Evil is present

Evil is always present
petty and present in me
and in you
lurking at my door, a ghost wearing sandals
interred in the bones,
exhumed in my marrow, stitched to my skin.

Evil is absence, the root of the gallows, 
a shadow born from cool and the cold,
evil is frozen and fire.

Evil is good, coming back
winning that ever-present ignorance
knowing better, doing worse
or doing nothing, in sleep and awake,
mundane, just a word
a palindrome.

Evil is lemons
subjective and sour, visceral, vile
born from the end of beginnings
the eyes of a marksman, 
the hands of a priest.
Evil is part of my soul.

Flowers of Evil by Rene Magritte

This is my poem for dVerse where we play with found poetry using Google auto-complete to create lists that work as poetry.

October 8, 2020

32 responses to “Evil is present

  1. “Eyes of a marksman, hands of a priest.” Great stuff, brother. So far no one has written on the same word; very cool.

  2. You’ve captured the elusive essence of evil so well. “stitched to my skin” “knowing better, doing worse” and the line Glenn mentions. The title of Magritte’s work seems to contrast with the golden image, but evil is a sleek yet tawdry b*stard.

  3. Darkness and evil, it persists in various forms–the most often, the one we least expect. I loved this description of it:

    “…the root of the gallows,
    a shadow born from cool and the cold,
    evil is frozen and fire.”

    Beautifully penned. ❤

  4. I love the use of present here:
    Evil is always present
    petty and present in me
    and in you

    The list poem is filled with uncanny images, almost a contraditions which works well: lemons, palindrome, fire and frozen.

    Great challenge Bjorn!

  5. kaykuala
    Evil is part of my soul.

    Love the closing line, Bjorn. We often find ourselves in defensive mode contending that it is right to be nasty. Your poem sets us into the right perspective!


  6. This is deliciously dark and enticing, Bjorn 😀 I especially love; “Evil is lemons subjective and sour, visceral, vile born from the end of beginnings the eyes of a marksman.” 💝

  7. Evil is always lurking on one shoulder… trying to persuade us…
    It is sad to think that people at one time considered sexuality as evil. Your art piece title says it all.

  8. Evil is intrinsic, and yet…you are great at arresting images, Bjorn. I’m not sure evil is lemons, though – I think it’s probably chocolate eclairs – or Turkish delight.

  9. Did you start with the title of the Magritte painting, Björn, or did you find it after writing your poem? My favourite image is of evil as ‘a ghost wearing sandals’ – so creepy. I also like evil as ‘lemons / subjective and sour’ and the play on evil/vile’.

  10. Bjorn, You show us how it’s done. The brilliance here is how you make evil personal, not Other. As in “exhumed in my marrow, stitched to my skin” which is just how intrinsic it is to our nature.

  11. I think it’s interesting to conclude with “Evil is part of my soul.” after outlining all the faults of evil – something that’s probably true for all of us.

  12. Hi Bjorn, I really liked this prompt of yours, but it was difficult to figure out which direction to approach it. It took me a day of procrastination and changing directions but I got something down. My arthritic fingers didn’t help my process. Hope you like what I ended up with.Really like what you did here. It was an enjoyable read well written! And I really love the image you used!BTW, I hope next Thursday is another live open mic night, I really enjoyed the last one. Such a great idea!

  13. Wow. This one is powerful! I love this prompt! What a great idea you had to google “Evil is…” Wish I had thought of that.

  14. This list poem is uncanny in imagery and on its flow. It’s, most of all, honest.

    Particularly moved by this stanza:
    Evil is absence, the root of the gallows,
    a shadow born from cool and the cold,
    evil is frozen and fire.

  15. Loved this! Such great wordmanship and everybody should understand what you have, we have a dark side. Jung and the “Shadow work” are and have been important tools for my growth as a human being. And once you can see yourself without judgment, faults and all, you are closer to being free. Accepting yourself as you are. Of course it comes and goes like all.

  16. Just by the way, I did a translation of a Finnish poet in one of the open link nights and we were wondering with Kim how famous he was outside Finland, as he had never heard of him.
    Honestly would have been surprised if he would have known this sad figure..
    Eino Leino say anything to you? A poet in the 1879-1927.
    Because I think if he was known outside Finland then it would likely be in Sweden.
    Here’s a link to my translation of the poem of Eino Leino

      • Would have been surprised had you known him, those were hardly the age of information, and some poor Finnish poet using the rough language, instead of the “metropolitan” languages of sophisticated High Culture, were likely not translated or famed. Though I’m certain translations exist today, likely not then and likely not spread but among finnofils. But thänks Björn, on this..
        I think a natonal poet he will stay, because even a Finnish truck driver who might not know any poems knows the name Eino Leino, synonymous to poetry here, and celebrated on the same day both.

      • I had to check and I think he has been translated quite a lot (also by Swedish speaking authors from Finland) It’s just that I think he is not that well-known any longer in Sweden. I think the poets I learned about in School were slightly younger. My father would have known him, I’m sure.

  17. Late to the reading….first morning my breathing is getting back to normal. We shall take a walk today!!! Pneumonia is no fun….BUT much better than learning something was amiss with my heart. So I am BACK!
    And this post was quite an amazing one to read. I really enjoyed this prompt, Bjorn. And the responses have gone every which way with it!

    I know I should have seen it before — but evil as a palindrome (live) is quite a stunning revelation! I most especially liked that last stanza.
    PS: Let us hope that one evil (the one I call Evil Incarnate) shall cease to sit in the house of the people here, beginning with a resounding election result. So resounding, it cannot be manipulated or thrown to the courts now packed with the evil one’s judges, for a final rendering. Let us hope January 2021 shall be a new beginning for more than just the next decade!

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