>The Grim Reaper Appears in a Dream as a B-Movie Serial Killer
>The New Year always seems a more significant marker of time’s passing than do birthdays, which run a close second for providing that sensation of — as they say in the sit-coms — “tick tock, baby!” No surprise, then, that the first creative writing of 2008 should be this poem.
The Grim Reaper Appears in a Dream as a B-Movie Serial Killer
I see him only from behind, an over-the-shoulder shot.
The serial killer levers up a knife
no bigger than a toothpick, then the staccato arm falls:
scores of pink indentations appear on my skin
like inverse measles.
I struggle, scream, try to escape,
but in bed, my partner tells me,
what comes out is a pinched animal whine,
and I am still.
Later, I make my analysis: the serial killer, clearly,
stands for time personified,
and each small puncture, a moment, a day
ending in the patient wound
that is only eventually fatal.
Ye gods. Nothing more original than that, then?
I read in two languages,
appreciate art, honor the grace of frost,
weep for Rachmaninoff and movies about homecoming.
I’ve seen Havana and Marrakech, the Finger Lakes and Mauna Loa,
can speak intelligently about the international situation,
capitalism, and a limited number of Italian wines.
And yet it comes to this:
Sleep riven by mortal panic,
my bed’s peace oppressed by lumpen wailing,
fears generic as stray cats in Rome and drab
as the threshing of grease-black stones beneath the train.
I get up, drink a glass of water at the sink,
rinse what I have used and stare out
at the paper-plate color of dawn,