The Poetry of
Jack Scott

The Longest Night

The longest night in my darkest life
was three months long
ninety day sentence,
rosary of thorns
endlessly repeated.

I writhed like Medusa’s worms
anchored in thought’s skull
squirming toward escape
away from thought and pain,
fingers fumbling in the dark
to read a Braille map
for any way to reach away.
Pauper’s Midas,
the touch of me, the glance
a risk to all
was suspect stone,
not ever gold.

I screamed my rosary
and darkness swallowed it,
bottomless mailbox maw
where all letters go dead.
Special delivery an irony,
never a letter back,
nothing to open,
no proof,
only memory of the stamp,
and what I thought I‘d said
the sending
of what I meant to write.

It seems that you
were always going to come
or had just gone,
time, a stretcher in between,
bearing wounded promise.
You barely ever touched the land
in the briefness of your visits,
always hovering just above
where I thought you’d light
Where you touched was heaviness.
No. Who, not where.

It wasn’t something I promised you.
Anything was my commitment,
my first anything to anyone.
I hadn’t thought it might include
being ladder for your elopement
with a more attractive castaway.

In a reenactment
of our consummated ceremony,
you said that you would marry me
a hue fading to blue,
then finally funereal black.
When we were new,
I didn’t know the borrowed of it was you.

L41 ®Copyright 1972 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.