Blood Eagle

The world of childhood

Was like a drunken dream,

A world without money or friends

That’s when coldblooded dreams of

my own death

Came in the night,

With heartless regularity

Dreams always ended the same way,

With me basted in oil,

And my body slung over a gridiron

To be devoured by familiar angels

But if Thoth hadn’t wanted me to

dream of my own death,

Then why did he give me knives

In the form of words?

And chemical plastic

To play withβ€”

Boron, cadmium, and phthalates

to suck on?

And why did he put me in a flat 10-

tall-feet from the ground?

Drunken dreams became waking


Regularly boiled and keelhauled,

He trained elephants to crush my


And I was sentenced to thirty years

of white torture

And he gave me a paper bag of

sorrow in the gut to suppress


A choke-hold to keep the words in,

An enemy in every mirror

I knew Nirvana before I ever heard

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Music of the Lingchi

The only book I had was about

Nordic execution,

I remember the Blood Eagle

The back was slashed to give access

to the ribs,

Broken and twisted upward to look

like jagged exposed wing-bones.

A dash of salt to flavour the blood

Then the lungs were dragged out

and draped over the bone-wings

And I worried about Thoth’s ability

to read minds

But I needn’t have worried

Thoth was a card-carrying Scaphist

But this thing.


What was it?

And it had always been there

My own Chinese execution van

I didn’t realise at the time

But it was not my enemy

It was protecting me.

Numbing me to sunsets

Exposing me to the tough love of the


Dragged by horse

Taken to the gallows of brain-buried


To the bleeding edge of sanity.

So I can bring my dreams of death to

Without dying



Maybe 8am/maybe earlier.
Light yet to crack
The retina of a cephalopod-ink sky.
When I heard the music of confrontation
And not for the first time


Gagging sound, from outside.
Rusty machine with defective components,
Trying to swallow some piece of oversized input.
Hard hack/suffocation procedure
Bumps against window.
And another noise
Working in dissonance.
Oversized input/being eaten alive.
Chest compressions with trench boot


Sensing muted commotion of frantic existential resistance
Muted by the eating machine,
I wonder,
What is it?
Answers lie behind the curtain.
Answer/More a lesson
Mouth/eyeballs cut dry.
Had to look behind the curtain.
In that moment I remember seeing all my Barbie’s/dollies,
And thinking about how sickeningly childish they were
And how I would probably never play with them again after this lesson
Body arid/embarrassed
What was I about to learn?
Draw back curtain and I see it: two birds, mid-flight
– a seagull with the panic-cycling legs of a crow dangling from it’s huge maw.
Birds cannibalising their own.


Seagull’s eyes rolling back to a hideous perspective,
As if the mass of crow were forcing the physical structure of the seagull to alter, distort.
Like when a python dislocates it’s jaw
To eat a farm pig.


Wings of the crow/gone,
Only mad legs fight for futile sentience.
And the gull’s wings batter against the glass of my bedroom window
As if it wanted me to see this.


The crow, now in the final stages of terminal secretions,
Willingly engages in pterygoid walk
To lower abdomen.
Two shuddering gulps/gone,
Legs an’ all.
My naΓ―ve lesson:
Greed can eat death,
Make as much as you can
Bury fear behind wealth
Until I realise they are the same
And I pity the gull
Realise the world is a one-dimensional monster –
Domnatio ad beastias.

Chris Kelso is a British Fantasy Award-nominated writer, illustrator, and anthologist. His work has been published in – 3AM magazine, Black Static, Locus, Daily Science Fiction, Antipodean-SF, SF Signal, Dark Discoveries, The Scottish Poetry Library, Invert/Extant, The Lovecraft e-zine, Sensitive Skin, Evergreen Review, Verbicide, and many others.

*Image credit: Still from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film “The Birds”.