The Death of Poe

The Death of Poe

Autumn in Baltimore,
Cruel as a whetting stone.
Reynolds turns up his collar, quickens his pace.
His errand tonight cannot be delayed –
She has waited long enough.
A rap at the door,
A groggy response.
“I’m here, at last. Virginia awaits.”

The words bring the man sailing into the streets
His night shirt blown by the whispers of fate.
“Put on these trousers; this coat.
There you go.”
Reynolds is always prepared.
“Follow me quickly, she won’t tarry long.”
He heels like a dog to the fray.

Rushing as shadows through stench and decay,
The streets hob-cobbled and rough.
Tripping and shuffling he questions again,
But Reynolds never slows, never stops.
At last, to the graveyard
They make themselves known.
Around them the beasts step to light.
They cautiously creep from the stone and the slime,
Pressing his legs,
Brushing his hair.
“He is here!” They all whisper,
And the madness begins –
A flurry of demonic delight.

They pull him, they hoist him,
He struggles at first
And cries out in shock and dismay.
“My Virginia! Virginia!
You said she was here!”

Reynolds is cool in reply
“She is, just wait. You will see.”

The creatures push up
And course his sick frame
Like a black bag of bones over the hills.
To the center of night
Where the throne room is kept,
Where Virginia is waiting,
A handmaid of hell.

Their claws tear his pants,
their breath wets his skin
They deposit his terror
At her feet –
All his terror.

“You’ve come!” She cries out
As she rises and bends
To lend him a hand,
To bring him full circle.

But her slight icy fingers
Pass right through his palm.
“What is this?” she exclaims,
“You’re not here yet, my dear.”

And turning her back
she walks into the ink,
casting one final request.
“Take him back to the streets,
Leave him there like a dog.
Don’t bring him again until
he’s fit for our throng.
All monsters and mayhem! Obey!”

He screams out his agony
“Don’t leave me again!”
But his cries float away
with the last autumn leaves.

The creepers and crawlers are at him again
Dragging him out by his hair.
He cannot fight back,
They’re too wily, too slick.
He pushes and struggles
And moans for release,
To return to his love,
To return to her feet.
As she wanders away –
Gone from his grasp once again.

Then his eyes catch the eyes
of the man from his stoop,
Begging, soul festering,
he weeps:

“Reynolds! Please help me,
Bring her back to my arms!”

The ghouls pause to watch,
Awaiting command.
But Reynolds, her servant,
will never relent.
He lifts up an arm and
Points towards the fence.

Dragged once again
Over grave and fresh pit
All his hope waxes cold
As he’s fed to the stones.

“Come back when you’re dead!”
Cries the man who once knocked,
“She’ll take your hand then,
This I swear.”

Note from Wikipedia on the actual history of Edgar Allen Poe’s death:

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say Poe’s final words were “Lord help my poor soul.” All medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery. One theory, dating from 1872, indicates that cooping – in which unwilling citizens who were forced to vote for a particular candidate were occasionally killed – was the cause of Poe’s death.

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