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Bone Carver 1: An Introduction


The stars conspire against me. 
For me to rebel, to resist in any way, 
would be to fall into the conceit that I could affect them; 
that they, in their immaculate silence, 
might listen to my apology.

- A Pilgrim’s Journal


Everything these days is haunted and insane, haunted with dreams, insane with reality. My thoughts turn against themselves, rend and rip and roar with titanic violence, threaten to crack my damned skull into a billion starlike fragments.

The sky whispers with the syllables of the wind and wings break in hushes through the leaves; telling of the coming that has been called forth by the prayers latent within the stone. The dust sentient within that stone speaks the slow hard language of forever. It is arises out of the tortured cadences of these invocations. 

It: I mean, this dream filled haunting.

Perhaps I have lost my mind. Like a man loses his temper. I set my mind down somewhere back there in the world, maybe in the hollow of tree, between the pages of an old book, or up on the mountain, in some ancient shelter. Regardless, I went away, unburdened and falling through the mess of the world. When I returned to where I thought my mind was, it was gone. That simple. Lost. And unfindable. 

Murderers, marked and wandering, drag their feet through the desert, muttering mysteries of redemption. And warriors with broken spirits hang their heads over the sides of their ships and cry into the face upon the waters. Poets call out into empty caverns, turning down the wretched ways, shivering inside their own echoes. And wise men full of doubt, throw down their books, and pray with razors at their throats. 

But I didn't have the mind to remember, not even the mind to forget, as I crawled around on bloody hands and torn knees, searching for what I once was. 

Not there in the hollow, nor there in the book, not there on the mountain. Nothing to be found. And I lay down in the darkness of my world, knowing only enough to begin again, this tired and sad old story. 

Once again imagining a self emerging like a root tugged out of the soil, a skeleton slipped out of the soul.

Within my being is a town. 

There on the edge of the desert, poised upon the verge of oblivion, a breath hanging onto the lips of a dying man. A rattling ramshackle ruin of a town, archetypal western frontier desolation, ghost town, an abandonment, forlorn.

And there in the rutted red clay of the main street runs a river of blood. This is all it can be called. This riven red black chugging coagulation beneath a zippering cloud of blue-eyed flies and yellow jacketed wasps. 
You are there: watching the dogs, stiff legged, hair standing, gone feral, jaws lathered with blood, guarding over tattered corpses, bloated and blackened masses of human remains. 

So many, you had no idea that so many could be undone this way.

The dogs snap and churn growls at the crucial shadows circling round; birds of appetite, swooping down with  weighted wing in ecstatic brute beauty, buckling in that red fire and breaking to whip rattling snakes from broken skulls which slip, fall, and gall themselves gashing the river against you. 

You stand there splattered, full of fear, thinking, thinking, trying to remember: Why the hell are you here? What are you are doing in this god forsaken desolation?

But as the thinking can only think about the thing itself, you know that the existence of this place depends upon your presence, upon your consideration of its horror. You have called it into being because you yourself have been called. 

The town, the river of blood, the death, sings to you, as you walk onwards, ever deeper into your own creation.

A choiring of insects surrounds you as you still try to remember questions of why. The dogs pant and gnash, mocking your doubts and fears. And the sun, searing heat, light like fire, a constant wire strung and ringing like a siren singing through you. Each moment now slowing into a procession of framed instants, fixing you, freezing you, filling you with an unbearable agony. 

Out of this, out of you, you listen to your own scream beginning: the raw existential horror of your soul burning in the hell of its mere being. Everything you are, that you understand yourself to be, is this sound screaming out of your mouth.

And then the questions form like a shell, thin and fragile, around the answers, holding still in albuminous waters: Do you truly want to know what happened here? Can you bear to look upon this portrait of your soul that has for so long been kept hidden behind the locked door?

As you consider this door, recognizing your own scars carved into it, the question cracks apart in your mind. 

You place your hand upon the handle and an Angel of Sacred Fire appears before you and delivers a single command: DO NOT.

Words like thunder as they tumble out of your memory; reminding you of all the promises you broke over the myriad faces of the god, like liquid lightning, in the molten ecstasy of transgression, of the violent trespassing, of the taboo. This is your self-created prayer that has carried you through the dark nights. Bent over and broken, you took this seed and received it as an emblem, as salvation itself.

Thus you have no choice. There is no higher voice for you. You must obey.  You hear your self urgently saying: 

Leave this town as quickly, as quietly, as you can. Turn and go, now, before it is too late. Leave.

Fear twists and wraps around these words, so much that, for a brief moment, you wonder what could be the cause. And in a sudden flash you know every syllable of truth in the words: I am scared to death.

You try to laugh as you turn, hoping that it is not too late. But dread lurks within that laugh. You can sense the world behind you, changed. 

