His love is the color of shade

The way it fades

Inside a forest of trees

Leaves clapping in the wind

Like applause

Or like a storm approaching

A warning.



Dutifully he bows to the dark

Inside and out

A student of drought

A professor of doubt

Encompassed by the notion that

A subtle devotion to

Hopelessness is inevitable for all.



His name is Bitterness

Not as his birth


He secured it like a title

Crowned with barbed wire

Reigning over the past and

His subjects are called Denial.



His legs are roots

Sink all the way in

Comingle with worms

Threading wooded tangles

Out of sight

Pulling him toward the earth

With sinister deference and delight.



The light in his eyes

Is no illusion, instead

His soul hiding inside

Enshrouded extrusion

From a dream that flew away

Like a bubble reflecting a flame

Or a Crow whose been terminally maimed.



His hands once reached into

A golden flame

Lips that melted like marshmallows

Hips that followed the curve of a guitar

A neck as delicate as Springtime stems

Eyes that spiraled much too far

Into the core of him.



As the base of fire paints hues

Of blue and

Scorches at a sweltering degree

So his vitality was


Inside and out

Peeled off and shredded

Pulpy pieces of flesh

Fell between the teeth

Of cockroaches and dragons

Nefarious creatures refreshed

By the shedding of his waking death

And here is where it came,

The rain.



Gentle in its falling—

Nature cannot be blamed

She only releases what she obtains—

Painful as it dripped between

The sinews and pustules

Laboring like slaves to build

A bridge or a grave.



There he stands

Still today

A memorial to

His yesterday

A cautionary man

Oozing to convey

What this deluge weighs

And the price that he paid

To turn on his soul

And lose the control

He imagined

He could hold

Between his skin and

The story she told.



My forgiveness

Greets his pain

Extends a hand with skin


As an approaching refrain

Set to the tune of a distance

Horn like Jazz

Or like a call

To step through

The wall and the rain

Feet still shackled

Hands still raw—

No matter—

It is

The mind

That must be freed

Before the flesh


From the comfort or

The temptation

To crawl.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by American artist John Casey‘s piece entitled, Barbed Wire Love 2016, acrylic on panel 16 x 16″.  http://www.johncasey.com)