The Notaclysm

I
 
The Central Soul of Saladin
stands atop the mountain
wincing at the wicked quickening
beneath his mortal feet.
The dragon nears completion;
and the seal is nearly broken;
the flaming sword, still missing;
and the emerald armor, gone.
A thin breeze wisps
the curled hairs upon his chest;
the Sun’s soothing hands
warm his clean-shaven head.
The cataclysm is about to begin.
 
 
II
 
The cataclysm is about to begin;
there is nothing but the dragon
under dead Gaia’s skin.
It drills its gleaming eyetooth upwards
into bedrock,
splintering granite,
as a hot pick would splinter brittle ice.
Its scales are red plates of diamond;
its muscle – iron;
sinews – steel;
the dragon’s blood is molten gold
rushing through its racing heart.
For eons, it has waited to be whole.
 
 
III
 
For eons, it has waited to be whole.
Eons in the ether;
existing without matter;
sliding spirit up to spirit;
flailing just to touch another.
Eons under mountain,
suffering the slice
of Saladin’s sharp sword
and its callous vivisection.
Eons slowly healing;
boiling the souls away;
erupting out the armor;
and the aimless flaming razor.
 
 
IV
 
And the aimless flaming razor
rises beneath the feet
of the still standing Saladin
waiting for the break.
Deep within the ocean,
undulating slowly,
Leviathan ignores a giant squid
entangled with a humpback whale.
Electro-sensing tentacles
detect something moving deeper:
a massive surge of particles
churning toward the surface.
An old foreboding recollects.
 
 
V
 
An old foreboding recollects
in the grey mind of Leviathan:
images woven with the threads
of decomposing Wilderman.
Ancient outrage waiting latent
seethes above its constant hunger.
The dragon plans
to smash the cistern;
boil and disperse the waters.
But where will it emerge?
 
 
VI
 
But where will it emerge?
Tentacles spread wide;
antennae: stretched and sensing.
The crack of granite draws;
and the slow undulations
turn to lightning slicing ocean.
Until, around an islet,
Leviathan is circling:
an iridescent ring
frothing rising waves along the shoreline.
It coils in concentric spin,
like a mammoth ribbon winding,
waiting for the Dragon.
 
 
VII
 
Waiting for the Dragon,
Saladin remembers
the whispers of the demon doubt,
and his right hand starts to quiver.
Guilt’s message echoes,
and his brow takes a furrow.
Shame slumps his shoulders;
and haste speeds his heart.
He scans down the rocky cliffs
with his misting mortal eyes,
at the churning sea beneath,
at the waters as they rise.
He closes out the memories and seeks his strength.
 
 
VIII
 
He closes out his memories and seeks his strength.
Inside himself, he finds . . .
A bitter aching darkness:
an emptiness of spirit
that the reptokin devoured . . .
Cravings for comforts
his human-born body
came to know:
nicotine, THC, and alcohol.
There upon the mountain,
Saladin cannot keep himself from thinking
of a pilsner, a bowl, and a Marlboro.
 
He smiles at the irony of it all.
 
 
IX
 
He smiles at the irony of it all.
The little hint of a grin
cuts a slit between his mind and soul,
making space to read in focus
the patterns scratched across the cell.
The strong walls erected
to protect his sensate center
are etched across with letters
spelling, “There is only suffering outside,
burning passion
that ebbs into cold loneliness;
preserve me and you live;
break me and you die.”
 
 
X
 
“Break me and you die.”
“Break me and you die . . .”
whispers back the Soul of Saladin,
“This is the cell’s central lie.”
As eyetooth of the dragon
shatters through the island,
erupting with the sound
of a helluvalotuv cannons.
Skewered on the tip
and almost instantly dying
is the flailing mortal form
that had been Saladin:
Released that very instant.
 
 
XI
 
Released that very instant,
flying and transcendent,
rising from the mountain,
a whole and healed immortal spirit,
Saladin,
Saladin,
Saladin – himself returned again.
In a gout of steam,
as magma meets water,
the sleek crimson maw
of the planet eater rises.
Onyx black horns
and fire opal eyes
adorn the viper’s head
above the serpentine neck.
 
 
XII
 
The serpentine neck
climbs like to a charmer’s flute,
waving to the chaotic hiss
of the ocean in explosion.
The dragon takes a deep breath of freedom
and shakes the heavens
with one hateful bellow.
 
And Leviathan strikes.
Mile after mile
of high voltage coiled muscle
constricts garrote tight
and cuts the bellow to a gurgle.
 
 
XIII
 
The bellow cuts to a gurgle
as blue tentacles attack the eyes
and wrap about the dragon’s jaws
like a crackling azure muzzle.
Sputtering flames bubble
from the craterous crimson maw
as the dragon, shocked and blinded,
whips wildly to loose the noose
and convulses to the voltage.
High above, in blissful unattachment,
the liberated soul of Saladin
sees glints of green – and a spinning sprig of flame.
 
 
XIV
 
Seeing glints of green and a spinning sprig of flame,
the soul knows without attachment
the action to be taken;
in a thought breath,
grabs the breast plate,
and the leggings, and the boots;
in an instant, dons the shoulder plates,
the bracers,
and the gauntlets
in which it holds the helmet
just a moment;
just for rhythm.
 
Before he places it upon his head
and streaks emerald through the sky
to grasp the flaming rapier.
 
 
XV
 
He grasps the flaming rapier
with both hands held before him;
he meditates the moment
and focuses his Qi.
There will be no Cataclysm;
there will be no Leviathan;
nor will there be a Dragon;
nor will there even be a Saladin.
They will be as they were meant to be,
as they were in beginning,
before hunger’s dark infection:
merely totipotent souls,
Pan’s perfect children.
 
 
XVI
 
Pan’s perfect children.
Pan, when his song began,
hung a note for every soul;
each played in harmony,
soft, true, and whole;
in one endless rhythm,
each flowed through all;
and all was total concord:
everything
in place
in that one extended melody . . .
Timeless,
Spaceless,
Perfect.
 
 
XVII
 
Perfect
until hunger.
Pan’s song broke.
Into continuity,
slipped emptiness.
Souls like the dragon’s
were traumatized by the vacuum
and sought contact at all costs.
While others,
like Saladin,
saw the emptiness
as no more than a rest
and thought it would be better to be silent
than cacophonous.
 
 
XVIII
 
Then cacophonies
splintered through the echoes of the melody
as jagged bits of tune
disemboweled one another.
The Soul of Saladin
looking down
at the writhing
cords of fire and water,
Dragon and Leviathan,
as they roiled to destroy each other
knows with Peace at his center:
how to aim the flaming rapier.
 
 
XIX
 
The flaming rapier
comes down like a solar flare,
as Saladin descends like a burning emerald meteor
with the blade leading the way
like a cauterizing razor.
He pierces between the eyes
of the suffocating dragon.
As the sword splits the hungry soul
from the struggling material,
the eyes glass peacefully
then dim.
Bursting from the crimson gullet,
Saladin scorches straight into the screeching beak of Leviathan.
And silences it.
Electric tentacles surge and slack
as a second soul is spared.
 
 
XX
 
As the second soul is released,
a symphony of universal beats
embraces three lost notes;
and there is no more dragon;
there is no more Leviathan;
at last, there is no Saladin.
And there never was,
nor will there be,
a cataclysm.

 

 

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, August 29, 2021 - 11:02