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. I now tutor writing at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Richmond, VA.
“Bella, Bella, look!” Zofia’s reflection
Is seen in the mirror, bouncing up and down.
Bella turns, caps her lipstick.
“See!” Zofia presents the plastic flower dramatically.
“He gave it to me and said
It was like our love,
It would last forever!”
Bella turns back to the mirror
And tries not to roll her eyes.
-from Shadow Self/Dante Dream 14-17
In the burning desert,
my shadow's voice harrows the sand.
A hot wind hushes the murmuring voices.
Fire falls like flakes of dry ice.
A new violence sears my skin.
Another rhythm of pain.
I am with the un-repented dead.
They are the hub where dark circles spin.
I totter on the edge, fall.
Everywhere is the crackle of charred flesh.
My mentor walks his error
like a leashed dog
around another circle of hell.
I am giddy with remembrance,
the folly of what I believed I knew.
My shadow fades beyond the pier.
The only true horizon is time, and I
am dumb to my waking long ago.
Tomorrow I fell into this dark dream.
Where am I?
At every turn I find
and leave my self behind.
I hear my mentor speak
the outline of my ambition.
He promises me again success
which once I too easily believed.
Water swirls near my feet
sounding like the buzzing of bees.
A crescendo, then break of a sudden storm.
Three figures run swiftly toward me
hailing me as savior, long lost friend.
I see only their gaping wounds.
I know I am nameless here.
The sea flames. My shadow appears,
whispers in my ear. I cannot hear
for their deafening sighs, "savior, friend . . . ."
One voice then, strident, searing, rises about the rest:
"Tell them of me! Tell my name!"
I am past care, numb again.
A wave rises. On its back
a shuddering sable form is swimming,
closing fast to where I stand.
My shadow says this is the beast
called Fraud who can assume
a winsome, sincere, reassuring face.
His body writhes like a snake.
I call to him; my shadow disappears.
I am on the seventh rim where tribes
of sightless men, eyes gashed and gushing,
call my secret name. It is a falcon's cry.
How can they know? I am
my shadow's dream, empty as air.
The falcon shrieks, "quick now, here!"
Tortured wails rise like wind, cataract.
The falcon dives.
The monster rocks.
©2016 Joseph Lisowski