Three Dark Poems by Jack D. Harvey

In the Morgue

The body on the tiles 
seems cold
as a block of ice;
all signs of life
have flown the coop.
For the living
the wailing wall
waits outside,
dark as oil;
time goes rolling on, 
steady as a wheel.

God’s will be done;
His word and deed
breaking all bounds,
including His own.
Death itself,
confronting His
absolute logic,
goes limp as a noodle.
God’s will is doom;
his extraordinary quirks
shy chaos
into the wilderness,
among the other outcasts.

By the same finger
that blasted the king’s wall,
the body is resurrected,
a brand-new loaf of bread,
the bread of life, the true bread,
the word of God.
Wondering, wandering,
embodied again,
the spirit asks no questions,
hove to in a sea of blood;

home is here.

Give us this day,
weighed one way,
our daily beef,
our sacred host.
Give us, O Lord,
no miracles, please,
light as flies,
to tip the scales.

God’s will be done,
but for eternity
can a universe be,
whirl within curly whirl,
steady complex
planetarium of eternal law,
carrack always on
an even keel?
Or can it come unstuck?
Can it become cracked
like an old china pot,
or perfectly and forever intact?
These are ores unfound
and unmined. 

The body is cold
as a mackerel,
feet, legs, trunk, head,
sunk forever,
bound to the rules
of a dark kingdom
and do we care?

We’re uncaring as bees,
busy about 
the best things in life,
buzzing around nectar,
trying to make things sweet,
trying to stay alive
in a nice way.

The body is cold,
a conductor of 
the unknown, 
a train of cold
going nowhere.
Morticians meander
in and out, 
doing the necessary;
it matters not
to the corpse,
cold and dead,
a stricken ferry 
sinking in a 
surfeited sea,
to the unfathomable deep.

Cold and dead,
the body lies,
a market offering,
glass-cased
among the legumes,
the fish and the lamb;
no way no how
to cheat the fates or
the laws of nature.
The corpse 
by no fell stroke,
by no hocus-pocus,
ever recalled 
from the back of beyond.

It lies there forever.

The body ain’t a body anymore;
it’s gone, 
diminished to a naught,
to less than nothing.

Human fate you say,
this is the way it is,
well, well,
alas and ho-hum,
like leaves of the passing year
we come and go; 
more windy talk
from the pulpit, at the gravesite
bottomless, meaningless;

but say it anyway.

Goodbye life, hello
portico of wealthy King Dis.
Your coin good here, mortal,
and will buy your passage
to a kingdom built on time
and money.
Two pennies for 
the fare, for a stay
that lasts forever,
where a day 
outlasts the gold,
the silver, the copper;
your coins cheap metal
for your reckoning
with the dim realm,
where all the glitters
are the eyes of the dead.

Have no fears, penny-wise;
step forth pound-foolish 
and assured
from the heaving ferry;
hell has no furies,
no denying spirits;
only the dead,
mile after mile of them
decked out and penitent
and hell will last, thank God,
among monuments, a monument
more durable than the sin of Adam,
than all our sins.

The body is cold, now
remote as the moon.
For the noble mourning kindred
noble love and death
go forth
hand in hand
and the rest of us struggle along;
illusions become elusive 
among our daily crusts 
and bumpkins 
and our dearest
bump us out of the park,
this dump called Paradise.
We struggle along,
bound for a rude awakening
in that last call to arms.

Body cold, body 
politic, fetch
the means of meaning;
of being here for a while
in some peace.
Puissant bird of dawn, 
take me, too, when it’s 
time to go.
Longer is too much;
still, the body is cold,
still,
even here in the land
of blood. 

Vlad the Impaler

           John Crow,
           royal by-blow,
Voivode of Transylvania,
take this ham, 
and eat it;
a pig died for you,
strung screaming on a wire.
Hung on a standard,
black and hairy,
Valeria Victrix
bores into Britain.

Sladnik,
take this golden hand  
and shake it;
Mehmet's dark warriors
wait for Byzantium
to tumble
at the little gate.
Bang, bang, Urban's cannons
break the walls,
the lavish halls, the streets;
defeat is here,
the retreat of Constantine
from the west,
penniless, is here;
here he is, dead on his feet;
here he is, facing the foe;
he dies here. 

Emperor of the east and beggar;
bargaining with a bad pope
a good king
does what he can.
The rosy shoes,
beloved Pharonic ikon,
fall broken
beneath Peter's ravening cross;
after ripe autumn, the 
storms of booted winter.

King Constantine 
on his feats,
by default rests;
lost in the east,
he struck wonders
out of his head,
calling argosies to the 
last of Byzantium.
Dim, fine, old,
the skin of
his golden likeness
through the dead and
bygone winters 
burns our minds still,
like bitter frost.

Black Tuesday, the burning city,
exquisite reliquary,
evolved centaur horrors;
ghosts aghast at helosis
floating from the tombs,
the ruined churches,
saw black Vlad, coffin-clad,
metamorphosed
between dog and wolf;
Vlad, Count Dracula,
a likely bat,
likable as the plague.

After centuries,
now and then,
a church bell or
something like it,
rings in the dawn;
a mystic freshening
calls up the day.
Night abides while
the sun sees all,
widening and widening 
his eye.

For the sake of Christ
take my hand,
prince, sever your ties; 
this kind land's not forever.

The Greater Ferry

Afric and Ind,
my souls,
are fastnesses,
are fantasies
buried in the sands
of the cartographer's desert;
green burials
hoarded up and treasuries
remote and golden
as Midas' child

stone cold in the palace.

No gift
where the head remembers
and the heart forgets;

valueless
Tiberius' bepimpled countenance
on Augustus' aureate trunk.

Passions, crimes are
pursued to the end;
tumors grow powerfully
in the gloomy jungles
of beginnings.
Afric and Ind,
friends, tissues of fragrance,
plasmas, rivers
stretched from 
hearth to hearth.

Queen Bess and her men
trod new-minted shores
it seemed
moonlings or troglodytes
inhabited;
tinkling cymbals
whining crumhorns:
soft Indian
and naked savage hooted
in bush and brake.

Precious scions
we amuse ourselves
with quaint voyages
to Muscovy or Ind;

simple hardships.

Africa and India,
my serfs,
are there.
Giants at bay
they push the sunrise
more and more to the east:
let our cowboys, our Ulysses,
our connoisseurs of simple rewards
take heed and,
move by move,
plant stock
on a safer shore. 

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Chamber Magazine, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

His book, Mark the Dwarf is available on Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Dwarf-Jack-D-Harvey-ebook/dp/B019KGW0F2


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