Dark Matters Sampler - Bruce Boston
2010 Bram Stoker Award Winner
illustrations by Daniele Serra  
Ebook now available for $2.99  
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Contains the compete text and illustrations of the print edition
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On a darkling afternoon
in a once familiar street,
as you browse through dusty
stalls of antiquarian debris,
your moving hand may pause
and descend upon the spine
of a book penned to decimate
the tenets of your mind.

Bound by a pallid hide
of indeterminate derivation,
its incarnadine imprimatur
bleached through the ages
to a faintly visible rust,
at first or second glance
an undistinguished volume,
no larger than some hymnals
and often mistaken for such.
In centuries dead and past
avaricious eyes have scoured
this text to tap the powers
said to corrupt all takers,
grave voices once raised
to intone its fatal curses,
to chant its cursive spells,
now fill the cracks of Hell
with a chorus of damnation.

With seven slender signatures
stitched from the dried gut
of a white virgin feline
disemboweled in the howling
heat of first menstruation,
between the rectos and versos
of its hand scrawled pages,
poisonous leaves are pressed,
the clawed letters embrace
and deviltry awaits a maker.
And if you hasten home
with a brown paper package
clutched beneath your arm,
as night revolves on day
and need discovers greed,
you may manage a translation,
and your moral indignation
will falter and soon fail
before the promises unveiled.

Its carious vellum bared
beneath a tremulous flame,
its diabolic chapters read
and branded in your brain,
you can torch this vile book
with its ancient raft of sin,
but its presence will remain.
Once you conjugate with evil
you will always know its reign.

Long torso lashing,
dark water streaming,
I rise from the sea,
my scaled sides a flexed
and living geometry
on the night.

Poison glistening in
the facets of my tongue,
stars flecking my hide,
I fly against the moon;
my tail, the antidote,
slithers behind.

I slough off death,
raise the bodies entombed,
reap the bone orchard,
clothe these ivory sticks
in fast failing flesh
to reap them once again.

In the restless bondage
of my sleek embrace
I encircle the earth
like a devouring lover.

I consume empires
and cough up history.

I eat dead souls and
feed each wanting womb.

In the curve of my coils
the wailing faces
stretch and tighten.

Endlessly, I swallow.
If it had happened all at once
like a curtain falling swiftly
and blotting out the light,

if they had severed our choices
with the flash of a blade
both sudden and bright,

or leveled our lives
with some artillery shell’s
whistling explosive flight,

if they had slapped blinkers
on our eyes, narrowing our vision
to all they claimed was right,

we would have raised an alarm,
cried out in protest and
summoned the will to fight,
yet each turn of the screw
that tightened the bonds on
our lives was ever so slight,

we barely noticed the loss
of our freedoms and the
limits on our sight.

Now we wait in the shadows
of a thickening dusk where
all cats are black or white,

and a bare reflection
of the sun’s last rays
heralds a fascist night.
A Stray Grimoire   
Dystopian Dusk

When she was a señora
in the high Mexico desert,
in the steady days
of her peace and resolution,
she would stand at the screen door
just before dusk.

She would listen to the insects ticking
against the dusty metal crosshatch
and watch the light
from a low red sun
encroaching on the deep shade of the porch.

When the sky remained cloudless
on the high desert,
when life seemed dry and spare
as the land around her,
she found herself watching
for one more dark rain
she could walk in.

When she was a girl in Myanmar
the dark rains fell
suddenly in great sheets
of water and sound
in the heated afternoons.

Thunder would rattle
the tin roof and the kitchen
would often flood.

When the dark rains fell on Myanmar
she lived in poverty beneath
the tyranny of a state
beyond redemption.

When the dark rains fell on Myanmar
the sky gave up its color.
Shadows would disappear
for there would be one great shadow
covering everything.

When she was a woman in San Francisco
the dark rains would fall slowly
and steadily for days at a time,
turning the pastel houses gray
beneath an even grayer sky.

When the dark rains fell on San Francisco
the tires of passing cars hissed
endlessly on the wet pavements.

When the dark rains fell on San Francisco
she lived with passion and belief
and drug-fueled flights to worlds

When she was a wanderer in space,
the dark rains fell many ways
on many different worlds.

When the dark rains fell
in the labyrinth of canyons
that laced the southern hemisphere
of Epsilon Eridani Nine,
they danced this way and that
in constantly shifting whirlpools of wind.

When the dark rains fell in the light gravity
of Fomalhaut’s only habitable moon,
it was in large limpid drops
clinging to the cilia and limbs
of overarching trees.

When the dark rains fell
on many different worlds,
here and there,
she learned to live with love
bright as a rocket’s flare
and loss deep as a singularity.
In a summer midnight of bourbon
and bougainvillea, of bones in heat,
the pheromones of the dead rise up
and their bodies rise in turn,
a sweet nausea of putrefaction,
a corruption from beyond the grave.

Past the copse of cottonwood
where failed flesh is coffined,
the moon pierces these shades
of passion unspent in life,
a ghostly concupiscence is released,
See how they dance like spurned angels,
dionysian with madness and relief.
Senseless as the damp black grass
or the rotting jasmine leaves,
their desiccated torsos clack
and clack in frightful copulation
as they swallow their own grief.
Their ghoulish voices undulate
and siren through the streets.

While beyond the bougainvillea
and the sweating windowpane,
beneath some spired gothic ruin
you down another glistening drink.
You wait with leaded glass in hand.
The clock's shaped like a cicada
and it's far too hot for sleep.
Dead Heat
Dark Rain Here and There
and dismembered ventures
that fill our dreams
and nightmares,
begin to take on

a tenacious solidity,
an insistent ascension
to corporal reality
in the light of waking?

What if our dreams
rise up from their beds
like scarlet birds
What if those departed,
who return in our dreams,
cast in roles
we unconsciously

create for them,
begin to wonder
what they are doing,
not knowing if

they are alive or dead?
What if the dead ones,
the imaginary ones,
the oneiric duplicates
of those alive,
gather in our dreams,
a conspiracy of spirits
teasing the borders

of the intermittent
worlds they are
forced to inhabit?
What if the wraiths

and apparitions,
streets and houses,
cigars and flying fish,
transmuted histories
Like Scarlet Birds Screeching

I am not sure which to favor,
The dusty music of my heart
Or the rash music of war,
The vulture’s keen eye
Or nothing at all.


A sandstorm turned the window
To thickly pebbled glass.
The silhouette of a vulture
Crossed it, to and fro,
The mood cast
By its broad shadow
Was tenacious.


O fat men of Middleton,
Why do you conjure birds of gold?
Do you not feel the vulture
Nibbling at your toes?

The vulture is a dark songbird.
Its raucous cries herald
The disemboweling of the dead.


I was of a single mind,
Like a colony of vultures circling
A lone man in the desert.


The vulture volplaned on the
heated air,
Lord of sky and earth below.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a vulture
Are a ghastly
ménage à trois.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vulture
after Wallace Stevens

I know the vulture dreams
Of being shiny as a raven,
Iridescent as a peacock,
Spotless as a swan
Upon a pellucid pond.


When the vulture flew out of sight
It left behind a landscape
Stripped of carrion.


At the sight of vultures
Flying in formation at dusk,
Even men of certain faith
Fear the Prince of Darkness.

He had entered
The glass carriage
When he was startled
By the ungainly shape
Of a vulture perched
Upon its translucent roof.


Death is everywhere.
The vulture must be flying.


It was evening all day
Beneath the radiation clouds.
It was raining
And it was going to rain.
The vulture feasted
At its pleasure.