Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

Not so new poem

This is a second version of By The Tracks, with a few revisions and an additional verse. A couple of people thought the original one was fine and should be left untouched: I don’t agree that it was fine, but I’ve left it up as well for anyone who wants to to compare and contrast.

By the Tracks

I start this looking out into the dusk,
part-composed in a station waiting room,
leaning on the blue door’s peeling frame
in winter rains, bleak as it gets,
with headlit traffic swishing by
and half a dram of red for company.

The tracks are where infinity leaks in,
all sounds sound louder in the void between
each passing train, the emptiness extends
where lines converge to vanishing;
cigarette butts along the rails
thrown in the cinderbeds, extinguished stars.

Washed up alive, I have to start anew,
back on the streets in winter warm black chic:
Cyberdog Byron for these modern times
– pathetic getup for a man
who had his life implode on him
twice in twelve years, in his half century.

The background fades, the focus pulls up close,
a dolly zoom, to put me on the spot
in one catastrophe, one time, one place:
perverse incentives to remain
identified with holy sin
where I belong, the demonym of Hell.

Not that I could truly claim integrity;
I kept no faith: I tried hard to sell out,
but they weren’t buying; and now I get to be
the sacred monster of my dreams
for fools who have not bled enough
to ape and emulate, copycat ghouls.

Now time to move on, forgetting, forgiving
and leaving behind home, family, wife;
not, this is what I do for a living:
this is what I do for a life.

Necessity makes easy heroes, forced
to cleave to my one truth in what looks like
a martyrdom, I have no fucking choice
– medicine-show quack peddler of
assisted psychic suicide –
but anthumously live up to the myth.

God is my witness, as he was to all
of us, first martyr, testifying to
himself, the Son his Father’s holy ghost.
All you can say is that I stood
in the full light of what I did
for my arraignment at the final bar.

I owe so much to those women who showed
me finally that no way is too dark
if there’s one other heart to meet you there:
acceptance was all that it took
to draw all of it out of me,
freestanding now, never to be denied.

Seven times seven, my climacteric
freed all my latter days to pioneer
new possibilities of life and love
– if you’re the man to do it, do –
down the same road I always walked,
all whole once more, the integrated man.

God brought me love
in my darkest place:
I had no choice
but to follow it there.