The Living Murder

This is the first poem in the long, dark “Back for Forwards” section of my second poetry book manuscript, Vagabonding. As I mentioned here yesterday, I’m gonna try illustrating and blogging one a day for a while to get a better sense of the whole, solicit feedback, and generally see how it feels. Because I’m on the road again, these first illustrations will be simple. Because people did not clamor to hear anything in particular, except the Nuremberg 2027 series envisioning future war crimes trials that I already illustrated and blogged, I asked someone else to pick.

“Pick a poem,” I demanded.

“From what list?” my hapless victim replied.

“You don’t get to see the list,” I replied. “Just pick a poem.”

“Number seven,” he declared. I looked up the seventh italicized poem I had been thinking about blogging, but couldn’t decide among the list.

“Are you sure? That one’s really dark,” I explained. He rolled his eyes.

“There are more topical ones in relation to the news,” I protested. My poetry blogging decision-making assistant clocked out of work for the day. Union rules.

So here is number seven, the first in one of the darker sections in a manuscript with a lot of focus on light. If I continue through the italicized poems in this series, that’ll be eighteen dark poems coming at you soon. I’m undecided on whether to present them together like that, or break them up. (Or throw them all away. Or light them all on fire and take pretty pictures of roasting marshmallows. Options!) Stylistically at least there’s a lot of variation within the thematically organized section. So there’s that. Without further procrastination…

“The Living Murder”

Something happened in the dark,
while I was sleeping
and did not wake.

When I came to,
I was dead.
But I startled back
from Death,
or from the man who killed me
in my sleep
his sickly heat
his smoky breath
the feel of his unbearable weight
and his moan become my own.

Back out in the light, alive and freezing,
I ran from people
I ran from sun
I ran from God who I had promised
never again to try to sleep forever
never again to give up battling the darkness
never again to raise my hand against myself
unless this happened
unless one more lead straw fell on the pile
unless I had to see one more monster smile.