Hold your tongue

“At that word the devil took his time and
whetted her tongue against her teeth; and
when it was well sharpened, she swore to
him in very fierce anger.” – Thomas More

I held my tongue and walked away
and went down, down into the earth
eyes narrow and fists clenched and
went to the fiery forge with the ringing
in my ears and I opened my mouth
and pulled forth my tongue and I held
my tongue and rolled it out and
set it against the anvil and could taste
the years of grime and flinty steel where
men had worked with great labors for ages
and I stretched my tongue and felt the ripping
the jolting agony as it tore away and flat
against the anvil lay like the sole of a brown
shoe and I began to stretch it out and took
in hand the hammer and hefting it
I stood in sweat and shivering
from the pain I paused and prepared
and swung the steel to the soft flesh
and made from my own mouth
my sword and up I stood and sent
my wordless cries writhing to the world
and holding my tongue I walked away,
armed to the teeth and silent.

Vera pax nomine interficiam, dixit Moros.

ca. 2012

Reflections upon waiting in the Waiting Room

I was walking in the realms of the dead

Where old pyramids hide forgotten gods

And empty lakes stand open with motionless

Biers once aflame, now only ashen treasures

Their worth unwritten in the sands

Which stretched on around open, still hands.

Sarcophagi stood ajar, the memory of eyes

Gazing off into no worlds.


Rows of tombstones under leafless maple trees

Whose roots took in no water stood cracked

Like the rounded backs of old men seated

At the cafeterias of unvisited nursing homes

Barely aware of the loneliness created by

The visible memory of their once lives.

The grass wilting before the old tombs,

Memoirs not reminding.


In some places in those realms the dead still

Walk but they are not the happy ones for

At least those who lay at rest do not feel

What they do not feel but those who walk

Still hear the sound of their deafening lies

More dead than the dead whose company,

Shambling, rambling, muttering without breathing,

They keep without keeping.


I could not remember why I had come here

And I saw the crypt where I had been buried

And walked inside to see if I was still there

But came out on the other side; it was empty

Within, and I saw a hill and a valley and

Mounted on the walls I saw mirrors reflecting

A hollow light bouncing that lit

Without brightening.


I saw other forms standing before the mirrors,

Those who had walked through tombs like mine

Their hands raised to the mirrors in confusion

The light bouncing off their dry tongues

And they seemed to want to drink it, but the

Light would not satisfy but only hint

Only promise a drink of vision

But would not give.


Before me rose a mirror and it spoke to me in

Strange somber sounds silvery, seductive, silent,

More silent for the softness of its sounds,

But I could not see my own face, only the dull

Pulse of a false light behind a glass and I could see

A form that was not mine behind, far away in the glass,

Whose hands reached, and I shuddered

And the glass shattered.


And the hands came through and they burned as

They touched me and I heard a chorus above me

As I burned and was pulled through and the glass

Breaking was my skin bleeding as I screamed

And I was hushed and told to look back at

Those who stood at mirrors, thirsting without

Relief for the dead cannot see the purpose

Of the drink they do not desire.


I thought to return and break their glass but

Instead I rose and a current and a sweet smell

Lifted me away as the brightness began to burn and the pain

Was like knives stabbing in and through and

I thought I was screaming, I asked for mercy.

“This is Mercy,” I heard, and I thought I was screaming

but then I heard myself

and I was laughing.

Composed in 2014, on the occasion of listening carefully to The Waiting Room on the recommendation of a dear friend and Genesis enthusiast. Listen yourself below: