This poem is taken from Stand 219, 16(3) August - September 2018.
‘Yellow orbs for eyes, a black skull! Come on, Martin, I’m in trouble!’ Martin, my alter-ego, assures me, Nothing to worry about. No one sees the Reaper. As if he’d know—he’s never seen him either!
I gallop out of the graveyard with a pasty-white goose neck and polka-dotted dress,Martin’s on my tail, offering advice on how to handle this ‘existentially prim-itive’ scenario.
When the Reaper walks behind you, stop and shake hands and do a deal. Otherwise, you take a detour through the human spectacle.
Martin’s a bluff: he’s only a shadow of myself, so what’s to be afraid of? The Reaper’s boots clacking on the walk, his scythe catching the sun… He’s a Gothic advertisement. Trust me, you’d know him if you saw him. The Reaper never bothers with disguises.
It’s Satan who hides, biding time for his messier jobs. That’s why I shriek out my sins as if they were exceedingly obvious—no one can accuse me of lying, but blurt-ing out the unloved parts of myself doesn’t endear me to others.
It’s both my blessing and curse, to see and listen with discernment. Count on me to tell you the truth—about myself, and you, the best and worst of it, throwing open the door—but keep in mind, you’ll never like me in return.
Moon ices in evergreens, blind spots of coincidence in imperceptible blinks. If only I knew what was missing! Its flame hides the sorrow of ash—the smoke, a melancholy as moon’s chimera vanishes.
In my night-viewing room, the black flowers scent of ale; the window’s moon, a milky cataract, a glowworm crawling on cloud-trails---when it shines in, my heart curls into a chrysalis, a silken white sac, and the question echoes back, What is invisible to itself in hiding?
‘If only you’d known enough to stay quiet,’ the sorcerer laments, ‘you might not be dead, trapped in a limbo of your own devising.’ I sigh a scavenger’s breath moonlighting a distant cloud-script. The viewing room I’m lying in is overheated and I can’t close my eyes.
‘The dead never sleep, so dreaming gets fused with reality,’ he said. ‘Clouds help us figure out the missing links.’ Just then, I felt my own heaviness lifting: a chink in the clouds, an ancient etching in smoke, the phoenix’s roar as it awakens. A shake-down, the dead heart beats—a smoking red tail, a demon mouthing clouds—the missing speaks…