Bad Latin

by Michael Abraham

I want to write about Christ and the End of the World and how queerness will usher in the World to Come. I want to write about these things immediately, right up front, but, instead, I will begin by telling you the story of two tattoos on my own body. I will begin this way because the story of these two tattoos has themes in it, and images in it. Themes and images are always a little murky, a little slippery. You have to write in circles to catch a theme, have to enter the circle of an image and be consumed there. You have to begin elsewhere than where you mean to be. So, I will tell the silly, little story of these two tattoos that I got as a teenager, and, after that, we will have themes and images. And once we have some themes and some images, it will be time to play with them, to twist and stretch them, to try to be creative in the sense of the eros: creative, to make, to bring forth. We will bring forth the End of the World and the World to Come and the indefatigability of the queer as an immanent force of transitionality in history. We will make these things real in our dual-action of writing and reading. But, first, the silly, little tattoo story.


I am sixteen, a year in which quite a lot happens to me. But one of the many things that happens when I am sixteen is that I decide I want a tattoo, and I want it on my wrist so that everyone can see it. I tell my mother this repeatedly, and she is understandably trepidatious, since how is one to trust a sixteen-year-old with a permanent decision. She comes to a solution finally, which is that I can have a tattoo if we get tattoos, the same tattoos, together. She is excited to share something significant with me, and I am excited about that too, but I am mostly excited to be the first kid in Catholic school with a tattoo. It is on a family trip to Kauai that we meet up with an old surfer bum tattoo artist on the North Shore in his beach shack tattoo studio, which I think he also lived in. By the time we get to the studio, I have given a lot of thought to the tattoo that I want. I know I want it to be words, for language, even then, matters deeply to me. However, I am a rather pretentious sixteen-year-old, so I want my tattoo to be in Latin. I have chosen the phrase “to the sea always” since both my mother and I are lovers of the ocean. Google Translate tells me that “to the sea always” in Latin is AD MARE SEMPER. So, the surfer bum tattoos AD MARE SEMPER on my wrist, facing towards me so that I can read it to myself, and on my mother’s leg.

I choose Latin for my tattoo because it seems consequential. It is the language of science and of philosophy. But, more than anything, it is the language of God. The idea of choosing the language of God for my tattoo appeals to me, but I cannot explain why. There is such gravitas to Latin. It is so overdetermined. Its words mean more than their denotation; they carry with them a history of incredible violence and seemingly indomitable power. The Church and all its nuance and complexity lie behind each and every Latin word, and behind the Church lies the Roman Empire. It is a language of pure conquest, a language in service to a God who is, at base, a god of war. I do not have an analysis this trenchant of the meaning of Latin at sixteen, but I feel its historical power; it registers for me as a shimmer, as an alluring extra quality that I cannot quite name.

I am not a Christian by the time I turn sixteen. Having come out at fourteen, and having been met by immense rejection from my parents, from my father’s family, and from from the church community to which I have given so much of my enthusiasm, I have become a Vajrayana Buddhist. (I become a Vajrayana Buddhist because it is the most tantric and mystical of the strands of Buddhism and because it is my father’s charismatic mysticism that always spoke to me about Christianity. It is fair to say that my Buddhism is a reaction-formation to my rejection from Christianity, that it is filling a space left in me by the violence of Christianity against the queer. But I take my Buddhism very seriously. I become a vegetarian. I read everything I can about Buddhism, and then I read everything I can about the Vajrayana school specifically, all the sacred texts. I meditate, first in the typical manner, and then in the tantric manner. I choose Avalokiteshvara for my bodhisattva. A few years later, when I am in college, I will meet two people, one who is a Buddhist from Nepal, where they practice Vajrayana Buddhism, and one who is from India with a Master’s Degree in Asian religious traditions. Both of them will look skeptically on this white boy from the Pacific Northwest who wears japamala and insists that he is, not only a Buddhist, but a Buddhist of a particular school. They will question me, and they will be surprised by how much I know, and they will accept me as a Buddhist, much to my delight. But I will be troubled by something about Buddhism. I will grow ever wearier about the issue of giving up my attachment to the world around me. One night, I will have a strange experience, while in Tompkins Square Park, chanting the Om Mani Padme Hum. The world around me will grow oddly red—I can’t quite explain what I mean by that—and I will lie down on a bench to watch the red and yellow autumn leaves fall around me. I will feel a strange pull toward something, and I will chant more fervently. And then it will be over just as quickly as it had begun. I will speak to my friend from India who knows so much about Asian religions, and he will confirm for me that what I have experienced is a tiny little glimpse of nirvana, a sotāpanna, or stream enterer’s experience. That night, I will decide I have gotten as much as I needed to get out of Buddhism. I will move on with my life though I will keep my little Buddha in my home as a reminder of the sotāpanna, as a reminder that, when I was broken by Christianity and needed someone to catch me, Avalokiteshvara did.) 

