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Ode to the Dark Side

by Danny "Don Juan" Henrey

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, for too much claret have I drunk,
And sev’ral bottles of vintage port
With finest viands stomach-wards have sunk:
But ’tis a happy peptic pain, with which
I celebrate our tryst nocturnal,
That revelry and mirth may hold the sway;
Forego this night to scratch the Yuppie itch,
The nagging blight of things diurnal —
This eve devote to the Byronic way!

But lo! The Graham’s rounds ’pon burnished oak
Again (the port, not astrophysicist);
And George Gordon’s phantome folds us in his cloak,
So draw we in his heady spirit’s mist!
I drain the cup, deep, sweet and full, and note
The waxy tapers burning low but fierce
In silver sockets, murmur on the breeze,
So that erst friendly shadows seem to float
About the panels rich, and seem to pierce
My trembling soul with longing and unease.

Once more I raise my chalice to the vault,
Seeking courage in my cups: at my call
Starts Malcolm forth, who with a dash of salt
Proclaims, ‘You greedy pig, you’ve had it all!’
My spirit flares at words thus spiked with ire
From one of serving rank, and seeks redress
In steely glance, but chills ere it may smite,
For Malcolm’s gerbil eyes glister with strange fire,
And grimy paws a paring knife caress,
As ’bout his lips a madman’s smile delights.

With angry sputter the failing tapers spit;
Now dance the shadows round the vaulted dome,
And angry whispers through the half-light flit:
These be my friends, but I feel far from home!
The crescent moon’s a thin and bitter light,
Whose sombre frost benights our circle close,
And from their midst a hellish shade begins
To rise, dark crimson deep, that on the night
Does seem to feast, and in my heart there grows
An obscure knowledge of obscurer sins.

And in the air Mephisto’s Waltz is spilled,
And on my tongue, sweet wine to acid turns,
And in my hand, to ice the chalice chills,
And on the wall, a pentangle is burned!
And in the chamber swells a baneful reek;
Of sulphur and the pit it speaks, commands
The nostrils and the tongue with fetid bloom;
And if my sense rebels, yet must I seek
Such things as light drives out: the heart demands
The secrets of the ravine and the tomb!

There comes a cackle from the rafters high;
A witch’s beckon from the pitchy loft,
From whence there wafts upon my upturned eye
An undulating draught both cold and soft:
There, on the crystal lamp writhes Juliet —
The chandeli’r with disrobed charms a-sway:
Her necromantic spells rain down, and care
Harangues the company; still grimmer yet,
Fell nightmares wake, as deep night conquers day;
Thus welcome, dreams of terror and despair.

My spirit waxes faint, my vision falls
From dark to drear, but cannot ’scape the flood
Of diabolic frights, for on the walls,
The curtains rich, their velvet drips with blood!
There comes a changeling snarl, and ghastly lick,
As ghoulish chefs prepare a stew obscene
For Robert’s crimson maw with harpy fat;
His werewolf jaws on human’s limb is fix’d,
Which dips he in a keg of ketchup green,
Whilst George, Pam and Susan ply the vat.

Such sustenance th’aspiring hunger seeks,
That finds in simple pleasures, pleasures tame;
Thus, on my reeling sight, new eyesores freak:
By spirit lamp of carnelian flame,
Chris feeds the purple vein with needle’s sting,
Seeks ecstasy in mortal clay and dust,
And metaphysics in an instant’s thrill;
This dragon’s tooth, that poisoned visions brings,
Of heartless infamy and cruel lusts,
Holds fast its prey and closes ’pon its kill.

Amidst these appetites my strength departs;
Against these evil deeds my heart desponds;
(And yet a pleasure strange within me darts,
A sweet desire to yield unto these wrongs):
Convulsed, I witness now the fiendish rites
Of graveyard gourmet Steve; scarlet-stained his mouth
With AB negative and Nuits St.-Georges —
Till sated, laps the vampyre of the night;
Fiona his prey, bears her to the south,
Fast in’s spangled cloak, to Walpurgis Gorge.

More helpless feel I now, more helpless yet,
As darker, deeper grows the maelstrom’s roar;
Must I make appeal, ere the sun is set,
To my blue-eyed peri of the eastern shore!
Around her form, a winding sheet of black
Is swathed, in which a thousand glow-worms shine;
Vermilion her lips, and fire her look;
At her shoulder she grasps a hempen sack,
Where seem to writhe a dozen dwarves malign,
Which she wanton casts to th’infernal cooks.

Into the vat the jiggling morsels go,
And leap and bubble in the rancid broth;
‘Away with Truth and Beauty!’ quoth she low:
‘For those sweet twins give I no more a toss!’
I feel a stifling panic in my breast,
A sense of doom that chokes my stillborn plea,
Ere might I with a cry my danger flee:
They sentence me, the fiends that Virtue test!
This swift kiss to thee, reader, I devote: —
Th’assassin’s blade across my blushing throat!