Anthony Verouhis – Dreamworks

tony

 

 

 

The Wedding Guest

 

With long thinning hair and frayed tuxedo threads he sits on furniture unnoticed. When he is sure that no one is watching he gets up and walks to the buffet table, surveys the scene and constructs a little mountain of food on the celebratory piece of china in his hand. All around him there are perfumed guests but inside him there are seasons. A wonderous and terrible winter. A fatal incursion of weather. A chthonic storm that rises from the earth, from under the soil, and blankets the skies. Inside him a hail storm rages, frosts and freezes his organs and cools his soft timorous heart.

With his boat-load plate of cooked animals and vegetables balanced in his palm, he plots a path straight for a corner of the room next to a small table with an old heirloom lamp atop it. He dances a carnal dance, slithering and avoiding the odorous bodies of the wedding guests, with their smiles and champagne, like a ballerina in disheveled clothes. His bow-tie bent, his cuff-links missing, his teeth black with the bile of Baal surging up from his belly. Surefooted and sad he reaches his destination. A small chair and a table whose sawed off legs lift it low off the ground and the family lamp standing erect on it. Its shade constructed of exquisite church glass blues and reds and yellows.

With a swift swivel of his hips, the man turns around and skillfully scrapes the food off his plate. Unto the floor it drops with a plop in the corner underneath the lamp and its table. Where no light shines. In the deep where it will never be discovered. Where it will feed the insects that live in the walls and floorboards. Where it will be the impetus behind the birth of larvae babies that spring from the rot of sweat and fuel and passion. An insect orgy of centipede-slow sex, camouflaged by dust and shadow that will spawn a beast of slime and mana. Wise and wild and hungry.

Satisfied, the man swivels back and faces the din of happiness and health, raises himself from the chair, and leaves the room just as he had arrived. Alone.

In mythology, Baal has been considered many different things depending on the ancient culture. He has been considered a fertility God, a God of rain, thunder and lightning as well as one of the fallen angels of Satan.

 

 

 

 

 

The Crystals and The Ocean
A man in a safe haven cave of crystals.
Jagged but harmless in thrust out suspension.
A pre-birth cabin of comfort where chaos is quelled by quartz.
There are no pendulums here, no washbasins or vacuums of horror.
Only the lucent silence of healing rocks,
A place for the man to rest and sleep.

Outside the circular windows of the high-rise home he envisions, lies a body of water.
Brutal waves of size and torque and blistering winds.
A vortex of color and shifting shapes.
The splashing, evaporating white of foam.
The low hanging, immobile grey darkness of fat cloud.
The ceaseless bloat and depress black and blue of violent ocean sea.

Like velvet suffocation, soft with a strangulatory caress,
Enveloped by layers upon layers of creamy unconscious,
Heavy, but with lubrication like a lump of lard, lies the sleeping man.
Breathing the short anxious breaths of prey.

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Legs

 

A man is unexpectedly visited by a childhood love.
Her knock on the door is blunt, abrupt, without rhythm.
So often had she populated his dreams of midnight secretion,
Dancing the dance of desire and now she stood before him, in the flesh.
She doesn’t resemble the lithe physique and restless soul he was once captivated by.
Her off-white dress is sown with middle age self-deprecation and her supple skin has been substituted by the creases and craters of life that indent her cheeks and tired brow.
Still, this was a surprise and his excitement could only be overshadowed by her panting despair and continuous looks over shoulders at the front door.

There are sirens outside and flashing lights invading the home,
Stirring the darkness of midnight.
And so they sit in shadows and she tells him stories.
Stories of pursuit and fear.
Of ferocious authority and animals being hunted.
He sits across her on the floor and can only see what the red and blue lights that defile the dark randomly shine on her.
She whispers, swallowing words between breaths and tears.
The man can barely hear her ever-softening murmur and so he simply watches this mute performance of panic develop, in awe.
She transforms between the luminance of the police strobe,
Her facial features doing a syncopated boogie-foxtrot-of-fright.
Fingers and limbs slide through the air sleekly as she describes the crisis she is in.
So frail and ready to burst, when she shouts out the horrific ending to her story,
The man can only feel the sensation of her featherlike weight in his arms as he holds her and feels the heat drain out of her eyes in one steady, steamy, urine like stream.
As he strokes her bone thin arms he feels both arousal and pity.
The arousal is for the vulnerable woman,
The pity he saves, like a guilty pleasure, for himself.

Slithering on the floor to avoid detection from helicopters and horns, the couple slips into bed and safety.
Embrace.
Cocoon.
Flesh that binds and desires.
Swollen pores that require release.
Followed by heavy, heavy sleep.

