Clay F. Johnson

Writer | Poet | Pianist | sometime Alpinist | hopeless Romanticist

The Promise of a Polidori Sore Throat

The Promise of a Polidori Sore Throat

Disembodied screams and surrealist dreams
Is what her unnatural death seemed to bring,
As dark voices—necromantic like serpent-speak—
Whisper moon-strange temptations from her grave

Silver-carved in jasper-green bloodstone, chaos-
Colored—in honor of Persephone
Symbolizing a rebirth after death—
Glowing night-sick with poisoned emerald

It traces her name in changeable greens,
Opal-sexed, a dream potion of spirit-swirls,
Damning her to a sleep everlasting
With an unrevenged melody of livid breath

            Her pale-purpled bruises will never heal
            The caress of her elf-touched flesh no longer feels real

Now that beautiful poison, the night-sick
Emerald, is deeply graven on her
Sleepless phantom—ever restless—gurgling
With demon sounds of her corporeal memories

No c-minor requiem or key-sharped
Séance can silence the demon whispers—
Not even the lucid-sick Romantics
And their half-conscious visions of witchcraft

Nor the nightingale—the midnight composer
Pining over a subtle-sweet numbness,
Dreaming within the pale glow of ghost candles
That fade like laudanum-maddened forgetfulness

Drawn to the deathly pale luminescence
Of the will-o'-the-wisp flame—the ghost-light
The nightingale comes not to sing, but to dream


The slow-purpling of twilight-shadowed skies
Was never meant to encourage this hour of lies

Such a beautiful madness turned monstrous,
Elucidating unanswered questions
With the sweet-stung warmth from a poet’s potion:
Trembling lips over glass-vialed secrets
Promising a Polidori sore throat


            Uninvited and lost in confusions
Within the shadow I must ask the right questions

Yet the sting soothed cool and touched not like the
Iced heat of absinthe-fire—herbal-sweet but with flame—
Nor scorched the throat leaving it bitter aching

But what came with it was a cold shadow
Like the subtlest of poison-vapored breath—
I inhale its spectral musings like fragranced
Death, vanilla scented from grave-root blooms

Catching the light like frosted spider silk
Portending a mildewed and leafless springtime

Sclera-whites now become ruby-flowered,
Twilight-irises fade to pallid grey
While unctuous flesh glistens with approaching decay


I feel the flutter of the nightingale’s wing
            A stranger and on my own will my demons come to sing?

Slumping down to a poet-graved coldness
With a heart still wet with dark-scarlet warmth,
It cools to promised possibilities
Without life-spontaneous expression

Yet it is not unchangeable, it grows
Thick and mangled, sick like tendrilled grave-roots,
Twisting like cinnamon-curled witch fingers
That creep and crawl through all dead each to each

Enchanted by the pale glow of ghost candles,
A flickering corpse-light of the spectre’s beam,
For here—where we grow—comes the nightingale to dream

Precarious of most carious bones
The color of vanilla aches with lust,
Our ruined flesh wrinkles madly in love,
Screaming helpless, but we’ll never wake up

© 2019 Clay F. Johnson