Two-Gun Bob and the House of Caesar

It’s one week past the anniversary of Robert E Howard’s death. For someone I never knew, someone I never could have known, I’ve always felt inexplicably attached to the man. Not just his stories, although his words and his many characters are very dear to me, but to the late Mister Howard himself. He was a strange, tragic, lamentably misunderstood person.

The anniversary of his death always gets me in a certain kind of mood, and this year it happened to fall in a time where I have to admit I’ve been struggling. But it makes it hard not to dwell on mortality and aborted endings, what ifs and what could have beens. I wish, when this time of year rolls around, that I could have spoken to him just once. Not to pick his brain about the worlds he created or what he planned on doing next. Just, I suppose, to be a friend. Or at least to offer friendship. To let him know he wasn’t alone. Thirty is just too damn young for anyone to decide there’s nothing left in the world for them.

Anyways.

When Bob went and did what he did, a slip of paper was found in his pocket. Something he must have carried around for who knows how long. The paper soft and worn. On it was scrawled two lines from a poem by Viola Garvin, the words of which are etched in the small, dark spaces around my heart where I hide all of my most powerful words. They are haunting, and magical, and infinitely sad in their context. I think about them often, especially when I find myself low. In a hole, like where I’m only just beginning to crawl out of. That I’m only able to crawl out of because I’m not alone, and I know that. And I just so desperately wish, right there before the end, Robert could have known he wasn’t alone. Maybe it would have made a difference. Maybe it would have made him pause, and change his mind. Who knows.

I miss you, Mister Howard, though I never knew you.

THE HOUSE OF CAESAR

by

Viola Garvin

Yea — we have thought of royal robes and red.

Had purple dreams of words we utterèd;

Have lived once more the moment in the brain

That stirred the multitude to shout again.

All done, all fled, and now we faint and tire —

The Feast is over and the lamps expire!

Yea — we have launched a ship on sapphire seas,

And felt the steed between the gripping knees;

Have breathed the evening when the huntsman brought

The stiffening trophy of the fevered sport —

Have crouched by rivers in the grassy meads

To watch for fish that dart amongst the weeds.

All well, all good — so hale from sun and mire —

The Feast is over and the lamps expire!

Yet — we have thought of Love as men may think,

Who drain a cup because they needs must drink;

Have brought a jewel from beyond the seas

To star a crown of blue anemones.

All fled, all done — a Cæsar’s brief desire —

The Feast is over and the lamps expire!

Yea — and what is there that we have not done,

The Gods provided us ‘twixt sun and sun?

Have we not watched an hundred legions thinned,

And crushed and conquered, succorèd and sinned?

Lo — we who moved the lofty gods to ire —

The Feast is over and the lamps expire!

Yea — and what voice shall reach us and shall give

Our earthly self a moment more to live?

What arm shall fold us and shall come between

Our failing body and the grasses green?

And the last heart that beats beneath this head —

Shall it be heard or unrememberèd?

All dim, all pale — so lift me on the pyre —

The Feast is over and the lamps expire!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

International Suicide Hotlines

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