Dedicated to culture and critical thought since 1998
2/3/3 Poe and Pro: Monologue in the Dark

by Terrie Relf


there's a poem crawling around
just beneath my skin
it makes me itch
so I take a long, hot bath
with lavender-scented oil
try to soothe the burning urge
to scratch

but this poem burrows
speaks in a language
tip-tapped beneath the tub
down there with the skunks
in the crawlspace
clawing for grubs


its voice is seductive
at first
it stalks me
I try to hide
but it knows
all the places I
bury myself
the mauseleums
candles lit outside
the flowers
ah--the flowers
such an exquisite array of scents
tube rose
stargazer lily
sweet, sweet allysum
surround the photos and
sculptured replicas
of the recently deceased


the poem taunts
with words from an old text
it wants me
but not in the usual way
of flesh to flesh

its voice
as layer after layer
of skin is pealed back
to reveal sinew, muscle, bone
heart, liver, kidneys, lungs
and womb

the bone cracking cry of the
newly born

"come", it says
like some creature from a B horror flick
"no harm will come to you
just cross the threshold
step inside
dry your clothes, your hair
have something hot to drink"

I leave muddy tracks
from the foyer
to the cobbled hearth
the flame lunges
but I still feel
a gothic chill


I did hear the scream
it wasn't as bloodcurdling as
Hitchcock would have liked
but it was rather unnerving

I didn't pass out
just "came to"
not knowing
where I'd been
or how I got there

the telltale green glow
of my computer screen

luminous fog crawls
along my arm
silvery wisps
then cling to my fingers

I try to brush them off
but they resist
shoot spur-covered spores
into my veins


the shrill banshee shriek of
the scent of blue-orange

the poem was the only survivor
after the screen went blank
it hovered for a moment
like a raven
no a hawk
some bird of prey

then it took wing
a great black blur in the gloaming
and I just lay there
while the EMTs worked
to no avail

my tainted blood was siphoned out
like someone stuck a hose in my tank
sucked long and hard
then spit out the burnt
fume taste
onto the street

my body rolls down the embankment
I think
maybe they aren't EMTs afterall
but hired assassins
getting rid of the evidence

but who would kill a poet?

I tried to think who I'd pissed off
who'd want me dead
all that came to me
was that poem I shredded
that poem wadded up and
tossed in with the garbage
at a cafe on the corner

with my last bit of strength
I lift my hand
reach out
hoping someone will be there
someone will take me across
the river of Lethe
feed me pomegranates
scooped from a star

my fingers almost touch something
just a few more inches
a few more inches


finger tip to finger tip

but it rolls away

scampers up the embankment

leaving me to take my last breath
to exhale
while a crescent moon hangs just so
in the night sky