Turning, you realize it is already too late: stretching now before you as far as you can see, utterly obliterating any way back: a vast lake of blood.

The dogs swim along like demons ferrying their corpses and sinuous bones through the thick muck and wave of the spreading ooze. Along the slowly diminishing shorelines vulture and buzzard dance backwards, black wings spreading, splashing red. 

The tide advances, turning you around, forward across the threshold of DO NOT, ever deeper into the ruined town.

This way is delineated by a series of macabre hieroglyphs: sublime figures of desecration and death, the human form twisted and bound into signatures of riveting fascination.

Your body moves you around, walking you onwards until before you appears such a sight that you try to will it to stop. You struggle with words until they become simple. 

A Shack of Bones is what it is, bones bound together by tendon and twined hair, skulls atop another rising into poles, piles of bones burned blinding white, here and there patches of skin stretch-dried taught over corner and edge, more skull of all manner of creature hanging, swaying, creaking on their strands, laughing like blackbirds hidden in shadow.

You can figure your own bones figured up there, fixing a hole in the roof, reinforcing a joint. And your skull betrays you, smiling beneath your skin, imagining itself swaying in such good company, aching, to throw off the blanket of your face.

You move closer to this Shack of Bones, telling yourself that you only mean to pass by, to see this beautiful monstrosity at closer view and to quickly, quickly, move on. But your flesh shakes you into spasms, nearly throwing you down. It knows what fate awaits its arrival. 

Your meat can feel your bones laughing. 

Where to move on to after this?

The door of the Shack is open but it is dark within. You can see only shadows. A little closer, to just pass by, perhaps to touch up against it, perhaps to merely glance inside. After all, the door is spread wide, offering silent invitation. 

Your body is shaking more. You can barely stand. Ever closer, your gaze now fastened upon the interior. Still you can vision only layers of the dark.

Your hand reaches out, wraps around a porch pole of long bones braided, and it is soft and warm like a mother's hand. But you barely register this strangeness, so fixed are your eyes upon what waits within, there moving amongst the shadows. 

A rhythmic motion, hush and sigh, a slip, slide, and then... scrape. 

Again, repeated. Steady as a clock.

You pull yourself up to the threshold, smooth bones beneath your feet, hands being held by the bones they are holding. Your face presses carefully forward, pushing into the cool of the interior dark, eyes adjusting, hush and sigh, slip and slide, a figure forming... 

You step further in, straining....

And there you see him, staring straight into your eyes. And you jump startled and freeze, struck through by the hooks of his eyes. 

He laughs a little at your surprise, at your naive horror as you watch him work:  hush and sigh, the knife cuts in; slip and slide, the edge slices through; then, scrape, and the meat slides right away from the blood dripping beauty of another freshly carved bone.

He stops here, casts that bone back into a pile, kicks that meat down into the hole. 

And he says to you, smiling ragged, voice of stone:  
Cumere boy. Been waitins fo you.

He knows well the effect this has upon you. 

At the simplest level, it makes no sense. And you are thinking: the sane act would be to deny all of it, to turn and run, dive down into the lake of blood, and drown yourself in the dream. But he knows that you can feel the truth, that you recognize the shape your fear has taken inside this nightmare.

You are burning to understand what the town and the blood and the bones and him, the Bone Carver, means. 

The question rises from within you like the desire for breath: what's the difference between the Bone and the Meat, Reality and Dream?

So you stand there, full of fear and wonder, and you listen to his voice as it becomes the voice of your thinking, of your deepest self, of your bones.

This is who you are. 
This is your fate. 
These are all of your memories. 
These are all of your reflections. 
These are all of your dreams. 
This is your fear. 
This is your love. 

This is your salvation. 

And he has called you into the darkness, and you have no choice but to listen. You are already listening. This unthinkable language flows and babbles through your mind. 

There is nothing more to do now except for us to get on with it.

And you will set these words down, telling yourself that it is nothing.  Your mind will curl around itself, whispering between your thoughts that it was all such foolishness. Forget about it, just a dream. 

It was just a dream. 

Go on back to your waking life.

But the days for you are still insane. And the nights are indeed haunted. 

Every dream, every single one of your waking thoughts, calls you back  to the hush and sigh, back to the Desolate Town, the River of Blood, the Shack of Bones, to the slip and slide, the scrape, of his knife cutting into your world, cutting right through you again and again,  carving your meat away, sinking down to the bone, scraping it clean,  making you simple and pure, and shining you down with grace, singing to you, my friend, singing to you with these very words. 

These very words. 


The red ribbon pulls tightly
Around these bones
In a braid of memory.


 



This work is licensed by S. Casey, Bonesy Jones & L.B.D.L. under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.



