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I run a finger along my servant’s neck

To him the finger appears from nowhere
He shudders as my laughter echoes in the halls
I could pull his throat out at any moment, the pathetic worm

And worm that he is, he grovels on his belly
in appropriate recognition of his lowly servile stature

I emerge from the higher depths
and observe his entire existence with one stare
A lesser daemon, he and his ilk think me now in private
Far below the godly station their forebears once gave me

I see his without and within all at once
perceive each molecule of his innards
and this fool presumes to keep secrets from me?

Great Mother, he whimpers

I throw his body into the higher depths for an instance to transfigure it
His feeble mind comprehends but a slice
of what it experiences before his left becomes right and right becomes left and then
I dress the halls in his matter

Lesser daemon I may be
but seals weaken and lessons are needed
so other worms may remember to watch their thoughts

I am he of noble darkness
born of distinguished lineage
who has served daemon masters
since the days of old

My forefathers laid mountains of corpses
at the foot of thirsty trees
and were honoured for their devotion
with riches and black vision

Have you ever thought on the thorny wilderness
that ensnare creatures in the bush
then feast on rich earth
made bountiful by rotting impaled flesh?

In those days we thought them gods
we know better now, but still we serve faithful
Oh if you knew the nature of darkness today
you would never stop weeping

The shadows of the new world differ
by our own design 
and much of our order is done openly

And you, you despairing rabbits, you cowards all, entangle yourselves in our thorns deeper and deeper
know in your heart of hearts wrong from right
and reality’s true nature
still you watch each other die slow deaths
and all of you alone
feeding the great tree of misery

My masters are pleased and my forefathers proud

I lick crimson sickle
potent lifeforce
as openchested heartbeat fades
before me

Heat rises from what once was
he is gone to the aether with it
returned oncemore to the great mother

I wash my face in red
taste iron on my hands
and pray his sacrifice not go to waste

Skies cry overhead and ravens caw
I separate rib from rib by hand
and feed on heart
Oh great mother

Worm and soil drink up spilled blood
entrails strewn over branches attract more cawing black birds
how the gods and animals apportion offerings is no concern of man

Sweet sickle cuts skin
I wear the face of the sacrificed and kneel in mud,
arms outstretched under divine rainfall

Oh great mother
accept this human offering from me
that I may inhabit his person
and consume from it his vitality and his wisdom

The great mother surely accepts
the ravens above fight and tear apart intestine
and sky cracks and cries

I am blessed


I see through every corner, possibilities hidden in the words
He sees straight for miles – train tracks, likely intent buried beneath
I scatterbrain scatter graph, he charts the line of best fit
We meet somewhere in the middle

Tempestuous melancholy, saturated sugar-sweet
dour bursting rainbow thunderstorm
and I am the eye of it

Bursting dam, well out the way
space to maintain stolid temperance
and spare his human chromatography

I soak in comfort memories, a haze of fuzzy duty
New is cool but old is gold, a heart of beating jewellery
His spark of sudden sensation, electric when it’s near
But constant concrete concernment, a consequence of fear
I rankle over reputation though I know I need not care
He architects his premises, and builds them into stairs

Yes this piece turned into an INFX functions experiment. Enjoy.

They ponder on death and God
with their scripture and science
That two pronged instrument
That two forked serpent
Iterating their thoughts over millennia

I too ponder them

Who is this absent God they worship?
Is it me, as I am in my true glory?
Or a figment of their old fears and new desires?

If I stir again to tip the scales
do I do them, my most loyal, a disservice?
Is their faith rewarded by being answered,
or does the fruit lie in uncertainty?

I too ponder

They draw cycles of life now and speak of an infinite universe
They peer into their machines and untangle my grand design
See nature’s spirals, life’s twisting helix
And then conclude that life abruptly severs?

Do they forget my old signs?
That sphere of black seeping in white and white that seeps in black,
That everturning wheel, marching on?

Are they in such a rush for heavenly conclusion
or hellish judgement
that they would skip over the glorious work to get there?

Yes I too grow to that end

What do they think happens in the afterlife – that beforelife – before they are brought back?
How else to explain man’s growth and civilisations’ progress but that there is no abrupt end,
That life goes on after death as death goes before life
Consciousness iterating over millennia

Do they not ponder upon my Angels’ wombs
Which they ageing backwards enter
and return to the earth?

Once upon a time, they would tremble at my wrath
Like fearful children huddled in a cave
And for the smallest transgressions I would crumble them like salt between my fingers
How else to teach a babe the dangers of fire
than to hold their hand up to it?

