Ven spoke and dead men heard him.
Ven spoke and rich men paid.
Silver to pass the dead a message;
gold to know what they replied.
Ven feasted, drank, fucked girls
before an audience of ghosts.
A year, two years, and then it palled;
he tired of gold, of limber flesh.
He cut girls, cut boys, killed.
Nothing answered, nothing thrilled.
He corrupted scholars, raised bones,
demanded: "What pleasured you?"
In the tombs of a fallen empire,
the dust whispered: Demon fire.
The darkness striding through the town
was once a man, but now is not.
Afire, each man, each woman, each child,
each scorched scream fresh, fabulous.
Their thoughts, terrors, torments
unfolding in his mind: tangible, tasty.
A flaring feast that briefly fills
the darkness striding through the town.
(First published in the HWA Poetry Showcase, Volume II)