(Photo credit: This poem/short story was inspired by German painter Heiko Müller‘s painting, Gangland 4. http://heikomüller.de)
Cast of Characters
Bitter Beatrice: the scary woman on the left
Flat Fred: the round-faced fellow
Introspective Ivan: the owl with the long beak
Guilty Gordon: the pig-faced creature at center
Fearful Felix: the fish-faced guy on the right
Escaping Edith: the long-nosed cat at the bottom
Depressed Daisy: the squirrel standing atop her post
Landfill Of Souls
Between the silence among the trees
There is a path called Atheteo.
It winds and bends
Dips down and
Sometimes smooth and sometimes
Crunchy with pebbles and
Interrupted by fallen trees.
The path is not so easy to find
But when your feet have felt it
They remember the way
During night and in day
And bring you along
So you must go there
With muddy shoes.
The mouth of the twist-filled path
Vomits into a marshy basin
Where moistened air
And drippy limbs
Like an umbrella with holes—
It lets in some light
But also the rain and the snow.
In the swamp there congregates a
Landfill of souls
Not trash but
Some of their own accord and
Some who are angry and
Some who are bored
But all rejected by souls beyond the path.
Roll is called on each new day
It begins and it ends in the same exact way:
Bitter Beatrice says, “Don’t come near.”
Flat Fred mutters, “I am here.”
Introspective Ivan and Guilty Gordon call, “I”
While Fearful Felix whispers, “Oh my.”
Escaping Edith purrs and then cries
Depressed Daisy murmurs a series of “Whys?”
First on the list is Beatrice
Offended one day in the springtime—
In a year long ago and
She never forgave.
“He rejected my heart and
Toward he and the God who allowed it.”
Flat Fred comes next
His story is true,
“My heart was frozen with agony
Now every emotion is blue.
None of them high and
Not one is low
Rejection leaves me here in the middle
With no where to go.”
Lazing in the weeds is Introspective Ivan:
He blinks his eyes and
Clicks his beak together—
He has no fingers to tap.
“If only I knew what
Repulses them so
Inside of me and I and me and I
I could learn how to win their esteem.”
Guilty Gordon daily disappears
To escape the gaze of anyone near,
“I feel guilt for what I have done
And Shame for what I’ve become
His request is sincere.
He crouches below and
Fearful Felix makes not a peep
His silence he holds
Like a sword.
His eyes are wide
Searching for monsters
Not born in fairytales
But men and the women
Who abandoned him before.
Escaping Edith takes another drink
Then burps but she asks not excuse,
“Life is a pain,”
She says and then swigs,
“A pain like the screws
That twist inside bone
And like hell
And like being alone.”
Depressed Daisy holds a skull
With whom she discusses the meaning
And non-meaning of life,
“The weight in my heart
Is crushing my soul,” she says.
He answers, “That which is pressed
But Daisy calls him a liar.
Their voices are low and
They talk to themselves—
Their lives are lived close but
Cast away they stay
Afraid to be shunned once again.
There is a path that is called Atheteo
Where rejection outside
Breeds rejection within
Where the crying souls go
When the oozing value they hold
Like a dog whose been shot in the cold.
—copyright Jill Szoo Wilson