The Spirit of Romance: What the Thunder Said

Never love someone still in-love with the dead.

“I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.” – William Faulkner

“Quem di diligunt, adolescens moritur” “Whom the gods love, die young.”


“It’s a twista’! It’s a twista’!” – Zeke, The Wizard of Oz

“Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?” – Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

Language. History. Geography. Chemistry.

All altered. Unstable.

When you drive to getaway – to speed through, leave your turbulent current, find a steadier heading, a more aerodynamic mode of travel, a diversionary slipstream forward to tangle yourself in – and all you manage to do is steer yourself right into the path of the tornado, into the cyclonic winds of the damnable past, circling, repeating, over and over…

And not just yours, either! Debris leftover from another's storm – Jesus, it’s neck-deep what’s been saved! You can barely be seen but for all the detritus you wade through…

Before you can consider the construction of refuge made from relics and refuse crushing in their weight, there’s yet another siren: the screeching, robotic scream echoing off the walls of the one empty room, hot and necessary; the room you strongly considered trespassing in an effort to…make good your escape? Breathe? Find yourself suddenly visible in a little of its omnipresent shadow?

Abruptly, you’re jerked clear of its consecrated, impetuous, fugitive threshold – yanked straight-ahead by a once soft, now strange, callous hand. North? South? Direction points irrelevant here because you know, inevitably, you’re headed down and, simultaneously, backwards.

Then, your rough guide is gone; disappears through his misleading sigh of a lyrical cellar door heralding a basement unlit. Unfamiliar. You stumble a case of fortune reversed; upside-down stairs of M.C. Escher’s imaginings once so linear and easy, you knew them, saw them in memory stretching longer, kind and illuminated in autumn’s sweet ache of early sunset, stepping up and down but always genuflecting reverently, always sloping future-forward in a gentle shoulder’s nudge. Now, but now, they steep confusing in blind bluffs, no comforting railings to lean, no soft hands to reach and hey – Jude? That movement I need? It’s no longer on my shoulder.


“Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful,' especially if dissociated from its sense and its spelling. More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, on the most beautiful phrase in the English language

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” – T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

“Better living through chemistry.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

All at once, sunken: in cavernous secret, in labyrinthine and recurring obstacles, disguised as safe-house from your roaring, raging tempest above. You numb the wits with slugs from Poe’s Amontilladon cask, making of all your senses dumb, as that is the only intelligent move.

And yet, you feel; feel your way around, through. The geography proves unkind and rises like the dead envious of the living – sudden, angry and vengeful in its bony juts of piercing angle, mocking rises of freshly exhumed dirt, over and over again, tripping your feet but weren’t they rested in pace, long ago? Yet laughing at you now stumbling them once more. The settling moans of this mausoleum: dust into ash, ash into memory, memory into skin. The abeyant arise in the remembrances – the words – of another and Fortunato laughs last. Skeletal jealousy is yours, now roiling bloody in marrow, in throat, in heart, in vain.

You push onward, though, because the words push onward – upward – from your neck; from amidst thick streams of tarnished copper that pool in your mouth yet drain down, all down into the red wound but you know he must hear them, know you can fumble them past the tongue, the teeth, let them slip, let them work.

Just as you’re adapting, softening to his form, learning his gentle contours and understanding his elusive shapes, inevitable yet unforeseen walls tumble forth from the mouth of his darkness, spitting sick teeth – decaying yellow bricks. On the lip of giving yourself up to his unexpected tongue, making of your resentment a worshipful whisper and melting among his soft arms, conjoining with the unknown, birthing fresh hope amidst all this rot – an infant benign labored from this cancerous corpse and God lock the doors of hot, necessary rooms, Darling – burn the choking debris and make Sundays of your palms again. Bury the dead silent for good, Darling Poet, beneath, beyond that lamenting, elegiac cellar door…

The cellar door – that bemoaning, impractical, most temporal of phrases, phases – gives way, pries open as the storm clears, tail whipping invisible the final beats of summer’s fading, dying pulse and darkness pulls, leaving you too much, too much in an empty armful of a specter’s sun.

And he whispers away with it, clutching your fear in a handful of her dust.


“No, Aunt Em. This is a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice. But most of it was beautiful. But just the same, all I kept saying to everybody was, 'I want to go home.' And they sent me home. Doesn't anybody believe me?” – Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

“You can't go home again.” – Thomas Wolfe

When this happens in the face of an escape, you get back into your car. You drive yourself home. And home, you are most angry to discover, shifts automatic. It moves on you. Click your heels all you want, Dorothy – you cannot ever, ever go home again.

I am tired of history. I am sick with it. History has altered my chemistry, my language – my geography. My home. I am homesick. I am heartsick. Too much, too much in an empty head full of her sun.


  1. I never would've thought to combine Dorothy and Eliot, but you make it fit! I love your style!

  2. Thank you so much, Brent. Sadly, Networked Blogs seems to have deleted all of your other feedback and that of others - likes and comments and such. I've no idea why this happened, but I'm NOT happy. And Facebook is a mess with the homepage feed, read: when I publish a blog, it goes unseen in the feed. This is beyond frustrating. I'm so grateful for your feedback - it means so very much. You've no idea!

  3. Hi Annie,
    No worries, I never trusted Facebook anyway. I can see my comments on the sidebar, I can just mentally match them to the appropriate pieces. And I check back whether the pulls show up or not. Just keep your posts coming and I'll gladly keep an eye out!