VIII

LOSING MYSELF

 

I didn’t kill anyone, but I allowed it to proceed

under men who were sullied by violence and greed.

I noticed my new mentor slip away on occasion,

to leave us alone with our celebration.

But I thought nothing of it, engrossed as I was

in the treasures I gathered; which was mostly because

of the pleasure I drew from these acquisitions,

and the power I felt from our conquered submissions.

 

Through the words of those who knew no better

– all of those who had never met her –

were the memories of her darkened in my head;

until I began to believe the lies they said.

 

And I changed.

 

I lost all compulsion to treat people well.

It had failed to afford me the same in return.

I welcomed the initiation of others to my Hell,

knowing there would be many a soul to burn.

 

There were pleasures to be had, of the body and mind,

and with open arms I embraced them.

But of all those I knew of the bodily kind,

I had not the mind to face them.

 

The only deaths I knew were the small ones,

whose significance were nought but fleeting refrain.

All the tales I told were tall ones,

fantastic stories to deal with the pain.

 

Until it happened that I was enlightened,

and found myself exposed to a crisis of soul.

All I had done had left people frightened

of a man without virtues, no deeds to extol.

 

One day in a town of fledgling expanse,

growing tired of the self-delusioned romance

of banditry, freedom and lawlessness,

I was awakened to the truth of all I detest.

Like a veil of dark idiocy drawn from my eyes,

the horror I witnessed took me by surprise:

 

As the men were gathering up their bounty,

I spied our leader slipping away.

I followed him to where, all bound, he

had held three girls apart from the day.

Ensuring that my footfalls behind him were stealthy,

I crept to a window through which I could see

our wonderful leader entertaining unhealthy

and immoral desires for one of the three.

He ordered her to kneel at gunpoint,

while her sisters watched on with dread.

I felt my stomach turn at one point

as he pressed the gun full ‘gainst her head.

 

I dragged my knife clear of its leather binding,

knowing what had to be done.

And, kicking the door in behind him,

I lunged as he turned with his gun

raised and ready to kill me,

his lust and depravity clear.

He pulled the trigger swiftly,

a sound I could barely hear

with the blood pumping fast in my head and

my adrenaline-fuelled rage burning bright.

All I was seeing was red and

my blade took from him his sight.

I plunged the knife into one socket,

while his gun repeated its call.

He reached out to tear my pocket

as he finally started to fall

down on his knees like his victim,

who rose shaking in fear for her life.

When she finally found courage to kick him,

I calmly offered my knife.

 

And, walking out bleeding and shaking,

I heard his screams echo his fate.

The man who’d been so fond of taking

had given a reason to hate.

 

I stood in my silence, enveloped by a cacophony

of murder and terror and dispossession.

It was only a matter of time before they came for me

to show that betrayal was no concession

when I had committed to follow his lead.

I snapped to attention, reloading with speed

the weapons which would set straight my course.

I would speak to them all in the language of force.

 

Someone shouted, ‘He killed him,’ from I knew not where.

And, swiftly surrounded, I found them all there.

The three girls had escaped from the scene of blood,

and I was grateful for that; I had done some good.

 

Their bullets were fire like the lashings of Hell.

I welcomed the pain like a pleasure.

I responded with like and, as each one fell,

each other one thought of his treasure.

These men were beyond redemption and hope,

and I was their judge and jury.

Despite their attack, they could not cope

with my adrenaline-fuelled rage and fury.

 

With all dead around me, the world fell to night.

And no one found me in time to ignite

any sense of wrong, any sense of right.

I lost myself in the absence of light

and, stumbling across the bodies and bones

of those who were doomed to rot alone,

I cried for them all and I cried for myself;

until I was standing at the edge on a shelf

of the world upon which I had sinned.

Without hesitation I threw myself in

to what I imagined was the Hell I deserved.

Yet, hitting the ground, my life was preserved.

 

Broken and bloodied my twisted form lay,

and lay there some more ‘til dawning of day.

And no one found me in time to abhor.

I rose, healed of fury, to wander some more.

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