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"Another Dark Tale" (by Joe DiMino)

I cannot recall
When first we met
And how I came
To intimately know him:
As much as anyone can know another,
Beyond the words
Through the eyes
Yet guarded shelves
Of self-provisions—
Our stores of on display
Often the supports of which
We, to even ourselves,
Have not conscious liberty
For openly disclosing;

But I can recall the snowy-white
And every curl of his silky-beard
Often with cider stains
As those left by a leaky drain
On an old structure
Each runny-pock a map
Of its storms weathered—
Then there were the crumbs,
His most recent meal—
A perfect nest
Of a face;

I recall the carved bone-pipe
Pressed between hollow
Of his front teeth—
His lips pinched
Following the direction
Of his hand
As he pointed
His points
During our often
Brisk conversations—
He had a great love for talk
But no time for fools—
A great fondness
For disorder—
While a firm place
For every one of his
Carefully articulated rules;

Even the cabin, I recall,
Seemed to be built before him
In expectation of his arrival—
Perhaps build around him
The woods with premonition
Yielding of its logs—
The wind shaving
And stacking them
To perfect specs,
Around a spirit
With body to soon follow—
To them
His presence
Seeming as natural
As the birds—
The homesteads of which
They welcomed—
And the squirrels,
And the raccoons—
And the wild cats…
And the snow and ice
Though laden on their branches
They saw perhaps
As fond reason to cuddle—
Healthy stress for drive
To grow stoutly dense
And immovably entangled;

As I said,
I can’t recall when we first met—
For there are occasions in life
When something
Or someone of new acquaintance
Just sits so right
With every part of our being
As to think it or him,
An up till now,
Missing strand
Of personal DNA—
At last redeemed!—
Such familiarity he had
In abundance—
Body and soul
In agreement of his
Dominant presence;
Calling me
To shelter on his porch
As I passed
In the stinging-cold;

By the fire
He offered Hard-liquor
Distilled from apples—
It is what we made
Up here—all we drank, excepting occasional water
In the High Country;
Where the tops
Of pines
Scraped the sky
Often causing a severe gash
In the lowering, gray clouds
With six feet of blizzard
To soon follow;
Shortly after
One came to know his friends
Respectfully well—
Did not survive;

And smoke
In serpent spirals
Rose from his pipe,
Hung in the air
With flickering candle-light
Did their wild dance—
Diablo, the raven
Whose wing he had mended
Perched on a shoulder,
Leaned in with each syllable
More entranced;
Renegade, the lone-wolf
Long ago forsaken
By the pack
With eyes red
As those of a demon’s dreaming
Sat on the floor
In such a way
As I could not reach
The old man
If I wanted
Without first
Passing through the widest jaws—

And last but not least in the family, the grizzly—

The old man fond
Of Mogli’s Balu
Named his, Me Too,
Always wanting a taste
Of whatever the bearded-one
Was eating,
The Bear’s favorite—honey
On a cut of bread;

But this night,
I now speak of,
Appetite was that
Of a most abysmal place—

Extra chill riding
Each breath of air—

Arising from somewhere
Far down and unclean—

Deep from the surface,

Jaggedly mean—

Up from pit below,
Where no normal creature
Wished ever to go—

Sensing the threat,
The old man rattled on
Incessantly longer—
Animate in a terrified way;

Yes, the old man knew it...

And the animals
Knew the old man
And though feigning brave
Saw through it;

As windows chattered—
Accustomed to cold
But not dark chill
Of a Jinn;
As trembled the door
Unable to stop the rabid thing
If wanting in—

And the Raven
Bemoaned the old man’s eyes
Growing dim—
Thought he would give
Both his wings,
All share left of fly
If only the old man
Could delay
His goodbye;
And the wolf began to whimper,
Then growled—
The bear
Defensively at the door,
With Reaper
Prepared to fight—
The old man
And three
Would make a formable four—

They wondered of my side?

And my side
Has always been one
Giving to compassion
And great love—

Thus I thought
Why did it again
Need to come to this?
What I had known all along,
In my hands
And in my heart
Such power over life and death,
Joy and sorrow—

This was a not a first for me
Entirely lost while found
In one seemingly flash
Of same fiery instant;

In the story
While out of the story
For never entirely aloof—
Cause and effect;
Solution and deepening
Guilt of Protagonist—
Again confronted with
A primordial dilemma
Confounding all creators—
Loath for his villains
While such growing
Empathy with love
For those he had brought
Into being
And now I was forced to decide
Whether they live or die
And how with ease
Or frightfully painful
It should occur—

And at that
By my own insidiously
Will of unlimited

I rose—
Taking myself aside;

I paced
As an expectant father
Or worried physician…

Spoke aloud—


Answered my own
Maniacal rhetoric as though
An utter fool or madman
Having lost all sense;

Then wept…

And wept still more—

Frothed at my lips
As if an animal
Become victim
Of a dreaded and fatal virus;
Till at length decided:
There was but one thing
An honorable author should do—

I wrote the courier away…

And for distant future I prayed
If forced to revisit such tale
If would be best for all
On a far more agreeable day—

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