How can I tell you what it means to hear
Those insistent footfalls in your dreams,
That chase me down to dim lit lanes,
As if to drag me down with them
To who-knows-what unfathomed caves?
How do I clearly explain, when at night
I shudder at those horrid cries
That pierce the lull of sleepy night
And stab at me with wolfish grin?
You cannot be more confused my friend
Than I who face their daily wrath
And writhe as one in torture cell.
You think I do not try? Do you, really?
You with your starched clean shirts and salaries!
What do you know of one who questions
The very fact that he’s still alive?
Every day I try to catch hold of some stranger
Who may stay awhile and listen to my ravings,
That I may unburden some of the poison
That seethes within and kills me bit by bit-
Just as I am trying now; but in vain.
You see, the moment I try to dig out
That vault of filth that that batters within
Something seems to cry - “Hold your peace! Hold! Hold!
Bloody wretch! Have you guts to face it all?”
I sigh and cower in doubt and fear.
After all, who knows who the man may be!
Dare I risk? Dare I speak the name I didn’t?
The fiend gloats and starts his daily show.
I am like that man you see- what’s his name-
Who chained to rocks- I keep forgetting why-
Played a daily feast to bloody eagles’ beaks.
He, at least, I think, was proud of what he did!
“Shame” is too little to explain my plight.
And so the show goes on and gashes open fresh.
The cactus load still hangs round the neck.
It wasn’t always like this you know.
I was like you too, happy safe and settled.
Why do you smirk? Is there something down there too?
Ah, I guess not. You really don’t seem such.
You know, I was even praised as an honest man!
Who would have thought? Me like this? Never!
“We plan and scheme and dream in hope,
But slide to hell in a slippery slope.”
Those words aren’t mine. A sage told me once.
He too tried to fish it out. Bless his soul.
He fled in horror after a peep.
That too scares me nowadays. Why bother?
My truth will do you more harm than good.
May be like me, you too will feel that frenzy;
That frenzy in your blood that makes one mad
And conjure such abominations of hell
That the very sight seems to numb the senses
And drives the limbs to do such acts
Which seem to unhinge the dearest truths
And burn them all in blazing flame.
Pardon my excesses! You see what it does?
What, are you leaving? So soon? Please mister…
Did I offend you in any way? Did I?
Please excuse the ravings of one who is ill.
It is not that? Then why look you so pale?
Is it? I see it plain in your eyes friend!
Forgive me what I woke from the sleep.
We shift between them both; there’s no rest.
Sometimes the mariner, sometimes the guest.