FORGOTTEN SOULS

From the heart of the inferno
Dante and Lucifer grow bored
waiting, waiting for the ferry
while Charon stops for lunch
yet again at a Greek diner
in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.
They take up a game of catch
tossing Molotov cocktails,
raining fire onto the brimstone,
setting the Styx ablaze.
Each knows this is not necessary,
for necessity is a creature
of heaven and there is no room
for the extraneous here
in the realm of forgotten souls.
We watch from deep within
a nightmare of our darkest
memories, certain that heaven
must await us, or purgatory
if that is how our fate
is to finally be written.
The angels dance on the ceiling
waiting for the precise moment
to break Morpheus’ grasp
and drag us back to our reality,
to continue our dance
between heaven and hell.

First published in Fresh Words Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 2022
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G9eVgBt1ZS1syN9RruNQLzt7-JVq04sY/view

A SMALL REQUEST

If those in the camps
knowing their fate,
the inevitability
of their impending death
could call up music,
for orchestras, play
or sing with
their final breaths,

is it too much
their ghosts silently
ask, for you
to pause and
remember us,
and sing
a dirge
for our souls.

PERSPECTIVE

It will soon enough be time again,
I am an old clockface on a tower
at which no one but the truly bored
bother to look, tucked in a corner
of a village half empty, its life
moved away to places cooler,
less stormy. So I sit and watch
what life remains around me,
the few children wishing they
could be elsewhere, some parents
wishing they had used birth control.
No one looks, no one really cares
but I have little choice, it is my fate
to mark passages, entrances,
but my hands are growing tired
and at some not far off point
they will stop moving, and I
wonder if anyone will care.

EVENT HORIZON

Someone suggested that
it is certain if you fall
into a black hole you will be
crushed well beyond diamond.

Not exactly a fate I’d want,
but that person added
that time elongates as you
go through the event horizon.

If I understood him correctly,
death is instantaneous but
that instant will seem quite long
as you verge on your death.

I could live with that, I suppose
although with my luck I would
irritate my sciatica before entry
and suffer its pain with no Advil.

RUSHING IN

Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you.
You know me, bedecked in motley emotions
worn like so many colorful rags,
a suit of too many shades and hues,
all displayed for your entertainment.
See if you can find ten shades of anger
as I prance around in front of you.
Count the five flavors of tears
that start and stop like a passing storm.
Laugh at me as I pirouette, a dervish
who loved blindly long after
the love of my patron had died.
See me in my fool’s cap, the bells
of rage and guilt dangling from its points.
If that isn’t enough to bring out a laugh,
watch as I rip out my heart
and lay it at your feet, still beating
to the rhythm of the song
to which she grew deaf so long ago.
Rain your scorn on me as I stumble
across the stage, for though they ring hollow,
it is them that I most crave, a redemption
that no monarch could hope to offer.
Step right up, don’t hang back,
come and watch the fool perform for you
and do not pause to think
that you could as easily be here,
on this stage, and I out there marveling
at you, wondering what you did
to ever deserve such a fate.

First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)

OVA

She says you should not put
all of your eggs in one basket.
I remind her that I’m not
terribly fond of eggs, and only
rarely have more than one, and
in any event, I keep them in
the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
She says, so why is it we
have no TV, no phone, no Internet,
tell me that, wiseguy.
I steer away from eggs and baskets
and simply respond, because
we have yet again been stranded
on that barren, fruitless island
known to all, hated by them, as Comcast.
We both shrug our shoulders
in resignation to our fate.

ARRIVAL

The lake arrives each morning, just before she opens her eyes.  She’s tried to catch it, getting up earlier or later but it was just lapping the shore outside her window each time she first gazed at it.  Once she tried to stay up all night, and it clung to the shore despite its desire to slip away, but she was certain it did when her eyes fell closed a little after 3 a.m.  She got up at the usual time, and it slid in just ahead of her.  All that day it seemed quieter, almost restive, as if, like her, lacking the energy that curtailed sleep might have provided.

She remembered her grandmother saying that only once in her years along the lake did she ever catch it just coming in around the point.  That was a magical day, never repeated, but it bound grandmother to the lake in a way few could understand.  She kept asking her grandma to tell the story again, but like that day, she’d just tell it once and only smile when asked to repeat it.  She never asked anyone else — she learned as a child of the scorn she would face if she did.  She given up Santa and the tooth fairy, but this was real, she could touch it or even take it home in cups or buckets, though she smiled, it always slipped away sooner or later.

She knew from the doctor’s face the chemo hadn’t worked.  She could feel it failing even as they pumped into her.  It was okay, she wanted to tell him, but it wasn’t and they both knew it.  They tried, won some battles, lost others, but in the end they both knew who would win that war.

This morning the lake never arrived, never touch the shore and the house was shrouded in silence. Continue Reading