by Brandon Marlon
The Graphic Novelist
He toils defiantly, undeterred by criticasters
who label him an unrepentant man-child
at the vanguard of an infantilized generation
collectively mired in interminable nonage,
carefree and inured to the silent threat of time.
As graphomaniac and artist, he painstakingly
sketches and stencils mental imagery
until pads enliven with storylines
and characters generated preternaturally
from a combination of memory, rum,
amphetamines, and sleep deprivation.
He glances around, momentarily affronted
by the spavined condition of his leased loft
now irradiated through the pierced aperture
by the dawning amber glow catching him
red-eyed, disoriented, and stubbly.
For breakfast he sops brownies in black java
and carries on limning his newest hero,
a mysterious eidolon, ethereal and vulpine,
whose principle is the talion and whose
modus operandi takes no prisoners,
particularly when it comes to his arch-nemesis,
the underworld’s supercilious demoness.
In just under six months’ time,
when pens fall flat and inkwells run dry,
he will reluctantly bathe and groom
then meticulously prepare his handicraft
for submission, anonymously or pseudonymously,
steeling himself for the publishers’ critiques
and casual but god-awful suggestions, then,
goaded by guilt, phone his neglected mother.
An Estuary in Time
Puling whelps harangue silence’s onset,
hailing moonrise on a sultry eve
by the rickety cantina whose barman
fills tumblers with mescal in slapdash fashion
while I, otiose and weary, eye a leaf-shaped
tray of lime wedges from my creaking hammock
under spiny palms bending in the breeze.
From this vantage point I oversee it all,
the quince and cactus farmers
sweating past twilight yonder in the field,
the gaggle of arguing locals,
the lady of the night whose active loins
beckon paramours strange or familiar,
the prurient letch short of coins,
even the menacing thief who perils
wayfarers’ fortunes in search of illicit meed.
As the wind soughs through the boughs
I catch a whiff of coconut and avocado,
and listen to the staccato call of gulls
gliding in accord with the retiring tide.
I cannot account for the droll grin
shaping my face; I yawn as I outstretch limbs,
lithe and blithe, sensing the moment’s
impressive presence and subdued glory,
thankful for the splendor of a fitting setting.
The nauseous stench assailed from Sumter’s
bivouac whose timber stockade cooped up
captives gradating into inmates, unexchanged denizens
lacking barracks and hope, limping else squatting
in a squalid morass of despair and languor.
Afore long, gaunt figures with protruding
rib cages resembled underfed fowl in fetid pens,
stumbling into and over each other
night and day amid cramped confines
whose likes in these parts were thitherto unknown.
Wights turned wraiths in the miasma
of overcrowding, starvation, contaminated water,
and rampant disease, eliminative conditions
condemning doughty soldiers
to wither into listless wretches
staggering round damnation’s station
under a blistering confederate sun
and chilled by wintry rains compounding misery.
In eras to come the site of infamy
would shudder the spines of hushed visitors
aghast at atrocity, in the grip of disbelief
at the thought of forebears reduced
to cemetery fodder, grist for a graveyard
solemnly attesting to liberty’s atrophy.
Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in more than 85 publications in Canada, U.S.A., England, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Romania, Israel, India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Trinidad. http://www.brandonmarlon.com