Gothic

                                                Light the incense now and call the spirit.
                                                Good will triumph in her light.
                                               
Kick those demons. Kick ‘em high
                                               
Buffy bless and sanctify.

                                                            S.K. Kelen ‘Buffy’

There’s only so much you can do. So you kill a few
demons. The evil grows, you get older,
the end approaches. Don’t be fooled by bright colours,
the crash of drums, the thrash and roar
of electric guitars. Sure, we have fun,
dress up like rock stars, hang shiny talismans
from pretty necks, kick up our heels sometimes
in the underworld. We’re young at the beginning,
things are new. Surprised at the strength
of bodies and minds, we hunt out danger,
dispatch the dark ones with a stroke
and a scissor kick. The whole uncouth, unholy
menagerie is a buzz, the latest demon sending us
rushing to hunt down arcane answers
in dusty tomes, dissolving one problem after another
in a puff of dust. If this is growing up,
bring it on. How can we lose?  But the longer it goes on
the more real it gets. Soon we do lose,
again and again, with each defeated foe replaced
by one more deadly and less comic. 

If we keep on joking despite everything, that’s because language
is our haven, the black-hearted jesting
of battle-hardened soldiers, a lingo
that makes our never-ending war seem like a children’s game;
for only yesterday we were children, pony tails
and braces, trips to the mall − and tomorrow, who knows?  We know,
we learn, beneath our games, our plastic smiles and smart one-liners,
how all this ends. We get older, we get old
before our time, staring into the empty future
with the dead eyes of refugees. One by one
the lessons arrive. When you find love,
if your love is true, he turns into a monster. He loves you,
so he hurts you, is only his best, truest self
while you remain apart. If it makes sense
when our hero is snatched back from death
against all rules and better judgement, why then
does she wander through her new life like a stranger?
Her friends can’t see how their selfish love
has robbed her of her well-earned place in Heaven, stealing her
back to our world of measureless pain. She lies about it, we all lie
like grown-ups. Only when a spell is cast
can we sing and dance the truth, the whole vaudeville routine
of our innermost hopes and fears.
Finally, people − real people − mothers and lovers
die, not at some demon’s hand
but killed by real life, by a simple failure of the heart
or a stray bullet from some jealous boy’s gun, die
and are gone forever, though you would sell your soul,
break every rule of Heaven just to have them back.
Then there is the taut silence, the caught breath
of grief more real than TV, and the impossible, bloody vengeance
of young men flayed alive.

                                                    There are victories, yes:
the monster who is made more human by love
for another, the beauty queen who gets a soul.
But when it’s all over, we march into the last battle
certain of defeat, chasing our fiery destiny
into the mouth of Hell. 

Those who dismiss, who talk of trash TV
don’t understand, can’t see what others see,
don’t think and feel with the urgency
of a beating heart. They are zombies, picking loose threads
from the fringes of a story they have not read.
Here’s what it means: death waits,
a shadow hidden in the light. We fight, though we know
the darkness triumphs; we fight as we live,
to keep this wan hope burning dimly
for a brief season in an ocean of black.

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