In the morning, sirens have been substituted by the din of commuter traffic,
Search lights, by the shine of the sun,
And the atmosphere of warm bodies connecting, by a cold, stale, sober room.

The woman opens her eyes and smiles a smile of satisfaction and security.
Feeling her naked body exposed, her arms and fingers slowly reach for the man’s presence and embrace.
She finds him and directs his body into a spoon, fighting off reality for a few seconds longer.
When she turns to finally face him she knows what he sees.

There are marks on her body like thick healed cuts from adolescent razors that rise from the inside-out.
Her left arm, puffy and purple and swollen like a distended balloon.
Around her belly, a splatter of red and rouge dots and blotches in various stages of dilation and her legs, like that of a person who suffers from elephantiasis.
They are massive blobs of layered flesh and hardened skin.
But what makes the man’s eyes well up with tears and the woman’s look away
Are the little branches growing out of her giant calves and thighs.
Branches with little black fruits like blueberries hanging off them in full bloom.
Branches growing out of veins and muscles and tendons,
Threatening to consume her,
To leave her no longer a woman, but instead, a thing.
A thing disfigured.
A thing being swallowed.
A thing alone.

Later that evening, he would bathe and wash her hair,
Place a chair by the window so she could watch people going home from work
While he gently cut each branch and fruit with a small pair of nail clippers.
Each snip summoning a soft snivel and moan and then an expression of gratitude.

At night, with her ankle length tunic covering her bandaged, branchless legs,
She stroked his hair with her inflated violet hand
And told him the story of the hunted animal again and again,
Until the man slept like the brazen boy of her youth.

They stayed like that, throughout the night,
Silent and still in shadows,
Hiding from the stalking lights and tyrannical shrieks that had returned and flooded the streets anew,
The branches in her legs once again beginning to slowly pop through the battered surface of her skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snake

 

Sitting on the autumn sand of a foggy beach, a man looks out into the water.
The texture of dream is like slowly hardening silicone.
A warm slime of fantastic odorless filth and grease that never grinds to a halt
Yet fluctuates and deflates laboriously.
And so the colors by nature are lustrous and always appear to pulsate discreetly.

A ruby red tricycle half covered by golden brown quicksand sinking slowly in the background.
The overwhelming crystal blue of water and bubbles.
The orange deepness of the sun,
Hidden behind clouds made of white cartoon fluff resembling those drawn by children and pasted onto collage.

In one hand the man holds a long, lush, green cucumber.
In the other, a leash that leads to the neck of a thin garden snake.
Timidly it slithers in the sand with a small makeshift muzzle covering its mouth,
For even though the man considers it his pet,
He fears its wild nature.
Even after nurturing it from the moment of birth
By feeding it milk from a bottled teet,
Teaching it how to hunt
By providing it with an endless supply of hamsters and mice,
And helping it to shed its first skin when the time came
Like a parent delicately removing the clothes off a sleepy toddler,
The man still deeply feared his snake.
Nightly, the man would sleep with the snake free to roam on the bed,
Feeling its cold skin wriggle round his neck and arms and torso
Without a second thought.
He would even let it eat from his own plate,
Often dining on the same piece of roasted flesh simultaneously,
Similar to the scene with the spaghetti strand in Lady and the Tramp.
Yet the man would always have the snake’s mouth imprisoned
Behind that crude little cage.
A fear of the savage one might call it.
Or maybe it was an anxiety that arose from the guilt of placing a muzzle and a leash
Round the neck and mouth of this being in the first place.
The guilt leading to the concern of an attack
If the snake ever truly tasted freedom.

In dream textured-time, events transpire like break-beats,
Hearts shudder-skip and feet dance ecstatically.
Skies lose their sun,
Clouds lose their moisture,
And the garbs of parable unravel.
And so it goes, that when a massive giant of a snake appeared on the same beach,
The composition of the scene changed into fluid.
No longer a tableau of elegant vibration,
There is movement and hissing and rattle tail threats.
The grays in the sky join with the horizon royal blues
In swirling patterns of oncoming storms,
And transform the semi-still photograph to stop-motion definition and flux.
From out of nowhere
Both the man and his pet,
Forced out of reverie and stirred into alertness,
Are served with a choice between the most basic of survival instincts,
That of fight or flight.
For the first time, the man removed the muzzle off the snake’s face
And the snake momentarily forgot from the presence of its gargantuan foe,
Reveling in the sweet sensation of complete independence.
It felt an immediate awakening,
A flashback of cellular memory where jungles and prey,
Free erotic conquests and savage feasts all merged into one momentary vision.
One where its liberated reptilian neck
Snapped back with speeds too quick for the human eye
As it ripped the meat off its victims in the purest expression of its nature.
The snake’s synapses fired uncontrollably and its brain sparkled with delight
So much so that its little skull resembled a tiny luminescent light bulb.
And all this in the matter of a split second.
All until a deafening hiss was heard from the beast that stood before the man and the snake,
Blocking the sun and darkening the earth with its shadow.

