Fata Morgana

Come nightfall she kneels amid sedge and peers

into the stream, anticipating her countenance

yet taken aback by the nebulous reflection

and surfeit of driftwood carried along the current,

unsettling the ambience. Looking around, she notes

cob, pen, and cygnet abruptly departing,

as if in flight from some intuited, creeping peril.

Just then from opaque depths uprises the aspect

of an anile crone, her eyelets igneous as gleeds

and her tattered graveclothes ghoulish.

Through her abysmal maw she entices with

honeyed venom, beckoning the maiden

to murmur unfamiliar formulas before

joining her below water where the pearls lie.

Although light-headed, the girl does not budge;

years of charity and chastity have conditioned her

to refrain from the forbidden. As she rises to leave,

a bony, taloned hand breaches the surface

and grasps her talus, reifying fears.

They struggle fiercely till daybreak when light

chars the gaunt hag, who caterwauls in anguish,

her piercing shrieks ascending the ether

as the eddy drags her under toward foul murk.

Cautious waterfowl return in time to spot

blood trickling from the limping maiden’s wound,

a memento mori and mark of honor.

Wilderness Epiphany

Sand dervishes whirl as the pir appears,

causing roans to whicker and forget their groats;

I, too, dispense with nibbling unsatisfying orts

in order to listen as the surreal figure

elucidates arcane esotery for the benefit

of man and beast alike, imparting his trust

in the the urge of Providence.

His connection to the otherworldly

seems umbilical; the mystic adores the divine

like thieves love the night.

His words penetrate the latticed shutters

of my mind, embedding my brain case

with overwrought thoughts

vaster than the wasteland landscape

we have been traversing for a fortnight.

He utters of the unseen web that links and knits

creatures with Creation, invisible fibrils and tendrils

binding all in a cosmic fabric woven

by the shaping hand of heaven with love.

How will I explain my atypical tarriance

to those awaiting me? They will scoff

at a known kafir and mutter of sunstroke,

and perhaps they will be right after all.

But even if it was only a desert vision,

a daydream of the weary, I offer thanks

for sudden insight bound to last a lifetime.

The Gatekeeper

By Friday afternoon she is buried alive by wobbly stacks

of paper in her 54th floor, midtown office overlooking

the river teeming with nonchalant drakes and ganders,

oblivious to their colloquy as indoors

she pores over reams of solipsistic rubbish

the likes of which have never before been seen

on God’s earth, she avows to no one in particular.

The week is nearly ended and she is bone-tired

of scribbling notes on boilerplate rejection slips

to hapless rhymesters to the effect that

a haiku is a tanka for folks in a rush

or that writing offering all heat and no light

is no good to anyone even in the dead of winter.

Low-grade efforts dispatched from around the globe

meet their doom atop the infamous and unforgiving

slush pile, the refuse of the refused,

dreadfully awaiting its fate of defenestration.

With her razor-sharp eye she audits hemistich and stich,

painstakingly scrutinizing stanza and strophe

in the desperate hope of discovering a quality

ever underrated but undeniable: merit.

Her approach, finical if not fanatical,

has her scurrilously imprecating typos

and blowing her gasket over haplography,

elevating her blood pressure and abridging her lifespan.

Not for the fanfare does she subject herself

to such exacting standards, though the awesome power

of serving as mediatrix between twaddle and treasure

is hardly lost on her. She knows full well she stands

like a literary Colossus bestriding worlds,

arbiter and custodian of the worthy.

When at long last she excavates a hidden gem

she cachinnates in triumph, nettling attorneys-at-law

in the neighboring firm who shoot her dirty looks,

which, in her overdue bliss, she ignores.

Only thereafter does it dawn on her

what an arrant sty she occupies,

which she must titivate prior to the publisher’s

matinal arrival come Monday.

About the Poet

brandon-marlonBrandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in 120+ publications in Canada, U.S.A., England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Romania, Israel, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Trinidad, & Mexico. www.brandonmarlon.com.