My mother and I get the tattoos, and, though I am not supposed to, I swim in the ocean the next day. It seems the only appropriate thing to do with AD MARE SEMPER on one’s wrist. I can still see the fading wrought by the salt water on that tattoo that first day. It makes me smile. 

Now, I am twenty-two. I am at a party for graduate students at Yale. I am a grad student in the English department, and I am in a conversation with a peer who studies Classics. They notice the tattoo on my wrist, notice it is in Latin, and ask to see it. Their eyes study it a moment, and then they look up at me with a rather pained expression on their face. “This is grammatically incorrect,” they tell me. “It should be SEMPER AD MAREM.” I am mortified. My heart drops into my stomach, for I am trying so hard to belong to this world of learned people, and here, with the bad Latin on my wrist, I have branded myself a fool, a silly, little fool who knows nothing of declension or syntax. I have nonsense on my wrist. I explain away the embarrassment of the moment with the excuse that I was sixteen when I got the tattoo, and the Classics graduate student to whom I’m speaking graciously lets the matter lie. In the same conversation, however, they praise the Latin tattoo on my feet as remarkable.

We have to go back four years for the tattoo on the feet. I am eighteen. It is my birthday, and I have decided I will get my second tattoo. I am a fan, at this time, of the poet, Traci Brimhall, who has a poem which quite touches me titled “In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni.” Brimhall, I learn, takes that title from the title of a 1978 Guy Debord film. But I research farther than that. IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI is a palindromic riddle. Because of the creative constraint of the palindrome, the riddle is close to being nonsense, but it is comprehensible and translatable with the right slant of reading. It means, either, “We go circling in the night and are consumed by fire” or “We enter the circle by night and are consumed by fire,” IN GIRUM being somewhat ambiguous. That ambiguity lends to the riddle, the answer to which is a moth or a mayfly because they fly into candles in the dark. They fly in circles—they go circling—and the flame of a candle makes a ring of light—they enter the circle. It is a lovely riddle, and I have heard somewhere that it won a riddling contest in Rome, but I do not know if that is true. What is true, however, is that IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI is known as The Devil’s Verse. The reason I have heard for this is that, being a palindrome, it can be read in a mirror, hence it is the language of the Lord but reversible, backward, Satanic, a spell. It is bad Latin. 

At eighteen, I am a very different person than the person I was at sixteen or the person I will be at twenty-two. I am hurting very badly, and I am starting to notice the first rumblings of a madness that will consume my life in the years to follow. The hurt is due to the immense capacity of Christianity to wound, to rejection by the majority of my father’s bigoted family, to the loss of a God in which I had so ardently believed. The madness is something else entirely. I feel it then as a fire in the gut, some overwhelming sense of possibility, some heat and brightness that is beginning to kindle a kind of greatness in me, a creativity, an ability to bring forth in the world what was not there before. Later, that fire will be a terrible conflagration, but right now it is merely a warmth, a sense of power that is spreading. I yearn toward this fire. I feel it distinctly; I know consciously that it is there, and I do not yet know to fear it. I am a moth, a moth with dreams of flying off to New York and losing myself in the massive sway of it, of partying all night and making friends with faces as beautiful as the faces of demons; I am a moth, and my growing madness is a candle, and I am haunted by my own phototaxis. I am flying toward my own flame. So, I go to a tattoo studio in Seattle, where I have grown up and which I am so soon about to leave, called Laughing Buddha, and I get IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI tattooed on the tops of my feet, running in an arc, just below the roots of the toes, from the left side of my left foot to the right side of my right foot. I mark myself with this spell, this misunderstood, beautiful, confounding, palindromic riddle that has been made evil by the ignorance of others. I put it on my feet so that, wherever I go, I go circling, so that, in any space I enter, I am entering the circle. 


The Book of Revelation was the first book that truly scared me, and it was perhaps the first book to truly inflame me. In its first chapter, John of Patmos hears a voice, “as of a trumpet, saying I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned,” John continues, 

to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven gold candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

It matters—it matters immensely—that the Messiah in his true form is a terror. Imagine John on Patmos witnessing this figure. Imagine what a shock it was that the kindly Christ was, in truth, this flame-ridden thing, this Alpha and Omega, this meeting point of all the forces of heaven and hell and life and death. If we are to write, we must write towards a figure like this one, a figure which is the first and final word, the font of all sense and all senselessness. If we are to write in this way, to write the impossible, we will transcend writing and end up, quite accidentally, in prophecy. Prophecy is the burden of our times; it is the task before we who live so near the End as to imagine the terrible figure of the first and the last.

