Unto the Fire
I am the twigs thrown onto the fire. I grow smaller each time someone loves me and each time someone stops. I wither in the magnitude of the conflagration I’ve created.
After her love, I became the white flakes of flint drifting through the sky, like bits of torn flesh. Next time, I will perhaps shrivel into a speck of black powder, no bigger than a grain of sand.
“I’m sorry,” I’ll say to whoever tries to love me then, knowing they will kill me, “this is all I have left to offer up unto your fire.”
Traveling Salesman, 1927
Selling cocktail glasses creates a thirst for many things, not only liquor. But the pretty girl serving dinner in the hotel restaurant seems immune to my charms. Our paths cross again in the drugstore where I’m buying aspirin for the inevitable hangover and she, filling a prescription for her bedridden mother. Red-haired, dimpled Angelica lets me walk her home. It’s a gorgeous tropical twilight, and she laughs at my jokes. I kiss her and promise I’ll return to Tampa soon. Her face glows like the full moon in my dreams. I sleep poorly and am on the road before sunrise.
The clown wobbles on stage, shackles dragging amongst debris, where Joy-Bringer awaits, whip in hand, skull mask lighted by torches.
Barefoot in his predecessor’s blood, he faces the crowd.
Ashes fall through the collapsed roof, on skins whitened by sunless years. Hollow eyes, bodies, minds, hearts. Starved, but salivating for the show.
Pain explodes on his back, cheers in his ears. Their only amusement—someone’s suffering.
But this clown, he smiles. Has lost everything, endured all torments.
The whip cracks. His flesh too. Never his spirit.
He giggles; they roar.
He lifts his arms, laughing, absorbing their frustration.