Charlie Clark

Those days a body confessed

how thoroughly it had given itself over

by the blackness of the fluid pouring from its mouth.

Expectations were provincial as most lives.

He didn’t worry about numbers

because the inexact was far more damning and effective.          

This fact, at least, holds up.  

There was so much silence

it was really something when he broke it.

It broke like cloth split by a bolt of light.

Or that’s how he describes it to himself,

the action of his hand extending across the evening's dark,

its taking hold of the shoulder of a man

sitting before a whimpering fire of reed.




This poem is part of a series of sonnets about the devil. Many of these poems locate the devil in a contemporary setting, and explore the tension between the natural and supernatural coming into contact with one another. The titles frequently function as exploratory jumping-off points. In this case, I was curious about what the devil would be nostalgic for. If he's in the business of claiming souls, how would contemporary life have altered that industry, and what losses would the devil lament? That conceit provided the trajectory and tone out of which the poem developed. The solace the devil takes in remembering the analog Grand Guignol of his earlier labors.