The rain falls softly and quickly
like happy moments soon to be forgotten.
Devin Stevens, a losing writer,
walks inside a tall, white-washed building,
the door slamming behind him.
A note of inescapable finality.
He enters an office with imposing walls,
a businessman sitting behind a desk
with a golden name tag: “Life.”
‘Good Evening, Mr. Stevens. How are you?’
The tone is more fake than saving face.
‘I’m okay,’ says Devin wearily.
His face matches his black coat; droopy and dark.
‘I see you are scheduling a surgery with us,’
says the clownish face.
‘Yes,’ says Devin. ‘I think the time has come.
Time for the books to close.
Time for the fingers to freeze,
for the stories to be silenced,
for the lines to end at a blank meaningless white.
Time for my dreams to slowly die in tears.’
Exhausted, he closes his eyes in silence.
‘You know, Devin,’ says the powdered angel,
‘I think you’re being very wise here.
Some people your age keep writing and reading
and dreaming and challenging and living.
Real dangerous if you ask me.
And so unrealistic. You know?’
The poet nods his head, staring at the golden tag.
‘I wrote a poem about the situation.
I’ve already memorized it.
I read it everyday.’
‘Really? And what does it say?’
As the rainbow dips through pure clouds
so does my spine twist in weary flesh.
As the immovable mountains meditate on the dark horizon
so does my mind from the edges of poverty.
As the ocean’s waves, once calm, begin to rise
so do my emotions; stunted and triggered nerves.
As the fires burn the trees clean of green life
so does my bitterness the hope of tomorrow.
As ice and snow descend and clothe the ground in white
so are my dreams imprinted on aging tombstones.
As the wind blows through the windmill and to the open sky
so does my precious time leave my grasp, never to be used.
As the storms spin in the round atmosphere
so do I walk in circles inside this prison.
The poet is now silent, eyes vacant in despair.
In false sympathy, the man says
‘There’s no doubt that you’re sick.
Your writing isn’t getting you anywhere.
I’m so glad you came!
We’ll fix you up good as new!
All you do is sign these papers.’
Devin looks at the document, one clause large, another small.
The pen ready as a quill from the Angel of Death.
‘Yes. The time has come.
I need to accept reality.
It was good while it lasted.
Maybe this is all the best for me.
Perhaps God has different, better plans for me.
there is still my family, the job, the car,
all the other things I need.
And God most of all.
From this day forward…..’
He is silent for a moment.
Then signs for the surgery.
The businessman smiles like a sneaky demon.
‘Surgery won’t take long at all.
We’ll see you next week!
Soon, the need for words will never bother,
hinder, deceive, depress your mind again!’
They shake hands and the poet leaves.
Five surgeons stand above him while he sleeps.
That common gas fills his mind with calm,
that addictive smog for every victim from his ruler.
The scalpel gleams ready and the gloves snap on.
The businessman is the main surgeon.
For the dealer is also the king in this cruel paradise.
‘Alright ladies and gentlemen. Let’s start.’
They softly slice the forehead open.
As the blood runs and froths red,
they hear voices, whispers which to them sound terrible;
confessions of love,
tributes to his dear family,
liberal views of God and His plans,
satires towards stupidity and carelessness,
praises for the stars and for the world.
A rush of sounds and words and phrases.
The noise writes shivers down their arms.
‘Steady! Steady! Nice and easy!’
The brain lies open to them,
a helpless victim for the blade of time.
They prick and cut and pull and push and move,
their sinful hands wet with innocence.
Their eyes greedily search for those places
feared by every safe space and placid heart.
The surgeon chuckles and clucks.
‘There we go….yes….yes….yes….’ he hisses.
In that murderous silence
they sow the skin back together,
clean up the evidence,
wash their hands like a guilty killer,
congratulate each other for their success.
The businessman laughs:
“In a few hours, he’ll see the world brand new!”
They let the dead poet sleep in ignorant peace.
He awakes, the lights full in his eyes.
Like a newborn welcomed to the system.
He hears someone approach his side.
He looks around and sees the childish dealer.
“Hey buddy! How are you feeling?”
“Like I returned from a black hole.”
“Interesting. Well, everything seemed to go good during the surgery.
I’m gonna ask you a few questions, is that okay?”
“Yessir. Fire away.”
“Okay. My first question is this:
What do you think of language?”
Devin lies on his back and thinks.
“Language….is the sound of our heart through our mouth,
The soul’s means of song and dance.
Without it, we’re left with lifeless numbers
and puny scratches on the wall.”
“Hmmm….alright. No biggie…..Here’s the next one:
What is the greatest hobby on Earth?”
Devin closes his eyes.
“The greatest hobby of all….is to read.”
The surgeon puts his hand slightly over his mouth,
puzzled at the odd response.
“Okay….but why? Books aren’t that great, right?”