In the fourth chapter of Revelation, John goes up to heaven. “And immediately I was in the spirit,” he writes, 

and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Notice how many similes there are in this writing. Notice how difficult it is for John to describe what he sees. The vision before him is beyond language; he must write around it. He must construct images and symbols to communicate the immensity of the tableaux of heaven in its true form. What does it mean to be immediately in the spirit? John is not seeing with his eyes any longer. What is John seeing with? How far can language stretch to communicate a faculty beyond sensation? Should language even try? O, but language must! Language is all there is that’s left to us when all other tools rust out.

In the tenth chapter, this happens: 

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and he cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

To write is sometimes not to write, as it is here. Some things are too sacred to be set down. Some thunder must not be remembered. The aporias we leave in our writing are where all the greatest truth lies. Some books are not meant to be read; they are meant to be consumed, to be held in the belly, to infect the root. These are secrets only the angels know, whether to write or not to write. One must listen to the angels to discern the way forward. One must write, but not totally, not all of it. One must leave spaces for silence where the angels dictate. One must leave it to the reader to imagine what it is that the thunder says. 

I was eleven or twelve when I read the Book of Revelation. And I knew then, knew immediately and with certainty, that I had to be John of Patmos. I had to see such things, to know such things, to write them—to consume the book which will make my stomach bitter but be in my mouth as sweet as honey—to glimpse the four living creatures that are round about the throne of the Lord—to speak with the first and the last. I had to know all the secrets of the End of the World, all the great drama and politics of eternity. 


To be queer is not the End of the World, but it is very similar to it. Like the End of the World, being queer involves fabulous cacophony and spectacle and not inconsiderable danger, and trumpets. There are femme fatales and silver-tongued villains in both. The End of the World and being queer each have much to do with plague. They are also neither of them allegorical but very much real, despite looking a lot like symbols. Most importantly, though, being queer and the End of the World have in common that both are an opportunity, at last, for all The Things Which Are to mean differently

Some Qabbalists hold that when the Messiah comes, the Torah will rearrange itself according to an impossible, sacral code, becoming unreadable, and that it is by this nonsense that the Law will become that we will know the End is nigh. 


If we could take a portal to another world, do you think we would kill it? 

If we could take a portal to another world, do you think they would have infinite genders and a planet-wide orgiastic religion that worships nothing, and do you think they would know how to heal any wound with a touch of their magical hands? The portal would be bright colors; the portal would have all manner of interlocking shapes turning beneath its glassy portal surface. The portal would hum and buzz with thunder and lightning and an unbearable excess of being-stuff. To step through the portal would raise all the hairs on the body; it would be as terror is, but also as dreaming is. The world on the other side of the portal is a world where sacrifice was never invented—don’t you think? Don’t you think that would be the difference between our world and the portal world? The portal world would be endless, would be time out of time, because they never invented the sacrifice. There is no End of the World in the portal world because they don’t have to end things to bring new things about. They who live in the portal world are like elves who sing the trees up from the ground. They are strange to us when we step through the portal, odd, not quite suited to our understanding. How queer are the portal elf-people! How bizarre and beautiful and iridescent. They have eyes as of precious stones and they are girt with rainbows. They have all the glory of heaven and none of its politic, none of its tremendous violence. They belong to their forests and their rivers and the crackling weather above their deep purple sea. 

The children in the portal world are free to love. No one dictates how the children love. No one tells the children what is wrong in them, for the portal elf-people know that there is nothing wrong in a child but what is made to be wrong in them. Because they do not destroy their children, the portal elf-people have no History. They have only the nonsensical words of their flute-like songs, which bring forward the trees from their seeds; they have only the light that is thrown off their impossible bodies. Because they are not violent, they do not have to contend with the past and the future. They are deep inside the intricate structure of the present, the portal elf-people. They have no need for prophecy, no need for writing. They are each marvelously different from the other, and they do not notice, so accustomed are the portal elf-people to the wilderness of difference that makes a world. 

Everywhere about them are living creatures, and the creatures are not symbols. There are no symbols in the portal world because there is no sacrifice. Everything is as it is.

But, again, if we could step through a portal to another world, don’t you think we would kill it?


