and Other Stories of Mother Earth’s Salvation

I- In the Still Darkness

It was on a dank August evening
when Mother Earth lost her sanity.
The cicadas mounted from their
bone-dry earthen tombs and 
howled their ghastly dirtsong
once in perfect unison before falling
silent into a mass of insectoid sludge
which witches and fortune-weavers
alike term an “omen” and
scientists call “unprecedented.”

Twelve days later, the pipes scream dry.

O once-roaring rivers 
of everlasting nourishment 
are now found cordoned off
and sanctioned for those 
with money. valuables. 
food. household items. 
Greed has driven the streets
and soldiers mad, turning 
water from necessity to aqueous

What was once the mighty
ocean waves her final 
white-crested flag towards
her intercontinental colonizers on a desolate
September evening. There remains
only festering garbage and
skeletal entrails of whatever
maritime species hasn’t yet 
been slow-boiled sans beurre. 

The streets lay barren by October, 
families huddled in tenement
slums reciting their own 
paganistic desparations, 
professing gilded repentance 
to whatever demon-slash-god
brought upon the famine, the 
polydipsic hell, the hunger, 
the pangs, the

In November, a chink in 
Mother Earth’s mountainous armour 
reveals an unforgiving eye, 

And in December 
their penance is bared.

II- The Basilisk King

On the first day came the flies. 
Pestilent, festering sludgegrime
black beans of portent disease spread their
terrors about. Hordes emerge from 
the apex of our Mother Earth’s gaping, dry maw
from beneath the muckbed of what once was ocean. 

On the second day came the famines;
sentenced to sensory deprivation by
mushroom clouds of locusts and bees
and birds and cherubs flying to 
somewhere other than Doomsday. 

On the third day came the Basilisk King himself, 
the hateful World-Tortoise of scalding 
venom and kaleidoscopic scale,
his glare at the moon reflecting, enchanting, 
guiding the denizens of his Cruel Earth to a 
juvenile demise. 

On the fourth day we learned to hide 
as the Basilisk King marched dutifully towards
the Western hemisphere dripping poison-clad wrath
(did the East remain?)
and the chemical-taste tears of acidic rain clouds 
beckoned forth their new Master. 

On the fifth day we became rats, 
gnawing away at the unforgiving stone below, 
taking our children and our rations and what remains
of our hope down into the catacombs
of a once-Edenic
sphere and we waited
for the Basilisk King to give back the earth, 
give back the stars, and give back 
his gaze as Mother Earth calls him back into 
her embrace once more. 

III. Wind-Scarred

“KING: No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
 Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood.
 Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields,
 Nor bruise her flow’rets with the armed hoofs
 Of hostile paces.”
					-William Shakespeare, I Henry IV

Neon-streaked starlicked zeniths of light
beam morsels of delicious warmth 
into the malnourished souls climbing beneath 
the rubble before it again implodes
and the luminescence retreats.
Clinging so barely, they push
brick from dirt from 
collapsed roof until 
they break through,
wanting desperately
to be greeted by
warm skies and
vast green horizon. 

The bitter symphony 
of brutalizing winds 
chill the spines of the
once-human underground refugees,
who retreat from it like a prey-rat 
does from a starving street
dog, and descend once more
to spread the lies of the warmth, 
the mendacity of the beautiful oceans, 
and submit to the truth: the thirst, 
the hunger, the stalactite-rot
that salted gums succumbed
to in curved-spine invalids 
and the addictions, the
famine, the

IV. In the Wake of Her Devastation

The Basilisk King slumbers
some thousand years later.
The rats of the underearth had
long died out, 
leaving behind memories of
lives lived under cruelly-wrought
reptilian authority, panoptic
through the torn seams of Mother Earth’s 
broken torso. 

Some million years later, she begins
to embrace warm recovery,
her grief finally entombed within
the bedrock of her distant memories. 
Her surface beckons forth verdant new life 
as gaseous bubbles release chemicals into
the atmosphere. She smiles into
the loving rays of sun and even 
her scars begin to fade, 
replaced with rolling emerald horizon,
similar to those unfortunate who
envisioned green salvation eons before.

Some billion years later, the 
denizens of her freshly-healed
Mother Earth discover
an insectoid sludge
oozing from a laceration 
on her newly-gashed 
bosom. She cries
tears of petroleum 
The Basilisk King stirs from his billion year slumber. 

— Curtis Vandenbrand is a part-time poet and a full-time student who lives on the east coast of Canada.

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