Mayerling

[after Ray Russell's story, Sagittarius]

 

"And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went."
---T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, I


"The popular excitement over 'Jack the Ripper,'

and the Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria,

may be specially mentioned . . ."

---Havelock Ellis, The Criminal, p, 288 [footnote]. 

 

"Let be be finale of seem."

---Wallace Stevens,

"The Emperor Of Ice Cream"

 

 

I.  In London 

 

1: Friday, August 31, 1888

 

 

In darkness clad, with heavy accent's suave allure,
and still just passing through, the touring foreigner
(chanting, from his warped soul's grimoire, a brutal page)
gives vent, at last, to long repressed, erupting rage
upon a helpless whore. First will not be just once:
no more just one in line; blossoms new dominance.
Elatedly, this should be nourished and made stronger;
hence London, incognito, for a little longer.

 

 

2: Saturday, September 8, 1888

 

To cross the channel . . . take a seat on some fast train . . .
and grining servants bribed (to lie or make excuses):
these are small, really, almost forgiveable ruses
compared to that foulest desire---to inflict pain.
A promise made---this too short night shall not have been
the last: some state affairs; and then return again.

 

 

3: Sunday, September 30, 1888

 

Hunting at Mayerling, shooting small, helpless birds;
or, over drinks, discussions of prospective wars
and politicians' loose language and empty words---
was just an antiquated, tiresome ritual
bloodless, like ghosts, as poets tell; impersonal:
but close, and real, like this slit throat, bleeding' a whore's.

 

 

4: Sunday, September 30, 1888

 

 

Dare to approach the second?---two in the selfsame
night? As the undiminished, ghastly energy
surges and crests in urges, will the quantity
decrease the thrill, the shock of sanguine butchery;
nor should the effort subtract from the quality
(should future scholars dilate on the artistry
that their words will enshrine in everlasting fame).

 

 

5: Friday, November 9, 1888

 

When clocks are too frightened to strike at the wee hour:
and a timeless twilight erupts with untold power;
no longer distant, the glow of that conflagration,
reflected in living, and upon dying, eyes,
eyes ripe with fear, torn out with the last of their life;
flame tips splitting, dancing, leaping, cresting to rise,
flashing, erecting, hardening some sharp, stained knife;
enlightening in its red glowing, not at all dark,
glinting, sparkling, iridescent that exhortation
to the shred-dripping blade---imbibe, fly through the arc,
to that point, an aroused, exulting glut,
exculpatorily sculpt, explicitly maim;
to shear and slice, to carve apart, and cut,
to sever and separate to the very bone
from Mary's slit and seeping throat no final moan;
and the Rhine overflows its banks like the Nile cursed
and the land stank of blood and none could quench the thirst,
and ruins abandoned, godless, in the reddened flame.

 

 

II.  At Mayerling

 

6: Friday Morning, December 28, 1888

 

[for Jacomyntje, Lady Chausette, this section is dedicated in

gratitude for her request to find a connection that was,

then, unconsidered]

 

Quickly, time bleeds away. Loschek, another gin,
and for the evening meal . . . I think . . . yes . . . I want fish,
well seasoned: what relief that will be to some cow.
Alas, the butcher must postpone his grisley fun.
My appetite will privilege someone else to gut
the trout, or whatever it is. The cooks will vie
to see which one among them will make the first cut.
Make sure they keep it juicy, and not too well done.
Has it been six months since I visited Braunau?
Das Klara, married to that clerk, that "civil servant"---
pompous, officious, stiff in his pressed uniform,
barely efficient, but foolishly inobservant.
Even his courtly chatter sounded like a swarm
of angry wasps. Heidler? No, Hitler is his name
(one vowel or two, the sound effects are much the same,
and sound alike to me). His hero is my father?---
the both too much alike, and neither one could bother
to understand a marriage, or a state, in trouble,
the truth belittled by a big, a massive, lie.
Outside the town, to hayfields (now in winter stubble,
windswept), she came, at dusk, adorned seductively.
Her shy and whispered stammer was comic, as she
tried to communicate what she would offer me.
Her country drawl had some small charm. She did her best.
What real man can pass by so easy a conquest?
Once, twice, and then a final third---if I remember
(so busy I had been then, August through November,
the smaller details seem to drip, to clot, together;
bright haze, or gray, dense fog seemed like one dismal weather).
Now she is huge, six months along, in pregnancy.
That small affair has started a new dynasty,
covert, forbidden, and steeped in adultery---
not quite the future that the old fart plans for me.
And if a son?---a bastard, bearing Pappa's crown?---
the pillars of the state would soon come crashing down
in social chaos, unprecedented proportion
of misery, the whole country in strained contortion,
destructive consequences of catastrophy
would be, without least hesitation, blamed on me.
No, I will not be the bung-hole of History.
I must take steps that will ensure some secrecy.
This little accident can be contained, concealed
behind an annual stipend. That will be my wish,
to show my deep concern and generosity
(and my involvement not to be, ever, revealed).
The raising of my child will fall to Alois.

