Monday, December 6, 2021

The Day Before Gone


The Day Before Gone
It was the day before gone.
The strophe began on
 a sun weak with fever,
a sky of grey primer 
because plague hit the painters
 before they managed the blue. 
The tepid air was fragrant with 
malfeasance, but the dumbshow
never paused.

It was noon on the sea of shadows.
All through the potential zeros
bug-scudding over the whine-
dark waves ran a shiver, a dread,
the sodden fog of the sailor
at the rocks too busy with rum
 and scrimshaw to have bothered
with learning to swim.
The sirens and the kraken laughed
in antiphons, tatting the antistrophe
 from the rust-wire wreckage.

It was the hour before the reckoning
but the only text on the wall read
"It can't happen here."
Pulpits burned, preachers prowled
like panthers
among the singed dollar bills.
ate the hedge funds. Vultures ate
the venture capitalists, and
politicians ate the vultures
til the darkness seethed 
with undigested bones.

Then finally
over the feeble,
failure-fumed pandemonium
Dawn came with her
exterminator's smile.

December 2021

posted for 

Images: Both Untitled, by Zdizlaw Beksinski, copyright held by The Histoical Musem in Sanok Poland
Fair Use


  1. Oh, mercy! That ending is a gut punch! I feel odd saying that I loved this, because it is so dark, but I did. I really like how you used "strophe (with the antistrophe too!) , tatting not lace, but rust-wire wreckage, and the whole thing about the preachers. Just so good. This is apocalyptic, dystopian, too-true, and absolutely disturbing, as our current world situation steams steadily onto the reefs. Thank you so much, Joy, for taking part in this particularly special (to me) word list prompt, and for coming up with something as unnervingly apt as this.

    1. Thanks, Shay. Another poem that would never have been written without your list to inspire me.

  2. This poem has some mighty amazing imagery that in itself paints a tale of the end of things that truly need to end! I love this Joy and I especially enjoyed the stanza of reckoning and pulpits burned! Amazing as always my friend!!!

  3. These dystopian times definitely give us a lot of fodder for poetry. I suspect we poets are the canaries in the mine, but our poems arent reaching the right ears. Such strong powerful imagery. Wonderful how one thing eats the other making a pile of undigested bones. Great writing, Joy.

    1. Yes, we write the darkness down and as it burns into the page, maybe it leaves us a little warmth and light it wouldn't otherwise. Or so I hope. Thank you Sherry, for your years of reading and support.

  4. Your sentences are labyrinths - I have to navigate my way through, and I keep getting lost in their dark beauty. I need to take my time, before I can move on. You just have a magic way of writing, entirely your own. It’s like the lines are hanging with poison fruit, abundant - so delicious, I can’t help but feast, stomach twisting, as I digest the meaning.

    1. Thanks, Darius. I hope I didn't leave you cold and lone in the labyrinth too long. My style is archaic at best, and I appreciate you making the effort, and am glad you find it worth it.

  5. 'Twas this night before Ragnarok when all in its house masqued and rapined on Yankee nonsense ... A festive hymn for this nightmare holiday season, pandemical, supply-brained, scabrously moot. One can hardly lift one's head to satirize it but you do, mellifluously as malodorously. It is difficult - impossible, really, without barbwire faith and Trumpean hilarity - not to read the time drowning this way, but not many can sing the singe so true. Amen and to all the fuming night.

    1. Thanks, B. Most times watching the dissolution of all things civilized, sane, or otherwise with any kind of shine, is so enormous a despair-rage event that I can't write about it, indeed. But sometimes a little fuming seeps out to blend with the atmosphere of brimstone and damnation. Happy horrodays, and don't forget to consume.

  6. First, what a fantastic title! Second, if ever an apocalypse should be filmed, it's this one, played out like a morality play where devourer meets devourer until nothings left but "feeble,/failure-fumed pandemonium," something the writing on the wall with its glib certainty foreshadows. The last line is grim horror. Oh well done, Joy!

  7. damn.


    the rest, festoons on the frame of that apt, mordant, perfect conjoinery (good festoons, mind you) - but that word by itself. damns us all - for we made it, didn't we? ~

  8. Like grapeling said: damn! Each stanza made me throw the prior stanza on the floor as I moved through more and more power and imagery. I was all about the zeros until I was all about the kraken then I was all about eating the VC's until then at the end here comes Dawn to clean up the whole mess of humanity.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats