Some days I think I’m turning into Poe. (I really think so.) The air of doom, the gloom, the morosity and sombrerity. (I threw in a hat pun although he is usually not depicted wearing hats in his portraits, but I do wear hats so I am throwing it into the ring so to speak.) Might I add, the macabre mind? Yes, it is easy to harbor such a sense when the name of one of your books is there to remind you. What else am I to think but that an upperhanded cosmic plot could be afoot or at least atoe to metamorphose me like a butterfly to a moth? A fly to a spider? A mouse to a cat? That doesn’t sound right. A crow to a raven, perhaps? I shall have to work on my analogies. Needless to say, I sometimes feel like Poe. Rather Poeful, in fact. A tad Poetent. A touch Poessessed. A wee bit Poeltergeisty. Somewhat Poestmortem. A little Poe-esy and yes, you guessed it, most definitely Poe-etic.
I fear it was inevitable. Bound to happen, if you’ll pardon the book pun. Or, in Poe-etic vernacular, fated to transpire. Okay, that’s the way I tend to write as well. Not in emulation, simply because I believe in using the full extent of language. It is a lost art that I have been criticized for, yet it is my style and you would probably not be here if you didn’t already know this. However, if you didn’t know this and would prefer to run away, now is probably a good time. I’ll wait. You see, I may wish to captivate my readers; I do not wish to figuratively or actually tie them up and physically hold them captive. There is a difference. Isn’t there?
Okay, all aboard. Ding ding ding, the crazy train has left the station. Too late, you’ll have to jump. I suggest a nice tuck and roll; save the swan dive for making a splash at pool parties. Moving right along, or in reverse, the topic is Poe. And me. Me and Poe. My Poelarity. The art of being Poelemic. Or something to that extent. More or less. You get the gist. If not, you should have jumped while you had the chance. No, don’t stand up now, there’s a —
— tunnel ahead. Oops.
Oh well. I tried to warn you.
Moving right along, again (now you’ve made me be redundant), I will state for the record (if inanity can count as a record) that being a Poe-etess means that I cannot help but sink to the depths of dismal-natured dementia in my scrawlings. Toss in double scoops of depravity and dismay and, well, you get the picture. It is not a pretty one, I might add.
So here I am having a typical Poe Day, a descent into the murk of my subliminal umbrallage. The rest of the time I think I am turning into Carroll. As in Lewis. You know the one. That doesn’t mean I do not have the occasional Mary Shelley Moment, or Mark Twain Tic. A Homerous Humor. An Irving Interval. And then there’s my King Conniptions, Shakespearean Spasms, Grimm Grippings, and Koontz Kachoos . . . I should really see a doctor, yet I am strangely content with the side effects. The aside effects too. As well as the underside and West Side and loboto-Poetolomy effects. There are just a lot of effects, but I don’t mind. (Possibly because I’ve lost it. The mind, that is. The old steel trapezoid. Yeah, it’s gone.)
So here I am being me. And Poe. Just call me Ledgar. Or Poe-Lo. See what I did there? Like Brangelina? But I digress as usual. I should be writing some actual Poe-etry, now shouldn’t I? And so, you see, I shall . . .
If my writing is tenebrous
Given to crepuscular despair
In my defense I cannot help exude
That grumbly morbid flair
There is a dimness in my exuberance
A departure to my norm
A brooding thundercloud
Above the diction of my form
You may accuse me of Poe-dunkery
Within my prosetry and verse
Though it isn’t my intention
And it isn’t such a curse
It would be the height of flattery
If you thought me so profound
As masterful at plottery
As Gothicly renowned
I should only be so lucky
To bear a bleak resemblant pose
A likeness to his atmosphere
I’d settle for his nose
I strive to be original
For I am not a copycat
Yet I tend to be Poe-etic
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Black is the color of my blues this night —
I will heed no consolation but the leap of candlelight
As I toil upon a wording that refuses to flow right,
Hunched o’er my desk before a slightly boosted pane
And rivulets of moisture, saltless tears of rain,
Its weep cold and bitter like the harsh scratch of pen
While I tussle with a line muttered time and time again.
Lo, from the corner of a crimson-veined eye,
With drowsy-lidded torpor I glimpse a magpie
And envision the bird baked, a triangular wedge;
Instead the imp blinks, crouching soaked on my ledge.
“You will never get it perfect, however long you scribble!”
I imagine it conversing and part my lips to quibble,
“Come out of the storm then and give me a nibble!”
The crow tips her crown, quills drippily shining
As if in disapproval I can only think of dining . . .
“There would not be much to chew, unless you count my gizzard,”
Protests she haughtily beneath the drenching blizzard.
Yet I differ to beg in a conniving sort of tone:
“Just take a step inside for my nest is your own!
You are making me drool, which is awfully unfair.
My stomach is empty, and it’s not polite to stare!”
I was inventing excuses to the disdain of the rook,
Like a fish glides aloof, blithe ignoring a hook;
To incense flaming hunger, dark plumage she shook.
Pen toppled from grasp, mood pieless and starved,
The jay’s sly fowl play taunts to dream of her carved.
Wings discarding the damp, the flirt looses a croak
In a froggish retort and laughs at her joke.
Belly rumbles underscore what the mouth yearns to say,
That the tart should be breakfast by the advent of day,
So fixated am I in the taste of a bird;
I’ve lost track of all labor, the pursuit of the word.
To my gaze she is pastry, not feather and beak,
A cream puff on two limbs that is able to speak.
I can’t think, the obsession has rendered me weak;
So desperately fraught by a fey appetite,
Unable to refrain from the desire of one bite,
My brain seized by craving, a raven-ous greed
An ache that is building with absolute speed,
Overwhelming all logic, any apt comprehension,
My convictions released, disbelief in suspension.
A writer’s mind thus can too easily abscond
From the travails of love, this solitary bond . . .
A union of patience, the artistry of letters,
In the calm twilit hours we may skip from these fetters
Distracted by such willing and wily abettors
And seek a distraction, perhaps another to share it
Like the coquettish sprite that enchanted my garret.
The trickster hopped in to pilfer my pen —
“I told you so!” squawking, she flew the den
After dripping and tramping damp footprints on page,
Nimbly out-prancing my clutches and cage.
Guess I’ll make a cheese sandwich; I don’t even like meat
But that bird, for some reason, would have been nice to eat!
Please pardon my mopery, if you will
For it is something that gives me a despondent thrill.
I do so relish a fine spate of gloom
In the sky or a poem, a tale or my room;
’Tis as welcome most days as the rapture of rain —
I delight in the sight and sound through my pane,
And dance to the pound of doldrums in ear;
There is nothing more uplifting than the lack of cheer.
A lovely gray pall, a thunderstorm’s approach
Can make me brood with no trace of reproach.
I embrace a dour mood as if it were my last,
A frown, a glower is quite a blast!
Being doleful is fun, and I rarely smile;
A good grief or scowl is more my style.
You might think me batty, I’d have to agree . . .
There’s one on my head, you see.
the soul seer
I aroused in anxious bestartlement
From a sleep that twisted a fragile mindbent
And for hours left me bereftly lost
In a moor bogging steps like a winter’s frost.
“Out!” I cried to the demon hovering near
Whose name shan’t be spoken for reverent fear.
Stabbed in the eye with the moon’s vibrant sconce,
I flung off my unrest at his fevered response:
“Heavy lies the heart of the soul seer,
Spying the world on a cracked mirror,
The distortion unmasking its horrors and stains,
Removing a shroud from ghastly remains.
Behold what your neighbors cloak with their smiles.
’Tis your cumbrous burden of mordant trials
To silently bear the sins of humanity;
Utter a syllable, condemned will they be.
From Gehenna’s bowels, a Stygian grave,
There is only one way their souls to save . . .
You must carry unscrupled the ills they do,
Or the devil will claim the lot of you.”
We exist in the moments we cannot let go,
And for me it’s before I knew what I know.
I have seen behind veils of the deftest deceivers
Who charm great esteem from countless believers
Or accuse the defenseless of their own crimes;
I have witnessed injustice innumerable times.
I’ve glimpsed what the curtain could not conceal,
And am haunted by the truths I cannot reveal.
Life is that way, rife with imperfections
That contradict the shape of our perceptions.
Even a rose will make you bleed,
And the sweetest cakes do not fill your need
But inspire regret, a hole in your tooth,
And taste less pleasing than in days of youth.
By chance I was drafted to balance the bane,
The sordid secrets, the corrupt and profane . . .
Though few among us are paragons or sainted
I wish I saw less of how people are tainted
As once-innocent eyes stare abjectly and mourn,
Peering beyond the rose to the thorn.
The door kicked aside, two White Jackets intruded —
“You’re coming with us!” all the goons would say.
Strapped in a matching coat and hauled out screaming,
I suspected they were coming to take me away.
In the rear of a padded truck the ruffians locked me;
My conveyance jounced over an unpaved street
To confront a quack who pronounced me depressed
And asked me to sign the bottom line on a sheet.
When I refused to commit myself to the nuthouse,
The doctor grew surly and pronounced me mad.
“After we’ve completed your initial treatments,
I guarantee you will wish you had!”
I was fastened to a table in a medical chamber,
Electrodes attached to my upper head.
The switch was thrown and I writhed with agony;
Shocked and appalled, I woke up in a bed.
It was then I revived from a terrible delusion,
Gasping, ashudder, relieved to be free.
You never appreciate the simplest things
Until there’s no longer a guarantee.
Life becomes hectic, your plans topsy-turvy,
The world spins awry, swerving out of control . . .
You may find yourself downside up, discombobbled,
Struggling to recall if you walked into a pole.
We don’t even notice the most obvious privilege
Like drawing a breath or feeling at peace,
But if they are hindered, obstructed or shaken,
It is all you can think about till their release.
Now I dream of dreams on The Lunatic Fringe,
Where the air is cloudy and the mind roams wild.
Shadows hug you like a teddybear,
And you can play with your inner child.
Bring your own rubber duck, no quacks permitted;
The dress code is casual but hats are required.
We strum ukuleles and wind-up guitars,
And only take naps if we’re tired.
My melancholic state has been removed.
The broad grin never seems to fade.
As I weave little baskets to sell in the gift shop
And twitch like a monkey, I’ve got it made.