The Condemned Murderess Writes To Juliet

My Dearest Capulet,

 

As I write you in these waning hours

(The number of my sunrises and sunsets finite,

Easily counted upon either hand),

I do so resigned to the actuality

That this missive shall remain unanswered,

Most likely forever unread, but tell me, dear lady,

To who else would I address this,

For who else is more likely to understand

The horrible, awful truth that love and hate are not opposite poles,

But the hissing, slathering jaws of the dreadful two-headed snake,

Which, if not separated by a prudent interval,

Will consume the other and then itself.

I have lived and learned this quite well

(At the hands of teachers and other lesser men)

And pondered other questions of fatality and fidelity,

Surmising that rings of gold and fetters of iron

Are neither necessary nor sufficient.

 

If I have not come to peace with my fate, my distant soul mate,

I have at least procured a measure of acquiescence,

For I have known love and hate and death,

Known them thoroughly enough to comprehend

That they are not wholly separate entities,

And that they will often come

Wearing the formal attire of one of the others.

I have burned, brightly if not in illumination,

And now I am spent, and to go on much longer

Would be to do so as some spent celestial body,

Charred and rotating ever more slowly

Until a final, silent , unobserved obsolescence,

For after we have loved profoundly if not well,

What is left to us but the sepulcher?

 

I remain

 

Faithfully Yours,

 

(A late arrival to the Wednesday Challenge at Real Toads, though this post doesn’t embrace the letter of the challenge and only carries on a chaste flirtation with its spirit.)

 

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5 thoughts on “The Condemned Murderess Writes To Juliet

  1. Your pieces often reflect a tenderness that is hard won after peeling back layers upon layers of rich outer shell. this piece seems to start from that place and build outward. I find the effect (though different from your usual flare which I love) rewarding in it’s own right. This starts at the inner sanctum with the admission that the narrators life is drawing to a conclusion and she is confessing (of sorts) what she wants everyone to know.

    You tempered this incredibly well, slowly building back to insight:

    slathering jaws of the dreadful two-headed snake,

    Which, if not separated by a prudent interval,

    Will consume the other and then itself.

    I love that you follow that with I have lived and learned this quite well….what a bold statement. The poem finishes strongly, but had me longing for the intimacy of the opening by the end, making me read then reread. ( a sign I think of a well written poem). A late submission, but worth the wait.

    viva la

  2. Your poetry is filled with a hard-earned wisdom, and this piece is no exception. I was struck by the fatalistic tone, the idea that once one has given everything up for love and then lost it, there is very little that remains but to consume the remainder of selfhood down to the barest bone.

  3. the tone of this – a kind of smoldering resignation – builds consistently through the poem. It is a sadness that is not sad. an un-regretful rue. a feeling that though all has been in the service of emptiness, she would do it all again without pause. as such, she pleads with her natural ally, a non-responsive juliet, not for absolution or recrimination, but for simple comisery. for understanding.

    her weakness, her folly, is that of shakespeare’s dubious heroine – of being unable to rise after the destruction of hope. the line ‘I have burned, brightly if not in illumination’ caught me.
    to burn but not illuminate. to give no light, and only be consumed, ending ‘as some spent celestial body / Charred and rotating ever more slowly / Until a final, silent , unobserved obsolescence’ leads eventually and inevitably to a contrived death.

    at this, i turn again to the title, and its various interpretations.

    look how you turn the piece again and again. it puts me in mind of a woodcraftsman at a lathe. i want to keep spinning this, noticing new figures and flourishes with every revolution.

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