A Portrait of the Reaper as an Overzealous Bureaucrat


As long as the nights teeter into dawn,
And embers into dazzling cities,
The poets will walk into the flaming valley
And burn for a thousand years,
Wafting their pregnant worlds across the summer stillness.

And as long as the days dissolve into dusk,
And cities into sputtering embers,
They will behead their echo by the ocean
And let it bleed for a thousand years
So that the ghost may tingle against the frigid face of God.

In all these years of burning and bleeding,
And all these memories welling and receding,
Did you wonder whether you remembered it all backwards
Before you remembered nothing at all?


You burn, you bleed, you drown, reprise,
Each new iteration of hellfire and ice
Swings the world in ever-widening arcs:
The summers grow bright, the winters dark,
Euphoria and desolation, benedictions and lies.

Is it the world that is brimming over and over,
Or is it you shrinking until you are a needle
Precariously perched upon the immediacy of reality?

What would it take for you to tumble away?


You wouldn’t know, you wouldn’t know,
You with your whimpering beast in tow,
As you crawl into the labyrinth of faces—

Your whimpering beast, uncouth, unfleeced,
The faces that indulge you, so you think at least,
And a moment of truth locked in stasis.

You imagine me waiting in the sanctum sanctorum,
You imagine me waiting for you with an extended thumb
Amid the pages of my inventory of names
Of every beast that was and every beast to come.

With a name, I will set you free,
With a name, I will tip you into the void,
And watch your crisis of being
Combust itself into inanimate meat
And gravitate into the heat death of the Universe.

Are you terrified that I will wait for you?
Or are you terrified that I will not?