Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Horror at Nestucca - NaPoWriMo 24/30

Well, I've only been sitting on this idea for almost a year (it'll be a year since I got the idea on a road trip from Hell next have no idea how close this poem is to a true story...).

Anyway, I've been working on this poem for way more than a day, but who cares about rules? I've been working on it since Monday, I think, and, yeah, it feels worth the time. It's been a while since I've written a horror narrative.


The Horror at Nestucca 

There winds a road through local hills,
     a shortcut toward our Tillamook Bay
so thickly rimmed by gnarl and bough,
     the shadows there don't need the sway
of sun or moon to stretch their pitch,
     gesture to the eldritch prize
nestled underneath the mount
     on which Nestucca lies.

There, amidst the toppled lichs
     of slowly decomposing wood,
I glimpsed that great, primordial dread
     Alhazred solely understood:
something by the dint of which
     that blight of vine and fog is thralled;
something pulling obscene strings
     from neath the forest's pall.

The hour spent dissecting miles
     of strangely still, unpeopled white
had my heart hung under tongue
     in an inchoate fright,
but only when a creeping reek
     like smolder-gnawn ammonia and hair
plied its pungence through the vents
     did my revulsion flare,

a quickly-climbing sense of wrong,
     my leaden foot upon the gas
hazarding unseeable night
     to just escape that pass,
but then, surely by some craft…
     doused, the north star of my dash;
out its comfort, out all light
     as I prepared to crash.

Yet, by some hand that fate was stayed
     (a mercy I shall ever rue,
for death would be sublime
     beside the things Nestucca shewed…).
Trundled to a slow and stop,
     the car refused my manic twists,
leaving me to the breathless dark…
     and whatever festered in its mists.

So thick and soundless, like that pitch
     which moved its scythe through Egypt's young,
this asphyxial black that pressed
     its ocean-bulk on mind and lung.
Phone, become a meager flashlight
     in that signal-eating trap,
lent its glow to lessen the blow
     of Nestucca's coffining sap.

And as I tried to pry a plan
     from 'neath the weight of a paranoid daze,
for the first time since mistaking this road
     a light flickered out in the haze.
Some ember of civilization, I thought,
     someone to help me get back on the wing,
but would to God I'd spurned that hope
     and forgotten I'd seen the damn thing.

Maybe then my tired lids
     wouldn't retch Nestucca's sin
upon the canvas of my sleep
     night and night again.
Maybe then that precious myth
     through which we safen earth and star
would have stayed the farce and bliss
     such comforts always are.

Yet, there, the crunch of needled earth
     from underneath uncertain feet,
as well the foetor threading the wood
     with scorched and putrefied meat.
How could I have missed these signs?
     And the groping hands of fog and branch
moving with a will at which
     any sane person would blanch.

Despite these things, my mothy pace
     toward that smudge of glowing light,
which danced from in between the trees
     ere ghosting into sight,
unveiled to be a livid blaze
     just as a noise stopped me dead:
a sound for which I'd lop my ears
     if it'd get the thing out of my head.

At first, I couldn't place the drawl
     within the clearing's reed-ringed luster,
but god…the sound alone sufficed
     to shatter what nerve I could muster,
binding me salt-still while from
     the nearby pitch and sylvan flame
vowels wet and hoarse seethed out
     too like the region's name.

That name, the awful oath and curse,
     I now know soils that deviled mount…
For as voice on voice groaned from the dark,
     I saw staring eyes beyond count,
constellations of emerald and red
     in groupings I shudder to understand,
all affixed on the bonfire's writhe.
     It was then that I noticed the hand.

Why the Hell didn't I see it before?
     The miles and miles of those vile fumes…
that fire, a tomb of cinder and flesh
     digesting whatever its stoker exhumes.
If only that blasphemy were the extent
     of that which the grave called Nestucca released,
but god…the shapes I'd mistaken for reeds…
     stooping slim limbs to the burning deceased…
          pulling out bodies in offert'ry feast…
               belying the hope humans drew from the east.

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