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Dec 2020
Clad in plaid and leather, silver
drenched in blood
fingers gracefully extended
to pull the trigger,
jump the gun -

Back to back,
shoulder to shoulder,
with each other, with the reaper

This ménage-à-trois
- brother - brother - Death -
encircled in an endless dance,
scowling like wolves,
gnashing blades like teeth,
growling like gunfire

one stretches his arm
and reaches into Hell
a sharp intake of breath, thick
like demonic blood -
his hand gripping the other one tight

by the shoulder -
handprint burnt into his flesh already
from decades of dance rehearsal,
always dancing, always getting tired -

the two as one
and the Holy Ghost of Death between,
this third, silent party
ever-observing, winding between their bodies,
slick and oily -
cunning Death is a slippery eel.

Cheek to cheek
their tears mingling
as they whisper the steps to each other,
useless reminders of
‘I’m sorry’
‘I love you’
‘I can’t be without-’

and one! Death kicks his leg
a sharp stab to the chest,
the heart underneath slowing to the rhythm
of tango dying in the spotlight…

and two! one brother picks up the speed,
carries his partner through the routine,
an arm
elegantly draped around
a neck,
half-carried, half-dragged through this dance,
each foot-fall heavier than the one before,

and three… the violins stop screeching
their violent delight,
all eyes carefully trained on the dancers,
warm blood trickling between their lips,
barely touching,
hot breath visible in the cold black
surrounding their heads.

Death stares, shrouded in his coat.
The boys disheveled but him untouched,
a joyless grin on his pale lips,
thin brow dusted with
the sweat of exertion,
the fire in their lungs

lights a spark -

four! the violins pick up again
their strings wailing in excitement
as a hand descends from Heaven
the dancers looking up in awe,
lifting their faces to the single spotlight
illuminating their locked fingers,
rigid backs,
cheek to cheek still

and five, spinning them around
the hand makes all the blood undone
and heals their wounds
as Death lurks in the shadows, ready
to attack once more -

again - six, again - seven,
eight, nine!
their ribs broken and breath quivering,
hands still holding tight,
legs outstretched -

slowly kneeling in an embrace of pain…

pleading mouths -
stay with me’
‘Tell me,
t-tell me it’s okay-’

But on ten, enter stage left
one who’s danced with Death half
an eternity-
he latches onto one brother,
forearm against forearm,
leaving him marked -

suddenly a new rivalry-
the dynamic changes swiftly now
and one brother, with his fists raised high,
Death wrapped around his torso,
he is poised to pounce -

ready to ****, now,
any second now,
come to Death, spin him ‘round,
lock eyes with the unthinkable-

eleven. And an arm extends -
in the flash of his own blade
Death falls to his knees,
soulless eyes glazed over, staring still,
the dancers fixed in their sight -

He goes down without applause -
the audience is shocked,
the dancers are shocked,
the violins stopped mid-stroke.

Twelve. A moment of silence for the death of Death.

A beat. And another.
The daring of a pumping heart.
Composure, posture, straightening backs,
hand in rough-skinned hand,
an air of grace and defiance
in their footwork,
set to finish this performance.

At thirteen the violins fall into
the final act -
the dancers spin and smile
painfully wide,
the audience screams and cheers,
wring their hands,
whistle like toreros

rousing Death, forgotten on the parquet,
from his curtain fall,
hands reaching, feeling into the warm
spotlight -
the spectators scream in horror,
the brothers, bowing, turn too late -

prelude -

one -
Written by
Marco  23
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