 

 

7: Monday Evening, December 31,1888

 

Now, at dusk, to the western, hidden lake:
there, trembling ripples on the water make
strange shapes that form to even stranger visions
that seem to hold me or, demanding, take
me as the butt of multiplied derisions,
that cut me like a glut of sharp incisions.
And wild weeds laugh so hard at me, they shake,
as dusk darkens the western, hidden lake.

 

As dusk darkens into the boundless sky's
zenith, I see strange shapes with my own eyes;
wide eyes that cannot even turn away.
The subtlest poets could never devise
visions like these that writhe, and lunge, and splay
apart as I wish for the light of day---
that will not come, not in the normal guise
to which it came to other, earlier skies.

 

 

From gravel underfoot, arachnid blooms
rise up to choke me with rancid perfumes.
Wet petals, on which never fell a rain,
open now, leprous, to release their plumes
of odor. As I clutch your throat, in vain,
the stench enters your lungs, that shriek with pain;
and none to hear, or help me here, as looms
above me, still enlarging, five foul blooms.

 

Out of their shallow graves, the dead appear.
Darkness conceals them, but they still draw near,
shambling and jerking like infernal mimes.
I sense their presence with hysteric fear.
And, as some distant, shattered church bell chimes,
these rotting corpses name each of my crimes.
Unhinged jaws grin; empty eye-sockets leer
at me; then, from their site, I disappear.

 

 

8: Tuesday, January 1, 1889, Midnight

 

 

Five useless, prostituted lives I took:
murder, a crime in any country's book
of laws. But should they be accorded grief?
The less of them should be the more relief:
a mere existence wasted, not a life,
dispatched---with little effort---by a knife.

 

At midnight, we shall celebrate New Year's
Day: virile laughter, or nostalgic tears?---
and one of us nervous with silent fears.
To rid the world, one by one, of pollution---
that must become my annual resolution.
The death's head does not mock me with its grinning:
but tacitly approves this small beginning.

 

Appreciation of stars? scarce begun:
they perish like all else, yes every one;
even, epochs ago, our own, small sun
its light-life darkened, sputtering, undone.

 

All things must be consigned to entropy---
the most delightful pleasantry;
the most evil perversity;
until even the final, emptily,
is null and void, so very miniscule,
even to the minus Nth degree
that it will be
forgotten like the proverbs of a fool,
forgotten like a shattered thought in unreality

 

 

9: Thursday, January 31, 1889

 

The towers of time burn like two cheap matchsticks.
And in the gods' retreat, the bright flame licks
the very smoking wounds that it inflicts.
The visions and the nightmares and the dreams
have been consumed, and silenced are the screams
of those who knew themselves wholly foredoomed,
their bodies ash now, utterly consumed.
The conflagration blazes the whole night:
this is the proper dying of the light;
this is the end, as only it could be,
of speculation and of prophecy,
of poets' lines and falsehoods told by cranks.
The whole could not resolve the parts and pieces,
the awful burdens that it could not share;
collapsing under weight it could not bear,
until even existence only ceases.
The river crests and overflows its banks,
to flood the smoking ruin in a great gout,
and puts the final, dying cinders out.
Water, and ruin, and darkness freeze---a clot.
And the Beloved?---whose love stood in doubt?---
whose soft assurances concealed a sham---
dispatched, right through the head, precision shot.
Then that same hand turns, and recocks, the gun.
The choice, thus made, can never be undone;
too quick for pain, the bullet's sudden slam---
something adorned in crimson shreds sprays out
but not beyond the reach that gives a damn.

