After growing up under the shadow of Heppenstall Steel Mill in Pittsburgh, Pa., I have spent much of my life near the sea, including 10 years in the Caribbean, which serves as the setting for my three published mystery novels, Full Body Rub, Looking for Lisa, and Looking for Lauren. On occasion, I've gone back "home," trying to fit into my old neighborhood. It has been alleged that I've had many aliases, none of which I have acknowledged. I am no one else.
[From my unpublished manuscript SHADOW SELF/DANTE DREAM 4-8]
At the first rim, my past lives
shift in the mist. I remember the freedom,
a lazy license, passionless, staid.
I remember the boredom, too,
a dissipating emptiness.
I tell myself these figures are phantoms, strangers
I neither care about nor need to know.
Yet my guide fingers them, waits
until I nod. Then it is time to go.
From the mist I hear a voice
like my voice but raspy, old,
filled with archaic diction, mock poetic:
"Let me, let me, loose me, let me say
alive I worshipped only one god,
love tunnel and root.
Succulent, dark, moist, tight.
Lips to kiss, to suck, to plunge,
to tongue again, again . . . ."
The voice collapses in bellowing sighs.
Why listen to this ridiculous lie?
This memory must die.
It's raining hard.
At first I think hail.
No, the drops are soft.
They leave red streaks
where they strike my skin.
I look closer
and in horror scream.
I've become a glutton eaten by dogs
running on this third ring.
Mercifully, I fall into dream.
In lonely darkness, I am a strong but broken man.
I roll a wheel uphill.
It always falls back, redoubling my need.
I only wanted simple things, I tell myself--
a ring, a book, remembrances, desire.
One circle always leads back to another
in this mine shaft of my own digging.
I turn and find my shadow gone.
Me, a shadowless man on a naked shore.
I hear my heart as water lapping.
Each beat looses longing, small despair.
What have I asked for, what now
will I regret? I wait for my shadow,
for his grip, an anchor
that in falling I'll follow.
©2016 Joseph Lisowski