When death came to town

When Death come to town she claimed
our flesh by selling us dust; whiter
than pale as the twilight her poisonous kiss
of nuclear mushrooms and alpha-decay.

When Death came to knock on our door
a morning in May, luminescence was dark,
but she promised us blessing of bones,
and gifted us green-glow of scientific relief.

When Death showed us her face, unveiled
for the first time we saw as if mirrored — our
selves, we saw in her face the pockmarks,
pus and blood on our pillows, the liquid in lungs.

When Death had left us alone, we waited
decaying, pale in half-life of matters, choked
by the ghost of the nooses she’d tied;
smothered in soil we opened our graves.

Angel of Death by Horace Vernet

Today I prompt at the toads and the subject is radiation. I will also link to the Poetry Pantry tomorrow morning.
—-
June 30, 2018

32 responses to “When death came to town

  1. This is mega kick-ass poetry, B. I love it when you get all grave-nasty with your poems. 🙂

    My faves:

    “whiter
    than pale as the twilight her poisonous kiss
    of nuclear mushrooms and alpha-decay”

    “our
    selves, we saw in her face the pockmarks,
    pus and blood on our pillows”

    “choked
    by the ghost of the nooses she’d tied”

  2. kaykuala

    by the ghost of the nooses she’d tied;
    smothered in soil we opened our graves

    The Big C is the proverbial death sentence waiting in the shadows and radiation is not really a savior.

    Hank

  3. That was deep, dark, and strangely fun. It would be perfect to read this on an apocalypse day, as all world unfurl around us. I could even see this as an opening of a apocalyptic movie!

  4. My goodness this is incredibly dark and chilling! Especially this: “When Death showed us her face, unveiled for the first time we saw as if mirrored”.. gave me goosebumps!

  5. Yes, this is very moving Bjorn. I do remember after WW2 the publicised fear of nuclear war and the propaganda explaining how bad it would be as the Iron Curtain descended over Europe!

  6. The soft breath of Chernobyl still flows cold in our dreams. It will for a long, long time, sterile, eerie, faint. Maybe it robbed our brains before the Internet came along. Great response to the challenge.

  7. Love the sound pattern and the shocking images in this poem: “she claimed our flesh by selling us dust,” “luminescence was dark,” “blessing of bones,” “pockmarks, pus and blood on our pillows, the liquid in lungs.” And I can feel in my bones that terrifying moment when Death unveils her face and we stare at our own image.

  8. Dark and chilling, Bjorn. The repetition of ‘When Death came…’ is so effective, which has a lot to do with the rhythm of the phrase and the similarity to the well-known phrase ‘when the circus came to town’, which gives it an even more chilling edge.The delicate description of the dust as ‘whiter than pale as the twilight, contrasts starkly with the ‘poisonous kiss of nuclear mushrooms and alpha-decay’.I also find the phrase ‘green-glow of scientific relief’ a stark and effective image..

  9. It seems you didn’t miss anything, your words are well matched with the image. Death so lovely, white dress and golden wings.

  10. A superb write Bjorn, dark and raw and frightening’ which has left a deep impression on me. I fear this day that I am sure will eventually come to pass.
    Last week I viewed The Day After (1983) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After) for the second time, having watched it before, I think last year. It is equally chilling and still very relevant. Some day someone will be mad enough to order the turn of the key, the pressing of that button. And Death will come…
    Anna

  11. So much sickness… And the thought of it mirroring the speaker’s own face/world is terrifying, especially since you make such a great job at making us feel it all.

  12. It feels you were looking back a bit at the Chernobyl incident the the affect on your beautiful homeland. You do dark so very well.

  13. A haunting – chilling – piece that cuts like a knife, again and again with layered images that startle and stun.

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