As they grew, so too did my open love and forgiving nature
A teenage child can be reasoned with,
is expected to fail and rebel,
must be trusted to return to the fold

Now I withdraw myself to give them room to grow
towards that final step.
And in my absence they profane
“Our God is inconsistent! Why does He no longer show himself? If He was real he would not forsake us!
I withhold my righteous destruction and bite my tongue
That final step is the hardest to climb
For myself as much as them

How long before they ponder the evolution of their consciousness as well as mine
And realise that both are intertwined, evertwisting upwards?
Do they see it in their microscopes, this other double helix?
That Man shapes God as much as God shapes Man?

That all creation elevates the Creator?
That paradise is something their God
must also aspire to?
When they understand the immensity
of our undertaking,
will they then be patient?

I too ponder.

Tonight again, to that dead space
where all the world’s untold greatness lies
beyond the grasp of its men
A realm of, at once, every branch never taken
unbirthed arts, undared ventures, unspoken loves
All the fruits that withered here on earth 
grow heavy in that place, pregnant and fit to burst

That place
That perfect place of ideals and ideas and concepts
Perfect in its evermorphing formless forms
Configurations that contort within the ether
Free from human flaws, untainted by nature
Boundless potential, unactualisable
The collective un-concrete unconscious
that never-was and never-will

That dead space of dreams and aborted lives
Tonight again, to that space

Art by Tatiana Iliina

Up near the bridge, we played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We laughed and we giggled at hard times to come
We washed in the river and shone in the sun

Tall tales of a witch, we heard by those waters
So we went to go see, us sons and us daughters
We hid and we peeked behind ridges of stone
And watched the old hag come out from her home

She hobbled and limped and knelt at the waters
And we held our breaths, your sons and your daughters
Hiding in long grass and covered in mud
As she washed in the river and dried in the sun

Tall tales of a witch that day by the waters
Nothing to see for us sons and us daughters
We booed and we jeered and we howled at the crone
As she hobbled in silence and limped back to her home

Up near the bridge, we played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We laughed and we giggled at hard times to come
We washed in the river and shone in the sun

Tall tales of a witch, we balked by the waters
Brave in our youth, us sons and us daughters
We gathered up rocks to throw at her home
She opened her door and some hit the crone

We ran from the bridge, away from the waters
Cowardly children, your sons and your daughters
She washed in the river the blood that had run
As we laughed and we giggled at what we had done

We woke the next day to play by the waters
Barefoot and careless, us sons and us daughters
We came by the bridge to the sounds of her laughter
Not all of us there, and not ever hereafter

We shrieked and we screamed, our legs wouldn’t run
The debt had come due for what we had done
Two more by their necks, one son and one daughter
The hag held our siblings down under the water

Their bodies bobbed up and then down in the water
As payment for sins washed away with their slaughter
She hobbled and limped away to her home
And left us to cry at the cost of our stones

Up near the bridge, we’d played by the waters
Barefoot and careless, your sons and your daughters
We’d laughed and we’d giggled at hard times to come
And washed in the river and shone in the sun

There’s something wrong with me she said. Who is she? Doesn’t matter. The names and faces keep changing. I told her as such the last time. She said that was part of the problem. Or maybe she said it was a symptom. Not that important.

It’s not healthy she said, meaning my appetite for women. A man shouldn’t feel compelled to flit from bird to bird like a tree. He ought to try settle down some and try growing some roots. I might have mixed some of that up. I wasn’t paying much attention. She was beginning to bore me again.

You’re a man whore, one of her said to me once. Something about double standards for men and women, but I never said she couldn’t do the same. I never cared much for what she did outside of when I craved her. What do I care what society thinks you ought to do when I dont care what it thinks what I ought to do? That’s what I told her but she wasn’t satisfied. She made like a tree and left.

Another one sobbed all night in my bed. I slept just fine beside her. Did I feel bad for her? Sure. But I had no part in her self-deceptions. Dont put promises on me that I never made. I never lied once.

It’s a hunger. I tried to explain it in terms she might understand: women eat too right? You crave a thing so you go get it and eat it: I consume women in the same way. I enjoy the experience. Savour the taste of every individual bite. Sometimes one even grabs hold of me and I feast on it for months at a time. It’s nothing personal. Women and men must eat to live.

We are not food, she said. As though she spoke for all of Her with one voice. Of course you’re not food, I’m not an imbecile. But how else do you explain something to someone when it doesnt ever make sense to them? Food is our common ground. You can’t expect every metaphor to work one-for-one. Plus she started it with the talk of my appetite and my being a tree. Or was that me? I get confused sometimes.

I remember her crying another time too. Thinking I’d changed this time. What’s there to change? A hungry man eats and is grateful for the meal. Why should there be an obligation to eat the same meal forever? Or to remember every meal? To remember all her names? I dont understand food. Maybe I dont understand trees or metaphors either. Or women and people. I do get confused sometimes.

