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Yellow Brick Road

Forgotten Fragments of a Fading Dream

By Insinq DatumPublished 12 months ago Updated 7 months ago 12 min read
Yellow Brick Road
Photo by Arjun Mathur on Unsplash

One day - a day just like any other - the hero of our story, that man who is the captain of his own soul, noticed that the sky was growing dark and was beginning to look angry.

It seemed to him as if a storm was brewing, and it looked like a serious one, but when he tried to tell his loved ones about the problem, none of them seemed to be the least bit concerned. He felt certain that if nothing was done, catastrophe would strike, but did not himself know what to do, and could not get the people who were most important to him to take him seriously about the danger. In their eyes, the sky was just being the sky, and it would be better to leave it be, better to leave such worries unstated than to share them with those not already troubled by them. There was some sense in this, but it meant that our hero would have to solve his dilemma alone. As he did not have any ideas, he began to wander from the path, straying further from home each time, but the strange thing was that the storm seemed to follow him, and although his loved ones would not acknowledge that there was anything the matter, they did not seem pleased to see him when he returned, as if they too could see the angry sky, and blamed him for it, but would not say so.

Feeling himself an outsider in his own home, our faithful captain decides to pursue the rainbow over the horizon, searching for lands unknown. Therefore he commits himself to his wandering, and he manifests a vessel with which he can cast away from his familiar surrounds and perhaps leave the storm and those who cannot seem to understand him behind, at least until he knows himself well enough to explain his intuitive foreboding properly. As he roams, he becomes friends with the breeze that blows and the waves which break upon the shore, as well as a host of other less reputable figures who I dare not mention, lest they hear the call and come to reckon with me. He drifts further and further from his home, until one day he can no longer see land. He has followed the yellow brick road of his imagination and too soon he has found himself lost in a world more expansive than his wildest dreams could ever have predicted. Yet in the same moment that he exults in the scope of his freedom, he feels suddenly the depth of his folly, as he realizes that out here, he is truly alone, truly lost, and that - should he fail - no-one will know to come looking. He will, that is, be forever forgotten.

x

As the shapeship explores the deep blue sea, it is confounded by the complexity of the wind and is continually drawn off course, bewildering both captain and crew. What's more, the storm yet stalks our brave soul, which gives him some measure of relief - at least his loved ones will be safe. On the other hand, now it's just him vs. the world. Strangely, as the ship begins to lose its way, the crew starts to vanish. Just when the captain himself is beginning to feel utterly lost, hopeless and alone, a haunting melody slowly rises up out of the waters around him, capturing his attention and ensnaring his affections immediately. He is drawn towards the voice, and before he knows it he is balanced precariously over the edge, reaching in his longing for the heart behind the song. For it is a song now, not just music, and as the voice begins to sing, the captain feels something take possession of his soul. His being resounds with nothing in particular and everything all at once, whispers of sweet nothings mixing with seductive promises that align with his wildest fantasies as if the song is a dream where the dream is reality. The voice which emanates from the waves has no fixed or definite origin, but instead echoes within.

He is lost and yet found - found within his fantasy, yet lost to true reality. He cannot tell the difference between his story and her song, and as she sings he feels himself drawn ever inwards, towards the depths, where he knows he will find her, and where she will make him feel at home. For her, he would hold his breath forever. Such is the richness of possibility reflected in the gilded depths of the strangely dissonant harmonies as they eddy and swirl around our lovestruck soul. He no longer sees the here and now, but instead is daydreaming and sleepwalking; bewitched so completely is he by this mysterious melody, he cannot but think that to die like this must surely be better than life...

This is the song which calls to him and consumes him whole, saps his energy and traps his soul:

x

You've come so far from distant shores

And now you're lost alone at sea

A tempest slowly closer draws

Won't you sit down and wait with me

x

A hunger at you slowly gnaws

You know you need to taste my kiss

You cannot yet quite see my claws

My voice conjures a simple bliss

x

The choice is yours, but hear me well

No man can break my lovely spell

And once he's heard me sing my song

His will is weak, though he is strong

x

For I invoke his destiny

I animate his fantasy

I echo in his ears sweetly

Won't you sit down and wait with me

x

You've come so far from distant shores

And now you're lost alone at sea

A tempest slowly closer draws

Won't you sit down and wait with me?

x

Just take a seat and stay with me.

x

Few men can resist the solemn song of Mary Jane - after all, our siren really is just as lonely out here on her rock as our sailor feels lost at sea, and she really does want to enjoy your company. In fact, she'd love to enjoy your company for the rest of your life - however long that is, of course. For, all the while that you are caught ensnared in her spell, the storm from which you were fleeing creeps ever closer, and yet you remain transfixed, like a mouse that has fallen in love with a cobra. This particular cobra however, this little sea-snake, does not want to kill you and eat you, because she would prefer to eat you alive. What that means, though, is nothing quite so simple as one might imagine.

Through her voice, she can hold a man, but with her eyes she is able to drink his life, and she has a lover who helps her do it, an obsidian python who takes advantage of the man's absent mind, lost in her song, to coil himself tightly around the prey, until he cannot move. Oblivion squeezes the man for the juiciest parts, his fears and his dreams, and devours both together. The siren, on the other hand, feeds on the loneliness and hopelessness that this creates, which engenders a further attachment to the cycle, that then generates more fears and channels more life force into his dreams, because he is unable to live them out. Together, this devilish pair can drain ten years of life in mere months.

One is thus faced with a choice, and simple though it may be, it is no less difficult for it. One can either choose to turn from the heavenly voice, from the toxic gold of mere fantasy, and face the storm from which one has been fleeing all this time, or one can choose to remain caught in the web until the storm finally catches up with you, whereupon whatever is left of you will be swept away like so much chaff before the wind. Yet nothing less than the ultimate display of willpower will suffice, and such a feat cannot be performed by any save the strongest souls. Once one is truly caught in the siren's spell, one has walked too far down the yellow brick road, and it is such a long way back now. To turn away from such a compulsion, to walk away with the song ringing in your ears, to keep your wits and your dignity both... only a true hero can slay such a medusa and live to tell the tale. Yet such a man surely has another option available to him: he could, by virtue of his iron will, offer her a way out, an opportunity to change. Or could he just?

x

"How skilfully she wields the knife,

As webs are spun and stories told,

Your fantasy she weaves, your wife,

Until you’re drunk on toxic gold"

x

He has decided - he's got to get out of here. Or has he? Perhaps he has simply decided to decide - tomorrow maybe, or later today even; at any rate, not right now. So he attempts to relax, but, try as he might, a vague suspicion nags at his mind, until suddenly he remembers: something isn't right. He begins to feel unsafe again, but for the life of him he cannot put his finger on precisely why. His brain feels all fuzzy.

First he has to figure out what is going on. Where is he? Who is this strange woman who sings to him? What is the shadow which is even now coiled around him, making it harder and harder to breathe? How did he get here? What in the devil is going on? He wracks his brain for answers, but finds that he doesn't remember. He can't even remember his name.

All this thinking reminds him that he is hurt, and tired, and very very lonely. The moment he begins to despair over his situation, some of the smoke finds its way into his mouth and suddenly he can't remember why he was upset. There is a beautiful melody in his ears, and a beautiful woman before his eyes - what more could a man want? He is content.

He doesn't know what's going on, but he knows something is wrong. He knows that he's caught in some kind of loop, stuck fast in some kind of web, but he can't remember how he got here. He knows it has something to do with the ethereal beauty who is filling his ears with haunting music... but what? He can hardly breathe, vaguely aware of some kind of presence wrapped around his body, constricting it, but when he looks for the source all he sees is smoke. But he's been thinking about that smoke. There is something off about it, about the way it moves. It seems almost eager for him to breathe it in, and he knows somewhere in the back of his mind that he shouldn't do that. He doesn't know how he knows, but since he can barely move he decides to focus his attentions entirely upon his breath. He closes his eyes and retreats within himself, breathing only through his nose, and identifying as fully as he can with the breath moving in and out of his lungs. Crisp, clean air, empty of smoke and song. The melody sounds muted, as if somehow distant.

In a revelatory flash, he remembers his name and that he was exploring the oceans in a ship. He's jolted out of his meditative state, and the smoke surges towards his mouth, only to find it still firmly clamped shut. It recoils in frustration, but the sinister song is now once more ringing in his ears. Yet a surge of energy fills his soul, as the little scraps of lore which he was able to recall fully ignite his desire for the meaning of all this, for the story of how he came to be stranded on this strange rock to begin with. He retreats once more within himself, focusing entirely upon his breath, and identifying with the inward-outward movement, the essential cyclic polarity of life itself.

Down the yellow brick road he goes again, only this time the road consists of stairs, and as he descends into himself, his story comes back to him piece by piece. Soon he is deep enough that he remembers the whole journey, and everything which brought him to this point. How long he meditates upon his calling, we do not know. He did not hear the music, nor could he mark the passing of the time by anything but his own breath, in which he was wholly immersed. Just as the first raindrops start to fall upon his face, he finally stirs.

He begins to speak, and once he has said his piece he starts again, repeating himself three times over before he even opens his eyes. Then he gets up and, with a visible effort of will, turns his back and begins to walk away, reciting to himself as he goes. Step by step he walked, and the further away from the centre of the island he got, the clearer his surroundings became. The song continued to echo through the waters all around the island, but he heard it not. Before long, he spied his ship, or what was left of it. It had obviously wrecked itself against the jagged teeth at the bottom of the cliff when its captain had decided to dive overboard and swim towards a god-forsaken rock in the middle of nowhere.

So he sat down at the edge of the cliff, and he waited for the storm, and all the while he chanted softly to himself, lost in the words of the story he told.

This epic poem is what he sang.

x

...

x

What happened next is not known in detail or with any degree of certainty, but what is whispered in the deep is that he faced the storm from which he had been running, and that a mighty battle ensued. There never was a storm like this, before or since; the tempest flashed and crashed with elemental fury, and even the mistress Mary Jane feared that he would drown out there, all alone. There was a flash of lightning so bright it was blinding, and a clap of thunder that shook the very rock on which they stood. When those who had eyes to see had recovered from the shock, they were amazed to find that the storm was nowhere to be seen, and only a bright sunny sky smiled back at them as they searched the horizon for any trace of the chaos which moments before was everywhere. Even more incredible than this however is what they saw in the distance: an ephemeral vessel, sailing away. Any who had ears to hear might also have mentioned that poetic inspiration filled the sails of the ship and propelled it towards its destiny. It was, in a word, magical.

x

It's said that Mary Jane sometimes sings a new song these days, one which is not quite at home with her usual haunting renditions of tragic loneliness and beautiful despair. This piece tells instead of the hero of our story, the one who got away, the only man who ever lived to see it rain again another day. This is how I imagine it to go:

x

From blood and bone

From rock and stone

From wind and water

From shadow's daughter

x

He broke my spell and left his cell

Though waves did swell where shadows dwell

He forged a ship of shapes and air

And long ago escaped my snare

x

He spread his wings so he could soar

He's gone in search of distant shore

I hope he visits me once more

How I would love to hear his lore

x

To drink his song would be divine

It must be quite as rare as mine

No mortal man could flee from me

No soul who hears my song is free

x

I miss him so, I need to know

How he could just get up and go

And leave me sitting here alone

His cunning mind and heart of stone

x

Gave him the strength to wield his will

For now, he's boasting of his skill

Carry the broken shards of chain

Until, that is, we meet again

x

From blood and bone

From rock and stone

From wind and water

From shadow's daughter

x

Come back to me one day my prince

For no-one's ever seen me since

You know, you and I'd make quite the team

Forgotten fragments of a fading dream

slam poetrysurreal poetryperformance poetrynature poetryinspirational

About the Creator

Insinq Datum

I'm an aspiring poet, author and philosopher. I run a 5000+ debating community on Discord and a couple of Youtube channels, one related to the Discord server and one related to my work as a philosopher. I am also the author of DMTheory.

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