“We Know the Devil’s Name” Dark Speculative Fiction/ Horror Poetry by Andrew Leonard

"We Know the Devil's Name" Dark Speculative Fiction/ Horror Poetry by Andrew Leonard
Hermann (Arminius) at the battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE by Peter Jannsen, 1873, with painting creases and damage removed [from Wikimedia Commons]
We slog through thick, wet foliage, our leather boots sinking in summer’s decay 

Gone are the olive groves and aqueducts of home, the assurances of mortar and stone, order and symmetry

Our imperial writ probes ever outward, seeking purchase where none exists

And in so doing, we encroach upon inhospitable climes of godlessness

Its demonic denizens challenge our foolhardy advance, as rabid howls soar through the pitch black of night, followed by gurgles of agony and cackles of glee

Daylight reveals crimson growth overhead, along with pools of crimson carnage underfoot

Slick, red wicker-hewn standards hung with the entrails of our dead loom at the peripheries of civility
Such brazen mockeries of our might expose the pink underbelly of imperial overreach 

Earth’s appendages retract and wither as frost proclaims its presence, and our beacon of dominion wanes with the light of day

The devil’s deluge continues unabated, sapping our vigor in an implacable torrent of indifference
The ground hardens, and thieving winds steal away warmth, stranding us in a world wanting for succor and mercy

Our tattered legion eventually splinters on the devil’s predatory persistence, his arbitrary malice overrunning neatly fashioned defenses in waves of feral bloodlust

Disemboweled and bled dry, our husk of imperial zeal is too brittle to sustain the weight of its own avarice

Night eventually outlasts day, and for our surviving few, the devil now has a name

Arminius speaks to us in fleeting whispers, and while his words are strange, his intentions are not

We are told of his travels, and of his ship, a blood red halo in the sky

Soon we'll depart, he says, seeding our minds with assurances, and promises of the void’s wonders

But we've endured his unholy culling, seen him unearth depravity’s deepest depths, and know the reality will be far worse

Andrew Leonard (he/his/him) is an aspiring speculative fiction author and poet with a passion for all things science fiction, fantasy, and horror. He lives in Illinois with his wife, daughter, and two Golden Doodles, who rule the roost. He has written numerous articles on foreign policy and geopolitics, and, admittedly, has what some call an unhealthy obsession with the war in Ukraine.

Medium handle: https://aleonard82.medium.com/

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