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So Why Do Pain and Fear Buy Heaven?

by Anne Kaier

Maybe Hamlet’s right.  It’s what’s unknown,

the undiscovered country, that gives us pause –

even for a young man like Hamlet, who,

though in a very bad fix, still had shapely legs,

and a compliant girlfriend.

But he was on to something.


If you are frozen out in some forsaken nursing home,

in bed with a fly and you can’t get up, but

you have a stash of pills – well, the nurses

probably count the pills and watch you take them – yet

if you managed to stash the pills and the fly,

who was, after all, free to leave, wouldn’t,

would God mind so much,

even having fixed his canon ‘gainst self-slaughter,

if you ignored that rule and swallowed?


Lying there, when nightmares glare

like seven deadly sins, when they frolic

in the daytime, peering, leering

from the metal bedside table, when they zoom in

the window and swoop across your bed at noon,

when your brain lets loose grotesques in your skull,

gargoyle monster faces you can neither tame nor know,

when jeering men kept down for years, come out

to flog and beat and eat you, you want to drown

your sense in odors, float like Ophelia

to a soft and watery death. 
Read all work by Anne Kaier


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