Every once in a while I get these seemingly morbid scenes in my mind and just have to write them down. The sudden explosion of morbid Halloween paraphernalia all around me – in the store, on houses nearby, on Facebook games, etc. – probably hasn’t been helping me much, either. And thus we have my newest poem, “The Death Pit”. Don’t worry, though. There are no ghosts or anything like that involved.
The poem is very symbolic, both mythological and religious. The cursed man is reminiscent of the biblical Cain, noted in his bloodied hand at the end of the poem, which could be both metaphorical (it is a phrase used to describe a murderer) or literal (the cursed man is injured and dying). The boots upon the mint is reminiscent of the mythic Minthe, one of Hades’ extramarital love interests who was turned into the mint plant, which became a traditional funerary herb in Greece.
The poem evokes, at least I hope it does, not only a symbolic interest but two over-all themes as well: (1) be careful what you ask God for because you just might get it, and (2) no matter how sinful you are, even if you are dying as a consequence for the life you’ve led, you will never die entirely alone because your maker, the Savior of the world, is still going to be there with you. He never forgets.
The Death Pit
Down, down in the belly of the pit,
The rain swelled round and, swirling, on it went.
Tip, tap, tip, tap, drops upon the stone,
Down in the pit where the death-weeds now are grown.
Far, far from the lands he called his home,
Cursed was he, now, evermore to roam.
Hopeless, homeless, lost and weary man,
Sick at heart for the place from which he ran.
High, high looked the man up to the sky,
Cursed himself and begged God let him die.
Clip, clap, clip, clap, boots upon the mint,
The rocks gave way and to the pit he went.
Wailing, wailing he begged for mercy then.
He didn’t want to die, now, though lost in night-black sin.
Drip, drop, drip, drop, the tears rolled down his face.
If he had to die, why alone in this dark place?
Hush now, hush now, there came a distant sound:
The soft, quick wing-beat of doves to light the ground.
Singing, fluting their quiet, mournful song,
The sky-souled choir birds comfort him along.
Slipping, slipping, his sight now turned to black.
His bloodied hand fell downward, his clenching fists went slack.
God may give you what you ask, so beware that which you moan,
But even when death takes you, you’ll never die alone.