Three images followed,
Each slowly mutating from slow to fast in three separate speeds.
First completely still.
Then with slight slow motion movement
And finally super fast with blistering volume.

In the first,
Both the man and snake have their heads craned
Looking up at the monster hovering overhead,
Its features blackened by the backlit scene.
The small snake is shaking uncontrollably from fear,
Wishing it could cry tears of surrender and wail for help like a newborn baby.
Its visions of celebrations and slaughtering prey
Have now transformed into nightmares of being the hunted.
If only it could be taken to the boredom of a living room.
The awkward heat of a fireplace.
The resentment of a leash
And the solace of a muzzle.
In the second,
The monster is seen lunging down toward the soil,
Its jaws open 90 degrees at each end and its forked tongue
Glistening with venomous drool.
The jaws snap,
The helpless garden snake is snatched up
And the monster raises its head high,
Whiplashing its neck violently from side to side in victory,
Only the small tail of the human-bred snake
Remains outside the jaws of the behemoth.

In two different universes,
That of the snake and that of the man,
Two very different experiences and set of emotions are being suffered.

Inside the esophagus of the massive beast,
The miniscule garden snake instantly feels
The ultra acidic saliva and poison breaking down the biological structure
Of its outer skin.
Within the throat, the muscular tongue and roof of the mouth
Exert a continuous rapid pulse pressure like that of a mechanical drill.
To feel one’s own essence being broken down from without
And vomit-forcing pressure compelling internal organs upward
Through and out of the mouth from within.
This was death preceded by violence.
The kind a soul will mourn in future lives to come.
Death not allowed to be coupled with moments of lucidity and peace,
Only the brutality of toxic acid that opens wounds that can never heal.
The snake does not have a moment of clarity,
Does not see its life of subjugation and comfort flash slowly before its eyes
In one rhythmic, sweet salutation.
It is only witness to devastating pain.
And fear.
The man, motionless and still from sheer awe
At the beast consuming his pet,
Stands and watches the scene
With his feet firmly planted in the moist earthy sand.
The scene in front of his pupils melts away.
First the demon,
Then his snake,
And finally the storm, raging in algorithmic patterns of massacre.
All withdraw so that he, not his snake,
Can have that rare opening of the mind’s eye.
His waking head-trip produces the form of his own image as a child.

 
The man had been born many years before the advent of the portable video camera
And thus had never been afforded the opportunity to view himself as a youngster
With both motion and sound.
It was an insignificant memory,
A family vacation to Hawaii around the time when he was seven or eight.
He felt an instant joy covered in sorrow and then joy again,
Like the movement that people make when they wash their hands,
One covering the other and being covered seamlessly and simultaneously.
The joy he felt looking at himself move and play in the ocean,
Calling to his mother and father to pay attention while he performed
Some silly acrobatics for their pleasure,
Brought him to tears and he fell to his knees in the sand beneath him.
He felt bathed in god’s light and in complete symmetry with the universe
And at the same time an overbearing sense of guilt and shame engulfed him.
Shame at the things he had done to the child he saw before him as he grew older.
Guilt at the acts that he had made the boy commit throughout his life.
His tears,
Each like a solar eclipse,
At one and the same time shone brighter than the sun
And sparkled as crisply as the darkest of moonless nights.
In this everlasting moment,
The man felt the great chasm between the purity of his former self
And the one he had slowly over the years allowed himself to become.

And then the vacuum of reality returned.

In the third image,
The man is seen rising from the golden sand,
Flinging himself at the beast before him with grace and abandon
And slicing its head clean off the rest of its colossal body
With the long, vibrant-green cucumber.
Waterfalls of filth and stench exited the wound
Along with his snake, completely unconscious and limp.

As the headless pre-historic beast crashed into the sea,
Its tail still twitching violently,
And its tongue moving in and out of its detached head spasmodically,
The man grabbed his snake and ran back toward his home with purpose.

At the house the man filled a bucket with warm water,
Adding sea salt, iodine and soap in order to disinfect and bathe
The wounds that his garden snake had sustained.
Its eyes lay still and black unmoving.
Its hard reptilian coat was full of dents and lacerations
And the lone long muscle of its body that the man was accustomed to feeling,
Churning and twisting firm and compact inside that skin,
Now lay soft and droopy in his hands like mashed potato.

