“An American Exorcism (in three parts)”

Part One

Words are alive. They take on a life of their own traveling from one mind to another. Words are daggers in my mouth, stabbing into your ears, clean and bloodless, piercing your brain, unleashing the flies, the incessant buzzing, so many flies, so many lies, buzzing around the dung heap of your mind, ever growing, so much dung, so many lies, so many flies, and locusts—demonic potbellied abominations with diaphanous wings and disproportionally large baby heads whose eyes are sewn shut—big fat baby heads bobbling uncontrollably, drooling and biting off their own tongues, their thoraxes bearing spiny pairs of humanlike hands and arms instead of grasshopper legs, cursed forms culminating in chitin-armored scorpion tails, shiny black and barbed vicious, swarming across the world, so many locusts, so many flies, so many lies, adding to the dung heap of your mind as the incessant buzzing grows louder, sickening you, nauseating you, waves of bile thrashing chaotic, forming a whirlpool among the frothy digestive acids, and a head slowly emerges from your swirling depths, an enormous head, with bulbous honeycombed eyes, a horrific fusion of man and insect, jagged mandibles jutting from its jaw; the grotesquery rises higher and higher until its antennae are scraping against the fleshy ceiling of your intestinal cavern—you can’t contain it any longer—it bursts from you with splattering gore, with trailing entrails, with praying mantis forelimbs curled above humongous crab pincers, and it keeps growing, to gargantuan proportions, taking on the form of a colossal human from the waist down, its gut bloated beyond vulgar, impossible to escape an eyeful of its lewd sag shadowing the land, this monstrous offspring of yours, dwarfing the highest mountains in the Himalayas, its scaly slopes abounding with reflective eyes, millions of them, never blinking, mirroring the world in nightmarish ways, maddening the world with the incessant buzzing of its legions, behold the Lord of the Locusts, Shepherd of the Flies, the Gardener, the Gossiper, Beelzebub!

Part Two

Words are currency. They buy and sell realities, dreams paying for dreams. Words are the promise of endless credit, the commodification of all time and space, of your very imagination, your very soul, a rented heart, a leased brain, chartered muscles, consciousness confined to a spreadsheet, working overtime, skipping breaks, starving yourself to get fat, so many sacrifices, so many sacrileges, forever in the service of turning the concrete to abstract and the abstract to concrete, forever in the service of suffering to ease the pain, swallowing snakes every day because the rulebook says that’s what snake-eaters must do, yet everything you consume is soon vomited back up, writhing mounds of vipers and boas and rattlers piling ever higher, a slithering mountain, and it happens like a thief in the night, in the safety of your bedroom, in the comfort of your bed, under the covers, she visits you, and you lust for her, shapely legs gilded in fine golden scales slithering out of the snake pile to wrap around you, followed by scaly gold arms to hold you tight, an exiled angel unearthed, the gleaming guise of a goddess, boa constrictors coiled around her limbs, cobras spilling from her womb, the irises of her slit snaky eyes deceptively shifting colors as you gaze into them, distracting you, hypnotizing you, she’s so beautiful, so desirable, you would do almost anything for her, so many sacrifices, so many sacrileges, and she leans back on your bed of snakes and spreads agape her vulval gates, hissing seductively, “Welcome to paradissse,” but the illusion fades away once you enter, only then does the temptress reveal her true form—towering above you, a cavernous vaginal maw baring stalactite teeth, a gargantuan golden serpent whose trunk twines around the entire world—nothing about her is even remotely human anymore, like a cannibal flower of cosmic proportions, her mesmerizing eyes have become retractable eyestalks that spire higher than the tallest skyscrapers in Manhattan, collared in a corolla of slender flutelike appendages, with billions of wriggling, suckered tentacles flanking her serpentine coils, ridges of exposed bone forming a mountain range along the length of her spine, and she swallows you whole, digesting you, absorbing everything you will ever be worth, converting you to currency, and clink, plink, ting the coins go dropping to repave the streets of Pandemonium with gold for the trillionth time, mere dung from the Majesty of Majesties, the King of Kings, the Golden Apple, the Tempter, Mammon!

Part Three

Words are mirrors. They construct reflective mazes in which to lose yourself and find yourself, surround yourself with yourself. Words are cubicle partitions, more like sliding paper walls, or better yet curtains, red velvet curtains, segregating thunder from lightning, the gateless gate of a red velvet rope as you sneak past the bouncer, finding refuge in a padded cell where glamorous faces ignore you crouching in the corner waggling your tongue and giving everyone the finger, so many vanities, so many insanities, welcome to the hall of mirrors, lost among endless selves, more pills, more thrills, better deals, living in the funhouse means the reflections are never of you, only your wrinkles, only your pimples, your scars, your yellowed teeth, your fatness, or thinness of hair, your ugliness, a mockery waggling its tongue and giving you the finger everywhere you look, you crouching in the corner, hiding in the shadows, longing for the limelight, so many vanities, so many insanities, staring at your own reflection for days, weeks, months, years, decades, and when the mirror cracks so do you, and when the mirror shatters so do you, to dust, to powder, fine white powder that attracts the bone-thin elephants, an albino species adapted to skulking in the dark, spewing gibberish from slobbery slack-jawed mouths crammed with crooked tusks, their hairless chalky white hides stretched taut, their mousy red eyes lacking any trace of intelligence, flapping their huge fanlike ears as a warning, Hollywood hopefuls sick from taking too much medicine, so gaunt, so weak, disfigured, slumped over from the weight of their hideous hunchbacks, limping gnarl-limbed through the mirrored mazes, and they gather around you, snort you up into their prehensile trunks, the mirrors seeing everything, not missing a single detail, not omitting a single fact, ever watchful, obsessively, possessively, so many vanities, so many insanities, an army of anorexic albino elephants lurching single file through the labyrinth, their hearts revved up on your residue, searching for an exit that was never built, while the suicide king spies it all unseen from the other side of the mirror, double-edged sword plunged through his skull, dividing his mind between space and time, and the funhouse mirrors bend reality, altering the past, dispelling the present, creating the future, reading you like a deck of cards, like the fool under the sun who spins the wheel of fortune hoping to be emperor of the world but ends up the hermit under the moon, questioning dead stars, waiting for divinity to answer, so many vanities, so many insanities, and the suicide king records it all unseen from the other side of the glass, luring you in again and again to feed his starving disciples, to feed his insatiable ego, fuel his blinding glory, the Herald of Dawn, the Bottomless Pit, the Adversary, the Looking Glass, hail Satan!

J. Martin Strangeweather was one of the chief architects of the Tower of Babel. He lives in the failed dreams of his dead ancestors and rolls stones with Sisyphus on a weekly basis. If you’ve enjoyed any of his writings here, please donate $1 to the next homeless person you see.