Scrimshaw: The Bone Carver Series: An Introduction
Everything these days is haunted and insane

The stars conspire against me. For me to rebel, to resist in any way, would be to fall into the conceit that I could affect them; that they, in their immaculate silence, might listen to my apology.

- A Pilgrim’s Journal
Everything these days is haunted and insane, haunted with dreams, insane with reality. My thoughts turn against themselves, rend and rip and roar with titanic violence, threaten to crack my damned skull into a billion starlike fragments.

The sky whispers with the syllables of the wind and wings break in hushes through the leaves; telling of the coming that has been called forth by the prayers latent within the stone. The dust sentient within that stone speaks the slow hard language of forever. It is arises out of the tortured cadences of these invocations. 

It: I mean, this dream filled haunting.
Perhaps I have lost my mind. Like a man loses his temper. I set my mind down somewhere back there in the world, maybe in the hollow of tree, between the pages of an old book, or up on the mountain, in some ancient shelter. Regardless, I went away, unburdened and falling through the mess of the world. When I returned to where I thought my mind was, it was gone. That simple. Lost. And unfindable. 

Murderers, marked and wandering, drag their feet through the desert, muttering mysteries of redemption. And warriors with broken spirits hang their heads over the sides of their ships and cry into the face upon the waters. Poets call out into empty caverns, turning down the wretched ways, shivering inside their own echoes. And wise men full of doubt, throw down their books, and pray with razors at their throats. 

But I didn't have the mind to remember, not even the mind to forget, as I crawled around on bloody hands and torn knees, searching for what I once was. 

Not there in the hollow, nor there in the book, not there on the mountain. Nothing to be found. And I lay down in the darkness of my world, knowing only enough to begin again, this tired and sad old story. 

Once again imagining a self emerging like a root tugged out of the soil, a skeleton slipped out of the soul.

Within my being is a town. 

There on the edge of the desert, poised upon the verge of oblivion, a breath hanging onto the lips of a dying man. A rattling ramshackle ruin of a town, archetypal western frontier desolation, ghost town, an abandonment, forlorn.

And there in the rutted red clay of the main street runs a river of blood. This is all it can be called. This riven red black chugging coagulation beneath a zippering cloud of blue-eyed flies and yellow jacketed wasps. 

You are there: watching the dogs, stiff legged, hair standing, gone feral, jaws lathered with blood, guarding over tattered corpses, bloated and blackened masses of human remains. 

So many, you had no idea that so many could be undone this way.

The dogs snap and churn growls at the crucial shadows circling round; birds of appetite, swooping down with  weighted wing in ecstatic brute beauty, buckling in that red fire and breaking to whip rattling snakes from broken skulls which slip, fall, and gall themselves gashing the river against you. 

You stand there splattered, full of fear, thinking, thinking, trying to remember: Why the hell are you here? What are you are doing in this god forsaken desolation?

But as the thinking can only think about the thing itself, you know that the existence of this place depends upon your presence, upon your consideration of its horror. You have called it into being because you yourself have been called. 

The town, the river of blood, the death, sings to you, as you walk onwards, ever deeper into your own creation.

A choiring of insects surrounds you as you still try to remember questions of why. The dogs pant and gnash, mocking your doubts and fears. And the sun, searing heat, light like fire, a constant wire strung and ringing like a siren singing through you. Each moment now slowing into a procession of framed instants, fixing you, freezing you, filling you with an unbearable agony. 

Out of this, out of you, you listen to your own scream beginning: the raw existential horror of your soul burning in the hell of its mere being. Everything you are, that you understand yourself to be, is this sound screaming out of your mouth.

And then the questions form like a shell, thin and fragile, around the answers, holding still in albuminous waters: Do you truly want to know what happened here Can you bear to look upon this portrait of your soul that has for so long been kept hidden behind the locked door?

As you consider this door, recognizing your own scars carved into it, the question cracks apart in your mind. 

You place your hand upon the handle and an Angel of Sacred Fire appears before you and delivers a single command: DO NOT.

Words like thunder as they tumble out of your memory; reminding you of all the promises you broke over the myriad faces of the god, like liquid lightning, in the molten ecstasy of transgression, of the violent trespassing, of the taboo. This is your self-created prayer that has carried you through the dark nights. Bent over and broken, you took this seed and received it as an emblem, as salvation itself.

Thus you have no choice. There is no higher voice for you. You must obey.  You hear your self urgently saying: 
Leave this town as quickly, as quietly, as you can. Turn and go, now, before it is too late. Leave.

Fear twists and wraps around these words, so much that, for a brief moment, you wonder what could be the cause. And in a sudden flash you know every syllable of truth in the words: I am scared to death.

