Denise Antoni

Rookie (09 June 1959)

Serial Killing - Poem by Denise Antoni

Walking down Melrose Avenue
Nearly thirty years later,
Drunken wheeled coffins and cars clutter;
The junk of the world tries to smother you.

You'd strung up a fox-hole. A dark, pitched room
Above dogged stairs papered turquoise and puce.
You'd climb the vertical field, battling up,
Lung-stricken, disarmed, day after day.
Countless shoulders had oiled the olive passageway,
Each gasping bend a settling up
Toward an airless, caved-in truce
With life, an un-medalled victory.

‘Lambs to the slaughter, ' he'd said
After you'd both read
It in the Mirror. The Willesden bonfires,
That Muswell Hill gutter,
Might have made him shudder, if he'd had the nerve.
But he was buoyed by your horror, your wide eyes.

Your pill-boxed, cracked-up, locked room.
Beyond the salient of barraged Kilburn,
You'd watch as the ordnance rattled up,
Down, up, down. Day after day.
Trenched in fever, sick on poetry.
Gutters run blue with red paper petals up
To Maida Vale; slick and nervous, you'd churn
In the drenching sweat of a delirious sky.

It took you a long time to burn him out.
The dismembrance, the disinfection.
You'd sold his collection……

A red bed. Skin shredded in his narrow stone room.
The punishing barrow breaks the body to its chamber.
He'll climb below now. Soul to its forever.

Digging up the careful skulls,
Experts turn and bicker, day after day.
Their words obstruct the simple way
That death unclutters. Our lives truss
And twist up our first-born dreams, but our bones remember
Our lonely immortalities.

Back in that tacked-on, flung-up room
Beyond the slack-sashed echo chamber,
They'd watch yellowed London clay spewing up
Spent, limbless, silver bullets. Day after day
The year musters to turn its jaundiced eye
Homeward for Christmas, brewing up
A stewed, gassy stink. November
Has appalled the last blue coffin of sky.

All those forgotten boys,
Stepping into the blood-hooded mirror,
Stripping off in the flared light,
To blink before the staring bite
Of their sealed, spring-heeled fate….

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Poem Submitted: Friday, February 1, 2013

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