Footsteps

22 Apr 2014

I walked along a sidewalk in the city,
and on that evening noticed an eerie
sound which, even now, startles me to
think about. Imagine walking through
a city which is quiet as a field.
The only sound you hear is from your heels
clapping on the pavement like timely hooves.
This is what I heard that night, and I would
say that there were times for nearly three or
four block stretches without the sounds of cars.

A hypnotist is known to swing his watch
and walk you down imaginary stairs
while, step after step, his pendulum catches
you deeper in his spell. As such is theirs,
my own footsteps began to take my mind
astray and I began to fantasize.
The first image took form as I passed behind
some abandoned church which horrified
me at first glimpse. I will now relate
that dream which sent my feet a faster pace.

I climbed the cold and unused cement stairs
which lured me closer to a gothic pair
of wooden doors whose lioned-knockers grinned
out towards me as if I were a sinner.
I pulled the iron handles and the latch
flew gaping open exposing the church.
And, though it was night, I could see inside,
though dim. Pews of cob webs and dusty-pine
were exposed, and the altar was tangled
in the mess. A broken crucifix dangled

sideways from one wire. On the farthest wall,
I saw a door with muddy footprints before
it. The prints led close to me in the hall
and then turned up stairs to where the choir
sits in their thin balcony which rounds
the upper level of the church now like
an old halo. I imagined the sounds
of these steps as this man ascended. The sight
of only one set of prints made me consider
that whoever rose up is sitll up there.

The vision sent me faster and I crossed
the street out of terror. The street, almost
too quiet tonight, echoed the sound of
my feet like a metronome would above
a piano. The steps became the metronome
as I walked in front of the vacant home
where a lady was murdered and raped
last year. The nights next dream began to take
its shape and I was taken with fright.
It happened when I passed an iron gate.


A prelude began with a foot-stomping
beat. I stepped in time to it and saw
an iron gate. I looked through it and saw, waiting
for his death, the man who raped and clawed
the lady last year. He stood around
waiting, behind bars, for his turn to walk,
to march, in time, to a gas chamber down
the corridor. He would then slowly duck
through a small metal door in the chamber
watching his head as if the metal door were

a chopper blade--or knife blade. His last short
steps are small and quiet ones. In his dark
end, he will leave these footsteps. After he
is strapped in, everyone leaves except a priest,
who administers the last rights. The mans
heart paces quickly in time with my feet.
They tell him that into a pail of warm
water (expected to dissolve and form
deadly vapor) is dropped a poisoned cube.
He will die like the end of a prelude.

[circa 1988]

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