd Demon: And Ass.

(Here masks are removed. Actors stand together, recovering identities, and in near slow motion, symbolically joining hands.)

HB: SHADOWS

My heart is in my shadow. Heartbeats move away from me in the dark, silent bone yard of midnight. Aimlessly, I pass away in the cell of time.

Only say: Why is a person possessed by his jail of memories? Once the moon covered my haggard face with a tender touch of light. Frightened by my sobbing agony, I turned away. O—the dreadful art of hiding without any place to hide!

My heart is at a distant street, where the wind turns up in torrential rain beside the river of souls committed to recurring extinction. Sometimes, in the late seasons of loneliness, a shudder like a cold footed spider moves over me. Men worry with the arguments of torture. But this world as we know it is so willingly deaf and blind. Deaf pleading with those who will not hear; blind gesturing to those who will not see; who stumble and follow. Then too, the lumpish dreams, perhaps, of soft flesh of frogs; the harsh science of pain’s convolutions. And those who have swam in the river of bruises might sing roughly and forlorn of what it is like to die and yet linger in the skin of blemished permutations, of an amorphous species, singled out for serial executions by the uninhibited fantasies and advancing technologies of evil. Evil: the phantom side of the human coin. The other side. My heart! My heart! My heart!

CD: My heart is somewhere over the rainbow, trying to reconnect, to resurrect the bones of a doorway, the skin of a window sill. Colors. Smells. A sensation of freedom. A shimmer of gold. Or simply refuge, rest. Or simply pirouette at home. A new home, a new Heaven, a new Earth. Dance floor; fearless nudity. But often, often as denied and insecure as a stranger in a strange land—America, cry America!—I do not sleep. I, daughter of your foundling fathers; child of your aborted revolution—your dismissals, your obscenities, your obsessions, your betrayals: our betrayals. Our… Petite damsels and flower girls of twilight. Adagio. Arabesque. Pile. Legato. Effacee. Effacee.

HB: Blank air. Blank space. Blank wall.

Accusatory wall of the indissoluble. Wall of the undesirable. Accusatory wall of crime and fate. Of perversion, rage, hate. And a devil-god made a man in the image and likeness of the lord of generations. The man gave animation and power to the inhuman, in the shadow semblance of humanity’s flight and fall. You there, citizen of the empire of hypocrisy and denial, American, explain this hiding, this self-destroying circuitry of urbanity and commerce; of sophistry. Explain why you are here now, with your eyes enshadowed. With your eclipse and your silence. The bells of silence, of chimneys, of chimneys, of chimneys of freedom. Angelus bells at sunset. Perpetual descent of the desecrated flame of midnight sun. The flailing demon that sent Satan back to hell and gave this Earth to us. Us! In the shadow play of malignant dwarves, voracious giants, and hunchbacks, nailed to the breath of apocalypse, crowned with the bleeding halos of thorns, hanged like lanterns on the highways of necropolis. Angels and crucified doves. And crucified children.

Blank air. Blank space. Blank wall. Which is to say:

BW: Hear no evil.

CD: See no evil.

HB: Speak no evil. None. Not a word. Nothing. No one. Nobodies in the end, to the end. To the nothingness. Unless…

Here the sixth banner is displayed, upon which is written large the single word UNLESS.

HB: In this our world, ours, ours in which the monstrous is prolific and promoted to the commonplace of entertainment for the privileged, bored and extravagant; for the local mob and the everyday masses; and the realities of millions are, over the years, ground into the paste of atrocity, the slender voice of a possibly divine alternative whispers and an ethic of the unpleasant emerges. Emerges as a form of rebellion, when those who will speak of the unspoken and resist for sake of the unlamented take a stand, and have the radical audacity to suffer, aware of the undeserved suffering of others, because of otherness, over that which we, individually and collectively, did not do, but did not prevent. Are not preventing—now. Not here, not now. Unless...

Here the players put the masks of their demons down at their feet as music comes up—Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel—and lights fade so that the stage is gradually engulfed in shadows. Players individually step downstage, quietly beckon and invite various audience members to join them. Upon arrival, those who come into the active space of the performance are lovingly embraced. If enough come to participate, the lighting is reversed and the music stops. Otherwise, there is eventual darkness, accompanied by music that fades into eventual and penetrating silence. A lengthy interval is allowed for this silence to be felt before lights again come up and bows are in order.

Finis.

(1) The opening segment of this section is a paraphrase of a passage from the GOSPEL OF THOMAS.

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Poem of the Week

I Walk In Snow

Story of the Week

Interim

Author of the Week

Jessica Dawson is a modern-day Wendy. She lives in California with Peter Pan, a preschool diva and a future statistic, unfortunately. She’s the author of one book of poetry, Fossil Fuels (Verve Bath Press), and has had poems published in Thunder...read more Sandwich, The Montucky Review, Passenger May, killpoet, Words Dance, Remark., Nefarious Ballerina, and
Jessica Dawson
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Poem of the Week

I Walk In Snow

Story of the Week

Interim

Author of the Week

Jessica Dawson is a modern-day Wendy. She lives in California with Peter Pan, a preschool diva and a future statistic, unfortunately. She’s the author of one book of poetry, Fossil Fuels (Verve Bath Press), and has had poems published in Thunder...read more Sandwich, The Montucky Review, Passenger May, killpoet, Words Dance, Remark., Nefarious Ballerina, and
Jessica Dawson
0 likes | 0 followers | 0 creations