Twilight Suite

[The “walk” button is actually a panic button]

 

The “walk" button is actually a panic button,

making a pitch so enthralling that Death misses his deadline.

Fate’s glance gives Denton’s hand a life of its own.

 

the living room of the house seems filled with old film stars:

as in, there can be “only one summer to every customer.”

He seizes the opportunity to experience the electric chair,

 

and shoots Alicia in the face, revealing a mass of wires,

forever trapping him in a blurry world:

a dream he’s been having about a carnival dancer,

 

not realizing he is doomed to repeat the sinking of the ship

for eternity. “I don’t want this to happen!”

as the scissors save him when his tie gets caught in an elevator.

 

His face switches from one face to another, before finally stopping

at his real face. Why don’t we have a drink? Those signals

are just telephone poles.

 

She tries to run, only to be told by a sailor,

described once as a one-armed bandit, a slot machine,

that Decker did return to save her—at the cost of his own life.

 

She has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war.

The asteroid was already an exclusive cemetery. A mirror image

from another world has entered this world, and must take her place to survive.

 

Rioting breaks out. Two nearby aliens watch these events.

Departure from life is usually a pine box of such and such

Dimensions, and this is the ultimate reality.

 

The optimist that believes people are alike all over, is killed

in the aftermath of a necktie party

lying in a heap on a rosin-spattered canvas at St. Nick’s.

 

“This is the Other Place!” She took a dark

spot from the tapestry of her life and rubbed it clean.

A man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure.

Soon he realizes it worked too well; never-ending adoration

a tall man in a white tuxedo explains that it is the other people that are dead:

stuffed animals, zither music, professional football.

 

Charles Dickens, moose heads, carnivals, they explain

that she too is a mannequin. The rules say nine men

make up a team, and without a heart he is not a man.

Removing an envelope from a wall safe, he tells her it

contains the tape that describes her.

 

[He finds the grave of one, mirages all of them]

 

He finds the grave of one: mirages, all of them.

His wish comes true, he is Adolf Hitler.

And he wants out, to take over before it’s too late.

 

Devotees and adherents to the cause of tart sophistry

leave to make arrangements to ship him back to the hermitage,

their faces are misshapen and deformed.

 

Putting pennies in the machine, they ask when

they might be allowed to leave town. She is a robot and collapses.

The whole thing was staged so he would stop living in the past,

 

after burglarizing a curio shop,

in an alley he finds an elf, a conscienceless peddler

who sells rope to hangmen.

 

The skein of events cannot be undone. But on the other hand

someone who would be much embarrassed by the truth, Nikita Krushchev,

batters one of the creatures into lifelessness with an ax.

 

He then finds that he has telepathic powers. But

the cure to some nightmares is not to be found in medical journals.

Descending below the clouds they see dinosaurs.

 

The Martians recommend Dingle.

He soon finds he can receive programs from the past when he’s alone.

Jimbo says he must have blown a fuse.

 

A fire rescue team has no luck in reviving him.

He’s the only one remaining who has even a fragment of the dream left.

He dies—never learning that a way to make gold has been found.

 

One year ago I had the nerves to my vocal chords severed.

When I am electrocuted we will all cease to exist and

our hero will begin his personal one-man rebellion.

 

Grinning, he will remove his cap, revealing a third eye.

Loyal members of the State will surround him and tear him to pieces.

 

[She rushes out and fires several rounds at the man]

 

She rushes out and fires several rounds at him.

He sticks his hand in the spinning propeller to prove

that the experience has destroyed them all.

 

As he leaves, the last man on the road approaches.

He now has to rise to every ambitious challenge on Earth:

the mirror in his office will reveal the faces of his assassins.

 

We’ve had the traditional shoot-out on the street that

turns Dan inot a giant jack-in-the-box, and sends him to the cornfield.

The moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance

 

the paintings melt and a thermometer bursts.

They are all frozen in time by a black book.

Shocked to find a dead goat on the doorstep?

 

Rather dour critics of their times,

they are dolls in a Christmas toy donation barrel

trying to dissuade him from attacking the cave.

 

But rather than being a monster, she

made public a scandal involving a girl who committed suicide over him

in search of a flop, a handout, a glass of forgetfulness.

 

One or more extremely dead raccoons

plan on staying and insuring that the outlaws always win

over those who have grown too stiff in their thinking.

 

Fortune uses a piano to humiliate her guests.

She asks him to sit, then he lights a match without striking it.

But he has finished translating the book—it’s a cookbook.

 

Unable to tell which one is real, the aliens take both.

He sees a twisted, distorted world: him calling the dog, his wife getting

up to remove some cream from her face.

 

He begins terrorizing the population by crushing their buildings,

rather arbitrarily choosing four o’clock as his personal Götterdammerung.

Playing his harmonica, he finds that this knocks the aliens out.

 

Knowing that they will spend what time they have left together,

He staggers to a local bar and collapses. His alter ego,

sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling.

 

Not a complicated set of tasks, it would appear,

these robots reciting Whitman. As a small message of reassurance

to that horizontal young lady: he takes a pistol to the school with plans to shoot himself.

Contributor

Nicholas Bredie

Nicholas Bredie is a poet living and working in Manhattan.

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