I have been baptized twice in my life, which is technically a mortal sin. I was baptized Lutheran as a baby because my mother was raised Lutheran and discovered my father, when they were both sixteen, as a broken refugee of crackpot American West fundamentalist conservatism, and it seemed right and dignified to have a Lutheran child who would never have to know the incomparable absurdity of pretending to speak in tongues. Despite the fact that I’ve never attended a Lutheran church, I think my sealed-in-water, from-the-womb Lutheranism was a ward of sorts—the first of many—against the hatefulness and bigotry of my father’s family. It was also the first of many times I would divide my father from his brothers.

The second time I was baptized was at one of those very charismatic teenage non-denominational Protestant summer camps on the edge of the Yakima River in eastern Washington. I was right on the cusp of coming out, and I was in love with the pastor’s son, Rusty, who was a few years older than me and fashionably bisexual and pretended to have HIV all week to get attention. He was perfect looking. He looked especially perfect when I jerked off and imagined him naked, and touching him naked, and tasting him naked. It was the first time I had jerked off without forcing a woman into the scenes of my imagination. I was fourteen. 

And then I got baptized in the river by the young, sexy preacher, who had had a drug problem and had overcome it by the grace of Jesus Christ, on the last day of camp. I went into the water my mere self and came out of the water a thing of living fire, for this is what I was supposed to feel, and I was very good, then, at feeling exactly what I was told to feel. In our walk through the campground that night, as I talked about my kind and courageous brother and honesty and the greatness inside us if only we would reach down and grab it, Rusty called me an angel sent from heaven. I know he meant a winged, humanoid bearer of good tidings, but I like to think he had in mind a seraph: a fiercesome, flaming beast, which the Lord rides down to Earth as evidence of his greatness. I felt so bright that night, alone with him in the tents. There, in the tents, I was living fire for real. I could feel the kindling spread from my gut all the way to my fingers and my toes and the very top of my head.

Impossible to touch him since I was a boy and he was a boy, and since I’d just been baptized in the river by the sexy mystic preacher. The baptism made it impossible; the boyhood made it impossible—though I knew then, and I know now, that we both wanted to touch. We would be bad if we touched, and so we didn’t. But his eyes, his hands, his rust-red hair. The heat of us, so close in the desert at sundown. The heat


[Thoughts at the Queer Liberation March, New York City, June 2020]

the contours of a writer’s mind are gentle. this is why, frequently, they are suicides or junkies, or queer, why they always dress like they’re expecting to get picked up by the wind and parachuted off somewhere, dropped into a fairytale or onto a rooftop. writers are not strong people—useful, though, in a war (a war is almost entirely about outsinging the other side). a way to think of a writer might be as a low-level frequency in a shady corner of a Sunday afternoon downtown park rally, eating a pot cookie made by an anarchist and sassing out hexes against the police. the writer knows well the bon-fire at the center of good ol’ downtown Sunday communism—dwells by choice, some days though, in the penumbra that limns the ring of chanting, summered bodies. the writer’s hit hard with the waves of their rapture—the rapture of these bodies in revolt—and yearns to it. the writer remains on the cusp however: in the sweet hum just past the rapture. the hum is the warmth left of the rapture’s rippling out into the City from its crucible, pentacostal center. here, one can see and remember better. here, just barely beyond the red tide of rally, in the grass with his lover, the writer may attest that: yes, we were here; I saw all of us, in our variousness assembled without order, among the starving city trees. the writer, that is, there in the moss on Sunday afternoon, begins to imagine back to mere stone all of the wretched statues. the writer feels it as those most glamorous in the flame-ring cause the whole of History to shudder, make it bellow like a gong or a drum of war struck. 

all this about writers is sort of like John, the beloved, the saint and gnostic gospel speaker. it’s not unlike how he stood beside his lover, his lover who was God Himself, who was the lord of some psychedelic peace kingdom that will end the future—how John stood beside that hairy, melancholy man, listening to his final rake for breath off the April breeze. if I think too long on what a writer is, I imagine how John’s eyes wetted at their edges when the smell of the god-lover, splayed out red on the tree and wilting for hours in the sun, hit the gnostic in the larynx. it is a wonder that John did not think, how shall I live without his lips and their beatification? how? without their riddling of the kingdom into my body until the kingdom is come to be the whole of my body! o! but no, no. instead, amidst that rattle of liquid trickling slow and then faster into the lungs of the lover, John murmured something to himself, something to remember to write down later. word is what he said, quiet, in that crossroad boneyard where they killed the lean, sad table-flipper for the sake of civic order and dogma. and then, as if struck at last by what a word is, John said: light.


