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John Van der Kiste

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When the lights went out
by John Van der Kiste

Sunday, May 05, 2002

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You took the colour from my world -
You turned it into driftwood -
Sleepless nights, stretching like everlasting corridors.
How could you lock me in that cell
And not leave me the key?

Morning was not morning – day was only night
Black, inhospitable, unforgiving restless hours
I walked with weary steps footsore
Along a road where lights were out
All seemed like deathly silence
But the mockery of comfortless, unforgiving reproach
No open space, just shadows and dark corners

The dull, pitiless aroma of nightmare lingers
The ghosts of pleasures, memories of happiness now sit
Like portraits on the wall, false, malicious, sarcastic
Reminders of days of living a lie

Beware of false friends
Watch your back
The smile, the laugh, the handshake of friendship
Is a mask of deceit

There was no sense of loss – there was nothing to lose
There was no focus
No vision of shapeless thoughts which swept around my head
It was a landscape without perspective
Meaningless, contradictory, angry,
Colliding in a Tower of Babel in the air

Magpies picking at the twisted flesh and bones of threads
The skeins of hollow thoughts that mean nothing
Wounds leave scars – scars will not heal
Time heals, time fades, time might erase

Even the moonlight
Reduced to a flickering candle
Splutters into a void
Overshadowed by the crashing tidal wave of a thousand clouds.
There are howling monsters in the deep.
Their savage cries frozen into murderous infinity
Are part of the setting now

The light goes out
The moon goes out
The sky goes out
Turn out the light
Let me be alone
It does not matter
My skin is raw
Blood flows dry from a thousand cuts
Let me lock the door
And let me hide

I wrote this poem in the autumn of 2001, though it refers to a particularly unpleasant bout of depression about six years earlier. A way of exorcising old demons, if you like.
I suppose it's memoir, in a way. But are categories really relevant or necessary for poems on this site?

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