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Dead Poets

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Poetry By
  Michael Kalisch

Published on: 6/3/2010
The Masque of Blackness

…My picture, fashion'd out of wax,
Stuck with a magic needle, and then buried
In some foul dunghill.

Holding back among the shadow
Like some Websterian effigy
A wax-work horror flick'ring
On solid stone and oak.

Its severed hand spreads forward
Maimed by torturous vice
An ashen remnant clawing
At the bloodied face of Remorse.

Reach Out! Hold it! Let you and it touch hands,
Know your fate and future, and begin to understand.
Meet and know yourself, the first time anew
Know the morbid statue staring, is mirror-brother to you.

Hold communion, and pray, with your dark double dear
See the flesh beneath the face, strip back the wounded years.
Touch the sanguis agni to you lips, now stained with red
Know the charnel chamber and the church, and the twilight of the dead…

Enough. Enough for now. Step back, back into the fold
Of light. Let all this be laughed off a night-horror, or a trick
Of light, caused by dust upon your spectacles; clean them now,
Clean them in earnest and erase that vision, erase that phantom from
Your sight…

But the glass is clear. The glass is crystal clear.

So close the shutters
Draw the curtains close
Stand now within it, within darkness.
Stand. Reach not for rail or wall.
Let darkness guide you
To the arms of your brother.
He'll murmur in your ear.
And you must listen.
Or be damned.

Published on: 6/3/2010
The Brittle Age

And when you fall into your brittle age,
With the print grown too small upon the page,
Spine creased and folded, skin torn paper thin,
Teeth chatt'ring hollowly at the draught edging in;
When the bedpan's unemptied, dishes pushed aside,
Television calling the times of next high tide,

Know, know then that you have not slipped
Quietly, gracefully into that long good night,
You have not faded like an ocean sunset, but tripped
Rather stumbled, waxed half-dead by phosphor-light;
You have been broken against the rocks, churned
And shredded, feebly splintered and returned
Clawing, in soiled underwear, at the page
Unfocused and unending, of your dull and brittle age.

Published on: 2/17/2010
Poet's Corner

Those fierce young men
High-collared, hollow cheeked,
Courted chaos
With a proud and wretched despair
Sitting slim-hipped
In hush-tight huddles
Mackintoshed shoulders squared
Smoking dimly over candled tables, over coffee cups.
And what do they come home to?
Full shelves and empty beds
Floors unswept and a chattering cold
A pregnant silence and bills unpaid
To a prostitute Muse,
For a few dross lines.

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