I went back to the Yakima River just this year, at twenty-seven, with a friend, to stay at her family’s home in the desert. We drank, and we swam, and we did mushrooms in front of the mighty, red-rock cliffs. In short, we had a ball. But, one afternoon, I let her nap, and I went down to the river by myself. I sat in the ice cold water, while about me the air roiled at 110 degrees, and I felt the life of the river, its measured flow, the immensity of its age. And, aloud, I said, five times, “Anoch Harbathanōps Iaoai.” You see, a few weeks before, I had done a ritual in my tiny bedroom in Brooklyn to transform myself. The ritual was the highest form of magic, theurgy, in which one communes with and becomes one with the gods and, through the idea of the gods, with the Alpha and Omega itself. I adapted the ritual from the Greek Magical Papyri, a set of papyri written between 100 and 500 CE, which blends gnosticism, Greek magic, Egyptian magic, and Jewish mysticism. I prepared a Circle upon the round, marble stone that bears a compass in my own blood, using fire, earth, air, and water, leaving space in the center for spirit. I summoned the daimon Harbathanōps Iaoai, and then I became one with him. I became one with him through the magical word, “Anoch,” which means “I am.” Harbathanōps Iaoai is the daimon whose role is to sing hymns to the rising and the setting sun. I chose him for the daimon I would become, for I am full of hymns, hymns to time and its progression, hymns to the mystery of the light and the dark. I became Harbathanōps Iaoai in a house of flesh; I gave him life inside myself, as few have in the fifteen-hundred years since he was written of, for the writing was so soon lost, and, since it has been found, it has been so often studied and so little practiced. So divorced from flesh is the world of learned people.

Sitting in the river where once I was baptized, declaring myself the daimon who hymns the dawn and the dusk, five times, one time for each of the points of the pentagram—sitting in the river and doing this magical thing, I took the river back. I thought long and hard on the boy who had been baptized in the river, how afraid he was of being bad. Now, an accomplished witch, practicing a very old form of witchcraft that, though it comes with fire and ritual, is, at base, just language—one declares that one is Harbathanōps Iaoai, and then one is (this is how the tantra works as well)—practicing this language witchcraft in the very water that made me so deeply afraid, I saw the future for a moment. It was not a clear picture of the future. I did not know what would happen or how. But it was the future, and I was in it, and I was hymning the sun.


Sometimes I think about it: the jungles gone to ash and the seas crouched in on themselves, like babies gone mad with thirst, and the deserts spread forever across the tables of the earth, their shimmer and swelter like the jewels on a fine runner, their oases the sites of marvelous blood cults dancing and screeching and being human perhaps for the very first time. I’ll be in New York still, probably—older, firmer at the center and softer on the edge. I’ll be sitting on some rooftop as the Beast finally rises from the sea, and She’ll be a copper green, and almost everyone will fall to the ground, bloody their faces on the cement, to say hello to Her. And I will sit with the other fairies, who are not quite angels, belonging to the woods that are no longer, so no longer part of this story, written off into mist already, like everyone else so soon … I will sit with the other fairies on well-warded water towers. We’ll kick our feet, sigh, smoke the last of the world’s cigarettes. I’ll have a lover with me I bet, since I seem always to have a lover, and when I think on this, I think of how many boys before me must have had this fantasy, watching it burn with someone’s hand in theirs, and I realize that they didn’t realize how ugly it would be—the billions slaughtered. They pictured the snuffing of the world and the cigarette, but not all those moments before the final, cindersome end—whole legions of creatures consigned to the eternal forgotten. 

The way the Norse tell it, the world will burn at the hands of giants, because the world is really nine worlds strung up on a tree and therefore easy to burn, and the two that will be left will be godlings of the soil, and by the turn of the day, they will make things grow again from whatever tiny spot it is that shelters them through the blaze. They won’t be me, or you. It will be our lot to watch the Beast and Her gigolo spread the gospel of liberty for all to do with as they feel they might get away with. It will be for us to tell the children—the children, who at any moment may start thinking like godlings of the soil—what it was like before the billions gone and the last stand of the bumblebees. It will be for us to hold the space against the fire with our bodies for as long as we can—to surrender to the fire that others might outlast it.

I can do this thing, I think. I can live this nightmare. If only I have other fairies beside me, I can magick a future by the sacrifice of my own.


I have made no good sense. I have come to no conclusion. This slipperiness, this problem of meaning—it bedevils me. How John of Patmos struggles mightily to describe what he sees under the sway of the fire of the Holy Spirit, so I, under the sway of perhaps the same, have only themes and images to offer, only little scraps, perhaps sacral, but partial, easy to lose, like the Greek Magical Papyri. I want to be a prophet or a hymnful daimon, but I am a man, only a man. 

O! This is such bad, bad writing.