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For Novel Allen's Savages Challenge: In Tribute to Franz Kafka

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished 18 days ago 4 min read
If you want to hear the song, click play! This is just a demo version I threw together for this piece. For the significance of the creepy picture, reference the Rommentary!

When the lust grows in our heart,

Desire tears us apart.

We can't find our sacred place

From within this cluttered space.


I tried to be in love and not in fear

But it seems we're puppets with no puppeteer.

Entangled within our barbed wire strings,

Killing each other for shiny things.


The slime of debauchery

Taints my eyes so that I see

The sunlight through evil cast

In a universe so vast.


The dope that numbs me cannot save me from this pain.

It always returns to break me down inside again.

The girl that holds me cannot save me from despair.

She would control me even as we electrify the air.



***** * *****


When Novel Allen asked me to contribute to her challenge, I was aware of dozens of works I published which likely qualified as Kafkaesque. My life has been Kafkaesque in many ways, and sometimes, even legitimately Lovecraftian, and I apologize for not explaining in detail what exactly I mean by that, but, in the final analysis, any attempt to relate such matters directly would not only be futile, as they can only be understood through experience, but even possibly dangerous, as they are, for that very reason, too open to gross and grotesque misinterpretation.

I wrote this song when I was in a situation where I had no choice but to review the sordid affairs of my life and ask: what happened? I never set out to hurt anyone, and the only person I abused was myself; but I learned over the years that a life of excess creates burdens which others who are undeserving can be forced to bear, especially those among our loved ones who don’t want to watch us kill ourselves one wasted day at a time.

Debauchery also creates corpses. There is a long list of people who I knew from those days who are no longer with us because, unlike me, they were not fortunate enough to survive the swamp. I don’t claim to be better than them, only lucky. The dose makes the poison, goes the old saying, and I was many times not far from overdose.

I want to channel Kafka here, more than anything, by tackling the irresponsible state practice of drug prohibition. Despite all my bad experiences and observations from within the cultural cesspit, I still feel now as I have since my days of debauchery that neither justice nor peace can ever result from the use of state power to punish people for self-inflicted wounds. It adds insult to injury, kicking us when we’re down, and then making a pretty penny off us in the process, and that’s all it’s ever done. To incarcerate a person who hasn’t the strength to leave a prison of his or her own device only puts them in two prisons, and as they wind their way through a bureaucratic and financial nightmare in the aftermath, many more.

A notably Kafkaesque version of Russian nesting dolls reflected through bitter human experience! No wonder so many of us lapse back to our original vice, when we discover that the usual version of human compassion is but a vicious obstacle course!

I’m not as widely read in Kafka as Novel, but the story that really hit me was In the Penal Colony, where a traveler is invited to witness the execution of an insubordinate soldier. The machine by which he was executed was a horrific torture device which reminded me of the way the legal system handles the poor, the indigent, the addicted: it didn’t work as designed, was poorly maintained by a hopelessly daft top-loaded bureaucracy, and had so desensitized both its operators and its intended victims that no one seemed to know or care what point it was supposed to prove.

Yet it still claimed its victims and paraded itself as justice.

I’ve already well exceeded Novel’s 600 word limit, but I am happy to disqualify myself for official entry and leave the prizes to others, for it is I that is grateful to her for inspiring me to revisit this important, albeit painful, episode in my life. I should like, however, with the hope of not overstaying my welcome, to add one final note as to these lines:

“The girl that holds me cannot save me from despair.

She would control me even as we electrify the air.”

This is not an indictment of women. I am heterosexual, so naturally my qualms with love would focus on the opposite sex; but, it should be remarked, that there is a certain “elemental” type of person, of which Eliphas Levi remarked:

“The love of the magus for such creatures is insensate and may destroy him.”

Love can be a drug too, folks, and not a bad one at all; but never forget: the dose makes the poison.

***** * *****

Some of you may be wondering about the picture I used for the video. The red eyes belong to Regan, or more accurately, Pazuzu, per Linda Blair's portrayal in the classic film The Exorcist. It's my favorite movie and the canvas was a gift from Micheal A. Dyer, a.k.a. MAD, who I collaborate with on his brainchild Horror to Culture. Check out his latest article where he tackles the difficult task of creating authentic art in the modern digital age:

If you like Mike's art, consider keeping up with us at Horror to Culture, where he hopes to be offering it for sale soon. Here's the whole canvas, which I only hang up around Halloween, because it creeps me the Hell out, turning a corner and seeing those eyes staring back at me:

Finally, below are links to some of my pieces I would consider Kafkaesque. Pick one from the lot and feel free to tell me in the comments why you think it is or isn’t! Reads will be reciprocated!

Thanks again to Novel for the inspiration! I'll just see myself out now...


About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

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Comments (4)

  • Sarah Parker3 days ago

    Terrific poem. I also thoroughly enjoyed the song and I’m glad you’re doing better now. ❤️

  • Grz Colm18 days ago

    I can’t listen to the song this minute but I would like to circle back! 😊 A terrific poem by all counts but your heartfelt and eloquent story had a lot of food for thought. Excellent piece C. Rommial.

  • Novel Allen18 days ago

    First, you made me tear up. Then I was in awe the further I read. Then I laughed at the end when you saw yourself out. Word count be damned, this is bloody marvelous. I am so sorry to hear about your happy you made it through the haze of growing up. You are happily here to share your stories and make us laugh and cry. I absolutely love the whole story, from the pic to the song to the story itself. I still believe that the world is run by old fogeys who need to relinquish their hold and allow new ideas from forward thinkers. They spend fortunes on punishment, when what is needed is a cure or rehabilitation or more positive ways going forward. I go now to indulge in more of your Kafkaesque works. Thanks so much for this Butleresque masterpiece.

  • I'm so sorry you've been through that phase. I'm glad you're no longer involved with that. You're a very strong person. As for your poem, these were my favourite lines: “The girl that holds me cannot save me from despair. She would control me even as we electrify the air.”

C. Rommial ButlerWritten by C. Rommial Butler

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