Photograph by Michael J. Sullivan, 2010*
Listen up, you little *****, and let me
teach you a thing or two. See this skull here,
poised and serene? How do you know it’s poised?
It’s dead, for Christ’s sake! The only thing it’s
poised on in the edge of this stump—“ye olde
dead tree” holding “ye old dead head.” He had
a name, you know—Yorick—I didn’t make
that up. I knew him; good friend of my mum’s.
This sword here could have been what ran him through,
you know. Coulda got him straight through the gut,
and you’re all sittin’ here admiring its
craftwork. It’s the fancy hilt, isn’t it,
the bright metal chasing its own tail in
golden loops. Warm yellow over cold steel,
that’s what you people like—spectacle, shine—
not dust and history, like Yorick over here.
You don’t mind if I smoke, do you? Only
thing these candles are good for, really. They’re
tallow—stinking, smoky fat made by Jen
on her weekends off. She doesn’t know much
about candles, but her *****’s Special
Draft is the best mead made for this dung heap.
Anyway, I gotta ****. Leave Yorick
with your tips, and remember: what glitters
here isn’t gold, just paint over old age.
Ekphrastic poem, written in blank verse.