Poet As Beast This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   The professor is quickly scratching the blackboard with his pale chalk. He is an older man of little distinction except that he always seems to be in an incredible rush. He is lecturing to a large classroom on the beliefs of the Primordial Mystery. On the board the professor has listed some well known philosophers. As the professor is busily writing, two male students begin whispering "Brian, here look at this. Have you ever heard of this guy?"

The boy gives Brian a book of poetry. Brian reads the author's name. "Jacob Norton. No, I've never heard of him. Where do you get this?" Brian asks.

The other student seems highly aroused, "I found it in that old bookstore we were in last week. The book is amazing."

"I can't believe I've never heard of this guy." Brian comments as he fingers through. "This book is only a year old. This guy is still alive." Brian laughs at this and the professor, hearing his cachinnation, gives him a stern look. Brian gives the book back to his friend, John.

John opens the book, "They don't give any information about the author but I bet I could call the publisher and at least find out where he lives."

Brian looks at John with a smirk, "What are you gonna do, hunt this guy down and ask for an autograph?"

"Don't tell me that you don't want to know what this guy is like. I mean how does he talk, what's he look like, what is his mien, what are his lassitudes, his strengths?"

"Go for it, John."

John is wrapped up in the book and is speaking increasingly louder: "Just listen to this:

The quiet, amber moon

Augments the arabesque waves

Of her escaping gown

Which her lithe hand continually saves



The undulance of her tresses

Traps my searching hands

& continually depresses

Her feckless commands ..."

John is cut short by the professor asking him to choose a philosopher and describe that philosopher's ideas of the Primordial Mystery.

"Uh, yes, sir. I would have to pick Friedrich Nietzsche and say that man can only hope to attain peace with the Mystery by blending the Apollonian, or rational, element of human nature equally with the Dionysian, or passionate, element of human nature."

The professor seems pleased with this and the students are dismissed.



The night's dark blanket has rested thick into the streets of the city. The stars are black and except for a few scattered patches of moonlight, there is nothing to guide the sidewalkers around the tall, seemingly vacant buildings.

The door of a small, run-down bar opens and a bright yellow rectangle appears in the street. Two men exit, leaving the bar practically empty. The atmosphere of the bar is one of burning cigarettes, stale beer, spilled wine and burning whiskey. Along with the these scents of celebration and decay is the usual smell of oily, uncleaned, filthy flesh. Amid this voluptuous campaign sits a being of perverse manner and numerous habitual tendencies. He sits alone at a table in the corner. His face is rigid and his eyes are dark. His dark hair is long and greasy. He pushes it back out of his face with no particular want of style. His face is unshaven but one could not say it had a beard. On the table lies a glass of beer, half full, and a bottle of whiskey, also half full. There also lie a couple of closed books with loose papers of notes falling out of them. These are his only possessions.

From behind the bar a radio softly plays an old song. The drinker slowly lifts his head and closes his eyes to make the sound. The words to the song are not clear but with the help of the drinker's memory the rhythm comes through.

do de do do

do de do



do de do do

do do

da da da dum



The drinker's eyes squint and his hands create fists. Just as the song comes to an end, a group of loud, boisterous men file into the bar boasting hunting victories and the rewards of the sport. The first man, of hairy features and rather large size, tells the barkeep to set up a round of drinks for him and his companions.

"It's all on me," he shouts. "And add some whiskey to that for Patrick here, the hero of the hunt."

The rest of the men cheer and fill a series of empty stools. They beg Patrick to tell them how he killed the black bear for which they were celebrating.

"Hey, Pat, how many times you shoot 'em?" one asks.

"Once," says Patrick.

"That's my man," says another.

As Patrick continues to explain how he chased the bear down and shot him, a voice from behind the men directs a question to Patrick.

"Do you die?" the voice asks.

The men slowly turn to behold their questioner. The stranger from the table in the back corner of the room has risen with drink in hand to speak to the group of men.

Again, "Do you die?"

"What?" asks Patrick with a confused and disgusted look on his face.

"When you hunt down your prey," continued the horrid smelling stranger, "when you stalk him like the animal he is and shoot him down. When you take away his life, his future and his possibilities. When you take away all that he ever was and all that he ever meant. Tell me, do you die when you see him gasping for his final breath knowing that you were the one to cause his bloody end?"

"What the heck are you talking about?" asks Patrick.

"I'm talking about life and your self-given right to take it away."

"Well, it sounds to me like you're talking like an idiot so why don't you go back to the corner where you came from?" retorts one of the men.

"Well, why don't you go back up that tree you climbed down from?"

In a few moments the stranger is outside the doorway of the bar on his back looking up into the deep, dark sky.



The white tile is cold on his unshaven face. He is curled up as if he were freezing. He has slowly awoken to find himself lying on his bathroom floor. As he languidly gets up and looks out the window, the sun from behind the dismal clouds shines in at him.

"The grey dawn

Aurora's disgrace

Quietly crawled upon

My half-cocked, excoriated face."

Is all he says. He wanders out of the room and into a low-rent apartment which hasn't been cleaned for some time. He finds paper and pen and while recollecting the night before he begins to write:

"The beer chokes memories

& hides her face

The hours are a series of melodies

to connect with this forgettable place"



There is a quick tapping on the door which startles him. He hides his writings. He stumbles to the door and opens it slightly as he peers out. He finds himself looking at a well-dressed, clean-cut young man in his early twenties.

John is standing there mortified at what he sees.

"Excuse me, are you Jacob Norton?" he asks with disappointment.

"Yeah, who wants to know?"

John is speechless. He's shocked to find his idol living in filth, bare-chested and untamed.

"Well, what do you want?" Jacob demands.

"Uh, hello, my name is John Clarke and, uh, I'm quite a fan of yours."

By this time Jacob has turned and walked back into the apartment leaving John standing there, rambling. "I would like to discuss some topics of your book, if you don't mind. It's a remarkable book. May I come in?"

Jacob gives no response.

"You see, I write a bit myself and I was wondering if you might take a look and maybe ..."

Jacob, looking in a mirror on the wall, "What do you want from me, kid? You want me to teach you how to write poetry, how to be a poet?"

John, searching for words, sputtered, "Uh, well."

Jacob, raising his voice, "You think you can learn how to become a poet? You want me to teach you the keys to verse and rhythm? You're a fool. You think poetry is an enjoyment. A hobby, a tool for impressing. A poet does not want or like poetry, a poet needs poetry. But how could you possibly have any knowledge of the poet's orison, the cry of his tortured soul?"

Jacob walks over to the window and gazes down upon the flowing city, raises his arms and recites:

"My history is written

Within the heat of my breath

The sound of my soul

Trembles along my mute lips

My passions are given color

Within my fluid eyes

And through all these moving windows

My will courageously vies!"



Jacob grabs John by the shirt and throws him against the wall. "You would never make it." He throws John out the door.

John is left lying in the hall, away from the bleeding beast,

the filthy lord,

the poet. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback