Prelude
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Spiritually, we are all connected to one another by cosmic threads. These threads are filled with emotions. Threads filled with love are thick and strong. Threads filled with hate are weak and easily severed. Most people can’t see them, but they all seem so clear to me. I confess that twenty-twenty vision was not always the case for my insight. My youth was painted in blurry pictures, like a rain drop on an eyelash, the water mixing colors that at first didn’t appear to be harmonious, like orange and gray. Yet, in the blink of an eye, age and wisdom cleared my lenses. Maturity helped me bring the connecting threads of all relationships sharply into focus. Some are easy to spot, like the damp leaves of fall on a rained-over highway. Others hide from us in plain sight, connected by threads that are as thin as the peach fuzz on our skin. Blink and you’ll miss them, and that could be costly. Some threads act like the tripwire of a booby trap for lost souls. They make situations explosive and optimal for falls from grace for those who wander too close to them. I will not be the one who is unaware of his surroundings or unaware of the gravity of these imminent moments. Stakes are high, and I am reminded nightly of that through the repetition of a dream.
I’ve had a vision of a woman every night since Amber’s marriage proposal. Her image comes to me late in the twilight hours in the form of a mistress in love with the sound of her own voice. Her energy always feels like the calm before the storm, that love before the hate and that dusk before the dark. I look deep into her eyes, which are both as black as the desert’s oil. I look at the blood red skin that covers her amazing body and the number 13 that is tattooed on the left side of her neck. The only piece of clothing that covers her crimson flesh is my favorite button-down shirt and a pair of steep stiletto shoes. She tells me that she’s the spirit of competition, and her name is Rivalry. She is no demon, but she looks like one, reminding me of a spider weaving silk where the breeze lies still. Like a one-night stand remembered for a lifetime, we know each other by a shared memory. This memory involves Rivalry carving the palm of my right hand with one of her many long, black fingernails. She begins where the dark lines of love and life meet in the folds south of my fingers. Blood rises slowly through my cuts that now glow red in the shape of a pentagram. I feel no pain in this dream, but I feel dread. It feels like one feels after hearing bad news. It makes my body tense as one does in the seconds that precede a car crash. It is at that very moment when I wake from the dream, every single time. I am well aware that dreams often coincide with whatever plagues the subconscious. For example, a dream about drowning may mean one is troubled about having enough time; a dream about flying may embody a yearning for one’s freedom. I am not well-versed in the arts of dream interpretation, so I will seek help from someone who is. What I do know is this: my inner circle, including myself, consists of five people, so I’m positive that the pentagram represents them.
What I cannot figure out is why the number 13 is on her neck. My gut tells me that each member of my circle will have to survive a rivalry with the other 4, however the math on that is 10 rivalries, not 13. I will go with my gut on this one and ignore the math. “New levels, new devils,” as my step father Levi would say. We all have to survive this phase of the game if we are to get to the next echelon. My countdown will begin with the number on her neck that’s associated with both good luck and bad. Hopefully, when the countdown is done, my family will still have its bond intact. It seems as though our work is cut out for us. If Rivalry is true to her name, then she has the power to stroke an ego with one hand and turn friends to foes with the other. Her spirit can slice through the connecting fibers of any family’s blood kin. I also know that a family that goes through such a trial may become stronger or estranged. I do not want to bid farewell to yet another circle. It makes you harbor feelings of contempt toward each other and jeopardizes the family’s legacy. Surviving the storm is only half of the problem. Reconciliation afterward can be just as painful if you realize that what you have after the storm is not what it was. I don’t believe the sexy red woman named Rivalry is a demon simply because she’s not all bad. She tests us by speaking opposition with parted lips whenever people elevate while unified. For those who listen without fear, rivalry is healthy and remains one of the true ways to build character. Those who listen fearfully become easily consumed with selfish tendencies. Some argue to win instead of debating to understand. Some find themselves proven wrong or unjust but stay consumed with vanity and saving face. Some find themselves void of humility. Some are so consumed with victory that they forget why their war was declared. This is a shame because life is supposed to be good now. I have captured my dream, defeated my enemies, and found a goddess who wants to marry, but all of this beautiful energy is new and untested. The odds against my success will increase proportionally to the success I try to obtain. So for my circle, my soul, and the love of my life, the road ahead will be difficult to navigate.
I find myself in upstate New York headed north, speeding through one quiet town after the other. Asphalt races beneath my feet, lonely and unforgiving. I greet it with a hot kiss from two rubber lips. My heart races like a plane down the runway as I explore the unfamiliar. The early morning rain failed to wash away the colors of the changing leaves of autumn. Shades of burgundy, red, and yellow blur into a unique orange. The mango-colored treetops kiss the still gray skies. Those colors seem more harmonious than before because they surround me. Even the golden leaves on the gray pavement remind me of my vision. The symbol flashes again in my mind’s eye as I pop the clutch and twist back the throttle. I bring the front wheel slightly off of the wet pavement as I speed ahead to resolve some unfinished business.

Poet’s Pursuit of Pleasure
pentagram
Intimate Rivalz

The Pentagram symbol—to earth-centered religions throughout history as well as to many contemporary pagans—represents the feminine spirit or force, the cosmos or spiritualism, Mother Earth, and a sacred space. The five-pointed star is representative of the four primal elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and traditionally a fifth, called spirit. The circle binds them together to create life

Levi Sinkler—Spirit: quintessential principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.

Anthone “Graffiti” Bleu—Fire: a purifying, masculine energy, associated with the South, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire both creates and destroys and symbolizes the fertility of the God. Fire can heal or harm and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn.

Amber Love Smith—Earth: Connected to the North, Earth is considered the ultimate feminine element. The Earth is fertile and stable, associated with the Goddess.

Fierra Jackson—Water: Water is a feminine energy and highly connected with the aspects of the Goddess. Used for healing, cleansing, and purification, Water is related to the West and associated with passion and emotion.

Tiffanie Tai—Wind: Element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life. If you’re doing a working related to communication, wisdom, or the powers of the mind, Air is the element to focus on.