 

Starward

[*/+/^]

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This is an original hypothesis, suggesting a connection between Prince Rudolf of Austria and the Whitechapel serial killer of 1888; and a connection, furthermore (and suggested by Lady Jacomyntje---all that was left of twenty-three days' conversations with her), between "Jack the Ripper" and Adolf Hitler.

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Craign1979's picture

WOW!

An incredible epic poem! So vivid and viscereal in its detail. Does not lag one bit. It grabs ahold and keeps on rolling like dark clouds on the horizon. Stunning! Your best work.

Januarian's picture

Thank you, sir.  I appreciate

Thank you, sir.  I appreciate your visit and your kind words.  And your simile about the storm also describes how the poem came to me, in August, 2013.  For the three days of its composition, it stormed over me, knocked me down, demanded my attention, and made me doubt if I was capable to write it down.  Thanks again.


Januarian

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Pungus's picture

Super Stunning---Angel of Darkness

I am humbled to be here. What I can say is this: wide-eyed, and with much captivated interest, I found myself overwhelmed with cheer... And for something as terrifying and dark and real as you have found the capacity to commit in conveying, Jack the Ripper is now a familiar phantom to me. And so personally, with your prodigious narration, I am confident to deem this beautiful poem as one of the most gripping things I've ever had the promiment pleasure to bubble my brain juices with, and it bubbled them right well. A masterpiece. Thank you very much for directing me to this.

Januarian's picture

And I am humbled by your

And I am humbled by your comment.  Thank you so much for reading this.  It came in a flury of writing---three days of rapid composition, punctuated by hot and profuse tears over the enforced loss of Lady Chausette's friendship.  I submitted the first drafts to the very first internet poet whose work I read in 2001 or 2002 (I forget which; unfortunately, he is not on postpoems), and he encouraged me to proceed to completion and to post it here.  I am very glad for your visit and remarks.  To say more would sound boastful, so I will close with my sincere and abiding gratitude to you.


Januarian

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patriciajj's picture

Absolutely riveting narration

Absolutely riveting narration brings history to explosive light. Lines like "The towers of time burn like two cheap matchsticks" and heart-stopping depictions of brutality showcase your mastery of language while fulfilling a thesis that would seem daunting to most writers, but seemed to come naturally to you.

 

An epic and timeless achievement. 

Januarian's picture

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for commenting on this poem.  Your comment means so very much to me.  This poem is in a kind of conflict with my very first Ripper poem, which suggests that, Mary Kelly, named as the fifth of the five canonical victims, actually survived; and not only survived, but killed, in self-defense, the Ripper, whose body she mutilated beyond recognition.  (On the day after her supposed murder, Kelly was seen by two witnesses who were officially interviewed, and three witnesses whose evidence was refused---not disproved but refused---by Scotland Yard.  Of course, this would make the murderer a female, which might explain the ease of approach to the previous four victims.  But, for this poem, I had to observe the canonical theory that Mary Kelly was the last of the victims . . . in London.  To the best of my knowledge, and also when one looks at the great digital clearinghouse of ripper information, www.casebookjacktheripper.org, no one had yet nominated Prince Rudolph as a possible suspect at, or before, the time I had written this poem.  My friendship with Lady Chausette ended in early 2013, but her challenge, to connect the two most evil people she had ever heard of, is all that I have left from that time of my life.  Sorry to have been so verbose, but I do deeply appreciate your comment and your visit to the poem.


Januarian

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patriciajj's picture

I always enjoy your

I always enjoy your fascinating, obscure historical anecdotes. Never apologize for sharing drops from your ocean of knowledge. Once again, your drama and narrative was a gripping, heart-stopping experience. 

Januarian's picture

Please accept my sincerely

Please accept my sincere apology for failing to acknowledge these words of encouragement.


Januarian

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