Damaged Gods
from Portraits of Light & Darkness, 1986

The wind shakes the window pane,
The curtains fly around as if possessed.
An unopened wine bottle rocks from side to side
On the stained coffee table.
The room's occupant lies moaning, face down on the bed,
Left hand draped over the side.
Another morning-after-the-night-before.

He groans, more loudly, a strangled scream.
Demons with gold hammers are chiselling into his skull,
Biting deep into soft tissues,
Singing as they work.
Even sitting up requires too much strength
And he decides to remain horizontal,
Relapsing into a semiconscious stupor.

Awakened by the sound of glass shattering –
Sweet, fragrant blood splashes from limp fingers:
The one-they-didn't-open smashing into pieces.
What a life to live!

He cannot remember the year
Let alone the day of the week.
He remembers drinking on a Monday,
And Tuesday, all through Wed–
It hurst too much to think.

Somewhere, someone who loves him
Is weeping over his failure to control his life.
Somewhere, someone loves this fallen idol;
Fool that they are…

Hear me, in this warning,
You who fool with Fate.
Those who went before you
Have been forgotten.
Buried in the rich earth,
Concealing their weakness forever.

Hear me,
You whom I call King.
The watch-bell tolls for thee
And thee alone.

(for James)