The Evening Catch, Canzone 11

If indigo’s a mood, then by what tune
Can we describe a glaring neon red?
I thought of that as I slipped into bed.
A stoplight, stuck on yellow for the night,
Blinked on and off outside our silenced room.
There seemed to be no way to go ahead
“Without a measured caution,” someone said.
I dared to part a curtain, push back fright.
I thought I might be given second sight
But no, the sky remained a vast, deep blue.
The flashing light sustained its patent yellow.
I could not change the view, not with a bellow,
Nor with a somber prayer. Someone knew;
My sacrifice restrained her poignant laughter.
But still, the sense of my defeat just grew,
My modeled self disintegrating, dafter.

Sometime through the night I heard a moan,
The voice of someone with her soul untied
To flesh, a wandering creature who now tried
To reattach herself with that small whine.
I thought she had emerged from some old crone
Who, in alliance with a witch, had died
To mortal fears, but torn apart, had cried
For living help, for anything—a sign
She was not lost, and had not crossed the line.
I could not spoil the scene with some dark truth,
A radiant crimson blasted out from Hell.
I only sounded my best mourning bell.
Another message seemed to me uncouth.
She wrapped itself in blackened, shadowy tatters,
A costume suited for a rotten tooth.
I wondered if she’d soon apply an adder.

I tossed and turned without relief. And soon
My wife awakened to become an aide
In my distress. As she had not been paid
I could not sway her with emotions, pride,
Nor whisper of escape to our new moon.
She knew too well, even as I assayed
The gold in her intentions, how I made
A promise out of fear. I had denied
This with another, but with her not tried.
I rose to lift the sash and stare toward doubt,
To use the skeptic to pull back a veil.
My spouse stood there with me, and would not fail
To hold us both against my frightened shout.
My trepidation then began to falter;
I felt my terror fleeing from a rout
That my imagination could not alter.

Mere minutes passed. She left me there alone,
Depending on my sanity to hide
A somewhat eased distress. I’d not deride
Her falling back to sleep—a favorite state.
Instead I contemplated that dark zone
Where she had stood before her sleepward slide.
Her joyful moods, on which I had relied,
Still drew upon the air, to much adumbrate
The faintest hope I’d tried to obfuscate
With clouded creatures crawling from the Id.
Of those remained a single, stable shell
Which held a vacuum in its tiny Hell—
Abhorred by her. I couldn’t but forbid
Temptation toward a nightmare’s bloody spatter.
Her pacific overtures somewhat outdid
Subconscious urges to experience slaughter.

My indigo’s a mood, in lighted runes
Whose secret code before light’s often fled.
Their incantation calls upon the dead
To celebrate my old, perverse delight
In devastation, pain and ruin. Soon,
When driven out, I often find I’ve shed
All traces of paralysis. My head,
Released from those dark iron clamps, takes flight
And I begin to sense a latent might.
Above the sky remains a velvet blue,
The moon a face that might begin to mellow
My inner charlatan, amuse the fellow
Until he can accept surrender. True,
My frightened rhetoric, rising to the rafters,
Annoying as a badly played kazoo,
Might well have been the fisherman who gaffed her.

Arthur Mortensen of Brooklyn has appeared in many journals and has three collections: A Disciple After the Fact, a novel in verse (Kaba Press); Life in the Theater, sequel, and Why Hamlet Waited So Long (San Sebastian Press). Upcoming is After the Crash, currently in submission. He has been editor & publisher of Somers Rocks Press, Pivot Press, and is Webmaster of