the status quo must go
he visited me in my sleep
that serpent in a suit, so gentlemanly, so cunning
he told me what to do
“Burn what doesn’t matter, and stop the thoughts in your head
if you desire to make love in your bed
do it in ink
like a funeral pyre
dedicated to me
I promise you, immortality.”
and I believed him.
Of course, this was only a dream
but the devil is in the details—the contract
too hard to read, and I signed it, in my sleep because I was too tired to comprehend, the end. It’s the job that seems easy
but it always costs more than it’s worth, like the compounding penny
“Dig up all the rocks in my garden, and you can have 5 dollars,” my dad said.
It took all day, in the blistering heat, and when I said, “It’s finished,” he pulled a rock from the black earth like a potato
and laughed. He was the devil, a master of the knowledge of the earth.
Have you ever done something, and woken up, but not entirely?
He took me out of my head, into a street of lanterns
and cosmic shadows, into the frosty fog.
It’s hard to know what happened, like alcoholic nights
or drug-induced daylight
but he showed me, golden books in the library
and the nations that would know my name.
“You don’t succumb to sensual pleasures. I respect that. You want fame,
the power people praise, and seldom disdain.”
He knew me better than my dad.
Where was God?
Telling stories, is my price to be paid—my will to be done, on earth
and not in heaven.
I woke up, screaming to the Lord, but there was an echo in my ears
“You signed. You signed.”
I guess I did. And now the ensuing days
must be spent, doing what the devil promised me for my soul
those tales I need to tell
written in the same black ink
that damned me to hell.