Guillotine

I was there–
in spoiled silks, sateens and lace
on a stage composed
of noise and dread…
Splintered boards
beneath my ice-white feet,
hot and cold, awash
with human blood
and waste…

I remember…
fear
and sweat
and sickness…
a kind of stunned bewilderment,
hardened as a glaze
across the gaze
of eyes embittered,
seeing everywhere the cast
of madness and despair…
Of lust and hunger
borne so deep
it passes from the belly
to the soul
and there desires,
with a passion uncontrived by love,
the balancing
by death and pain
of all accounts and reckonings–
the gorging
of a psychic gut
with vengeance
hot as fire,
thick as blood.

The hellish gate of Heaven
hangs against the sky;
It, shrieking, sings
against the madness of the mob 
swings down, cutting,
rises and waits…
and swings again
and waits
again…
and swings, 
and poises
once again–
I,
rising
step
by
bloody
step…

And whose account do I fulfill?
Is there in this unholy moment
some small degree of fairness,
or by it the balance
of one human heart
restored?
I cannot know or say
to what just end
is this the grievous means…

I stumble barefoot,
sodden silks and laces
dragging
all disgraced,
upon the final step–
and stand I there
upon the portico of freedom,
unpossessed myself
by lost possessions,
all the things that once were mine
to keep or lend or give away–
my books
my bread
my laces
dearest faces
all I loved
my life…

My turn
at last,
to climb the bloody stile,
to lay myself at length
beneath the awful gate…


My ears are closed
with roaring
I cannot tell you
what they hear–
The prayers of my childhood?
The solemn cant of priests?
The wistful words
of a mother’s hope and fear?


–In the tonings of the angels
there is not a word of song
I could describe,
and yet
a world of glory overcries
the mob’s release, 
the frantic 
manic celebration
of their fierce, unholy feast.


My body does not know
if it is up
or down,
nor feels the cold,
the heat…
The fear of Death
itself is over-run
with wonder of a kind…

Farewells not said
are not important now,
I have forgotten faces,
fears and tears
and loneliness;
all the grudges
that I ever held
are nothing–
all at once passed through,
as gossamer
across the path
in a distant morning garden
time and times ago…

Shrieking!
Screaming…!

All above me, 
all around…!
The singing of
the swinging gate…
The harmony
of hollow hungers,
hoping, hopeless,

unrequited angers
unassuaged…

and silently,
I pass the gate…
in silence pass…
I pass… I pass…
through Light and Glory,
fleetingly…

…and come again
to here,
to now–
across the Time abyss…
to comforts closely held
and loves I do believe
I could not loose
or I would lose my life…
and cherished notions
of myself,
the world,
humanity, 
of all God’s Universe…
Of all the things I claim to know
or at the least, believe
with all my heart
are so….

A small bright echo,
loving, laughing… 
A glorious intoning…
I hear it now, so faint, so far…
I do recall it distantly, all of it,
for I was there…
I was there…

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