The hollow man

Crazed scientist — he died with a serum.

Pennies in empty sockets for a cause.

He was a stuffed man with bandages, wrapped together,
headpiece filled with gauze;
a dried, cynical voice — all around him whispered,
like cold wind in night jars.

Those who denounced him, till death do they part,
unremembered, rigamortis in Jehovah’s kingdom;
wooden crosses staved in a field — coffins nailed shut.

His eyes you did not meet, not in your sleep,
not in your dreams; he would appear to hacksaw
your broken column between dying and reality;
noose in a dead tree swinging,
more distant, more solemn; such a deliberate disguise.

He moved as darkness moved —
a shadowy image with a dead man’s hand,
trembling with an awkward hatred.

In a moment there was time, beneath the formula;
love smoothed with long fingers,
stretched for a minute, wept and lingered;
black wreathed in a window where a candle burned.

His eyes were not there behind thick glassed goggles —
in the hollow valley of a lost kingdom;
they groped together and avoided speech; sightless
unless there was hope in an empty vein.

Black ink of morning, he searched for an anecdote —
between the idea and reality;
between the motion and the act befalls
the shell of a former self;
between the conception and the creation
and the world’s response;
life is not very long;
between the desire and the spasms
and the descent to Hell; for thine is the kingdom;
tin white like arsenic and the atrocity of death.

The hollow man