At the Witching Hour My witching hour is not past one, or two, or three. It could be any time of the night or day. On a dark, moonlit, or sunny stage, my contemplation unlatches a gate through which each ghost or demon parades. He that denied the visionary type of dream little knew how we remain in our sleep awake and commune with the dead, the living, the little, and the great. At the witching hour, I bandaged the injured arm of a friend who lived on a different continent. I saw the wave that galloped and gaped to swallow the coasts of distant states, and I prayed in churches whose locations remain vague, simply because they’re not replicas of what my subconscious portrayed of past events. Lady Penrhyn “In a very ugly and sensible age, the arts borrow, not from life, but from each other,” Oscar Wilde. I stand before Lady Penrhyn, the convict ship and think of Turner and Stevie Smith, of Joan transported into a sheet on a no-return, perennial trip. What would I find on Wainewright’s board? Did he leave behind a poet’s scrolls, some portraits he hid from the world, or the poison he wore in his ring? Would I find his victims’ ghosts, or innocence appealing to a misguided mob who loves to chew on human flaws since slander has always been the mode with which uniqueness is destroyed? [Inspired by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright’s painting Lady Penrhyn, Stevie Smith’s poem “Deeply Morbid”, and Oscar Wilde’s essay “Pen, Pencil, and Poison”.] Benighted They have terrorized the marrow of your eyes, so you stream music to ward off the evil at my side, your warning that no savior will arrive, and we’ll perish, as we lived, quite wide apart. Your firmly-closed lips can never reproduce that characteristic smile, which has made you immortalized in a child’s mind. The pallor of your face is the shroud that will obscure the sun and every star from my sight for as long as I am alive. I view your picture, the electronic guide. It will bear no fingerprints, no scent, or a trail into the past, just another mirage in a life that was benighted from the very start. Abominate I know now why the placid sea brings into my eyes a wealth of tears: that untainted blueness is now what I cannot attain. They have tarnished my heart with unremitting enmity. Their implacable hatred has seeped into my brain and forgiveness is no longer my salient trait, for now I abominate their abhorrent names. Weird I admit that I have earned the epithet weird for taking my little dog for a stroll three times a day – a dog I adopted and snatched from a cage, whose nose had borne the brunt of the penal cane – when I should have been smoking the hubble-bubble with friends, complaining about the vapidity of everything, or rather flirting with a man who spits on the street a hundred and sixty-eight times a week! I admit that for you I must be very weird, for befriending my inanimate books, abandoning a species who chews on news that specializes in slander and ridicule, that reduces the living to hilarious cartoons. Better be a weirdo, the object of your churning tongues than an empty-headed parrot with a polluted mouth.