By Mary Karr
The Devil’s tour of hell did not include
a factory line where molten lead
spilled into mouths held wide,
no electric drill spiraling screws
into hands and feet, nor giant pliers
to lower you into simmering vats.
Instead, a circle of light
opened on your stuffed armchair,
whose chintz orchids did not boil and change,
and the Devil adjusted
your new spiked antennae
almost delicately, with claws curled
and lacquered black, before he spread
his leather wings to leap
into the acid-green sky.
So your head became a tv hull,
a gargoyle mirror. Your doppelganger
sloppy at the mouth
and swollen at the joints
enacted your days in sinuous
slow motion, your lines delivered
with a mocking sneer. Sometimes
the frame froze, reversed, began
again: the red eyes of a friend
you cursed, your girl child cowered
behind the drapes, parents alive again
and puzzled by this new form. That’s why
you clawed your way back to this life.
Mary Karr, “All This and More” from The Devil's Tour. Copyright © 1993 by Mary Karr. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: The Devil's Tour (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)
More Poems about Living
A spring snow coincides with plum blossoms.
In a month, you will forget, then remember
when nine ravens perched in the elm sway in wind.
I will remember when I brake to a stop,
and a hubcap rolls through the intersection.
An angry man grinds...
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
More Poems about Religion
Wake up, greet the sun, and pray.
Burn cedar, sweet grass, sage—
sacred herbs to honor the lives we’ve been given,
for we have been gifted these ways since the beginning of time.
Remember, when you step into the arena of your life,
For the Feral Splendor That Remains
sometimes I strain