 

For three days and nights,
The man kept the fire burning in his fireplace,
With his snake wrapped in warm blankets
In front of the comforting flames.
Everyday he took off the snake’s bandages and re-wrapped them
So that its wounds wouldn’t get infected
And he slept on the floor next to it just in case it woke up and needed him.

The man was not fully conscious when,
Midway through the third night,
He felt the cold scales of his snake glide over his body
Like he had felt so many nights before.
Smiles parted his lips and he licked them as he felt
Forked tongue succubus kisses
Pepper his neck and thighs and chest.

Though in complete delight and excitement that his snake had recovered,
The man found it difficult to open his eyes and rise out of slumber
And so he surrendered to the feeling of exhaustion and joy,
Permitting his snake to do its dance of gratitude and thanks
On his sleeping body.

It was in this narcoleptic haze that the man felt the first bites.
Little miniscule slits that began to open wherever his skin was the thinnest and tautest.
The sides of his ankles,
Behind his ears where his skull protrudes,
And below his eyes on those soft vulnerable pouches.
Tiny microscopic wounds that let blood drip and dribble out in little drops
Of warmth and thickness.

The man shivered from a cocktail of fear and ecstasy
As he felt himself defiled and violated ever so softly
By his formerly captive snake.
He could feel and hear the slurping sounds made
As the snake gorged on his leaking wounds.
Not a drop was left wasted, not a bit of beef and fatness left unconsumed.

Delirium and consciousness struck when the man’s body went into shock.
His eyes opened wide and his pale off-blue face convulsed upward
So that he could survey the scene.
His snake, with head buried in his belly and entrails
Raised itself in fury and stared deep into the man’s eyes through its jet black pupils,
And there, their last moment was shared.
A communal hallucination of the most impenetrable purity and truth,
Wrapped like a DNA strand along each and every memory and experience
Either the snake or man had ever had.

 
The snake could see the man from the time of his birth
And the series of events and decision that had lead him to this very moment.
It felt his childhood exuberance
And the feeling of being wrapped in a mother’s warm hug.
It understood his adolescent rebellion
And the successive disappointments that followed in adulthood.
It witnessed the disregard and selfishness with which he imprisoned it,
Taking it hostage to soothe his human heartache and sorrow.
It saw with clarity the rebirth that occurred within his heart
When he saw the monster swallow it whole,
And the spiritual awakening he underwent.
It knew for certain that he would no longer hold it captive
And even though he would suffer great loneliness and melancholy without it,
He would allow it to leave
And live the remainder of its years freely in the jungle
As it was always meant to.
The snake saw all this and for the first time,
Felt compassion and care for the man run through its cold-blooded heart.

The man saw through the snake’s eyes
And witnessed the horror with which it was gripped
When his palms grasped and tore it from its mother
Before it had even properly slithered out her womb.
He saw the resentment it carried toward him
For stealing it away from its family
And sacrificing its entire life just to satisfy his own psychological shortcomings.
He saw the snake’s heart initially full of hate,
Then as the years passed,
That same hate dissipated and morphed into resignation.
Finally, the man observed the day at the beach.
He saw the helplessness the snake felt when it saw that monster,
Having been a prisoner for so long it lacked any natural survival skills
That a snake like it should have had.
He also saw how transforming and liberating
Those seconds without the muzzle were in the life of his snake.
He saw inside the throat of the beast,
Felt its poison open innumerable sores instantaneously
And the shortness of breath from being squeezed into submission.
Tears escaped the man’s almost lifeless eyes
When he felt the impression of Death approaching
And the snake’s soul preparing to vacate its mutilated body,
Moments before he cut the demon’s throat and rushed the snake back home
To resuscitate it.

Just before their psychic connection was broken,
In that last millisecond,
The man saw how the snake understood the metamorphoses
He had undergone and how he was a changed man.
He knew the compassion it experienced
And he finally felt forgiven for all that he had done to it.

It was with that clarity of thought
And calm of absolution that the man,
In consciousness once again, looked at the snake,
Its head hovering over his torn open stomach and guts.
Their stare lasted a second longer and the man tried
With every bit of strength left to muster a smile of recognition,
Even love if it were allowed him.
But before he could,
The snake snapped its neck back,
Dove into his bleeding belly
And resumed feasting on his entrails in frenzy,
In the grips of a glorious hunger it had never felt before.

 

Excerpts of an ongoing unpublished book of poetry titled ‘Development: The Book of Death and Dreams’.

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