I haven’t finished the manga Berserk. And now, neither will its author mangaka Miura Kentaro. That wasn’t meant to be some cheap joke – this latest famous passing has thrown me off in a weird way. This man devoted his life to this manga. Over three decades – with no exaggeration, almost as long as I’ve lived.

The world he painstakingly imagined and drew. Hellish dreamscapes… the most intricate character designs. So many lines. So much motion.

And emotion too. Don’t let Berserk’s brutal aesthetic trick you. Yes it was violent angst, blackest grief and bitter dread. But it was also so much heart and soul. It dared to hope and be human in the face of overwhelming odds.

At its core, Berserk told a story of a scarred man fighting demons within and without. Defying fate itself to put his broken world right.

If you love storytelling or love hand-drawn artwork, please read Berserk. Sweet dreams, Miura. Thank you.

They tell you it’s like a flutter in your gut when your feet expect a regular step and miss. Or when you catch yourself on a step that shouldn’t be there. But it’s not. It’s world shattering.

It’s a strange thing to be confronted by reality.

I was happily married to my wife for almost two decades before we divorced. She was a mathematician and I was a physicist. We met in university during a shared lecture on applied maths. It was a small theatre and she caught me staring multiple times. We spoke afterwards, clumsily. She invited me out to a bar crawl and I declined. Instead we spent all night bickering in her common room – what was more fundamental in nature, maths or physics? She was wrong: it’s physics. Our worlds collided that day.

Until near the end, our marriage was largely of little note. We had no children and enjoyed working in each other’s company when we could. There were few arguments. We flirted over playfought existential philosophy – was maths discovered or invented? Would physics ever end?

Then came QMind. It was the most powerful computer ever built and it was built only for one thing: mathematics. QMind was no mere tool: it was a mathematician in its own right. It would conceptualise, connect, prove and journal its billions of findings. It was the atomic bomb to mankind’s pistol and it didn’t take long for it to outproduce our species’ collective contributions in the field.

I suppose QMind shattered my wife’s world. Boom. No more maths. Picture that.

I didn’t understand it then. In fact, I dreamed of living to see the day we fully understood the physical world. I tried to reassure my wife, told her that as we uncovered more of the universe’s fundamental nature, we would have to create more maths. But she knew there was no beating QMind. It broke her.

My wife began to spend long hours at work. It was only then that reality confronted me for the first time.

We live in such a narrow slice of existence and know so very little. We go about our daily lives, not knowing all the pieces in our phones or the human cogs within our institutions. So many trains kept on the tracks, kept on time by so many invisible conductors. And all of them stay invisible so long as it all goes according to plan.

My wife was cheating on me with a colleague of hers. Boom. Her world had shattered and so she’d chosen to shatter mine.

A thing like that sounds trivial when overheard in a pub. So what? Find someone better and move on. But the reality of reality is complicated. Had she changed so much to want to hurt me so? Had she always been this person? How could one act ripple out and disturb so much? I didn’t just question her, but our past, the past itself, and then myself. She wasn’t whom she’d claimed and vowed to be. Our relationship was false, built on unsound foundations. What we had between us was false. All the words and actions shared meant different things now. And who was I that could be so lacking in my judgement? Not the same I I had presumed to be all this time.

We separated quickly and quietly. And then QMind struck again.

The thing about science is it isn’t about the body of knowledge – that list of whats and facts. It’s about the process. You guess at a thing and plug away at disproving what you can. You rule out the ideas one by one, over and over again, clipping off the branches of possibility. And then over a long enough timeline, the approximation of the truth within your model or body of knowledge hopefully approaches the actual Truth. But it’s never the Truth itself. Only the Truth is the Truth. It’s just a giant simulated model.

I wish I could’ve explained that clearly to my wife. Maybe it might have changed things. If she understood that the maths was not the reality but a heuristic – only reality was reality. Most likely it would’ve made no difference.

Even understanding it myself, I shudder at the chaos of unburnished Truth. Beyond our man-made rules and laws is the real thing. It hides during everyday life. A physicist revels in the intellectual thought of approaching Truth. But drop him in the midst of it, and he falls apart. All it takes is one late train.

QMind released its latest findings. Its AI network had been linked to a supercollider around Jupiter. As it processed the data, it reached a consensus. QMind had concluded there were no more fundamental particles to be found beyond what it had discovered. It had unified general relativity and quantum mechanics to build a Theory of Everything. There were no alternative interpretations of the universe left.

And yet there were still some physical anomalies. Anomalies with no higher level explanation available to them now. They simply existed, unaccounted for. Boom.

It drove me mad, again. QMind had divided the universe into something understandable and come up with some truly indivisible parts. I emailed these anomalous remainders to my wife, hoping my despair might be her hope.

It’s a strange thing to be confronted by reality.