Paula Marafino Bernett
The Defection Of The Pale Horse Of The Apocalypse
Saddled-up again we ride to sweat and bone,
gallop across the bogs,
fugitive from the sweep of the scythe of mortality,
come to collect its due for the passing through
this life, for what I took from its brimful cache
of loves and sorrows. Time to ante up—
but I am one with my lathered-up steed,
the churn of heartbeat merged with clattering hooves.
We crest waves, scramble the troughs, and leap into flames,
our pale skins ghosted with ash.
* * *
It kisses and runs,
switches bitter and salt
for saccharine thoughts
lacquered with neon polish.
It marks with a bling bling
skull and bones my softest spot.
Its festoonery muffles the razor tongue,
its pop-beads skitter in the mortal dust
my patent shoes kick up
tapping their exit gambit.
Huzzahs! to the gimcrackery
of a frittering life, whooshing to ashes
in a sizzle of sparks.
* * *
I don’t remember Bullock’s Oriole,
A place called Bullock’s Landing
blurs into a landscape of places
pulsing with birds.
At 64 Bullock’s Cul de Sac,
a house with widow’s walk
and a welcome mat dissolves
into a jumble of its own rubble.
A window tilts and falls,
a door splinters,
clapboards slip and crumble.
I don’t remember James,
but a man in a yellow-and-black slicker
walks the fence line among the dead
unburdened of their earthly names,
glides through a scrim of birds,
pauses among a palette of places,
slips into a mist of houses,
and locks the door behind him.
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