Tuesday, July 17, 2018

dark night of vengeance, part 4: falling leaves

by horace p aternwall

illustrated by roy dismas

part four of four

for part three, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

phil still existed
and the universe insisted
that he get up every day
with his role to play

he had no excuse
his head was in the noose
but something impelled him
to his destiny, however dim

phil went down to the street
despite the fact that his brain was beat
another day of desperation beckoned
then something happened on which he had not reckoned

for the second time in 24 hours
a stranger felt empowered
to approach phil without prelude
or asking if he was in the mood

for direct interrogation
as to his existence and station
in this mysterious world of flux and flow
in which things come and go

the newcomer had eyes dark and bright
in a face quite wrinkled and white
that stirred a faint recollection
in part of phil’s brain - the section

triggering primal fear -
my friend, it would appear
the stranger began with confidence
that by fate you have been sent

to close a book that has been open too long
to bring an end to a sad song
to bid a weary traveler drop his pack
to tell the prodigal he can come back

to end a farce playing to an empty house
to bid the panther make friends with the mouse
to make a long story short, forthwith
phil - you see before you bill smith!

the insanity of youth has cooled
by that nasty bitch emily brown we were both fooled
by even demons of lust we were ruled
let us no longer be their tools

phil could not believe what he heard
inside his brain a strange motor purred
was he a ship that had never sailed?
he gaped as bill resumed his tale

i ran into whitey black last night
he had seen you with his own sight
when his words a message to my brain did send
i knew my quest had come to an end

they say revenge is best served cold
but even better left to shrivel and mold
we have only one race to run
beneath a single fading sun

why waste our lives in silly contests
when time is a river that never rests
and the sky is an empty page
that never records our joy, despair or rage

with these and similar remarks
bill regaled phil - a few sparks
landed on phil’s befuddled brain
but he would never be the same again

come, said bill, let me buy you a drink
let us nor care what anyone thinks
whether our so-called honor was lost or won
how is that the business of anyone?

phil followed bill in a daze
no bystanders were amazed
or made of them any mention
their reconciliation attracted no attention

bill and phil became great buds
and sat on park benches watching the floods
of embattled humans roll on by
as leaves and raindrops fell from the sky

in passing, we should mention
that in another dimension
emily brown in time’s web was caught
but never gave bill or phil a thought

i hope you found this poem uplifting
but now my brain is drifting
down a river on a cloudy day
i have nothing more to say

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

dark night of vengeance, part 3: the smiling stranger

by horace p aternwall

illustrated by roy dismas

part three of four

for part two, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

phil tried to pull himself together
and asked if it mattered whether
at this point if he lived or died
he was almost at the end of his ride

how much worse off had he been
than other children of sin
who had dreamed and loved and lost
and on the scrap heap been tossed

phil sucked in his gut
if bill found him, so what?
all bill could could do was kill him
and his existence was already dim

o so easy to say!
but one more, one more day!
one more day without a prayer -
but on your skin the living air

phil stopped and looked around
silence was all he found
the dark streets neither friendly nor cold
had heard every story ever told

his panic was suddenly gone
it was almost dawn
he had run through the streets for hours
ignored by all cosmic powers

on the corner was a little cafe
with a sign - open all night and day
phil went in and took a seat
he was suddenly totally beat

he ordered a cup of joe
as the world around him spun slow
and a slice of blueberry pie
which tasted a little dry

phil had totally given up
staring into his coffee cup
with a dull eternal shame
when someone called his name

who could it be ?
he was lost but he was free
though his guilt had been substantially accrued
he could enjoy it in solitude

phil turned and saw a face
in which there was no trace
of anything but good cheer
brought on by oceans of whiskey and beer

aren’t you phil, phil jones? asked the bum
who used to play steel drums
in a vacant lot behind kaiser park
at night, when it got dark?

that is not i, said phil
smiling with a desperate will
my name is neither phil nor jones
and i walk the earth alone

the bum responded with a shrug
peace descended on his scarlet mug
his response to phil was muffled
as away into the night he shuffled

phil was in a state of shock
he felt like a pool in which a rock
had been dropped from a great height
as ripples expanded in the light

of an exploding full moon
phil’s brain played a screaming tune
who was that stranger so affable
with his implications so terrible?

phil had been recognized
he thought he had been so wise
drifting faceless beneath the tide
had he ever been able to hide?

time goes by, phil told himself
everything gets dust on a shelf
the bitterest memories
finally blow away in the breeze

was bill still alive?
and if he was did he thrive?
had he forgotten emily brown?
was he the mayor of his town?

phil asked himself these things
he knew the night would bring
dark and twisted dreams
unlit by moonlight beams

part 4

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

dark night of vengeance, part 2: phil and bill

by horace p aternwall

illustrated by roy dismas

part two of four

for part one, click here

the streets are merciless
they don't care if you confess
to the most desperate crimes
or stoop to pick up nickels and dimes

phil stumbled through the night
with no coherent plan of flight
but only hoped to make his way
through the darkness into day

he had seen it all before
he had heard the oceans roar
in his drowning desperate brain
and had felt the whole worlds pain

he was the cursed one
the seventeenth son of the seventeenth son
but just as you would expect
he got no respect

in his youth he had struv
to earn the world’s love
but to his eternal shame
he could not learn the rules of the game

when emily brown, who had welcomed his advances
on bill smith cast friendly glances
phil had no veneer of civilized grace
but his passion blazed forth on his red face

emily laughed out loud
and quickly attracted a crowd
which with untrammeled hoots and jeers
derided poor phil’s primal masculine fears

phil seized emily by the throat
the onlookers quickly took note
and rescued the poor damsel
before phil could finish sending her to hell

phil was charged with assault
he hired a lawyer named walt
walt did the best he could
but the results were not good

phil testified so forlorn
but the jury reacted with scorn
to his tale of provoked passion
for such pleas were no longer in fashion

the judge brought down the hammer
phil got five years in the slammer
and as he was led away
he heard his rival bill smith say

as a law-abiding citizen i insist
that five years is a slap on the wrist
and when you get out, old son
your troubles will have only begun

emily brown went away
exactly where, no one could say
bill smith blamed phil for her fleeing
and hatred consumed his whole being

in letters to phil, bill let loose
with an endless stream of abuse
and promised phil, when let out, a harsh fate
because bill would be waiting at the gate

four years went by - and then
phil busted out of the pen!
when two true desperadoes named roger and clyde
obligingly took phil along for the ride

roger and clyde left phil by the side
of a dark road - with nowhere to run or hide
hunted - without a friend!
hunted - though the road never end!

somehow the years went by
always out of the corner of his eye
phil waited for the hand on his shoulder
as he grew slower, weaker, and older

phil somehow found employment
though he never knew what anything meant
and fell into a routine
and almost forgot who and where he had been

of desires he had only one -
to remain in oblivion
was that now to be denied?
to the pitiless sky phil cried

his cry echoed down the dark street
and the flapping of his running feet
and the bubbling in his brain
were only heard by the wind and the rain

part 3