The Happy That Burns

Everything the same, each day more inane.

Never a bland moment to break up the sane.

I rolled out the door in a fit of ambivalence,

Hitting the grass that made far too much sense.

I fumbled, I fell, till there was nowhere left to go.

In a paralyzed state, I lost all my flow.

 

My arms reached about, to below, not above.

And I dug and I dug and I dug and I dug.

My arms pummeled downward until they would chafe.

My legs lost their venom, my soul broke the ache.

Till my back collapsed and my face sorely cried.

Kept going until each little vein inside died.

 

When the bottom was found, and a rock blocked escape,

My fingers rooted deeper round curved jagged shapes.

Out from the deep the great treasure I pulled.

Not a stone but a moth-eaten box full of holes.

I stuck my finger in one -out poured water.

It filled up the space till my lungs had no fodder.

When I thought I would drown in oppressive blue flow

My heart made a wish before hell turned to snow.

 

The dirt round me broke, the lake became dry,

And I stood somewhat awkwardly amidst a great sky.

Before me it stretched like a great sinking ship.

I looked down and across to the great lower lip.

Fields of glorious gem-speckled growth

Spread across and about near a crystal clear moat.

A bright glowing cottage masked in embers and flame

Sat auspiciously tall by my limp and bruised frame.

 

Through the door I galloped and my smile spread wide

As I pranced about lightly in this fairy-tale sty.

My dress glowed brighter than deep buried jewels,

The floor of the cottage felt both hot and cool.

My energy spent, my mind prepped for rest,

I fell on a bed filled with feathers and fest.

I may have slept days, maybe weeks, maybe years.

Little it matters when there’s no need for tears.

 

Day by day, lovely friends came and went.

Every meal was exquisite, every penny well-spent.

The men and the women, we made love, we made play.

Never before happy from the morn through the day.

 

Then one day it stopped – not the grace nor the gaiety.

But that something was lost in my sense of propriety.

Smiles fell, hearts doused, the beauty forlorn.

The deep leaves of nature felt tattered and torn.

“This is no life – all the perfect, the plump!

What can I attain with no splinters or lumps?”

 

I lay down again in my dainty low loft,

And slowly I drifted to the numbness I’d lost.

All became grey, once again my mind dimmed

Wanting something, that factor that brightens the grim.

 

I flew out the door, cross the stream, o’er the lake.

I found my old box still a war-torn mistake.

I ripped the lid open with a scream and a curse.

“This is all wrong; this is folly; this is quite worse!

Take all away, the lace and the lyre.

Make it all burn under graces of fire!

I’d rather suffer in canyons of hell

Then spend one more minute in this heavenly smell.”

 

At first just a spark, a flame, just a flicker.

Then roaring it came, it’s eyes dancing in bicker.

I ran for the hills as fast as I dared

But it chased me, it had me in black whispy hairs.

I withered to nothing; the landscape came too,

And when I awoke what I felt became true.

All about me, afar, till the earth rounded off

Was a desolate nothing, a great empty trough.

 

Immediately regretting my impatient ways,

I searched water and grain; I searched for days.

I crawled through old bones, I dug in the dust,

I chewed on the hairs of old animal crust.

Though all black and white was the world I could see,

A small little something awoke inside me.

It grew till it roared, till my body was live.

It made me a manic, a creature of pride.

Plow forward I did, not once did I stop

Till I found the small animals that survived the epoch.

My claws were unyielding, my jaws unafraid

To squeeze them and cut them till life fell away.

 

And never as delicious, fortuitous, and free

Had a meal ever tasted, I dared to decree.

For more weaklings I hunted, my blood filled with magic.

They ran and they hid but my evil was frantic.

The more that I took, the stronger I became.

The harder I worked, the more fuel in my veins.

 

When I took every one, celebrated my high,

There appeared afar off one much larger than I.

Greater fangs, greater force, much more fat, less remorse,

But in my own pride I chose the worst course.

I thought myself strong, thought the power was mine,

But it wasn’t long till my death waited nigh.

First ’twas my arms, then my neck snapped in two.

I fell back asleep before my blood became stew.

 

Once again just a day, or a year, or a month

When I opened my eyes to the sound of a thump.

The grass was still green, the sun a pure shine.

Back to the life that was once claimed as mine.

 

I stood up quite tall, brushed the dirt from my britches,

Then noticed the small wooden box with brass hinges.

The holes were all sealed, though imperfectly done,

So I gathered it up in my fingers and thumb.

The surface was splintered, the brass rusted out,

It didn’t have splendor but it wasn’t without.

 

Against the dark surface, a worn silvery gleam

My name the dull letters spelled out, it would seem

On its own quite undaunting; on this box a bright gem

Nothing is lost on a background of grim.

 

I locked it up tight, tucked it under my arm,

Lovely and ugly, my imperfect charm.

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