The Masque of Blackness

by Michael Kalisch

…My picture, fashion’d out of wax,
Stuck with a magic needle, and then buried
In some foul dunghill.

Holding back among the shadow
Like some Websterian effigy
A wax-work horror flick’ring
On solid stone and oak.

Its severed hand spreads forward
Maimed by torturous vice
An ashen remnant clawing
At the bloodied face of Remorse.

Reach Out! Hold it! Let you and it touch hands,
Know your fate and future, and begin to understand.
Meet and know yourself, the first time anew
Know the morbid statue staring, is mirror-brother to you.

Hold communion, and pray, with your dark double dear
See the flesh beneath the face, strip back the wounded years.
Touch the sanguis agni to your lips, now stained with red
Know the charnel chamber and the church, and the twilight of the dead…

Enough. Enough for now. Step back, back into the fold
Of light. Let all this be laughed off a night-horror, or a trick
Of light, caused by dust upon your spectacles; clean them now,
Clean them in earnest and erase that vision, erase that phantom from
Your sight…

But the glass is clear. The glass is crystal clear.

So close the shutters
Draw the curtains close
Stand now within it, within darkness.
Stand. Reach not for rail or wall.
Let darkness guide you
To the arms of your brother.
He’ll murmur in your ear.
And you must listen.
Or be damned.

Michael Kalisch is 18 and from Devon. He was an overall winner of the Foyle Young Poet Prize 2008.

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