Down beneath the deepest vaults;

Down beneath forsaken wells;

There are places undiscovered;

Protected by unholy, ancient spells.

In a fever dream one winter night

I made the subterranean climb

To seek the old forgotten relics

Of a dreadful bygone time.

Down into the dark descending,

After hours lost in seas of black

I felt as if some hidden gulf was crossed

From which there was no turning back.

I emerged amidst an endless plain,

Covered with a strange, grey sand

As an evil star hung redly o’er me

And threw its vile tint upon the land.

I headed for the distant city

That on the far horizon loomed,

Whereat I knew the Ancient Things

Lay solemnly and silently entombed.

Once inside that twisted ruin

Through the winding streets I pressed.

Once or twice, a chill shot through me

When I thought I heard wings beating to the West.

At last I came upon a strange machine,

Designed to turn and twist the city’s gears,

All overrun with vines and fungal growths

Of unfathomably many years.

I sought a way beneath the site

To seek what had been built before,

When in my bed I suddenly awoke

And clutched a tome of ancient lore.

The desert

(more…)

In my little town, when a chill autumn breeze

Comes sweeping down through the colorful trees

Whisking the leaves that float down when torn,

And the cold harvest moon rises over the corn;

Out near the old graveyard, so townspeople tell,

Dwells a monster that’s straight out of Hell.

They say that this creature, so awful and foul,

Is a shape-shifting thing who sometimes takes the form of an owl.

They caution all visitors who come passing through

To avoid the graveyard if they hear any owls crying “hoo”.

A scientist once came to live in our town,

And he thought that he ought track this bird down.

The people all told him he ought not to go,

But he was a skeptic, who doubted the legends, and so,

On Halloween night, he went off to the wood

Trying to find that bird if he possibly could.

He sought the old graveyard–that forbidden zone–

And there, on the unhallowed ground, he waited alone.

His journal records that, as near midnight drew,

He heard that unmistakable “hoo, hoo!”

He did not have to make much of a search,

For atop the ancient, untended crypt the creature did perch.

He must have pursued it inside, underground,

To judge by his footprints–the only traces the search party found.

He’s not been seen since–where he is, none can presume–

And none of the searchers dared to go down in that tomb.

And every man in the party swears on his life that he knew

He heard an owl, in the daylight, calling mockingly: “hoo”.

But this is only old folklore–and from so long ago,

That whether it’s true I cannot claim to know.

Nowadays, the screeches of owls seldom pierce the night air,

And perhaps ’tis the case that there aren’t any there.

But some people say that on dark Autumn nights,

On old country roads, far from the town’s lights,

They have glimpsed a strange man, with a curious cowl,

Whose features resemble those of an owl;

With piercing round eyes, and a nose like a beak.

And there is only one thing that compels him to speak:

If you say the scientist’s name, he’ll look right at you,

And his eyes seem to smile, and he says simply:

“Who?”

(more…)

Over at the Buffalo Bills fanblog “Buffalo Rumblings“, Aaron Lowinger wrote a counter-factual season preview/review of past Bills seasons; that is, a kind of historical fiction or “alternate reality” type of post.  I thought it was a cool idea, but the reaction from most of the site’s readers was pretty negative.  I can sort of see why, too, because even in Lowinger’s fantastic universe, the Bills are still seeking their first championship.  Enhanced misery is not what people want in their daydreams.

I really like the idea, though. I’d like to try it myself in fact.  Allow me, if I may, to borrow Lowinger’s (and Buffalo Rumblings editor Brian Galliford’s) idea, and try to make it into a happier one.  What follows is purely fictional–although it may be factual somewhere in the multiverse…

****

When the ball slipped through the fingers of their most reliable receiver this past January, it shattered many Bills fans’ hopes of doing something done only twice before: three championships in four years.  The Bills, coming off a franchise-best 14-2 regular-season record, had marched down the field for a touchdown to cut the upstart Jaguars’ lead to 31-29, but the two-point conversion fell short with only seconds remaining.

It was a rare miscue for a team accustomed to winning.  After their thrilling 31-28 O.T. win over Arizona in SB 43, the Bills had established a reputation as clutch winners.  Their improbable run to a 34-15 shellacking of that same Arizona team in SB 45 only cemented that reputation, with a thrilling 17-point rally to beat Indy in the divisional round, followed by Trent Edwards’ clutch drive to down favored Baltimore 27-24 in the conference final being the most notable examples.

January’s disappointment aside, the Bills remain a young team with all the major pieces in place for another championship run.  Although they lost star running back Steven Jackson in free-agency, they are confident that Spiller can fill his shoes.  The receiving corps remains intact, as does the offensive line. The addition of Asante Samuel to a strong secondary makes them arguably even more powerful than the #2 defensive unit that led them to their first championship.

****

Well, that was fun, right?  Or maybe not.  Is it just a sad reminder of how bad things are, or an uplifting diversion?  For, after all, sports themselves are meant to be an uplifting diversion.  They really aren’t much good if you let them make you sad.

P.S. Lowinger and Galliford–should you happen to read this, I hope you don’t mind me reworking your idea.  If you do, I’ll gladly take it down.  It’s not exactly Goethe reworking Marlowe’s stuff, but sometimes it pays to take more than one crack at an idea.

I stood there alone

As I pondered the sun.

I had wandered since gloam,

Traces of life I saw none.

I was lost in the sand,

My body was dirty and smelly;

“Lone and level”, by damn,

Was the scene, as would say Shelley.

I shouldn’t have gone on this trip;

I’d be better off home.

I hated the sand and its grit,

But lost, I continued to roam.

At length, I discovered some shade,

An oasis and system of caves.

I sat me down there to wait

And gazed at the pond and the waves.

I fancied I saw in that pool

A vista of planets and stars,

A whole galaxy, and nebulae too,

And centaurs and globules and quasars.

I fell from the hot desert clime

Into that abyss of icy infinity.

Where the stardust twisted like vine

Amidst lights that danced like divinity.

I fell like a rock into space

And sometimes I believe I fall still.

For I am only a body displaced,

And I go where the Universe will.

So, as usual, there’s a lot of Lovecraftian Cosmicism in this. I did do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while in this poem, though. You’ll notice it’s in a typical ABAB rhyme scheme, but all the “As” are not rhymes but rather assonances. They don’t end on the same sound, but they contain similar sounds.