You try to laugh as you turn, hoping that it is not too late. But dread lurks within that laugh. You can sense the world behind you, changed. 

Turning, you realize it is already too late: stretching now before you as far as you can see, utterly obliterating any way back: a vast lake of blood.

The dogs swim along like demons ferrying their corpses and sinuous bones through the thick muck and wave of the spreading ooze. Along the slowly diminishing shorelines vulture and buzzard dance backwards, black wings spreading, splashing red. 

The tide advances, turning you around, forward across the threshold of DO NOT, ever deeper into the ruined town.

This way is delineated by a series of macabre hieroglyphs: sublime figures of desecration and death, the human form twisted and bound into signatures of riveting fascination.

Your body moves you around, walking you onwards until before you appears such a sight that you try to will it to stop. You struggle with words until they become simple. 

A Shack of Bones is what it is, bones bound together by tendon and twined hair, skulls atop another rising into poles, piles of bones burned blinding white, here and there patches of skin stretch-dried taught over corner and edge, more skull of all manner of creature hanging, swaying, creaking on their strands, laughing like blackbirds hidden in shadow.

You can figure your own bones figured up there, fixing a hole in the roof, reinforcing a joint. And your skull betrays you, smiling beneath your skin, imagining itself swaying in such good company, aching, to throw off the blanket of your face.

You move closer to this Shack of Bones, telling yourself that you only mean to pass by, to see this beautiful monstrosity at closer view and to quickly, quickly, move on. But your flesh shakes you into spasms, nearly throwing you down. It knows what fate awaits its arrival. 

Your meat can feel your bones laughing. 

Where to move on to after this?

The door of the Shack is open but it is dark within. You can see only shadows. A little closer, to just pass by, perhaps to touch up against it, perhaps to merely glance inside. After all, the door is spread wide, offering silent invitation. 

Your body is shaking more. You can barely stand. Ever closer, your gaze now fastened upon the interior. Still you can vision only layers of the dark.

Your hand reaches out, wraps around a porch pole of long bones braided, and it is soft and warm like a mother's hand. But you barely register this strangeness, so fixed are your eyes upon what waits within, there moving amongst the shadows. 

A rhythmic motion, hush and sigh, a slip, slide, and then... scrape. 

Again, repeated. Steady as a clock.

You pull yourself up to the threshold, smooth bones beneath your feet, hands being held by the bones they are holding. Your face presses carefully forward, pushing into the cool of the interior dark, eyes adjusting, hush and sigh, slip and slide, a figure forming... 

You step further in, straining....

And there you see him, staring straight into your eyes. And you jump startled and freeze, struck through by the hooks of his eyes. 

He laughs a little at your surprise, at your naive horror as you watch him work:  hush and sigh, the knife cuts in; slip and slide, the edge slices through; then, scrape, and the meat slides right away from the blood dripping beauty of another freshly carved bone.

He stops here, casts that bone back into a pile, kicks that meat down into the hole. 

And he says to you, smiling ragged, voice of stone:  
Cumere boy. Been waitins fo you.

He knows well the effect this has upon you. 

At the simplest level, it makes no sense. And you are thinking: the sane act would be to deny all of it, to turn and run, dive down into the lake of blood, and drown yourself in the dream. But he knows that you can feel the truth, that you recognize the shape your fear has taken inside this nightmare.

You are burning to understand what the town and the blood and the bones and him, the Bone Carver, means. 

The question rises from within you like the desire for breath: what's the difference between the Bone and the Meat, Reality and Dream?

So you stand there, full of fear and wonder, and you listen to his voice as it becomes the voice of your thinking, of your deepest self, of your bones.

This is who you are. 
This is your fate. 
These are all of your memories. 
These are all of your reflections. These are all of your dreams. 
This is your fear. 
This is your love. 

This is your salvation. 

And he has called you into the darkness, and you have no choice but to listen. You are already listening. This unthinkable language flows and babbles through your mind. 

There is nothing more to do now except for us to get on with it.

And you will set these words down, telling yourself that it is nothing.  Your mind will curl around itself, whispering between your thoughts that it was all such foolishness. Forget about it, just a dream. 

It was just a dream. 

Go on back to your waking life.

But the days for you are still insane. And the nights are indeed haunted. 

Every dream, every single one of your waking thoughts, calls you back  to the hush and sigh, back to the Desolate Town, the River of Blood, the Shack of Bones, to the slip and slide, the scrape, of his knife cutting into your world, cutting right through you again and again,  carving your meat away, sinking down to the bone, scraping it clean,  making you simple and pure, and shining you down with grace, singing to you, my friend, singing to you with these very words. 

These very words. 


❂  

The red ribbon pulls tightly
Around these bones
In a braid of memory.




***