“Oh yes sir….they are.
They warn, teach, comfort, inspire, warm you,
freeze you, lift you, empower you, entertain you.
They place pieces on the chessboard of war.
They resurrect the long dead past
And paint the possibilities of the future.
Vacations bound in pages.
Time encapsulated in chapters.
Spirits and minds made eternal in lines.
They are the fingerprints of humanity.
The record of living and suffering.
The legacy of the generous and wise.
The schemes of tyrants and evil men.
The bulwark of knowledge.
The supreme art of every age.
Literature…..Literature is life.”
The surgeon’s eyes widen in fear.
He shakes his head.
“And what about poetry….what about poetry?”
He sounds frightened.
Devin hears the voices in his head.
His millions of muses.
“Poetry is….poetry is…..
poetry is my food, drink, shelter, money.
My speech, my lung’s rhythm.
The bones under my muscles, the skin over my bones,
my stomach, my liver, my brain, my heart.
It moves through me, it stays in me.”
But here he stops.
“But why? I was supposed to….to forget about poetry….”
The surgeon rushes out the door.
A moment later, he and the other doctors arrive.
“Devin….we’re putting you back to sleep okay?
Just for a minute…..”
He turns to his fellow villains.
“Something is wrong.”
They reopen the forehead, confused.
They were sure, confident, winning.
But now? They are shaken to disbelief.
“I don’t understand,” says the clown,
“we did the procedure exactly as prescribed.
No mistakes, no unnecessary cuts. So how…..?
They pause and think, considering the brain before them.
“We need to cut just a little more, I think.”
Before they proceed with new blades
they hear the voices issuing from the ears,
new and deafening,
cheers of soldierly victory,
roars of dragons and lions,
the smooth sound of open waters,
violins playing sorrowful nocturnes,
twinkling magic spells like falling diamonds,
and every fancy of fantasy,
full of life, full of inspiration.
The surgeon shakes in his shoes.
They must try harder this time.
They cut the cortex wider.
Still, the voices.
They pick and tug at the right side.
Still, the voices.
They push and prod the left side.
Still, the voices.
They soak corners in their poisons and potions.
Still, the voices.
“What in the hell!” shouts the Surgeon, livid.
“Why?! Why won’t they leave him?
Why won’t they quit speaking?
This surgery was foolproof!
Designed to make him normal, acceptable!”
His evil eyes glow in anger. Then, dim in defeat.
They sow back the forehead and give up.
“I’m afraid….when I wake Devin up
I’ll tell him the truth. That….we’re stumped.
For now, at least.” His grins in determination
When the poet wakes up again in recovery,
the businessman enters his room, hands folded behind the back,
a look of sadness on his face.
“Good morning, Mr. Stevens. How are you?”
“I’m….fine, I guess. But I still
think about poetry and books and real life.
Not a good sign is it?”
“I’m afraid not. It seems the surgery failed.
You are still in love with words.
But don’t worry! We’ll find out what’s wrong!
We’re keeping you here till we find a cure!
“Yessir! We won’t give up!”
But in his heart the poet is lost and confused.
Why…..why can’t they change him?
They don’t intend to let me loose.
Those sly, powerful tricksters,
those death loving people.
They’ve only let me move like a rat in a cage.
Examining me, arguing with me.
I want to walk out in the fresh air,
to be more easily inspired and free.
But they want to kill me, the me I really am.
I know they’re not my true friends.
So I walk in circles around these walls.
They’re so white they seem as though
you could push your hand through them
with no effort, no pain.
Yet they are as deep as gravity,
as real as the white in the eyes.
This room where I can hardly move
is my home on Earth, my only resting place.
I wake when they want.
I bathe when they want.
I eat when they want.
I drink when they want.
I work when they want.
I sleep when they want.
But I never feel what they want,
I never believe what they want,
I never think what they want,
And I never love what they want.
They have me but they don’t have me.
I am still a writer.
They cannot change me
because I am unchangeable.
The essence, the spirit, the strength
is not within their power.
This wind still blows in this fleshly prison.
And it defies them and all their instruments!
There is a window in the room.
I look outside it and see Nature.
And then….I remember:
As the rainbow dives over fluffy clouds
so I dive in pages for a new journey.
As the mountains are relentlessly lashed with storms,
I still laugh at Fate’s pathetic cajoling.
As I move towards the shore of death in waves,
I roar in faith with an inspiring crash.
As the world’s fire spreads to consume me,
love keeps my heart guarded from ignorant rage.
As my words fall on the page like snow and rain,
they leave beauty for the private, happy spirit.
As the wind blows my needful hours over the horizon
I smile; those hours will one day be mine eternally.
As I travel around this small dungeon
I haven’t given up on my dreams slowly rising from tears.
My last poem is my first poem
and my first poem is my last.
Its rebellious lines are never finished