Charon’s Younger Brother Brings Me Back Across the River Styx

The ferryman carried me, (married, me), buried me

there in the Underworld, he spied me and pried me,

(belittled and mocked, me) beat down and rocked, I

was round I was ground into hardwood floors,

wanting no more; so as I lay dying, as I was lying

in that boat’s greasy water, so sorry to bother,

in the shadowed hollow I said I’d folllow

but it carried me down, that leaky old boat

creaking afloat, and that ferryman, that very man,

that Charon of the thousand yard stare,

Charon of the long grizzled beard and hair

took pity as we crossed, had mercy and he tossed

me onto that grassy bank of the black river’s flank,

cold and shivering, old, that river brings…. but oh,

Shakespearean lark! his brother bold and younger

steps out of the dark, awakens my hunger,

holding up a joint, then, holding disappointment

(society, parents, brothers, nevermind!)

it’s an unsteady landing but I’m up and I’m standing,

now there he holds me enfolds me nobody told me

he’s pressing me resting me testing me

against these cabin walls my defenses fall

I’m not protesting the heat of his body

the beat of his heart sudden sound of strings

he sings the Long Black Veil unfurling my sails

they billow and rise my soul inflates and

he quotes Yeats until I cry out, I cry out, I cry –

until there is nothing to do but wait I

anticipate those primordial stars lighting the way, I sway

drunkenly through the rushes, he stumbles and pushes

the raft through the reeds,

the sawgrass scrapes, my bare legs bleed

but I clamber on, shaken loose from the snapping

noose where I heavily hung, recently swung

laden with lies – now fireflies wink and blink and

bats are looping swooping from willows to the

docks and rocks and back again, catching doubts

and darting in an out, in and out,

the wavering light tonight of that waxing gibbous moon

skritching the long sleek back of that river so black

arching like a cat over the shallows and rocks

delivering me back to the docks on the land of the living

the bank forgiving where I stand naked and dripping, tripping,

and reflecting the light of the moon reflecting

the cant of the tune

rejecting every last hook

every last dirty look

that once pierced my side.


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