I wrote this poem alongside a chapter introduction of my upcoming novel. I had just finished the chapter introduction and the character dialogue when the below poem fell into place, so I just went with the flow.
I’ve added the chapter introduction and the dialogue directly after the poem to give more context. In short, a devil descended on an obscure little town in the guise of a jester, psychologically breaking each of the characters promising each of them a nirvana. He visits at the lowest points of their lives, hoping to break them and gain their allegiance.
Keep the devil at bay by saying no
His whipping forked tongue will spew words of deception
Do not weary or waver; never let go
Do not pay with your soul for a lonely damnation
The devil won’t let you sleep, whispering specious delight
He doesn’t care about the good or bad you’ve done
Do not be tempted and let the mind benight
He’ll say anything to get you wrapped in the twisted web he’s spun
If it’s love lost, do not turn to the devil for advice
The devil doesn’t know love; he’s never had his heart broken
Let the bloody footprints of your shattered world lead to God’s paradise
Times of strife test the mettle of humanity; confidence is the token
The tried-and-true stand tall against the devil and his lies
When the devil is beaten, step on his tail as you begin to rise
Here is the chapter introduction and dialogue that spawned the poem:
Portrait of a young man, a lost soul, searching for a purpose at the bottom of a bottle in a pitch-black room. His blinks grow more lethargic with every sip of his flask. He focuses on an unfamiliar silhouette sitting at his dinner table. To preserve the last of his energy for tipping his flask, he squints and takes another lethargic blink from his rocking chair. At this moment, the silhouette melts away from the table. Jacob, slightly confused, attributes the experience to his impairment.
A shrill voice cuts the air breaking the silence that had fallen over the room.
Ahh, Jacob Riley. Jacob, the town drunk. Jacob, the black sheep of the Riley family,” teased the jester, shaking his head in disgust.
“Look what you’ve turned into these days. A shadow of your former self. Your life swirls and circles at the bottom of that bottle as you look at me with that pitiful stare. There is nothing left for you in this world. I can take all of those pains away from you if you just let me,” said the jester putting his hands together in prayer.
“I don’t make deals with devils,” retorted Jacob in a slurred voice with his flask barely breaking away from his lips.
“And who are you to talk to me about looks anyways? Look at you. You’re dressed as a jester and promising a nirvana,” said Jacob squinting at the jester with a scowl.
The jester cracked an evil smirk, briefly revealing his jagged teeth but remained silent.
Jacob continued his patronizing, “I’m curious though, what is your price these days, devil? Is it the soul like people always say?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes, it is. Painless, I assure you, Jacob. The life you’ve lived, your soul probably doesn’t mean much to you these days anyway, does it? The life of loneliness and the grave you’ve dug for yourself, such a pit of despair,” quipped the jester as he inspected a dust-covered book on a shelf.
“So, I pay with my soul, and I get a nirvana?”
“Whatever are your utmost desires. Imagine it, if you will, no longer living in your uncle’s shadow. All of the power you could ever dream of, my friend,” said the jester as his eyes grew big, raising his hands trying to guide Jacob’s vision.
“I’ve got one question for you though, devil,” said Jacob pointing at the jester with his flask.
“Please, Jacob, you’ve earned it. What is your query?”
“Why would I pay with my soul for an eternity of loneliness when loneliness is free?”
“You see the conundrum, jester?”
“Perhaps I’ve underestimated your wit. Despite being impaired, your mind remains sharp. Think over my proposal, Jacob. It won’t be available forever,” answered the jester, waving his sharpened index finger at Jacob.
The jester made his way behind Jacob, rubbing the back of his chair as he passed, “keep your flask tipped up. It’s the only way you’ll be happy in this lifetime. With me, you’ll have it all.”
Jacob’s chair let out a loud creak breaking the silence as he sat up, “Leaving so soon? It’s not often I get to see a nervous devil in a room full of rocking chairs. Watch your tail, devil,” teased Jacob as he rocked in his chair.
“Clever, Jacob. I’ll see you again soon,” hissed the jester as he snapped his fingers and vanished in a flash.
“Pssh, a nirvana,” scoffed Jacob as he took a drink from his flask.
Jacob sat silently with disdain painted on his face, upset with how his life had played out thus far. He brought the flask back up to his mouth and abruptly threw it where the jester had disappeared.
Let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading!
Travis J. McRoy 2021 All Rights Reserved