I am a beast with a million faces,
No race, laced with vicious temperament,
Tempered with iron and bone
Honed over millenia
To slash gashes in your thin skin
For your myriad of sins.

Chin up: I come for those who believe;
I’ll leave the unbelievers be.
But: once my feared fanged countenance,
Mangled fur and crimson gaze and all,
Becomes seared in your brain,
I will persist no matter how you resist.

My paws pad softly over you
Until it’s far too late:
Claws dug in, snug in that flap
Of skin on your elbow
You wish weren’t there.
But it is. And I am.

I am the ringing in your ears
While your tears stream,
Streak, seek salty cheeks,
Over your chin and into
Your gaping mouth,
Into your throat.

I am timeless; I have marred,
Left scarred, for centuries,
Neanderthal men, Roman centurions,
Dead-eyed poets, artists, scientists.
Even the Renaissance could not repress me,
My duress presses on all their chests.

I will take hold of the back of your eyeballs,
Tug at nerves and tendons and arteries,
Suck what luck you thought you had,
Take what bad you had,
Place it in your face
In my outstretched and callused palm.

You might think: this is imaginary.
Images of gore, the lore of scores
Of ancestors passing down their dear
Fears to a wide-eyed child.
You might puff out your chest
In pride, hide yourself from me.

No such luck: fuck your pride.
I ride in on a din of your sins
And pin on you your every transgression.
The progression: sandpaper stripping,
Ripping your raw skin, then flesh, then bone,
Revealing even minute indiscretions.

Go on: try to exorcise me.
Exercise: trot to stave your rot.
Shuffle in teams, to muffle my screams.
Lift tons of weight late into the night,
Push your fright down, down, deep down.
In the end I’ll rise to watch you drown.


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